King Kong Ain’t Got #$@% On My Horsetail Sleeping Pad: Don’t let Mother Nature suck the life out of you


Thank you Denzel for that perfect introduction.  If you are in a Survival Situation and someone steals your Therma-Rest –   not all hope is lost!

I’d like to start this post with the definition of CONDUCTION:

con·duc·tion : [kuhn-duhk-shuhn] : noun – the transfer of heat between substances that are in direct contact with each other


For the purpose of this post, those 2 substances are YOUR BODY and THE GROUND.  If the ground it colder than your body and you lay on it, it will SUCK THE LIFE right out of you like a blood-thirsty vampire.  This is certainly a recipe for hypothermia.  In cold weather survival scenarios (and any scenario for that matter), there should always be a layer of protection & insulation between your body and the cold earth.  You probably won’t have a modern closed cell foam sleeping pad in a sudden survival scenario.

Don’t Worry – Mother Nature has your back covered – literally!


When it comes to insulating your back-side, Mother Nature has you covered.  You can use a variety of natural materials as a sleeping ground pad.  Below is a short list:

  • Grasses
  • Leaves
  • Tree Branch Boughs – evergreen branches work great – when you stack them on top of each other alternate how you lay them

Just seeing that picture makes me want to take a nap.

I wrote this post, though, about a very specific plant that makes an incredible sleeping insulation pad.  It takes a little more effort than an leaf bed or bough bed but would be worth the time in an extended survival scenario and is the closest match I can think of to modern closed-cell foam technology.  This plant is the Horsetail.

Horsetail is a very interesting plant.  It is comprised of sections and resembles mini bamboo except it isn’t hard like bamboo.  It looks like an ancient plant you would see in a Jurasic Park movie.  I’ve only ever seen it growing at the edge of or near water.  You can’t miss it – there is no other plant like it.

Horsetail grows from 2-4 feet tall and is hollow.  I’ve used it as a blow-tube before for making coal burned containers.  You can compress it with your fingers and it pops back into shape.  It’s springy and spongy and when you gather several of them together, you can easily make a nice foam-like pad.  Below, see how I’ve used Horsetail to make a long term survival sleeping pad.

First, I gathered a huge batch of horsetail plants – cutting them off at the base.

Then, I made fist-full sized bundles.

And tied them together at both ends using natural cordage from the Rafia Palm.  You can also use dried grasses or cattail leaves.

Here are several bundles tied together.

And more…

Now if I needed to travel with this sleeping pad I could have gone the extra mile and lashed these sections together.  For my purposes, though, this wasn’t necessary.  I used these to make a full body sleeping pad on a raised bed in a primitive shelter I built here at Willow Haven.

I kid you not that this Horsetail sleeping pad is more comfortable than ANY closed-cell foam pad I have ever used.



This big lesson in this post is not about HORSETAIL.  It’s really about the concept of a GROUND PAD.  Regardless of what it is you decide to use in a cold weather survival scenario, make sure that you put something with some insulation value between your body and the cold Earth.  She will suck the life right out of you.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,


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