After a bunch of research and comparisons online, I bought an Exped Air Pillow (size large for my enormous head!) and a Nemo Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad. I tested them on my son’s last Cub Scout campout, and I have to say they are amazing. I was a little busy and forgot to take pictures during the trip, so I took some at home and posted them below. Overall, both products packed small and were of excellent quality - and super comfortable. I slept on them with my Kifaru Woobie (basically an improved Army poncho liner) and I was far more comfortable than I would have thought possible on such lightweight gear. Here are a few observations on each product:
Exped Air Pillow: The valves for inflation & deflation are on the underside of the pillow, and clearly marked and easy to use. The upper surface is smooth and was very comfortable to sleep on. I’m a stomach sleeper, so even with my face on the pillow it was comfy. The pillow’s textured underside did not slide off of the mattress, which is irritating in the middle of the night!
Nemo Equipment Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad: After using my military issued inflatable mat for a long time, I was a bit skeptical that this mattress would be much better (despite the price tag!). The mattress packs small and dense, and has an integrated foot pump at the head. There is a valve at the foot that could be used to blow the mattress up in case of a pump failure (always good to plan for the worst!). After a bit of a learning curve with the various valves, I was able to pump the mattress up easily. And it slept like a champ. I have never been so comfortable sleeping on the ground, not with air mattress or the older foam pad the Army issued. I can’t recommend it enough. Time will tell how it fares on the trail with punctures and durability, but for now I’m thrilled with it.