Sleeping pads, bags, and tents

looking to get soime lighter weight stuff for some overnight canoe trips.

will be staying on gravel bars and possibly doing the BWCA.

looking for some stuff that is nice and high quality but does not have to be top of the line.


quality vs cost

– Last Updated: Oct-25-16 7:23 PM EST –


MARMOT ($$$)
Mountain Hardware
Sierra Designs

And Walmart nylon cover bags with a polyester camping blanket, inside. for above 50 degrees. Bring a space blanket in the kit.

I have one n will buy a second for the shelf.
Buy 2 n stack.

Reviewers report deflate is essential zero

look thru this site but itsnot gospel there is some tung in check.

Ground clothes are from Wal paint. Use one night n crumple into garbage bag. Bring a garbage bag.
Use a new one each night.

If you read the adverts n descriptions, quality and quality plus extra money is obvious.

If expecting 45 degree temps then buy a -zero- mummy.

Campmor has decent prices …
For kayak camping I always use the lightest most compressible sleeping bag I can find. I camp during warm seasons from kayak so don’t need down. (was a bit surprised on south island of new zealand during their summer brrrrr.) Also have a small Eureka tent from campmore. I bought ground pad, which is a simple heavy duty roll of foam from local camping store. It gets lashed to the back deck to save space.

There is a bunch of info at

10000 canoe campers there. I could go on ad nauseous about pads and tents and bags

But I have what I want and rarely buy anymore

I wil say my $200 backpacking sleeping mattress is worth it

Insufficient canoe camping audience here

for gravel bars and shield rock
you are best served with a totally free standing tent when you can’t get good pegs in; two doors are a good idea - if you blow out a zipper on one side, you can duct tape it closed and use the other door - a blown zipper with only one door in mosquito country can be a disaster is a good place to start your search and many others will give you the ability to sort and compare tents - there are as many “best” tenta as there are people using this website, so advice isn’t worth too much for particular tents that are some other person’s best tent. Keep in mind that most 2 person tents are more like 1.5 person tents and don’t have much room for gear inside, so two vestibules are nice too.

If you live near enough toan REI store, check out when they are having thier “garage sale” - I bout a decent $200 Marmot tent for $50 that way.

Alps Tents

– Last Updated: Oct-25-16 6:32 PM EST –

We bought an Alps Taurus 2 last year. One of the few 2 person tents that can actually fit two persons. If you will frequently have 2 people and a dog, kids, etc, I'd suggest the Taurus 4 person tent, though. We've been through a few frog stranglers in ours. Best "Value" in a tent I've found in decades of paddling, backpacking, and camping.

Here's a link and a link to my pics of the tent:

Scroll down to my post (Ozarkpaddler) for pics of the Taurus 2.

This works for me
Down sleeping bag (very compressable) self inflating pad that I top off, Goretex bivy. Without the bivy, I tend to slide off the pad. Also have a 2 man Eureka tent. Like to get something a bit bigger.

The bivy I got is from an army surplus outfit.

Lots of good tents out there. I like my Big Agnes Blacktail. My Exped Synmat 7 has been a lifesaver in the comfort and packability department. I don’t use sleeping bags anymore. I use down top quilts year round. No zipper, and no wasted bottom insulation. Much more packable.

Oh come now
we canoe campers are out here.

There is nothing better than a canoe when the trip plan includes some walks in the woods.

Strong Sleeping Support

– Last Updated: Oct-26-16 10:49 AM EST –

I could go on about my own portable housing kit, but why bother. Tent's, shelters, and sleeping bags are a dime a dozen. Lot's of good deals can be found on said items by simply researching and shopping around. You just need to figure out which specific ones suit YOUR needs and fancy the best.

A suitable & sturdy sleeping pad though, is a must have item for me. I can tolerate many unpleasantries whilst out in the wilds, but I gotsta have a decent air mattress under me when sleeping. I have owned a Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite since late 2012, and I love it. It has been used for both camping & non-camping situations. The air mattress has withstood supporting my frame - 6'4"+ & 220-260 easily without failure or damage resulting.

could you expound a bit on your use of down quilts? That’s something I’ve been considering but wasn’t sure how to best approach it. Your bottom side never gets cold?

I also use a quilt and insulated pad combo. Your bottom side doesn’t get cold because it is insulated by the pad. Better pads have insulation (synthetic or down) inside the inflation chambers, so you don’t lose your heat to the ground. A regular sleeping bag gets crushed underneath you so it provides little or no insulating effect anyways, so why not lose that material?

The downside to quilts is that then can allow drafts in from the sides. This is nice in hot weather, so you can adjust your body temp by exposing a leg or two, but in cold weather you need to secure the quilt to the pad either by tucking it under OR by using a system of straps to hold it down to the pad.

I got my quilt from cottage manufacturer Enlightened Equipment. Used it once so far, like it very much.


from the other side
I’ve never bothered with a quilt. Unzipped totally my sleeping bags make fine quilts. I like the versatility be cozy or well ventilated.

My experience with some sleeping pads has been less than stellar but Exped stands behind their products

Covers it
gobsmacked’s answer covers the basics of top quilts. I use an insulated Exped pad. I also use a top quilt from a cottage industry vendor, Wilderness Logics. I have two quilts, a 40 degree for summer and a zero degree for spring, fall, and cold trips. I ordered my zero degree quilt in a wide version so that I don’t have drafts. I’m a fairly cold sleeper, and I’ve had no issues keeping warm. I don’t use any attachments to the pad. My quilt has a neck snap and shock cord at the neck that cinches the quilt around my neck and shoulders really well.

I really love not having a zipper to mess with. I can easily pop one or both legs out of the quilt if I get hot, and tuck them in if I’m cold. I toss and turn a fair amount, and I stay covered without feeling like I’m wrestling with a sleeping bag. The biggest advantage is the smaller packing size. My zero degree quilt weighs 27 oz. and packed into a 14X8 inch stuff sack.

I struggled for many years to find a pad that would allow me to sleep on the ground. For rafting I use a roll-a-cot with a pad on top. Super comfy and I love being able to sit up in my tent and get dressed. But that’s rafting, with a big tent. When I started getting into kayak touring I was super worried about a smaller tent and ground sleeping. The Exped has been wonderful. No sore shoulders or hips. I actually took my small tent & Exped on 2 weekend rafting trips this summer to save on room. I never thought I could like without the cot, but I really like the Exped. I may get an Exped Downmat at some point for cold trips. So far the Synmat 7 has worked just fine. My one gripe is that the Synmat 7 is the only one they make in a short/wide version. 72X26 instead of the 76-78 long. I wish all the mats came in a shorter but wide version.

Watch for blowouts
Admittedly I canoe camp a lot but after a hundred uses each all of my Synmat 7’s blew out… motto never overinflate.

This year was only 25 days canoe camping…other years its been closer to 80.

If you go below freezing Downmat is good… But in the winter I have just added minicell floor pads under the Synmat…

Good to know. I know there have been a couple times when mine lost air and I got pretty freaked out. Both times, I didn’t have the deflate cover seated correctly. I have noticed that when I inflate it once I get to camp when it’s warmer, by bedtime & cooler, it needs a tiny bit of air added. No problems during the night though. I got the schnozzle bag to inflate mine. Much faster & easier than the hand pump/pad CPR thing, although that gizmo does work well. I think I had about 30 nights on my pad this summer. There are certainly a lot of “pokey things” lurking in the places I camp, so I have to be diligent & keep my tent floor clean. Strangely enough, I can sleep better on my back with the Exped than I did on the cot with pad on top. Side sleeping is about the same.

Luke Et Al Thinking Abt Sleeping Quilt

– Last Updated: Oct-28-16 12:46 AM EST –

I got a bit of a hybrid sleeping bad that can function like a quilt. PLUS the sleeping pad stays in place for us "Active" sleepers and easy to stuff things in and make a super nice pillow area. I highly recommend it! I'm using it in lieu of my old 1976 North Face down bag that I never thought I'd replace:

500 nights on 3 Expeds
Never had a malfunction. I sometimes read about Exped failures (Big Agnes also) in various forums, but to judge how common they are we would need to have some industry figures on mattress failures per 1000 sales. I doubt that information can be obtained, so it’s hard to compare brand durability with any confidence. Also, I’m guessing people are more likely to post about mattress failures than nonfailures.

It can be said as a general rule that air mattresses are prone to failure unless you treat them with reasonable care (personally I wouldn’t use one outside the tent as a chair), compared to a foam mattress. But it can also be said that today’s insulated Expeds and other brands are far more comfortable, and I believe durable, than what we had 15 or 20 years ago.

A related concern is Big Agnes sleeping bags, which depend on the mattress for warmth. Would hate to have a mattress failure with a BA bag in cold weather.

Totally agree
I don’t really understand quilts, when a sleeping bag can be unzipped to use as a quilt or zipped up to add quite a bit of warmth. All other factors being equal, a sleeping bag will always be warmer than a quilt if you’re caught in unexpected cold temperatures. Plus you can get a fine 20F down sleeping bag that weighs around 2.5 lbs, which is perfectly acceptable for paddle camping.

One motivation for quilts was that people got fed up with restrictive mummy bags, I think. But there are good down rectangular and semi-rectangular bags that are quite roomy.