Has anyone ordered stuff from the SkyMall catalog? Are those parking mats useful? Is the giant crossword puzzle futile? Is the Sting letter opener superfluous? Will the garden giraffes fool neighbors into calling animal control? Is the silvery gray color of the aged teak shower seat really lovely? Have you ever wanted to cut perfect slices of pizza every time? Is it smart to cover electrical cords with flammable fabric cord covers? For all the mocking and sarcastic comments that can occupy time on a flight, there is one item that seemed partially useful: the Dreamsack.
But since everything in that catalog is overpriced (surely you can find a cheaper kick-ass casserole dish?), I wanted to look elsewhere for an alternative. And this blog isn’t meant to make fun of the SkyMall catalog, but instead, inspire you to play your own travel game and try to guess which passengers on the plane would order which items and why. That guy with the not-so-subtle-but-better-than-most comb-over and wearing wingtips probably has a Light of Optimism motivational poster in his den. That middle-aged lady with the fake Louis Vuitton handbag paid over $150 for a Pet Ramp Staircase instead of, you know, going to Home Depot and spending $15 on a sheet of wood, a hammer, four nails, and a free carpet scrap.
Okay, back on topic now. The Cocoon CoolMax Travel Sheet is cheaper and sounds more rugged (only the word “sheet” is a touch unmanly). It can be used as an indoor sleeping bag, as the basic camping sleeping bag is designed to keep you warm outdoors. This can also be used as a sleeping bag liner, rated at 8°F, which will help your sleeping bag last longer (less wear and dirt on the inside). When you travel, you may be suspicious of the bedding, whether in hostels, bed & breakfasts, and even hotels. Some hostels require you to provide your own bedding, and sleeping bags are quite unfeasible for non-personal automobile travel. Surely no one needs to tell you to never use the pillows and blankets on airplanes, instead, you can wrap this around yourself (and/or a partner). This is ideal for warm weather environments if used alone.
Weighing in at 11.5 ounces (with stuff sack) and around the same size as a 1-Liter Nalgene bottle (~7 inches tall when packed), this can be tossed into your carry-on luggage, and even fits into the water bottle holder commonly found on backpacks. The one I bought unfolds to a rectangular 86×33 inches. It is made of moisture wicking, quick drying, breathable CoolMax synthetic material, and comes with a ripstop nylon mesh stuff sack (for passive aeration and extra drying time while packed). You also won’t need blueprints to fold it back up to properly fit into the stuff sack. It has a pillow flap and no zippers/buttons for you to roll onto and hurt yourself. It is stitched on three sides, so it’s not the easiest thing to climb out of if you need to quickly escape. I like the 33 inch width, which gives me more arm room inside the sack (as opposed to a slightly cheaper, REI MTS microfiber bag liner with a 28 inch width). I tried both (returning the REI microfiber one because of the size issue), but I’ve noticed the CoolMax sack built up static electricity when using it. It does diminish with increased use, but be aware of that when you first buy it. If I didn’t prefer more arm room, I would have kept the REI MTS microfiber sack, as it had a side flap (so you’re not completely enclosed), the material felt softer (and easier to get back in the stuff sack), and is cheaper ($5 will buy a sandwich). I also prefer the rectangular shape to the mummy shape, possibly because of its asymmetry when rolled up or because it has less foot room at the bottom.
If you travel often, camp out a lot, like to sleep on planes, or are suspicious of provided bedding, bring one of these. If you have kids who sleep over at friend’s houses, just this and a floor mat should be adequate. I brought my foam mat and this sleep sack when visiting friends and it’s much nicer not having to carry a bulky sleeping bag that is too hot for indoor use. This would have been handy for some people on my early research cruises along the California coast, as they were still cold inside their sleeping bag and extra layers of clothes. When you wear that much stuff, you can still sweat (even if you feel cold), which will cool you down even more.
Your decision to purchase a similar item does depend on your environment and how it would be used. There are sacks/sheets made from synthetic materials (my first choice), microfiber (second choice), silk (third choice, and the most expensive), and cotton (the cheapest, and last choice, because of the extreme difficulty in trying to put the rolled up sheet back into its stuff sack). Just whatever you do, don’t buy the Slanket. Come on, who thought it would be a good idea to make a blanket with sleeves?
Previous Travel Gear and Gadgets: