Best sleeping mat (when kayaking)

You’re going on a 5 day backcountry kayaking trip, space is a premium, BUT, you have trouble sleeping well on sleeping pads… so you’re willing to sacrifice a little.
What is the thickest, widest most comfortable sleeping pad you can get that will reasonably pack into a sea 16.5’ kayak with your other gear?

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One of the best


Klymit Static V Luxe. I tried a normal sized pad and rolled off of it all night. This one is wide enough to sprawl and move around on. I can’t say it’s super comfortable but I can rest and not wake up achy (I sleep on a super soft slab of memory foam at home so no sleeping pad can match that).


I’m in the Keep It Simple Stupid camp.

I’ve used my Big Agnes “Divide” air mattress for probably well over 90 days of actual camping and its still as good as the day I bought it. The simple design, with far fewer thermo welded seams makes it less likely to develop leaks. One down side is that you need to also buy an over priced inflation bag. But on a day with a light breeze, I can inflate the mattress with about 5 fillings of the inflation bag. On a rainy day when I’m inflating the mattress in my tent, it takes 8-10 iterations with the inflation bag. The inflation sack also doubles as a dry bag but I also line it with something like a trash compactor bag since I’m not totally convinced how effective it is at keeping an contents dry.

A huge benefit of a thicker pad is that you can sleep on much rougher surfaces and not feel the lumps when you’re sleeping. The Divide is 3.5" thick. It is also fairly light and rolls up very nicely for stowing in a kayak. All in all, vastly superior to the old school self inflating mattress like the old Thermarests.

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If you can fit it, the Boundary Deluxe Insulated pad that Tracerbullet posted is really nice and it comes in a 30" wide version which is great for side sleepers. Packed size for the 30" model is 6.5x11".

The best compromise between comfort and pack size I’ve found is the Nemo Quasar 3D. It’s a lightweight 3.5" pad, but not an ultralight backpacking pad. I have the non-insulated 25x76", my wife has the insulated 25x72". We’re both side sleepers and the 25" width is just enough for comfort. They both pack down to approximately 4x9" or 5x8". I’ve slept on mine for ~20 nights so far, and here is what I like about it compared to other pads I’ve had or tried:

  1. I don’t have to inflate it firm to prevent bottoming out.
  2. It’s quiet, especially the non-insulated version. Some pads I’ve tried like the Thermarest backpacking pads make noise with the slightest body movement, which I can’t stand.
  3. It comes with a pump sack and it’s easy to inflate and deflate quickly.

Another way to save space is to use a sleeping quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Last year I splurged and got a quilt + fitted microfiber sheet from Thermarest. It’s more comfortable than any sleeping bag I’ve had, and even with the sheet it takes up less space than any sleeping bag I’ve had. Expensive though.

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A good backpacking pad. Expect to pay around $150. That gets you a thick, light portable pad with a high R value for insulation.

The smallest pads packed are non-self-inflating non-insulated, formerly known as air mattresses. I’ve been using a Nemo for years. Go for comfort vs weight, a good sleep is priceless.

I really like those silk sleeping bag liners that function like a slippery sheet and pack down the size of my fist. Normally we travel with a down comforter just because we have room when the tent is closed up and we don’t have a double sleeping bag. I’m thinking of these nice inflatable pads you all have posted because we like to leave the bedding inside the RTT and it would allow for more room. Otherwise I’ll add a 1” latex topper to the tent foam mattress.
I was watching the reviews and the guy said “for campers that like to spend a lot of time in bed…” :laughing:(that’s me) anyway the new tent sits up with a back rest so when it’s 20 degrees outside I can drink my coffee under the covers. We like to watch movies on our iPad :shushing_face: sometimes.

I think the backrest function might stress an air mattress but maybe not.

His backpacking pad was a no go :no_good_woman:t3: for me :-1:t3:

here is the worst mat (not recommended)

Not sure how I went from a diesel pusher with a washer and a dryer to sleeping in a roof tent but here I am.

We used the Sea to Summit pads when we were here in quarantine in an empty house and they were okay until our bed came.

I think I’d rather have one of the old roll-up foam pads than the USMC’s “Improved Sleeping Mat”. It looks more like a hard foam exercise mat than something to sleep on. I guess it is quick to pack when you have to break camp in a hurry though.

If you like to sleep together, you can find double size pads, 50" wide.
Or you could get two 30" wide pads and one of these to combine them:

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I kayak camp with a hammock - Warbonnet Blackbird XLC - because I just can’t sleep on the ground anymore.

But I second the Klymit Static V Luxe for all the reasons @Brodie mentioned. I was forever falling off my pad at night back in my tent camping days. The Static V Luxe put an end to that and it’s pretty comfortable.


That is what I was thinking because if we put two pads together then we can also pack the pads in the HV CD Solstice for some other use if we paddle somewhere back in the PNW.

I’ve got two Klymits, a compact one (tapered and 3/4 length) for backpacking and a larger one – but even that one rolls up to be super compact compared to the other pads I’ve used (during 55 years of outdoor adventuring). The Klymits are remarkably comfortable for being so relatively thin – because they have so many well separated baffles, they stay supportive under all parts of your body, no matter what position. I don’t even feel the usual pressure on my hip bones when sleeping on my side on one. I even prefer the Klymit to the 3" thick covered egg crate foam pads and even the Thermarests that I used for years . Very well designed and made products. I loaned one to a friend who used it for 2 weeks while backpacking on the Pacific Crest Trail, some nights sleeping on granite slabs, and she liked it so much she bought one for herself after the trip.

My smaller Klymit packs down small enough to fit in my purse and the deluxe one (nearly the size of a bunk mattress) is about the size of a 1 liter soda bottle when smooshed into its stuff sack. After having spent too many miserable extended layovers and weather-impact strandings in airports with nothing to camp out and nap with, I began to bring a Klymit in my carry-on bag along with a fabric sleeping liner (similar to the ones MoFly describes) plus a lightweight polar fleece full zip sleeping bag and inflatable pillow. With those and the compact umbrella I always bring with me, I can set up a relatively cozy and semi-private crash pad anywhere I am forced to sleep. This kit is also useful when you find yourself in sketchy lodgings and don’t trust the cleanliness of the bedding – I’ve slept on top of rented beds many times with it.

For sitting up in bed in the tent (or camper) I used to have a large inflatable pillow that was shaped kind of like a cube with a slanted top. It was designed for long airline flights: you inflate it and then put it on your lap so you can lean forward and rest your chest and head on it to sleep while sitting up (I mostly fly coach class and there are really no other options for sleeping in the sardine-like packing of the rabble section.) It worked perfectly flipping on its long side for a backrest while reclining in bed while camping or in a hostel too, after I glued an extension piece to the flocked fabric cover that would slip under my bum to keep it in place while sitting up. Unfortunately, it got lost at some point, maybe on one of my trips, and I have not found a replacement yet. As i have been gradually working my way through all the bags and boxes of stuff I moved to the new house in the past year, I keep hoping it will turn up. I’ve seen somethings that are similar (like the ad linked below) but mine was not quite as tall (could be used as a desk surface to support a book or ipad) and did not have all these Swiss cheese odd openings – not sure how well this design would work:

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Oh that’s nifty

It looks like a suicide vest

I always travel with my down sleeping bag and it’s the size of a football. If the plane is delayed, I get in it with my Bose headset and eye mask which really ticks off my husband but I can’t sit there for hours.
I can sleep anywhere. He asks me “how can you sleep on the airport floor?!” Easy! Nobody can even see me

Is this it? Maybe I should try those. I don’t really like air mattresses that move around so I get the concept.

The thing is, I could return them easily if I don’t like them. Which I have no shame about with Amazon at this point.

Also, I always check Amazon warehouse
for and opened box discount .


I ordered this double one because I like the recommendation and the price :blush:

I think it will be perfect as another layer on the RTT thin foam mattress.


I know it’s not environmentally correct, but I admit I have a selfish reason for not minding that people return stuff to Amazon. Almost all Amazon returns are sold in unsorted bulk lots to stores and individuals for pennies on the dollar and scroungers like me can then get them cheap. In fact, that’s how I got my first Klymit pad, for $19.99. A local discount store chain, Gabe’s, (imagine a TJ Maxx but with prices better than Goodwill) buys these pallets of mail order returns. I’m currently wearing a pair of $79 Prana pants I got there for $8.99 and when I run errands later I’ll be donning a $179 Columbia snorkel parka that was under $40. They were getting catalog returns from Pottery Barn for a while and I got an $899 PB solid wooden corner desk for $65 and a room sized sisal rug (with the original PB tags showing it was $499) for $29.99. The store regularly has clothes and footwear from Prana, Columbia, North Face, Woolrich, Clark’s, even Patagonia and Marmot. So return to your heart’s content, knowing you will be helping to channel more affordable stuff to those on a tight budget!

Of course, better that returned merchandise gets re-sold at deep discounts than sent to a landfill, like the high end “fashion” companies do with all their unsold merchandise every season.

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Well I alway figured having my shopping all together on trucks that run on LNG is better than me getting out my monster car and driving all over the area.
I have to admit that I’m not as loyal to American companies as I used to be, they have been doing quite a bit against my values and interests.

I have an old basic Exped Synmat 7 with an Exped Schnozzel inflation bag. Both work well for me and pack very small. I have chronic low back pain, and the Synmat 7 does not aggravate it at all.


I’m a big fan of the Therarest XTherm. Warm, wide, thick and relatively lightweight. Not inexpensive but you get what you pay for.

I’ve been quite happy with my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm in the wide size. Good r-value, good size, and still fairly compact.