Sleeping Pad preference

So what’s everyone’s preference for a sleeping pad for sea-kayaking? And backpacking too. Looking for a new one that’ll fit in my Gulfstream easily and is yet light and comfy. My old Thermarest Ultralite has a hole, is patched but still leaks and not comfy at all…

sleeping pads
I can’t stand those Ultralite pads, either. They’re just not thick enough if you sleep on your side at all. I find that no less than 1.5 inches thick works for me.

There’s a new thermarest pad…the prolite 4 which is 1.5 inches thick and packs ridiculously small that might be worth a look. Otherwise, check out They’ve got some pretty cool pads from other companies, too.

I find that NO “pad” is as compfy as…
My bed at home! But since I do a TREMENDOUS amount of camping while hiking/kayaking or just camping. I use two options (since I have two options):

  1. If I am camping or hiking/camping with “the guys”, I use my “reliable” military issue 3/8" foam pad or nothing at all.

  2. If it is a trip where we bring the wives & kids, I use my “self-inflating” 1.5" Primal Compfort brand pad. (or if we take the “big tent”- the air matress).

    I have had the issue 3/8" pad for too many years to count on both hands. And I have had the “self-inflating” pad for 3 1/2 years. Other than having to sew up some rips with fishing line on the foam pad, neither have given me ANY problems.

    Paddle easy,


I sleep on my back and use an old
thremarest ultralight. No die cutting; about 19 ounces and good summer and new england winter I definitely carry a repair kit for it. Horrible in winter if you get a hole!

Agree on sleeping on side on the thing but I’m soo tired when I hit the rack that I just go out on my back.

Break Through!
I think I’ve owned about every backpacking style sleeping pad known to man…an all have left me feeling like I hadn’t slept a wink. That is until last winter. On a friends recommendation, I tried one of the new Insul Mat air mats. Yes…I know all the conventional wisdom about air mattresses but this thing is the most comfortable thing I’ve ever slept on in a wilderness setting. There are several models…one with synthetic insulation inside that can be used as a 3-season sleep pad. I opted for the full size (20"x72") model without the insulation…it rolls up into a very compact unit and weights 1lb 6oz. This product was awarded Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice in '04.

patch the hole
or by a new ultralite pro/

two pads
this isn’t a minimum volume solution but I find it works and is versatile. A 3/4 length ultralight Thermarest pad that can pack down to 11"x5". Then an accordian folding pad,z-rest?

Ideally the 1.5" 3/4 length Thermarest is perfect but the problem is that you CAN"T use it without a couple protective layers between you and the ground. So toss the thermarest in the tent and don’t ever take it out. Use the foldable z-rest everywhere else, shake it out and put it into the tent UNDER the thermarest pad. It’s almost as comfortable as the 1.5" one but the foldable pad is available for a LOT of other uses where the ground isn’t soft. You can even stick the z-rest between stacks of kayaks on the roof for shuttle trips or anything else,splints?

Combo suggestion
I’ve found the best solution to be simply combining two mats, one laid upon the other.

On a trip through the Okefenokee I found comfort sleeping on the wooden floor of the chickee bu using one lightweight, die cut, narrow, self inflating, Insulamat, full length, combined with a 48" Slumberjac self inflating chair/mat. The short extra mat provided sufficient cushion for my upper body and could also serve as a supportive chair when I was out of the tent. The two mats were relatively small, light rolls and quite easy to stow.

For rainy season or cold winter camping excursions I’ve substituted a full length and width Ridgerest (standard thickness) for the short chair mat. I find the Ridgerest provides superior insulation and also helps keep you dry when the rains and groundwater form small pools within your tent.

Either of these sandwich systems have provided enough comfort to allow me to comfortably sleep on my side, back or belly.

I have a Mil-spec Air mat that works great when inflated its about 3 or 4 inches thick. I also have a Therma rest. The Therma rest is slightly lighter, but slightly less comfertable, but easyer to inflate.

When I take the hardshell kayak,

– Last Updated: Jun-14-04 4:01 PM EST –

it's the 1/2 length ultralite thermarest. Patched about a dozen times, and more uncomfortable every time I use it. One of the reasons I've switched to downriver running (inflatables) is that I can take the paco pads. Now that is a comfortable pad, even when sleeping on baseball size rocks.

sleeping pads
Check out !

How about the Exped down mattress. The down 7 is rated at R7.1 and weighs in at 2 pounds if your into number ratings also theres a down 9. One that comes close is the Therma-rest weighing in around 3.5 to 6 pounds for the same R rating. Some might find that using the bellows to inflate might not be a plus using down to stay warm but theres another option here.

big angnes
solves two problems: (1) great pad and (2) because the pad is the floor of the sleeping bag, saves space. bag gets 1/3 smaller and so is much easier to stuff through a hatch.

Golite with a pair of pads
Golite bags also produces bags that have a thinner floor (Insulate against heat loss through the top and allow the sleeping pad to insulate against the ground) and are highly compressible.

I prefer having the bag sit above the non-attached pair of pads as this system allows for a better barrier in the event of water intrusion into the tent. In addition the redundancy provides for a back-up in the event of a pad failure and also provides flexibility for other camping applications.