Sleeping pad advice?

I am looking for a sleeping pad for some kayak camping. The Therm-a-Rest mats look good but seem pricey. Has anyone tried the Cabela’s mats? Or does anyone know of some other models I should look at. And what thickness should I be looking for? I’m 6"1" and weigh 205 and I like to be comfortable.



I have and use Therma-rests, ridgerest and a z-rest. The therma-rests are the most comfortable, but also the most expensive and heaviest.

I like to travel as light as possible and still retain some comfort. The golden rule applies, “the less you carry the better the traveling, the more you carry the better the camping”. Intended campsite conditions may influence pad choice also. If I plan to spend some nights in a shelter with a hard wooden floor, the therma-rest goes, if I’m stealth camping on fluffy forest duff, the z-rest goes.


The self-inflating pads
are well worth the cost in my opinion. I bought a Therm-a-Rest Basecamp (I think) model several years ago and have not regretted it one bit. I now sleep so much better, compared to sleeping on a regular closed-cell foam pad, that I enjoy outings that much better! I now have easily slept 75 nights or more on the pad since getting it. So, if you are planning to camp a fair amount, the nightly cost of the pad is well worth it in my opinion. I have since purchased a smaller, lighter trail version (short) for backpacking trips and when I really need to cut down on bulk or weight. It is still pretty comfortable, but not up to the Basecamp version.

The basecamp model that I got is plenty wide and full length (at least for me) – at 6’1", YOU can probably expect to have your feet extend a bit off the pad, almost any pad. That can be compensated for by putting a stuff sack with clothes in it or something similar under your feet. That is what I do with the backpacking version of the pad. If you are doing cold-weather camping, you will probably want a full-length model so more of your body is shielded from the ground. Similarly, if you are sleeping on harder or rockier ground, look at thicker (e.g., 2-inch) pads.

I have heard good things about the Slumberjack brand of self-inflating pads from other campers, but do not own one myself. The newer Therm-a-Rest “Prolite” models are lighter and pack down smaller than the versions I have, so you could get an equal amount of loft in a smaller package. Maybe someone else can provide info on those?

Had a cheap Kelty pad delaminate on me in the sun. Pay the price and get a Therm-a-Rest. The better you sleep the better you’ll paddle.

Thermarest CampLite - $50

I’m the same size as you
and use a therm-a-rest 25" wide, lighter version. I’ve been using it for several years with no problems. I bring my dogs on my trips and they walk all over the pad when in the tent. Amazingly, not a dent in the fender yet with all that abuse. I spent hundreds of dollars over the years on cheaper pads that never lasted; consequently, a more expensive pad that works will save you money in the long run.

you get what you pay for in camp mats
thermarest and a handful of others are defintely worth it and are very high quality. i’ve seen damaged t-rests and repaired them (working for an outfitter) but have never hurt one myself. they are very strong.

but consider how much space a camp rest takes up in a kayak. lots!! i mostly carry a std for paddling to save some volume.

15 Years+ with a ThermaRest
It was at least 15 years ago when I bought ThermaRest pads for my wife & myself after a horrible weekend in the wilderness. They really are the old slippery kind, but they have performed flawlessly on many, many outings. Weight & size have not been a factor since we are canoeists, but without a good nights sleep nothing is worthwhile.

During the off season I store them with the valve open so they can stay inflated. Keeping them rolled for the winter months may shorten their lifespan, just as with sleeping bags.

Buy a good boat. Buy a good paddle. Buy good camping gear. Go cheap with the food.

Thermorest for sure…
… I have used my Thermnorest for about 10 years now, and never have regretted the cost. I have the 2-1/2" thick model, that is 25" wide. I always get a good nite’s rest.

… To sleep on it, I let it self inflate, and then lay on it releasing a little air until it is the most comfortable. Zzzzzzzzzz !

… I also store mine inflated, but due to lack of space, I blow a little extra air in it, and close the valve. Then I stand it up on end behind the door. it is bad to store them for a long time rolled up.

Well worth the money

the thermarest is the best deal… it has a lifetime unconditional guarantee…

cabellas version does not… in fact cabellas has a very poor return-exchange policy…

a ridgerest foam mat is gonna cost $20 anyway, might as well get the thermarest.

i know someone who just traded in a 6 yr old 2 1/2 inch thich pad for new… cost- nothing

order from a good outfitter such as campmore who know how to work with people on trail or river

OK You’ve convinced me.
I guess I will go with the Therm-a-Rest. Now I have one more question. I’ve narrowed it down to either the ‘Expedition Large’ or the ‘Luxury Camp Large. The only difference I can see between the two is that the ‘Luxury Camp’ is 2 inches thick while the"Expedition’ is 1 3/4 inches thick. Will that 1/4 inch make that much of a difference?

Also, is there anything thing else I’m missing?

Thanks to all for the input. You guys know your stuff.


if you plan on doing any backpacking i would go with the thinner of the two… and prolly 3/4 length (shoulders to knees)

if just for paddling i’d go with a 2" full length pad

2" is a bit bulky to be packin on your back