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How to sleep on a portaledge

  • Feb 23, 2015

Ever wondered how adventure climbers sleep while tackling a large mountain or impressively steep cliff? Many use a portaledge to stay safe while resting on such rigorous trails.

If you've never heard of a portaledge before, you're not alone. Many outdoorsmen aren't presented with opportunities where they'd need to learn about them. However, if you're planning on embarking on a rock or mountain-climbing adventure soon, it's time to learn about the gear and how it's used in the outdoors.

What is a portaledge?
Think of a portaledge as a hanging sleeping bag or tent, but much sturdier. Most portaledges are made from hefty suspension materials meant to stabilize climbers or campers on a steep cliff. Often, they have compartments or hooks to hang gear, bags or belongings.

How does it work?
Specific instructions for individual portaledges vary by brand, so it's crucial that you familiarize yourself with the one you've purchased before going on your adventure. The last thing you want is to be stuck on a ledge with no direction on how to use your product.

Most portaledges work in the same way. You'll want to assemble it before climbing, keeping parts stored in the accompanying bag. Assess your product before each adventure - even if you've used it before - to ensure there are no tears or broken materials, as these can have a serious impact on your portaledge's integrity.

Once you've reached the spot you want to set up camp, you'll need to adhere to the instructions set forth in your instruction manual. Most products have an anchor that needs to be locked with carabiner, so double check that you have the necessary materials before embarking. This anchor - much like your rock-climbing gear - should keep the portaledge from becoming dislodged.

Is my safety guaranteed?
As with most outdoor adventures, safety cannot be 100 percent guaranteed. You can, however, take steps to make sure your journey goes off without a hitch. For example, carry along your instruction manual when on the cliff. This way, you can look up any information you may have forgotten and easily find pointers as needed. In addition to securing your equipment well, you'll need to strictly adhere to guidelines from your portaledge, including those that concern weight and set-up. You'll also need to keep a sharp eye on the placement of your portaledge - you don't want to set up shop in an area prone to falling rocks.

Can I keep my gear safe?
While you're sleeping, you'll want to secure your bags to ensure they don't go flying off the portaledge during your slumber. Even if you're positive that you won't kick it off the edge (which is a very real possibility for those sleeping with unsecured baggage), it's best practice to tie your stuff down before bed. Some portaledges will have hooks and loops for your bags to dangle from, so you'll need to consult your guide before moving forward. 

If the portaledge does not have these accessories, you'll need to strap belongings securely to your bed before sleeping. The last thing you want is to lose your emergency supplies, watch altimeter and water reserves.

How do I use the bathroom?
Can you use the bathroom while climbing? Yes. Is it desirable? Not really.

It's actually quite similar to any other outdoor nature-calling scenario. To protect the integrity of your portaledge, you won't want to do your business off the side, but if you do need to do this while in your portaledge, it's essential that you remain strapped in at all times.

Protrek's PRW3000-2B provides each wearer with the proper information so you can make sure your cliff climbing experience is safe yet exhilarating. It's Triple Sensor Version 3 delivers profound reading accuracy so you can climb with no worries.