The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Sleeping gear

Sorry… packing is a tired subject, but this is my first (and hopefully not last) RAGBRAI.

I’ve heard from veterans not to bother with sleeping bags if bringing a sleeping pad and a sheet, but I’ve heard from others not to bother with pads/sheets/accoutrements and bring sleeping bags only. My partner and I are using the standard RAGBRAI bag service, but we’d still like to keep our total gear haul to one duffel and one backpack shared between the two of us. All of our items are somewhat bulky, but lightweight, so they’ll take up lots of bag real estate. We aren’t anywhere near the maximum weight limit with our bags as they’re packed, but I don’t want to schlep a bunch of crap around that we won’t use. So, sleeping gear – what’s your preference and why?

Thanks in advance. Super stoked on the ride.

12 Replies

RagbraiJim, July 16, 2018 at 9:41 pm

Look at the forecast before you leave and adjust. Bring sweats and if it’s cold you can wear them to bed. I’ve been on hot Ragbrai’s and some rather cool ones of course you can usually support the local economies and buy stuff on the road if needed.

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Christopher McGregor, July 16, 2018 at 10:22 pm

I’m a first timer and having the same dilemma. I bought a thermorest sleeping pad,that is surprisingly comfortable, but takes up about 25% of my bag space. Unfortunately those cool self-inflating air pads are way out of my budget, because they’d take up a whole lot less space.

The weather is looking to be fairly mild, (lows in mid-60s) so I’m just packing a fleece blanket and a little travel pillow I picked up at Walmart for $3. I stuffed them (along with my clothes) in travel space bags with the one-way valve so I can squish all the air out of them so they take up less space in the bag.

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Mike Howe, July 16, 2018 at 10:27 pm

Last year was my first and i brought a sleeping pad and a sheet….it was cold and wish i had a sleeping bag. This year im bringing a sleeping bag just in case. If i get cold then ill crawl inside of it, if its warm ill sleep on top of it. There are sleeping bags that roll up to the size of a football so you can bring a bag and not have to use up a lot of space.

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bugs11, July 17, 2018 at 8:14 am

For me proper sleep is very important so I’m taking a self inflating sleeping pad, a fleece sleeping bag, a fleece throw type blanket, and my regular pillow. It all adds up to some bulk, but not much weight. The fleece stuff is surprisingly warm. I’ll also pack a sweat shirt, a knit beanie type cap, and pajama pants. I prefer sleeping in a cool room snuggled under blankets, so I’m looking forward to the cool nights.

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SFC JKL 2, July 17, 2018 at 8:21 am

Fleece bag and a sheet. If it’s really hot, use the sheet. If it’s cold, put the sheet inside the fleece as a liner. If it’s really cold, put on more clothes.

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Niles, July 17, 2018 at 8:23 am

Self-inflatted pads don’t have to be expensive. My $20 one from Amazon/Ebay functions very well.

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Kelly Davila, July 17, 2018 at 8:34 am

Thanks for the responses, everyone. The forecast appears to be mild at least for the first few nights, so I think we’ll skip the sleeping bags and pack some light sweats and fleece blanket in a compression sack.

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Geoff Butland, July 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

Great advice above. A wool hat can solve a lot of problems and weighs almost nothing.

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Norm Ovens, July 18, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Beanie added to kit – Thx

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Norm Ovens, July 18, 2018 at 9:26 pm

I’m a newbie so I got advice from Eagle scout type, and someone who rode last year. Sleeping is my No.1 concern.

1st tip Klymit Static V inflatable sleeping pad $50

2nd Get a Cot – ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Cot $45

3rd Get a sleeping bag liner – Silk ! I found fivejoys on Amazon $48

I’ve received all these and they are solid products. I think #3 is probably the winner, I’m pretty finicky sleeper.

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jwsknk, July 19, 2018 at 12:48 pm

right now forecast overnight lows range from upper 50’s into mid 60’s.

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cdbusby, July 20, 2018 at 11:55 am

We have previously used the baggage truck and you are allowed one large soft-texture bag up to 50 pounds and your tent and sleeping bag can be tied/attached to the bag. Just make sure your tent and sleeping bag are in waterproof bags in case it rains. If they happen to get put on the bottom of a pile of wet bags, it’s not a good outcome.
Happy riding!

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