There’s something very therapeutic about unplugging and hiking through nature.
But getting outdoors can be difficult for people who suffer from sleep apnea.
The American Sleep Apnea Association found that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. And 80% of those cases are diagnosed with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Many outdoor adventurers who go backpacking with sleep apnea would skip treatment and disrupt camp with loud snoring and restless sleep.
Sleep apnea sufferers often sacrifice a good night’s sleep and relaxation to enjoy the outdoors.
Fortunately, as portable CPAP technology improves, people can go backpacking or camping with sleep apnea without skipping treatment.
Backpackers and campers suffering from sleep apnea need to get the right equipment and learn how to find power.
By following my tips for backpacking with sleep apnea, the next time you camp you’ll rest easy under the stars.
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Table of Contents
Top Accessories for Backpacking with Sleep Apnea
These portable CPAP machines make camping and hiking a breeze without sacrificing your sleep quality.
If your portable CPAP machine doesn’t come with a mask or if you prefer to use your regular mask, make sure it is soft and lightweight.
How to pack your sleep apnea equipment?
When you’re preparing for a backpacking adventure and you have sleep apnea, organizing your sleep apnea equipment might seem like a puzzle. But don’t worry, with some smart strategies, you can tackle this challenge like a pro.
Let’s start with the crucial gear: your CPAP machine. For instance, if you’re using the ResMed AirSense 10, which weighs around 2.75 pounds (1.24 kg), you’re in luck. Its compact size and relatively lightweight design make it a suitable companion for backpacking escapades.
But don’t forget the supporting players in this setup. Your CPAP machine needs its power adapter and cords to function. These pieces are non-negotiable, as they keep your machine running. A handy trick is to use a small zippered pouch to keep these cords neatly organized, ensuring they don’t turn into a knotty mess.
Now, onto the mask and headgear. The Philips DreamWear nasal mask is a top choice for backpackers with sleep apnea. Why? It’s light on contact, making it comfortable for your snooze sessions, and its lightweight design makes it a breeze to pack.
Hygiene matters even when you’re on the go. Consider packing travel-sized CPAP wipes to keep your equipment clean and fresh during your adventure.
For protecting your precious CPAP machine, invest in a padded case. Here’s where equipment specifics come into play. The ResMed AirMini, weighing a mere 0.66 pounds (0.3 kg), is a fantastic travel-oriented CPAP device that fits snugly into such cases.
Now, let’s talk about the tubing. Instead of folding it, roll it up. The standard CPAP tubing measures about 6 feet (1.83 meters), and rolling it is a nifty way to keep it compact and tangle-free.
If you’re a humidifier user, here’s an extra tip. Check if your humidifier is detachable. The ResMed AirSense 10, for instance, has a removable humidifier that’s a lifesaver when you’re aiming to conserve space.
Remember, when you’re backpacking, weight is your companion’s companion. Keep an eye on the overall weight of your sleep apnea equipment, striving for minimal bulkiness.
By thoughtfully selecting gear, considering size and weight, and implementing these practical techniques, you can embark on your backpacking journey while managing your sleep apnea like a seasoned traveler.
How Do I Use my CPAP Without electricity?
Nowadays, many campsites come with electrical outlets, so if you bring an extension cord, you’ll be able to plug in your CPAP machine easily.
But when you go off-grid, you’ll need another power source for your CPAP machine.
CPAP backup power supply options include CPAP batteries, portable power stations, and car batteries.
These will keep your machine running no matter where you camp for the night:
Battery Power: One of the most common solutions is to use a CPAP battery pack. These portable battery packs are designed to provide power to your CPAP machine when you don’t have access to electricity. They come in various sizes and capacities, so make sure to choose one that’s compatible with your specific CPAP model. Some CPAP manufacturers even offer their own battery options designed to work seamlessly with their machines.
DC Power Adapter: Many CPAP machines have DC power adapters that allow you to connect the machine to a power source like a car battery or a portable power station. Check if your CPAP model supports this option, and if it does, make sure to have the appropriate adapter and cables on hand.
Portable Power Stations: Portable power stations, also known as solar generators, are versatile devices that can provide electricity to various devices, including CPAP machines. Look for a power station with an AC outlet or a DC output that matches your CPAP’s requirements. Keep in mind that the capacity of the power station will determine how long it can power your CPAP before needing to be recharged.
Solar Chargers: If you’re planning to be in a sunny environment, consider using a solar charger to keep your CPAP battery pack or portable power station charged. Solar panels can harness the sun’s energy to replenish your power sources during the day, allowing you to use your CPAP at night.
Conserving Power: To extend the runtime of your CPAP on battery power, consider using features that reduce power consumption, such as turning off the heated humidifier or using a lower pressure setting if your machine allows it. Some CPAP machines also have a “battery-saving” mode that optimizes power usage.
Practice: Before embarking on a trip where you’ll need to use your CPAP without electricity, practice setting up and using your CPAP with battery power at home. This will help you become familiar with the process and troubleshoot any potential issues.
Now that CPAP batteries are lighter and more affordable, hauling your CPAP battery pack up the mountain is no longer so strenuous or impractical.
Here are some popular CPAP battery packs for camping:
- MAXOAK K5 CPAP Power BANK
- Freedom CPAP Battery Standard Kit
- Medistrom Pilot-24 Lite CPAP Battery
- RemBatt-Atavyst Battery bundle for ResMed AirSense 10 CPAP
- Renogy CPAP Battery
Portable power stations
Another option is to use a portable power station. Many of the new power stations are equipped to power a CPAP machine all night.
You can easily take these in your tent and set up with your machine. Some great options for portable power stations include:
- Renogy 72000mAh/266Wh Portable Power Pack
- Flashfish EA150 Portable Power Pack
- EF ECOFLOW EFDELATA Portable Solar Generator
Keep in mind, some of these power generators are bulky and may not be a great choice if you’re backpacking off the grid. These are better suited for around established campgrounds.
You can also use a car battery to power your CPAP machine. Because car batteries are lead-acid deep cycle, the battery can power your CPAP for days.
To connect your CPAP using a DC adapter cable or an inverter, place the positive and negative alligator clips on the car battery’s correct terminals.
Then plug your CPAP into the DC adapter or the inverter’s outlet.
Hauling a car battery is not the best idea when backpacking with sleep apnea. This is better suited for camping in a campground where you don’t have to hike very far to the campsite.
How do I keep my CPAP Machine & Accessories Clean While Camping?
Keeping your CPAP machine and accessories clean while camping is important to ensure your equipment functions properly and maintain your health.
To ensure your machine stays clean, don’t pull out your machine until your tent is set up.
Then make sure you set up your machine in a low traffic area inside your tent. If the machine or mask gets dirty, use CPAP Mask wipes to clean your equipment.
If your CPAP machine smells like smoke from the campfire, you can rinse your mask using vinegar and water.
Using a 1:3 ratio of vinegar to water, thoroughly rinse your mask, then rinse with water. Remember to change your CPAP filters too.
Here’s how you can maintain cleanliness while enjoying the great outdoors:
Hand Hygiene: Before handling your CPAP equipment, make sure to clean your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to prevent transferring dirt and germs.
Clean Environment: Set up your CPAP equipment on a clean, flat surface. Avoid placing it directly on the ground to prevent dirt and dust from getting into your equipment.
Wipe Down Surfaces: Regularly wipe down the surfaces of your CPAP machine and accessories with CPAP-friendly wipes. These wipes are designed to clean your equipment without damaging it. Focus on areas that come into contact with your hands or face.
Use Distilled Water: If you’re using a humidifier with your CPAP, use distilled water to prevent mineral buildup. Bring enough distilled water for your camping trip, as finding distilled water in remote locations might be challenging.
Keep Accessories Separate: Store your CPAP accessories in separate bags or compartments to prevent cross-contamination. Use resealable plastic bags or small containers to keep everything organized and clean.
Rinse and Dry: If you have the opportunity, rinse your CPAP mask and tubing with clean water after each use. Hang them up to dry in a well-ventilated area before storing them. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can degrade the materials.
Disposal Bags: Have disposal bags on hand for used wipes, tissues, or any disposable items. This helps keep your camping area tidy and prevents litter.
Backup Filters: Carry extra CPAP filters in case the ones in your machine get dirty or damaged. Filters help keep dust and allergens out of the air you breathe.
Consider a Travel-Friendly Setup: Some CPAP manufacturers offer travel-friendly machines that are smaller and more portable. These might be easier to clean and maintain during your camping trip.
Prevent Moisture: If you’re camping in a humid environment, moisture can accumulate inside your equipment. Consider using moisture-absorbing packs or placing your equipment in a dry bag when not in use.
Regular Inspection: Take a few minutes each day to inspect your CPAP equipment for any signs of damage, wear, or dirt accumulation. Address any issues promptly to prevent further complications.
Top Tips for Backpacking with Sleep Apnea
When backpacking with sleep apnea, here are a few handy CPAP camping solutions to make the adventure more enjoyable:
Choose Lightweight Equipment: Opt for lightweight and compact sleep apnea equipment. Look for travel-specific CPAP machines that are designed for portability. The ResMed AirMini and the Philips DreamStation Go are great examples of lightweight travel CPAP machines.
Pack Spare Supplies: Bring extra CPAP masks, tubing, and filters. Accidents can happen, and having backups ensures you won’t be caught off guard by equipment failures.
Battery Power: Invest in a reliable CPAP battery pack. These portable power sources are essential for keeping your CPAP machine running when you’re away from electricity. Make sure the battery is fully charged before your trip.
Practice at Home: Set up and use your CPAP equipment with battery power at home before your backpacking trip. This will help you become familiar with the process and address any issues in a controlled environment.
Test Your Gear: Test your CPAP equipment and battery pack together to ensure they work seamlessly. Confirm that the battery’s capacity is sufficient for the duration of your trip.
Pack Carefully: Organize your CPAP equipment in a separate bag or compartment to keep it clean and protected. Use padded cases or protective sleeves to prevent damage during the hike.
Cleanliness Matters: Maintain a cleaning routine while camping. Wipe down surfaces with CPAP-friendly wipes, and rinse your mask and tubing with clean water when possible. Follow manufacturer guidelines for cleaning your specific equipment.
Consider Altitude: If you’re backpacking at higher altitudes, your CPAP machine might need adjustments. Consult your healthcare provider or the manufacturer for guidance on adjusting your pressure settings for altitude changes.
Stay Hydrated: Dehydration can worsen sleep apnea symptoms. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and reduce the risk of breathing difficulties during the night.
Elevate Your Head: When setting up your sleeping area, elevate your head slightly using an inflatable pillow or rolled-up clothing. This can help alleviate breathing difficulties and improve sleep quality.
Monitor Your Symptoms: Pay attention to how you’re feeling during the trip. If you notice any worsening of sleep apnea symptoms, such as increased snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness, take appropriate measures.
Inform Travel Partners: If you’re backpacking with others, let them know about your sleep apnea condition and how to respond if you experience any difficulties during the night.
Check Regulations: If you’re flying to your backpacking destination, familiarize yourself with airline policies regarding CPAP equipment. Most airlines allow CPAP machines as carry-on items, but it’s a good idea to check in advance.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the beauty of nature! Backpacking is a wonderful way to connect with the outdoors and manage your sleep apnea effectively.
Don’t use a power inverter if you can help it
In some instances, a power inverter may be your only option.
But try to avoid using a power inverter when you go camping because it can also drain the life of your battery (because they use the battery power to convert to AC).
This is not ideal if you are camping for multiple days.
Use a travel CPAP machine
If you’re driving into a campground, you can take your CPAP machine, but you run the risk of damage or getting dirty.
They can also be bulky, large, and weigh more. Travel CPAP machines are designed to be lightweight, easy to clean, and convenient.
Use a solar battery for long backpacking trips
There are a few CPAP batteries, like the Freedom CPAP Battery Standard Kit, that have a solar power mode for charging. This allows you to charge your CPAP battery every day so you can go deep into the backcountry without losing sleep.
If you’re opting to use a portable power station, the EF ECOFLOW EFDELATA Portable Solar Generator is an excellent solar charger for CPAP machines.
Don’t sleep with a humidifier
If you usually use a humidifier with your CPAP machine, try to leave it behind when you go camping. A humidifier will put extra strain on your battery pack and shorten its life.
Your CPAP machine can blow up your air mattress
While not its intended use, many campers use their CPAP Machine to blow up their air mattresses. Harness the air power of your machine to make your tent more comfortable.
If you absolutely can’t bring your CPAP machine
Try sleeping with a hammock. Sleeping upright has shown to be an effective alternative treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.