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sleeping mat for canoe camping

looking for something lightweight but comfortable and insulating for a few nights sleep.
Any recommendations? Maybe one of those self inflatable mats?


  • Are
    you using a sleeping bag & tent, or just sleeping under the stars with a bag? I just use a camping pad-can get em at wal-mart or any sporting goods store for $10-$15. Light weight, but won't do anything for you as far as insulation. Guess it depends on where / what time of year you want to camp, & what's most important- comfort, warmth, weight, price.
  • yep, sleeping bag in tent.
    yep, sleeping bag in tent.
    It's in Quebec in the summer but can get cold at night.
    Need some sort of insulation from the ground and the cheap mats don;t seem to be comfortable.
  • Thermarest
    Jack L
  • Sleeping pad from Exped
    We have been using Synmat 7's for three years and retired the Thermarests.

    They are OK for cool weather..down to about freezing. We used them on canoe trips to the Yukon, Utah, Quebec and Ontario.
  • Top two mattresses:
    1) Exped Synmat 7, highest rated by backpackers for comfort. Will fit in any kayak or canoe. I don't know of a Thermarest that equals the Synmat in comfort. Insulated for winter (rated to one degree F).

    2) REI Camp Bed 3.5, a self-inflatable. Won't fit in a kayak, but would be okay in a canoe. This is the most comfort you can get from a camping mattress, short of a full-size airbed. A bit more comfortable than the Synmat 7. Easier to inflate (the Synmat is a pain to inflate).
  • price
    those mats look great but they're both over $100 and then some.
    I was figuring I could get away with something for $50 but it sounds like the comfort won;t be that good.
  • Comfort is in the eyes of the beholder..
    and his wallet
    Get a thermorest. Mine is nice and comfy and within budget

    Jack L
  • luxurylite cot
    It is out of your price range, but I bought one despite it being expensive and I'll never use another sleep mat.

    It breaks down as small as my thermarest pad and is as light. Never have to worry about going flat in the night, and gets you off the ground and any possible bumps.
  • We're using REI 2.5s. I tried the 3.5
    but even at my weight and with my protruding hip sockets, the 3.5 wasn't better than the 2.5.

    Sleeping on the bare ground or on inadequate padding may cause one's restorative sleep (stages 3 and 4 if you care) to be repeatedly interrupted. Research done long ago showed that when stage 3/4 was repeatedly interrupted in a sleep lab, normal subjects felt in daytime as if they had fibromyalgia. Interrupting REM sleep did not produce that effect, though it left subjects sleepy.

    So a good sleeping pad is a place where extra money may be well spent. I also suggest a small pillow filled with buckwheat, to keep your head from scrunching when you sleep on your side.
  • ever stayed at a $100 hotel
    and had to sleep on a crappy uncomfortable mattress?

    Exped is worth it.
  • Options
    Big fan
    of the Thermorest pads. They are quite comfortable, not heavy relative to the comfort and they last forever if you take reasonable care of them. Alternative brands (lie EMS) are poorly made and will not hold up. You get what you pay for.
  • The correct answer to your question
    may also depend on the underlying ground. Thermarests of a canoe camping and portaging size that roll up into a small bundle are inadequate in the Canadian Shield. And god save you if you try to sleep on the tundra on one!

    They work fine on sandy beaches or forest floor duff that has no underlying rocks an inch down.
  • Going cheap
    The Foam pads like the Ridge-Rest are not as comfortable as the self-inflating ones, but much cheaper. You can double up the Ridge-rest or the Walmart equivalent and still be around $50. The foam pads eliminate the worry about sticks or sharp rocks deflating your bed under load.
  • Actually on that queen size mattress
    in my travel trailer beats them all.
    Now if only I could figure a way to tow it behind the canoe.

    Jack L
  • Luxury at a Bargain Price

    I highly recommend Exped. I have two, one over 10 years old, one about 5 years old. Tell you what. If you buy this pad and DON'T like it, I'll buy it from you for what you pay!
  • Options
    Therm-a-Rest Fan

    I've used various forms of sleeping pads over the years, including just about every model of Therm-a-Rest. To date, I've been the most satisfied with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper Sleeping Pad.


    I still have my original 3/4 Standard Therm-a-Rest purchased in 1982! I've used Therm-a-Rest pads in the BWCAW, Quetico, and various other tripping locations, as well as winter camping for over thirty years.

    I know there's a loyal following for the Exped brand, probably for a good reason, but I'll stick with my Therm-a-Rest(s). If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
  • I can't help but wonder...
    -- Last Updated: Dec-30-13 11:30 PM EST --

    if this is a size issue much like selecting a kayak for touring. Would a sleeping mat for a 5' 125# back sleeper work for a 6' 5" 245# side sleeper? Not at all.
    A data base of size, position, gender and preferred mat would be a very interesting project.
    FWIW, I'm 6' 200# male side sleeper, and I like the Exped Synmat 9LW. Further, I live in a warm climate.

  • Try to borrow from friends and find out
    before buying or shop the thrift stores or second hand outdoor gear to reduce the price risk. With Christmas over with, people will be unloading "old" gear. maybe check Craigslist.
  • therm a rest pro lite
    -- Last Updated: Jan-05-14 10:57 AM EST --

    I have a therm a rest prolite large. It is 25 inches wide for my old body and it is full length. It folds in half and rolls into a very small stuff sack - 13" x 4.5" inches and it is quite light. It is one inch thick. I use it for all seasons and weather except the dead of winter. I have used it a lot in the Maine northwoods in the shoulder seasons and in summer. Also used it in Canada on the shield and in the far north on the tundra as well. It has never failed me except one time when we were pinned down over night in an emergency campsite in cold terrible weather on Chesuncook Lake one time and stupidly we were making dinner in the tent (something I never do) and my partner sliced it with a knife. That was an uncomfortable night. I repaired it and it has been fine since. Yes, it has kept me warm and comfortable all over Canada, including on the tundra, including on rocky ground, etc. Guess god was helping me! Highly recommended.

  • I use Thermarest & Big Agnes
    I bought two thermarest "Trail Comfort" off eBay for around $40 each. They work great for what I do here in the southeastern US; never been camping in Canada so I can't speak to that. I also have a Big Agnes mat, I think it advertises R5 insulation. It's not self-inflating, but it's smaller than the Thermarest -- about the size of a 1-liter Nalgene bottle.

    Never used any of the others that have been mentioned, therefore I'm not suggesting that these are better..
  • Another thing I like about therm a rest
    pads is the ability to quickly and easily convert them into a chair for camp when the chores are done. Perhaps other pads do this as well - I don't know.
  • pad
    thermarest Basecamp
  • I second the Exped
    I second the Exped. It's fairly light, has high R value and is comfortable. Although it's not easy to fork over the cash, buying quality gear can make a huge difference in your experience.
  • ThermaRest gets my vote !
    I have had the same ThermaRest mattress for 25+ years, still works great ! Light weight, easy to clean, and rolling them up is good exercise to keep you from getting carpal tunnel syndrome...really !!
  • Get a thick 'un
    After a long day of portaging and paddling, a crappy night's sleep is the last thing you need to enjoy yourself. I've had thermorests for a long time, but I now use the thicker variety. It is worlds better on rocky, uneven ground. My bones used to be more rubbery, and I slept like a hound on rocks. These days, I like the exta cushion, and the weight is minimal. I'd spend more on a pad and a little less on other things if it was a choice.
  • Options
    No need to spend alot
    I see a lot of suggestions on here for some rather pricey items.
    I used to be a paratrooper, Infantry, in Alaska with the 6th ID. We were issued standard, Army issue, closed cell sleeping pads. You can get them at most surplus stores. I know the "gear snobs" are going to get greatly offended by this but, I have litterally used these things, on a mountain top, in Alaska, during the works blizzard ever recorded in North America. My feet were freezing but my butt was warm. I still carry and use my original issue mat today.
    I am sure there are a lot of EXPENSIVE options out there that you can spend tons of money on. Why? These things work just fine. They insulate you from the ground, provide padding and keep you somewhat dry. The last time I looked, you could get them for less than $20.
    Like the old Army saying goes, "If it is stupid and it works, it ain't stupid."
  • LIke many I used
    closed cell foam pads for years and years. The reasons I switched to a therm a rest pad are these - I'm old and my hips hurt when I sleep on a foam pad, I'm old and I like having a chair on trips and a therm a rest doubles as a chair, I'm old and I'm lucky enough to have few spare dollars now and then to spend on comfort. But I agree, a closed cell foam pad works just fine. We do tend to get sucked in by the marketing folks don't we? Keeps the unsustainable western economy cooking along.
  • nothin'
    Just go and enjoy. Mat is not important.
  • Sleep IS important
    I used a closed cell foam pad. It insulated me from the ground chill/ But then I turned 30 and my hips got sore from the hard ground below.
    So I got an early Thermarest. It was warm and comfey. But then I turned 40 and my hips and shoulders got sore from the hard ground below. Eo I got a thicker Thermarest. It as warm and comfey.
    But then I turned 50 and my hips and shoulders got sore from the hard ground and my back got sore on the portage trail. So I got an Exped Synmatt 7 UL. It is warm, comfey, and light.
    Dunno what I'll do when I turn 60?
  • SynMat UL 9 - they got one for you !
    More insulated than the popular SynMat UL 7, the Exped SynMat UL 9 Sleeping Pad provides greater warmth for year-round adventures, yet it still packs down small to fit in your backpack.

    REI has them now! These look great. I got to get me one and try it out.
  • Options
    Wrong about the Shield
    I've used a Thermarest Trail Pro up there many times, including on bare rock. They work just fine.
  • Only good for sandy beaches or....
    -- Last Updated: Mar-29-14 6:59 PM EST --

    Say what Kayakmedic??? I used a Thermarest Camp Rest for years in Canada. 2" of padding and I usually slept better than @ home. And, I was usually sleeping on rock. Even @ 25" x 6" rolled, I had no problem packing or portaging. I mean c'mon... a canoe has plenty of room, why suffer with a small pad?

  • Wow.. Tommy is some ten years
    behind or ahead of me in sleeping age.

    I am almost 70 and happy with Synmat 7 but its nice to know there is something thicker and softer ahead.

    I tried a cot.. Its going back to Bean.. I hate that the pillow falls off its head.

    I'll continue to use the blue barrel for rising assistance.. Gawd knows I am not bringing a walker.
  • Go with a BA IAC
    Go with the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad. Like sleeping on a a bed at home. Around $90.00
  • Your final step
    Exped MegaMat 10 on a cot.
  • sleeping
    I just finished a trip with all the camping on gravel bars. I am going to try a light weight cot from Piragus next.
  • Options
    +1 on th Exped
    I second, third, and fourth the recommendation for the Exped. My wife bought me an exped 9 down mattress. I would have never spent $200 on an air mattress for myself, but now that she bought it for me, I don't know how or why I lived without it.

    It provides an excellent warmth barrier from the cold ground. It is more comfortable than my bed at home. It packs small and lite.
  • Options
    +1. on the progression
    Ha ha ha. Ya I followed the same pattern. In my teens, bare ground. In my twenties, closed cell foam. In my thirties, Thermarest. in my forties, air mattress. In my fifties, Expo down mattress. According to my friends, most of them switch to Motels in their sixties.
  • Walmart
    blue pad...try a double thickness under torso.
    The Blue Pad is not closed cell foam, the olefin (?) material absorbs some water but not as a sponge.


    Everything inflatable develops holes at 2AM. Of course surface roughness is directly related to leakage.

    Campers swear by the inflatable, campers swear by Thermarest, both listed on the commodities exchanges.

    Observation is users of both swear a lot.

  • that's
    why you meet a better class of people on gravel bars
  • I'm another Exped believer......
    ....I used closed cell, several models of Thermarests, Big Agnes Air Core and stumbled on the Synmat 7. It came with the little foam donut pump. The mattress was comfy but the pump was unimpressive. Bought the Schnozzel bag to blow it up a year ago and my life is sublime. Mattress is full in under 60 seconds. The Schnozzel takes up zero space in my boat and the Synmat packs small.

  • and free delivery !
    synmat, comes with a puncture repair kit ?

    Here's Gear Lab

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