Kayak Kamper Kwestion....

Ok, sorry about the Daffy Duck intro.

Really, I wonder what sleeping bags, or alternates, pack neatly into a touring 'yak. I suppose I could buy a barge and take it all. But, what’s hot for a warm night with a reasonable padding that folds up tight? Or, for my wife, something very warm and cozy?

How best to pack it small?



Compression Bags
are great for reducing the bulk of a sleeping bag or large “cushy” things of that nature. Think mine cost about $10.00 at Wally World. Got to remember 'ya still have to put it in a waterproof bag.

Stay safe on the water

Size of stuff
Sleeping bags are the easy part - you can spend a moderate to cheap amount of money for a Holofill bag that’ll be able to compress very small with a compression sac that’ll be fine down to 40 degrees in a tent without wearing fleece to bed. Or you can spend varying amounts of more money for a super-down or mix sleeping bag that’ll go down to nearly zero degrees, and still compress into nearly the same small size via a compression bag or caps. If you are unsure of where you want to go, make your first bag one that will also serve as a liner if you want to move to colder tolerances down the road.

We have compression caps, which run a little cheaper than the full bags, and boil down to a couple of pieces of coated vinyl with four straps that run between them you tighten.

The tricky part for kayaks is usually the sleeping pad rather than the sleeping bag. FYI, Thermarest and I am sure others by now have a 3/4 length size in a shape that works better for women, slightly wider where the hips go. I had to go to a 3/4 length when I got the Explorer LV because I am a teribly a inefficient packer (always bring way too much food). The lower deck from the regular one, combined with my packing tendency and the 10 inch hatches gave the boot to the full length pad I had been using before.

As to thickness - it is quite individual. I am fine with as little as a 1/2 inch thickness, but my husband really can’t handle it quite that thin.

Should be easy
For a warm night you don’t need a thick bag. Just be aware that the temp ratings on sleeping bags may not match what your actual needs are. I always add 15 deg. F to a rating–if they say it’s a 10 degree bag I consider it a 25 deg bag. If you already know this “conversion” factor from experience, it will help guide you. If not, err on the side of being conservative. Most bags have full-length zippers, so if they are too hot for a given night you can unzip it and use the thing as a cover instead of cocooning inside it.

Now, for compression: First, if your wife is small, she can use a “woman-specific” bag. I’ve been using these for years (as well as regular size ones), and now I won’t buy any other kind. These bags are sized to fit people up to 5’6" instead of 6’. For many people, this not only saves wasted space that robs heat trying to warm up, but it makes the bag more compressible and lighter. She can also use a woman-specific sleeping pad that matches the 5’6" length. Both bags and pads have some other changes, such as being a bit wider in the hip and having more insulation in the torso and foot areas.

Second, use a compression dry bag. SealLine’s Black Canyon bag works well for me.

Third, some fills compress more easily than others. Down is easiest, PrimaLoft is second-easiest (in my experience), and then the other synthetics come shuffling in. There is a fair bit of variation in compressibility, so check carefully on this if you are not buying down or PrimaLoft.

As discussed here before, another option is to use a very light-duty bag coupled with a microfleece liner. You can pack each bag separately to make fitting in the kayak easier.

Good luck, and don’t immediately conclude you need a high-volume kayak if things don’t fit on your first try. There are lots of ways to reduce volume of your gear.

Packing the T-Rest
Deflate it completely, and close the valve tightly; then roll it up loosely like a cardboard tube and slide it into a waterproof sealine type bag, and let it unwind until it hits the sides of the bag like a liner…then put your compressed sleepy bag in the center. (Add clothes or other items to fill the bag as needed).

Get a bag made from these insulators and use a compression bag; I have a Thinsulate bag from Woods rated to 16 Degrees: The City Lite 700…


3 Lbs…

REI Nooksack

– Last Updated: Jan-23-06 3:54 PM EST –

I have a REI Nooksack +35 bag. It's an older model but it's very toasty on cold nights, and if left unzipped on warmer nights, works very well into summer. It's even on sale right now at REI:


Oops! Almost forgot: when packed down, it's like a large loaf of bread (specs say 5" x 17", that seems right).

try this website
It’s for backpackers but there’s lots of information on gear that paddlers use too:



Use your winter bag in the summer
Just add a sheet. Sleep on top of the bag, under the sheet. Thermarest couples kit can be handy for holding the bag to the pad.

No need to put your thermarest in a dry bag. Strap it to the deck. If it gets wet, it’ll dry quickly or you can wipe it dry.

Put baby powder or talcum powder on your feet to get the sand off before bed.

Kayak camping rocks!

…Just Strap it to the DECK?..Wadda ya WANT the Clean Deck Police ta beat the crap outa ya?..LMAO.

Sure, you can strap it to the deck, and save the room in the hatches for more gear it’s important to keep dry…I was jes’ tryin’ to stay middle of the road PC here on the board…

Everything I need for Kayak Camping for a week or more will fit in the hatches of my Carolina Perception…the fore deck has a camelback, bowline, spare paddle and the sail stowage tube on it…

Iam also looking for a
small sleeping bag for kayak camping.

it needs to fit in a VCP 7.5 inch diameter hatch.

I really like the thermolite bags, but when the packed size is listed at 7 inches diameter . . .

I still have doubts if it will fit in my hatch

most small diameter bags are 45 degree rated.

What do you other hatch-challenged campers carry?

got to keep it dry - (even though I stay wet all day). - spring hopper

How cool will it get
when you are camping?

During the summer months, the temperatures here tend to stay above 60°F. When this is the case, I use a fleece bag that rolls up to about the same size as my Therma-rest pad.

Did you read the first reply on top???

yes , the message is clear . . .
check carefully . .

to me it means check the packing size carefully on sleeping bags of any material.

I was hoping to gain from the experience of others with 7.5 inch VCP hatches.

one way
to save bulk is to get a sleeping bag with no filling on the bottom. There are models that have a sleeve for a pad (generic sized pads).

Positives: packs down very small, unbelievably comfortable.

Negatives: slipping the pad in at night, esp. in rain or when exhausted (but you do have the option of using it in the ‘traditional’ way, depending on how cold it is).

I got a Big Agnes bag for a long trip with a narrow boat. It fit fine in my forward hatch, but I ended up putting it in my back hatch after a few days because to really compress it I’d have to do so inside the kayak, smash it down, then roll up and seal the dry bag. I could never get it out without doing it in stages which just didn’t work in the moist environment I was camping.


What temp do you need?
45 degrees is not warm enough for me. Not even a “30 degree” bag that I automatically translate as being a 45 degree bag.

I ended up switching to a down bag (rated to 10 degrees). Even if it needs the usual compensation factor of another 15 degrees, it’s fine for kayak camping. I don’t plan to kayak-camp when nights are below 25.

The bag I bought is made by REI. It is a “women’s bag” for people up to 5’6" tall and contains 600-fill goose down. Very compressible. If you can’t get it in your hatch, use a different-diameter stuff sack or, better yet, a compression dry bag. The stuff sack thta comes with it has a small diameter, so I think it’ll work as is. OTOH, because it is down, I would recommend using a dry bag anyway.

kootenay 900
from Due-North looks pretty good

even though I caamp in FL (mostly)

the winter temps get down in the 30s

I need a bag rated at least below 30 degree

I will still look at big agnes too

thanks for the link to Due North/ Woods

would not have found them without P-net

I am very happy with the size/warmth of my Eusebio Sport, i don’t know if theyre sold in US,i’m from BC canada. cost me 75$ canadian at Army&Navy, rolls up SMALL,and has a hood. and it actually IS good to 0C’ or maybe even -3C’. got it for backpacking and have so far been impressed.

You must be reading a different message
Sorry, I’m trying not to sound, erhh…, candecending. But I found it hard to try to “clarify” a message that seem very clear to me. (hint: it’s right there in the title, you know, the part of the message that’s in bold!)

One thing I might add that hasn’t been mentioned. Canoe dry bags are too large and too thick. Try the newer style dry bags. If you’re near an REI, look up those tough, thin dry bags that has a purge valve. Open the valve and push hard to squeeze the air out and close the valve. Makes for a compact package, kind of like when you try to close a zip-lock bag!

I had doubt about their toughness initially. But one of my club-mates toured Alaska for 3 months and swear by them. That really sold me. If it’s good for that kind of use, it’s good enough for me!