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Rosaleen
2008-08-22, 22:58
Hi, Guys-

Does anyone here have experience with using a balloon bed? I'm thinking of making a couple of mattresses that would use balloons like the ones clowns use to make animals for kids' parties. I would need a small pump and extra balloons, of course. There are three instances in which I think I'd want to se these: trail shelters in thinderstorms; airports when stranded; and tent camping when in places where hammocks are impractical.

Hubby and I have a chance to go to northern California next year. Point Reyes Nat'l Seashore is a probable stopover and appears to be treeless in the camping areas, at least. Yellowstone's established car-camping areas are unlikely to have trees located for great hammocking for two, and some trails will lead us above treeline, assuming hubby will go for a backpacking trip.

Many of you will be aware that the airlines are getting really fussy about the number of bags and their weight, so I'm really looking for ways to plan for a light and compact set of gear. Still, we have to be comfortable to enjoy the trip. Not using our Hennessys will be a challenge.

Any input for balloon beds, gear, and places of interest within range of San Francisco will be appreciated.

Regards,

Rosaleen

MRH
2008-08-22, 23:56
Never heard of anyone using balloons as a backpacking bed. If you want an air bed, look at Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad at only 24oz. http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___27340
I don't have one, but several I've talked to love it.

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-23, 09:32
A few people know my first husband was a magician and professional psychic. He did balloon animals. The higher quality tube-style balloons used by magicians and clowns for balloon animals are extremely durable and far harder to pop than normal balloons - I could see this working.

Rosaleen
2008-08-23, 10:21
Hi, Mike-

Because I was specifically asking about balloon beds, I didn't mention that I have an Eped DAM and a POE Insulmat. The DAM is cushy enough that even this "Princess and the Pea"-type sleeper can sleep on a shelter floor. The Insul Mat is not enough, though. Hubby is a big guy, and most backpacking mattresses are not even close to wide enough. I can custom-make a balloon bed wide enough for him, and even make a narrower one for me that can be snapped or Velcroed to it so we can share one sleeping bag. I suspect we will still layer a Z-Rest or something with each balloon bed. After playing with the idea, I may end up making something like an SPE to go over the InsulMat and hold a couple of balloons on each side to increase the width.

I nearly can count on one hand the number of camping trips hubby has taken with me in the last 38 years. Between the (in)frequency of our trips together and needing to pack small and light (airline restrictions and rented car's space), the balloon bed seems like an inexpensive option. The packed DAM takes up more space than a gallon jug. That is more space than I want to allot to a mattress, if I can help it.

Check this site: <http://www.balloonbed.com/> The idea is not as impractical as some might think. If one can sew even a little, this should be doable. I'm not interested, however, in spending about $80 to get two mattresses, a pump, and some etra balloons. I think with the current exchange rates, that is what I'd pay for two. I might carry one in case I wanted to stay in a shelter in a thunderstorm or was stranded in an airport. Hubby may not use his again after this one trip. These might become part of our "loaner" gear. My youngest son finally pulled out of his car the air mattresses and tent he borrowed for a rainy campout nearly 6 weeks ago. Mildew city! I am not a happy Mom... Yeppers, a cheap balloon bed might be a good loaner...

Rosaleen

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-23, 13:06
You can buy these balloons (http://www.balloonsnmore.com/shop/shopdisplayproducts-latex.asp?search=yes) for about $7 for 100 (buy the higher quality variety). The pumps are also available (http://www.balloonsnmore.com/shop/shopdisplayproducts-accessories.asp?search=yes) for about $4. Sew up a mat and you're set. If you have a magic store or something like Party City in your town, you can probably buy this locally.

Rosaleen
2008-08-23, 14:06
Thanks, Dino-

I've been skating around the 'Net, looking, and also checking local stores. Myers, near my parents' home had a palm-sized pump. I'm afraid it won't hold up long. WalMart has a bigger and sturdier one, but it is too big for me to want to pack or carry it. I may not need to buy quality balloons if I use them only once or twice. Oh, boy, oh, boy, toys for tinkering!

Rosaleen

kayak karl
2008-08-23, 19:14
http://www.balloonbed.com/Index.htm they sell just the balloons for their bed

CaSteve
2008-08-23, 19:49
Hi, Guys-

Hubby and I have a chance to go to northern California next year. Point Reyes Nat'l Seashore is a probable stopover and appears to be treeless in the camping areas, at least. Yellowstone's established car-camping areas are unlikely to have trees located for great hammocking for two, and some trails will lead us above treeline, assuming hubby will go for a backpacking trip.



Rosaleen,

I backpack at Point Reyes a couple times per year. There are 4 backpacking campgrounds. Sky Camp & Glen Camp have trees, I have used my hammock at Glen Camp & Sky Camp. Coast Camp does not have trees. I have not camped at Wildcat yet, but will try it in Oct.
I stayed at Coast Camp in Sept., and it was very windy. Felt like my tent was being sandblasted.
Personally, Sky Camp is my favorite. On a clear day there are beautiful ocean vistas.
Glen is nice too, but no ocean view. The advantage is it is more protected from the wind.
Be sure to make reservations before you go. They will take reservations in advance, but getting a campsite on a weekend is very difficult. Weekdays are easy.

Have fun,
Steve

Rosaleen
2008-08-23, 21:01
Yes, thank you, you are correct. Getting balloons like theirs is not a problem. The pump is my concern.

Rosaleen

Rosaleen
2008-08-23, 21:05
You HAVE been able to hammock camp at Point Reyes? Great! Sometimes it is good to get the wrong info. Maybe I can get the balloon beds and the rest of the gear so compact that I can also pack a Hyperlight and Explorer UL. I'm starting to kick around the idea of giving myself an extra week in CA. I work in a school and have the whole summer. I can fly ahead OR stay behind, if I find a hiking partner to buddy up with. I may see if a niece who lives in Sacrmento is interested and her school/work schedule permits.

Rosaleen

CaSteve
2008-08-24, 01:47
You HAVE been able to hammock camp at Point Reyes? Great! Sometimes it is good to get the wrong info. Maybe I can get the balloon beds and the rest of the gear so compact that I can also pack a Hyperlight and Explorer UL. I'm starting to kick around the idea of giving myself an extra week in CA. I work in a school and have the whole summer. I can fly ahead OR stay behind, if I find a hiking partner to buddy up with. I may see if a niece who lives in Sacrmento is interested and her school/work schedule permits.

Rosaleen

The key at Glen & Sky camps is to get the right campsite. It's much easier at Sky. Take a look at the maps on the NPS website. They show where the trees are. At Glen I had to camp off in the weeds (poison oak). So it can be done, but a tent offers more options. At the camps on the coast, a tent is your only option. And all the campgrounds are backpacking campgrounds. There is no car camping within Point Reyes National Seashore.

kayak karl
2008-08-24, 09:20
Yes, thank you, you are correct. Getting balloons like theirs is not a problem. The pump is my concern.

Rosaleen
They sell these pumpps at Wal-Mart. mine weights 3.5 oz's

peter_pan
2008-08-24, 16:40
Google it up on BPL..... Gardenville made these about 4 years back.... I built one based on his plan..... short trips, when you can carry enough balloons works fine, since ya pop them in the morning to pack up... be sure to pack out your used balloons...:biggrin:

Pan

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-24, 17:00
Looks like Gardenville used poly-tubes (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=10418), but it should work with balloon.

Edited to add - found an earlier version that used the balloons (http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/656/index.html?skip_to_post=4522#4522)

Rosaleen
2008-08-25, 00:37
Yes, thanks, I've looked at the BPL thread, also his SkunkWorks Blog, and I'm trying to pick some more info through a mutual friend. I can probably come up with the mattress cover, fine tuning it to work for hubby and my needs. What I REALLY want to find are other people's experiences and Gardenville's pump and how reliable it is. Gardenville is pretty slim, so his weight may affect the balloons differently than a heavier person's. The balloon hand-pumps I've seen on-line are large clunky cylinders. The pump at Balloons.com and the one Gardenville shows is abolut palm-sized. The closest I've found is one at Myers, several states from where I live. It looks pretty flimsy. It would really stink to be out in the boonies, depending on a failed pump... Sometimes I can untie and retie the balloons, if I'm really careful and really lucky. Planning to use them once or twice, the cheap ones should do. I'll experiment at home, first, to see. Maybe the cheap and readily available balloons will pop as soon as I try to get on the mattress. Maybe not... It is something to play with,,,

Thanks, again.

Rosaleen

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-25, 21:54
Rosaleen, these balloons aren't that hard to blow up manually - they don't hold that much air. You could do that in the event of a pump failure.

Rosaleen
2008-08-25, 22:16
Seriously, I've been able to blow up other balloons, but the two packages from different sources that I've tried to blow up by mouth were a "no-go."

I have a lot of ideas rattling around my head. We may end up car camping when not in B&B's or motels. Hubby uses a C-PAP machine when he sleeps and may not want to give it up. The Sacramento neice may be taking her bar exam when we are in the area, so she probably will not be able to go backpacking. One idea I'm kicking around is making the balloon beds so they can attach to each other and bringing a shell, open on one end, that I can slide a sheet of poly batting from a local WalMart into. I wouldn't want to carry it backpacking, but the balloon beds, "quickie quilt," recycled cans for pots and home made alky stove would be a nice starter set to leave with the niece for her own camping purposes, provided she is interested. Toss in a home-made soda can candle lantern, and she'd be set up nicely. If I feel really ambitious, maybe I will make a pair of ponchos to connect for a shelter and a net tent for the two of us. A long winter of contract negotiations is in my forseeable future. Either I won't get to the sewing projects at all, or they will be nice escapes...

Rosaleen

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-26, 14:54
Rosaleen, try stretching the tube balloons to about three times their original length. According to my magical sources, it makes them blow up easier.

Rosaleen
2008-08-26, 15:57
Yes, thank you, I did that, too. Keep the suggestions coming, though, being himan, I can't have thought of everything

I really expect that *I* had enough hot air to accomplish the task, but apparently not! It seems that I need to rely on a cheater, er, pump.

Rosaleen

Frolicking Dino
2008-08-27, 08:18
Yikes. Magicians that do stuff like handing out balloon animals at restaurant or mall openings have a small pocket pump (http://www.balloons.com/online/programs/nfrun.exe?showinv+1992) they use for this ('cause blowing up a hundred of these suckers an hour for several hours would give anyone a headache). They work well and are small, light and reliable. These have a silicon washer inside that creates the seal - it has to be replaced after about 1,000 to 1,500 uses or it starts to leak. You can get the washer at a plumbing supply place - direction for replacement come with the pump.

The pumps sold to inflate things like a BA mat would not work for this - too much pressure is needed to inflate the balloons.

Rosaleen
2008-08-27, 08:59
Thanks, good info, Dino-

I'm still hoping to find a smaller and lighter pump, similar to the one shown at balloonbeds.com. At least the one you show might be repairable. None of the other pumps I've seen mention this at all, nor any information about a life cycle. Knowing the mean time between failures rate would ease concerns a great deal.

Rosaleen

Rosaleen
2008-08-27, 09:29
Kayak Karl-

I missed your post until now. I hadn't considered this style pump. Theya re bulky and I would expect it to weigh more than 3.5 oz. We had one like it many years ago, before I backpacked or looked at weights. Hmm!

Just spotted a review of the new BA Clearview mattresses. It might be worth considering the 25 inch wide one for hubby and some baloons between his mattress and mide for a continuous light mattress less liekly to fail. I have all winter to ponder this...
<http://www.backcountry.com/store/BAG0128/Big-Agnes-Clearview-Air-Pad.html>

Regards,

Rosaleen

peter_pan
2008-08-27, 11:53
to clarify, gardenville or bill fornshell used baloons before the poly tubes which were an improvement that he worked on so as to be able to create a dam....pretty creative guy.

fwiw the small air pump i found at ww about 4 years ago weighed 2.5 oz and held up fine.... nice experiment.... for testing i walked all over a baloon bed in trail runners with no adverse effect...it was a fun experiment that got a comfy 2.5 inch thick matress to about 5 oz.... just cold and still far less comfort than a hammock.

pan

Rosaleen
2008-08-27, 13:32
I agree that "Gardenville" is quite amazing. It is great that he shares his ideas so freely, too.

By "ww," do you mean "Wally World"/WalMart? There is a large cylidrical one in the store near me. I will have to weigh it, but the size is discouraging me from wanting to pack it for an airplane or in my backpack. It is larger than a quart-sized Nalgene. Its size, starts to negate the balloon bed's value. One I make would still be dirt cheap, at least, with stashed $1/yd fabric and WW balloons and pump. The set up would be OK, rather than great, for the trip to San Francisco, not for in case I'm stranded in an airport or in a shelter due to a severe thunderstorm.

Thanks for your input. You are spot on that it would be less comfortable than a hammock, of course.

Rosaleen

peter_pan
2008-08-29, 12:54
I agree that "Gardenville" is quite amazing. It is great that he shares his ideas so freely, too.

By "ww," do you mean "Wally World"/WalMart? There is a large cylidrical one in the store near me. I will have to weigh it, but the size is discouraging me from wanting to pack it for an airplane or in my backpack. It is larger than a quart-sized Nalgene. Its size, starts to negate the balloon bed's value. One I make would still be dirt cheap, at least, with stashed $1/yd fabric and WW balloons and pump. The set up would be OK, rather than great, for the trip to San Francisco, not for in case I'm stranded in an airport or in a shelter due to a severe thunderstorm.

Thanks for your input. You are spot on that it would be less comfortable than a hammock, of course.

Rosaleen

yup... ww = wally world..... the nature of their inventory fluctuates over the years.... i've seen pumps from approx 6 inche long to over a foot....if you are not finding the smaller one, try a clown supply store

pan

Rosaleen
2008-08-29, 17:48
Hmm, clown supply store. Might translate to novelty or costume shop. I've been looking more at party supplies.

Thanks for the brilliant lead.

Rosaleen

oops56
2008-08-29, 18:08
How about a basketball pump

Rosaleen
2008-08-29, 18:18
Maybe, if the nozzle fits right and I can make the balloon stay on the nozzle and pump, too. Still looking for compact and light...

Thanks for the idea.

Rosaleen

CaSteve
2008-10-08, 01:08
Rosaleen,

I camped at Point Reyes Wildcat Camp this weekend. Defiantly the nicest campground within Point Reyes (IMHO), but no trees. The hike from the Palomarin trailhead (next to the Point Reyes Bird Observatory) to Wildcat on the Coast trail is one of the best trails in the park. We stopped by Bass Lake and Alamere Falls. It was a great trip.

-Steve

Rosaleen
2008-10-08, 06:24
Thanks, Steve!

Do you have any idea of the distance of the hike? Time will be tight and I need to figure out how to allocate out time. Also, if you live in the area, can you tell me if the ocean moderates the temps? We will be there in August, so if it is blisteringly hot, it will be far less enjoyable than it would be at more reasonable temps.

Thanks, again!

Rosaleen

CaSteve
2008-10-09, 00:43
Thanks, Steve!

Do you have any idea of the distance of the hike? Time will be tight and I need to figure out how to allocate out time. Also, if you live in the area, can you tell me if the ocean moderates the temps? We will be there in August, so if it is blisteringly hot, it will be far less enjoyable than it would be at more reasonable temps.

Thanks, again!

Rosaleen

The distance from the Palomarin trailhead to Wildcat Camp is 5.5 miles.

The side trip to Alamere Falls is a .8 mi round trip. That trail is unmaintained & goes through some very steep gullies at the end.

The temps this weekend were in the high 60's during the day & low - mid 50s at night. August would be much warmer. Around the first of Sept it was in the 90's inland. Here is a link to monthly averages (http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/monthly/graph/USCA0802?locid=USCA0802&from=month_bottomnav_undeclared).
It can be a little cooler along the coastline, especially in the morning if the marine layer is present.

Hope that helps,
Steve

Rosaleen
2008-10-09, 07:51
Steve-

Your information and link are awesome! YOU are awesome for sharing.

Best,

Rosaleen