Originally Posted by Robert Z
I've got a comfortable enough sleeping bag, but the ground support is rather lacking.
I've got a bag from Big Agnes. A feature that I really like is that it doesn't have insulation on the bottom, so that makes it lighter and packs smaller. What it DOES have on the bottom is a "sleeve" to slide your sleeping mat into, which then provides cushioning and insulation. Their logic is that sleeping on top of insulation just compresses it and renders it useless. Another great benefit of this feature is it prevents the bag from sliding off the pad.
I've used a bunch of different pads. I personally do not like the self inflating foam pads. They don't pack small, and are a royal PITA to pack up. I've been very happy with my Big Agnes Q-Core pads. The one I'm currently using is about 2.5" thick, so it provides plenty of cushioning and insualtion, and it packs down to smaller than a Nalgene bottle. I can have it inflated in less than a minute.
There are other pads out there... some are way more expensive, and some are cheaper. I think the Big Agnes is a good compromise on quality vs price. I did have a failure of my previous pad (on night one of 4 nights on Kalalau Trail... grrr), and even though it was 5 years old and had been beat to crap, they replaced it for free. Of course the original was no longer in production, so the replacement was the upgraded model.
Big Agnes also makes an inflatable pillow that doubles as a bellows for inflating a sleeping pad. I keep eyeing it at my local outdoor shop, but for the price of a couple beers I'd rather use my longs and stuff my clothes into a dity bag.