There are few things in life I enjoy more than a good hunting camp. There’s something about living where you hunt that puts you in a different frame of mind. Sharing that with other hunters makes the experience all the better.
Camps come in all shapes and sizes, but having a good one requires coordination, work, and the right equipment. The last thing you want is an uncomfortable camp, especially after a long day in the field. Depending on how long the adventure is, there will be days you need relief. This is true whether you are roughing it in the backcountry on some mountain, or pitching a tent on a wooded public land lot. The last thing you need is to be laid up midway through the trip because you are sore, sick, exhausted, or just mentally tired of being there.
If you are planning to hunt, you should be planning to rest, which means packing items to help you do so. I failed miserably at this early on and was miserable because of it. One particular trip to Georgia illustrates this nicely. I was invited to the annual Traditional Archer’s Society (TAS) hog hunt in Okmulgee WMA. Being a Northern Michigan guy, I figured it would be a lot warmer down South and didn’t plan on bringing anything but a small, tent, sleeping bag, and my hunting clothes. Little did I know, the residence of Georgia were experiencing one of the worst cold snaps in the history of the state. I stepped out of the car colder than when I left, which was shocking.
My camp cronies included fellow Simply Traditional field staffers Thom Jorgensen and Steve Angell, who I’d met at the TAS hunt the year before. I was the youngest of our party and a rookie by every definition. I’d never hunted hogs, shared a hunting camp, or camped outdoors in a place that didn’t have electricity or a bathroom. I knew I was hideously unprepared the moment we arrived at Steve’s and he asked me what I planned to sleep on.
“Well, I have a cold weather sleeping bag, and brought a second to sleep on top of.” I said.
Steve shot me the “you’ve got to be out of your Yankee mind” look and showed me the weather forecast on his phone, which was bleak to say the least.
“Now Nick, I don’t want to offend you, but you’re nuts if you think you’re going to make it a night in that tent with a couple sleeping bags. It’s supposed to drop down to 7 damn degrees on Thursday.”
“Well I’ll just sleep in my base layers then. They’re merino.” I said.
“I don’t care if they’re made out of mammoth.” He laughed. “You’ve got to have something underneath. Thom and I have cots at least. I’ll throw in a couple of thick sleeping pads for ya. You’ve got to get yourself off the ground.”
He was right (as painful as it is for me to admit it). It was cold. So cold the pigs wouldn’t wallow. It was bearable during the day while moving, but you were in trouble the moment the sun went down. We hunkered around anything that could be hunkered: fire, coffee pot, Coleman lantern, etc. I burned my fingers several times on the percolator just trying to put some feeling back into them.
When hunkering didn’t work, you had to be bagged up in your tent or burrowed into your sleeping bag as far as you could burrow. It was in those moments I thanked the Lord for Steve and those sleeping pads. They were comfortable and kept me from dying of exposure (or at least from having a really really bad time).
I made it a point to get something similar for the next trip, only a bit more portable. Something you could roll up like a sleeping bag seemed ideal. A friend told me about Teton Sports and their Camp Pads and I was excited to check them out. They had a cutting edge look for a sleeping pad and were obviously high quality. Plus, I had yet to hear anything negative about a Teton product. I was confident enough to believe I couldn’t find anything better for $100 and pulled the trigger.
I had my pad in under a week and immediately put it to work at the summer’s archery gatherings. I’d borrowed cots or inflatable mattresses in the past and usually woke up sore and grumpy the next morning. That went away with the Teton pad. Whether padding a cot or on the floor, it was wonderful to sleep on and fit nicely in the trunk. The canvas covering is durable, easy to clean, and difficult to slide off with a slippery sleeping bag, which is terribly unfortunate if you haven’t experienced it. Having your pillow fall off the cot is equally annoying, but unzipping the cover and slipping the pillow underneath solves the issue. The valuables pocket at the head of the pad is another nice touch. Above all else, the pad is super thick. My kids like to have sleepovers in the living room and have come to prefer my Teton over the family couch.
My only word of warning is to make sure you order the correct size. If you own a small, one-man, bivouac-style tent or anything that won’t hold a cot, you are going to have a tough time making this fit. On the other hand, I brought a 6′ dome tent with me to a hunting camp last November and, after realizing my cot wouldn’t fit inside, rolled this diagonally from corner-to-corner and it worked out just fine. I slept like a baby.
Sleeping pads aren’t the sexiest purchase if you have extra money laying around, but neither are generators (until your power goes out). The camp pad is well worth the money. If you’re any kind of outdoorsman, you’ll find weekly applications for this thing and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better company to work with than Teton Sports.
I happily stand by (and lay on) this product.
You can purchase your Teton Camp Pad here. If you own one, feel free to share your opinions below.