I like to think that I’m not very high-maintenance, at least when it comes to material things. My clothes don’t cost too much, it only takes a few minutes for me to get ready in the morning, and I can be pretty satisfied with a plain ol’ PB and J at any time of day.

All of that changes at bedtime. A lot goes into crafting my perfect night’s sleep. No one wants to be around the grouch that I so easily become when my energy levels crash. My home set-up is ideal: big comfy bed, big comfy pillows, two big comfy blankets. Notice a pattern?

Those conditions don’t really translate to my outdoors interests, though. Camping and backpacking are all about minimalism and simplicity, which is easy for me until the sun sets. But I’m discovering that a few key items can make my tent experience much more pleasant, both for me and for my trail companions. Piece number one? A quality sleeping pad.Big Agnes Double Z

The Double Z inflatable pad by Big Agnes hits the spot for me. After too many long hours rolling around on thin foam or cheaper inflatables that only hold air until 2 a.m., this pad finally gets me excited to hit the hay. It’s got everything I need, during both the day and the night. In my pack, I want something light and compact. The Double Z in the smallest size, 20″ x 72″, weighs in at just 1 pound and rolls into a small 4.5″ x 8.5″ stuff sack. Blow it up to full size, and you’ve got 4 thick, luxurious inches of camping comfort to rest on.

While this pad isn’t self-inflating, it does include a helpful two-piece air valve that makes it easy to blow up manually and swiftly deflate. The smaller piece allows for one-way inflation, so the pad will hold air as you blow it in without needing to cover the valve between breaths. The bigger valve then allows that air to make a quick exit for fast packing. The Double Z’s construction also assures that the air distributes evenly throughout the pad, no matter how you like to sleep. Side-sleepers like myself don’t have to worry about hip bruises or pressure points.

A closer look at the Double Z air distribution constructionOne caveat to keep in mind for the Double Z, however, is that its high volume and low weight means sacrificing warmth. Big Agnes gives it an R-value of 1.5 on a scale from 1 to 9, so it’s only minimally insulated and won’t offer too much protection on chilly nights. This makes it perfect when temperatures are high enough to heat up the ground, or for car and cabin camping. In a pinch, sticking a blanket or towel under the pad should help, but cold-weather campers will likely prefer a more highly insulated option.

All in all, the Double Z pad from Big Agnes is a great choice for campers simply looking for a little extra ease and comfort in warmer climates or months. The pad’s light weight, small packing size, double valve, thick padding, and even air distribution add up to create a worthy tool on the trail and in the tent throughout the spring and summer.

MSRP $80 – $110, www.bigagnes.com