OT: Most comfortable sleeping pad?

I starting camping with cots and then moved to an air mattress. I’d like to down size a bit for the times that I share a tent with others. That said, I’m pretty much a sissy when camping and am looking for bed-like comfort.

I don’t kayak camp now, but I’d like to have that option for whatever I get.

What are your suggestions for the 3-season sleeping pad?

(And yes, I know that hammocks are super comfortable - it’s just not in the cards right now.)

Thermarest pads are hard to beat and you can get discounts on blems at Campmor.


– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 7:49 AM EST –

Have tried many and none are as comfortable. "Pricey," but if you watch for sales you can save a few bucks. I have an older one, about 4-5 years old that doesn't pack down as small or light as the new ones. But it's worth every ounce. I have a bad back and most camping is on rock. I need padding and this beats Thermarests all to heck IMHO. Don't plan on switching or trying anything else unless it's their Downmat. WW

I’ll second
the Exped mat. They are great. Since I got mine several of my friends have switched to expeds also.

3rd that
I camp about 30 nights a year and also switched to an Exped pad (ComfortFoam Mat 7 Pump model); I can even sleep on my side on it. not the smallest or lightest but definitely the most comfortable and restful I’ve had. it packs to the size of a large coffee can and weighs under 3 lbs

Paco Pad

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 9:32 AM EST –

If you have limited space, go with the Exped.

If you can spare a bit more room (say, in a canoe) then I suggest a Jack's Plastic Welding Paco pad. I've had mine for years, and if I have the space available, it always wins out over my other pads. They aren't cheap, and they don't pack down very small, but they are absolutely bomb proof and very, very comfortable!

Here is a link to the full size pad, which is what I use. They make many different sizes.


Aire Landing Pad
Very similar to the JPW Paco, but a bit cheaper (~$125) and has a better valve setup. 3" thick, 24" or 30" wide, very comfy. Rolls down to about 8" dia. It is an import though, JPW Pacos are made in the USA.

Love my Exped, my wife loves hers too. Mine started to leak after several years and lots of use, I sent it back, they send me a new one.

I had the 1st version, now I guess I have the 2nd version, the new version with the integrated pump looks good too.

If the cost is too high look at the inflatable synthetic mats form Exped, Big Agnes, and Pacific Outdoors.

Not sure about bed-like comfort…

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 7:25 PM EST –

....but I use the Big Agnes Insulated Aircore Mattress. It packs very small and is comfortable. Having to blow it up each night isn't my favorite thing but it only takes 13 deep breaths. Photo here:

Slept on top of a log.


I’ve used an Exped downmat
for about three years now and it is by far the most comfortable and best for cold weather.

But, hey, I’m old!

We used Thermarest Prolite 4’s before the expeds and, except for really cold weather, they were pretty darned comfortable.

PS I’m selling the prolite 4’s with trekker lounges and stuff sacks in the forum classifieds.

Wink, wink.


Fatty - Boom - Batty

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 11:40 AM EST –

Granted its terribly heavy and a bit pricey, but I have been extremely happy with the Dream-Time mattress from Therm-a-Rest.


I used this mattress during my 6 week base camping trip last fall and slept like a baby every night ... in fact my back didn't bother me at all until I returned home and spent a few nights on our cheap home mattress. Now when my back bothers me I pull out the Dream-Time and sleep blissfuly on the floor !

Question to the Exped…
…using modern man, crazed lady midst the Silver River monkeys, and the wilderness-wide-Webb:

Presuming your Exped inflatable is using the storage stuffsack-as-bellows/inflator system, as does my Exped Downmat 9 (very warm and comfy, by-the-way), so as to keep the moisture of one’s breathe from entering and possibly inducing bio growth, what’s the average number of times you find yourself rolling/unrolling/rolling to inflate your mattress?

Exped seemed to indicate about 7 times should do it. I’m usually around 20 to 25. Sometimes after a long day’s paddle or hike, after putting up the tent and other misc. tasks, while half-sitting/half-prone in my small tent, it sure can seem like a tedious session winding that windbag of cc-little return.

I’m someone who usually inflates canoe airbags by mouth-n-lung, but the Exped has me considering toting a small foot bellows.

another TW

Man! You could safely…
…land three Romanian gymnasts vaulting from a passing U2 on that baby!

Whaddaya think, Jsaults, oh yee of horrid back? Dream Time or still hangin’ there in your Jack-n-dream-of-Jill Hennessy?

Big agnes
The Aircore is Available in a 25" width as opposed to the standard 20" This makes a big difference, don’t over inflate any pad, a little less air makes them much more comfortable.

I’ll count next time I inflate it but it’s probably around 16. Be sure to inflate slowly, that seems to make a big difference.

Thanks Michael.
I’ll see in a couple weekends when I inflate the mat if I can lower my count by using a slower, more deliberate approach.

I know the last time I used the mat (about three weekends back at a cold Assateague Island) I made certain to have that stuffsack tube probiscus on tight to the mat’s valve, and to stretch wide the sack’s mouth opening each time before clasping the rands tight together amd rolling.

I was almost wishing for a bagpipe, as squeezing a rounder bellowing bag betwixt ribcage and arm would have made for an easier method whilst laying out on my side inside a tent.

But, once inflated, she sure beat all of the Therma-Rest and Slumberjack/Wenzel mattresses I’ve used in the past. And, as others noted, packing down to a large coffee can sized parcel is definately a plus.

It is a pricey procurement. I was able to get my Exped Downmat 9 DLX from Sierra Trading Post about a year ago, when additional buyer discounting brought the price down around $105 with free shipping, I believe. Checking the web now, I think I was rather fortunate with that price.


“Old” Model Exped

– Last Updated: Mar-25-10 3:55 PM EST –

I do believe mine's as big as Topher's (SLEEPING PAD, that is). You COULD land a couple Eastern European gymmasts on my old model Exped(LOL)! I've Got the "EXPED SIM Light CF 9 DLX." Heck, it's got as many ID numbers as an aircraft carrier, 'eh, TW? Anyhow, mine was built prior to the fancy pump-bags and the new, nifty self-pump. Mine has endured my oral and respiratory germs since I bought it 4 or 5 years ago and is no worse the wear. I believe it was 2005. Never measured how many breaths it takes to finish the job, but it's always a few too many. Knowing I always end up over-inflating it, I've learned to put the valve on the top end to allow me to let some air out. The old model only folds and mashes down to about the size of a 4 man tent, again, not as nice as the new ones. But the darn thing is tough, and I have plenty of room for it in my canoes!

On a whim I did try my wifes tiny little Thermarest Neo-air; the 72"x20" on a river trip last summer. It was nice, light and small. 'Nuff said. I'm not, and all 3 nights I cursed myself for leaving my big, fat, comfy Exped at home! Here's a pic that compares my Exped, a Big Agnes, and the wifey's little Neo-air. WW

mine has
a built-in hand pump inflation mechanism. slower than filling it by breath, but it does work. to deflate, you open a different port on the end, roll it once to get most of the air out, unroll and fold it in thirds lengthwise and roll again tightly to stuffsack size.

what part of the area did ya spend that
kind of time in? I’m gonna go to the Seattle area this summer for a couple weeks. I’m not sure where I’m gonna be the whole time, but if at all possible, I’m gonna come down the west coast some…at least into Oregon… I’m bringing some padlling stuff so’s all I have to do is rent a boat. My kid’s gonna be flying jets out of some Navy Air base on Peuget Sound. For Topher only…I’ve talked to Phil …He’s in school and doing well…them Bradford guys…they’re okay…

Smallest packing mattress
was the MEC summer Kelvin. It fit in a drybag the size of a liter nalgene. Unfortunately due to the ridge pattern it was prone to blowouts. Hopefully MEC will fix that. I blew two up after two or three weeks on each.

Big Agnes Aircore (insulated) packed almost as small but a bad valve design wore through the fabric and made a wee annoying leak after 50 nights.

Now Im on a Exped Synmat (20x72) with an internal pump. You get to practice CPR every night. Its got 20 nights so far this year. It does pack bigger and needs a 4 liter drybag.

I think I am past the Prolite 3 though its certainly usable on the moss covered boreal forest floor.