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Fearlessleader
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01/18/2022 11:20AM  
I’ve been taking my wife canoe camping for the last 50 years and for most of that time, due to back issues, she has insisted that we use a heavy inflatable air mattress.

This year may be my first trip without her because my son wants me to go with him and two other guys to Woodland Caribou for a week. I have very little experience with what might be my best option for sleeping pads.

So what suggestions do you have for an old guy that hopefully won’t break the bank??
 
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alpinebrule
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01/18/2022 11:37AM  
I'm sure you will get lots of advice on pads, so get ready.
As part of my system I carry an inexpensive closed cell foam pad that goes under
a basic REI air mattress, don't remember name right now. Adds insulation, cushion and protects the mattress. When traveling it goes around the inside exterior of a larger pack, adds shape when packing, cushion when portaging and doesn't take up any space to speak of. For extra 1/2 lb. works well for me.
 
01/18/2022 12:18PM  
Personally I like an inflatable pad, insulted (R value >3) and oversized (25 in wide).

Something like a Nemo Quasar (long wide), it weighs about 2 lbs and costs about $180. There are other models (Nemo) and brands (Thermarest, Big Agnes, Exped, etc). These are all gonna be in the $150 range, and often you can find these on sale.

There are decent knockoff brands for camping gear on amazon...I've had good luck with Paria in particular. They make an insulated pad (Paria ReChargeXL) with similar specs to that indicated above at less than half the cost.
 
01/18/2022 12:26PM  
In Woodland Caribou I have taken an Thermarest Neoair XTherm on all my trips.

But that's not likely relevant to your situation - we need more info.

In a tent, presumably, not a hammock?

Temps you are anticipating (what time of year)?

What's your top insulation? Type/rating for sleeping bag or quilt?

Back, side or belly sleeper? Move a lot at night?

Do you value light weight, low price or comfort more? You can usually get two out of these three but not all three.

Possibly also relevant - your size?
 
AirPrex
senior member (88)senior membersenior member
 
01/18/2022 12:29PM  
For when I tent camp I really enjoy my long/wide insulated Nemo Tensor. It's middle of the road for price, especially when found on sale. Has an R value appropriate for 3 seasons. Very comfortable, not very loud/crinkly as many backpacking pads are, is easy to inflate and is light/compact. For a budget option I've had people in my group use the Klymit Static V2 and were satisfied, although it's a noticeable step down in comfort to the Nemo imo. That being said I primarily hammock camp in the boundary waters as I find it much more comfortable - but that's a separate debate with many threads already dedicated.
 
01/18/2022 12:35PM  
Out of curiosity, do you see using your pad in colder weather, or pretty much just summer through early fall?

I don't hav a specific recommendation as my pad, an Exped Downmat 7 UL, is used all year around and you may not need the R value as high. I have been thinking of getting a much lower R value pad just for trips June - September.

For what it's worth, I also have been doing what AlpineBrule does - adding a closed cell pad underneath. I started doing this in winter, but have extended in some other trips as well - mainly to help protect the pad and as backup. I popped my Exped on night 6 of a 20 day trip this summer and was glad to have the closed cell pad as backup for the next two nights until my field repair was set. I use a cut down version that goes to about my knee - and this doubles as a pad in the canoe for my dog to sleep on.

If you are going to WCPP, I suspect you will find many tent pads are far less smooth and packed as in the BWCA.
 
01/18/2022 01:41PM  
If this is going to be the only time you ever use this pad, I might recommend using 2 pads put together instead of just one more expensive one. My buddy used to use a foam pad and a self inflating pad together and was comfortable for years. Then he went on a backpacking trip and needed something that packed smaller so he bought a Klymit pad.

2 pads together will be more bulky and might weigh more but it could get you by for the one trip. I think he preferred the air pad on bottom to flatten the base then a cheap foam pad on top.
 
01/18/2022 02:43PM  
70 years old and still sleep in a sleeping bag on either a Exped Lite 5 S (60x20m Rvalue 3.8) or Exped 9 (72x20 R value 7.8), on the ground. Both now over 7 years of use.
They are not the only options but what I like.

butthead
 
01/18/2022 03:29PM  
Like sns I have a Thermarest NeoAir XTherm that I've been very happy with. It has a high R-Value and is light and compact. There are lots of similar pads. Here's a recent article about sleeping pad r-values and temperatures. It includes an extensive list of pads, r-values, weight, thickness.
 
01/18/2022 04:37PM  
One more general thought on R values; for colder weather higher R values are great or essential. But i have also had many nights from mid-June through August where I was using my pad with an R value of 7 and wished I had something with an R value closer to 1. When it is warm out, sleeping on something warm does not help. Increased R value likely leads to increase price, weight, and bulk - so think ab out how much warmth you need under you.
 
01/19/2022 09:04AM  
Jaywalker: "One more general thought on R values; for colder weather higher R values are great or essential. But i have also had many nights from mid-June through August where I was using my pad with an R value of 7 and wished I had something with an R value closer to 1. When it is warm out, sleeping on something warm does not help. Increased R value likely leads to increase price, weight, and bulk - so think ab out how much warmth you need under you. "

This is an excellent point; although there are some who don't mind a winter pad under them in the height of summer...I am not one of them. Have tried it and was too hot to sleep for hours and was miserable. In summer I carry an Xlite or even an Uberlite.
 
Fearlessleader
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01/19/2022 11:52AM  
We’ll be going late August/early September. I know it can vary a lot but I’m expecting the weather to be mild. I’d rather be a little cool than sweating.
 
01/19/2022 11:52AM  
"although there are some who don't mind a winter pad under them in the height of summer"

I am that person, does not bother me at all. I just open up the s-bag. The small 5 S lite is for packing and weight, but is limited to 20's and above for me. Good thing I'm short!

butthead
 
01/19/2022 01:28PM  
If this is the only time you are going to use it, I would borrow one or rent from an Outfitter. If you want to buy one, there are many on sale at REI
 
kenpark23
member (15)member
 
01/19/2022 08:50PM  
I just upgraded to a Big Agnes Q Core SLX insulated and love it. I think pads are highly subjective. What suits one person may not suit another. It does seem like everyone I see that has moved from the normal 20 inch wide pad to a 25 loves it. I certainly did.
 
01/20/2022 10:59AM  
Unless you have your heart set on a specific make and model, you should be able to find one on sale. In addition to REI, check out Sierra Trading Post and Steep and Cheap.
 
gravelroad
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01/20/2022 08:50PM  
Put all the non-essentials you plan to bring in a pile in front of you, plus a small scale. Start discarding things until you have removed 4.8 pounds.

You now have the capacity to carry the “ultralight” backpacking cot I bought a couple years ago for well under a hundred bucks.

Ignore the sneering you may encounter - feel free to mock them back with a sunny, sweat-free smile each morning.
 
bottomtothetap
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01/22/2022 10:25AM  
I have become convinced that bringing a low cot is well worth the extra weight, space, cost and set-up to sleep on for the added comfort it provides just to get up off of the ground a few inches. One can easily spend several hundred dollars for top-shelf models of these but a number of acceptable alternatives are available as well for significantly less money. After experimenting with a couple of types I've settled on one that works well for me for well under $100--less that what I'd pay for a bed for one night in many hotels. Weighs less that five pounds and packs down to less than the size of a loaf of bread. Set up-on these usually takes about 5 minutes. If we have room in the pack, I've even added more comfort by putting my self-inflating Thermarest on top of the cot. As my bones get older, a low cot seems like the only way to go for me!

BONUS: Frees up some space in the tent as now a few items can be stored for the night under your cot, too.
 
Fearlessleader
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01/22/2022 02:51PM  
Interesting. I’d never seen these packable cots.

I really appreciate everyone sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling I’ll end up wondering why it took me so long to get the benefit of other people’s experience.
 
ockycamper
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01/22/2022 03:13PM  
We used to all be tent campers when we started 15 years ago in the BWCA. As we all were in our 50's back then, we were starting to get up several times a night crawling out on our knees. That got old quick

Now most of us are in our 60s. Rather then continuing to bring tents, then add the extra weight of cots, insulating pads and sleeping bags, our entire group (14-18 guys age 40's to 70) now use hammocks. No pressure on your back, easy in and out, and if you bring an ultralight 1 lbs hammock, with down underquit and down top quilt you are good to go for under 4 lbs.

We had two guys that went with us in the first two years. They brought a four man tent, inflatable air mattress of the type you would use at home for company (double bed size), full size bag chairs, pump for the air mattress and a 115 litre sealline pack each.

After carrying most of their gear (they were 65 at the time), we made the rule that everyone in all 3 groups had to carry their own gear. That took care of the large tents, cots, home style air mattresses and huge packs.
 
bottomtothetap
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01/22/2022 05:03PM  
Fearlessleader: "Interesting. I’d never seen these packable cots.


I really appreciate everyone sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling I’ll end up wondering why it took me so long to get the benefit of other people’s experience. "


This is the one I use and am satisfied with. I no longer am fighting with the rock or root that's poking me in the back! Low cot
 
Unas10
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01/22/2022 07:03PM  
bottomtothetap: "Fearlessleader: "Interesting. I’d never seen these packable cots.



I really appreciate everyone sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling I’ll end up wondering why it took me so long to get the benefit of other people’s experience. "



This is the one I use and am satisfied with. I no longer am fighting with the rock or root that's poking me in the back! Low cot "


I like the cam lock concept for tensioning the frame.
How long have you been using it?
 
bottomtothetap
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01/23/2022 12:39PM  
Unas10: "bottomtothetap: "Fearlessleader: "Interesting. I’d never seen these packable cots.



I really appreciate everyone sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling I’ll end up wondering why it took me so long to get the benefit of other people’s experience. "




This is the one I use and am satisfied with. I no longer am fighting with the rock or root that's poking me in the back! Low cot "



I like the cam lock concept for tensioning the frame.
How long have you been using it?"


I've used it now for 2 or three seasons.

Prior to that I used a Slumberjack Low Cot. Once set up it performed really well too and seemed even a bit more sturdy than the KingCamp but it was at least twice the weight and significantly more difficult to assemble. It almost seemed like you were going to break the thing before the legs would lock into place. I think the weight and assembly may have done in this design from Slumberjack. I see that it's been discontinued. The KingCamp is still readily available.
 
ockycamper
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01/23/2022 12:59PM  
Even with that cot, you will be 15 lbs or more with the tent, cot, insulating pad, ground pad, etc.
 
01/23/2022 01:18PM  
bottomtothetap: "Unas10: "bottomtothetap: "Fearlessleader: "Interesting. I’d never seen these packable cots.




I really appreciate everyone sharing your thoughts. I have a feeling I’ll end up wondering why it took me so long to get the benefit of other people’s experience. "




This is the one I use and am satisfied with. I no longer am fighting with the rock or root that's poking me in the back! Low cot "




I like the cam lock concept for tensioning the frame.
How long have you been using it?"



I've used it now for 2 or three seasons.


Prior to that I used a Slumberjack Low Cot. Once set up it performed really well too and seemed even a bit more sturdy than the KingCamp but it was at least twice the weight and significantly more difficult to assemble. It almost seemed like you were going to break the thing before the legs would lock into place. I think the weight and assembly may have done in this design from Slumberjack. I see that it's been discontinued. The KingCamp is still readily available."


I'm coming into this discussion a little late but I thought I would add a comment nonetheless. I played around for several years with various sleeping systems:

- First 3-4 years was pad and synthetic mummy sleeping bag.

- Next 5-7 years or so was the down sleeping bag and various cots. The last cot was the Therm-a-rest LuxuryLite UltraLite, it weighs about 2.5 lb. Addressed the rocks and roots but it is cold (May in BWCA/Q, anytime in the Sierras), so you need an insulted pad (and extra pound or more).

- Last 8+ years I stopped using the cot. Switched to a decent ($150+) inflatable insulted pad thats at least 3 inches thick (current one is a Nemo Cosmo 3D, wide/long, with built in foot pump, weighs about 2.5 lbs). I use this with a nice 20 deg down bag. This set up is the best I have found, for me. Keeps me plenty warm in May in the BWCA. I don't feel roots or rocks. No back or sleep issues. This is what works for me. Most of my other gear is UL.
 
pswith5
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01/25/2022 08:52AM  
Also a fan of Exped. Mine have been more durable than others I've tried. Insulated helps because I typically go in shoulder seasons. I don't have a fancy sleeping bag so it's equally insulated on both sides. I do like the wide version because I don't sleep hard or still. Good luck.
 
Finnboy
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01/25/2022 03:44PM  
I’ve had good luck with my Nemo Cosmo insulated.
 
Blackdogyak
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01/26/2022 10:05AM  
Well I am now over 60. Sleeping has more challenges than it used to And hard uneven ground make it way worse. I got a low camp cot and highly recommend them. Find one with five supports instead of four. The only odd thing is that the head is cantilevered out so that it doesn't support your cabesa that well. I have used a dry bag stuffed with...stuff...as an "under pillow" to.support the end of the cot...it leaks air throughout the night but the concept works.

I have used the Thermarest NeoAir X-something-or-other.....and it was by far the most comfortable inflatable I have used. Not the lightest. But I was happy. However, the NeoAir part of the design refers to the method of inflation. It's kinda like how you flap.open a garbage bag....wave it through the air to get air into it. It leaked and the pad deflated during the night. No bueno.

Next I got a Klimit Static V2 and it's pretty good. (But non insulated) Check Sierra Trading Post.
Before these, I used an inflatable flat Thermarest. Luxury for a 30 year old. Not sufficient for a 60 year old.

I just purchased a high end hammock and hope that all this ground-hugger stuff is history for me. The hammock has so many advantages.
 
Blackdogyak
distinguished member (126)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/26/2022 10:05AM  
Well I am now over 60. Sleeping has more challenges than it used to And hard uneven ground make it way worse. I got a low camp cot and highly recommend them. Find one with five supports instead of four. The only odd thing is that the head is cantilevered out so that it doesn't support your cabesa that well. I have used a dry bag stuffed with...stuff...as an "under pillow" to.support the end of the cot...it leaks air throughout the night but the concept works.

I have used the Thermarest NeoAir X-something-or-other.....and it was by far the most comfortable inflatable I have used. Not the lightest. But I was happy. However, the NeoAir part of the design refers to the method of inflation. It's kinda like how you flap.open a garbage bag....wave it through the air to get air into it. It leaked and the pad deflated during the night. No bueno.

Next I got a Klimit Static V2 and it's pretty good. (But non insulated) Check Sierra Trading Post.
Before these, I used an inflatable flat Thermarest. Luxury for a 30 year old. Not sufficient for a 60 year old.

I just purchased a high end hammock and hope that all this ground-hugger stuff is history for me. The hammock has so many advantages.
 
01/26/2022 11:42AM  
Blackdogyak: "I have used the Thermarest NeoAir X-something-or-other.....and it was by far the most comfortable inflatable I have used. Not the lightest. But I was happy. However, the NeoAir part of the design refers to the method of inflation. It's kinda like how you flap.open a garbage bag....wave it through the air to get air into it. It leaked and the pad deflated during the night. No bueno."

Believe you are referring to the SV (SpeedValve) models within the Neoair line - those with the SV designation do have a really big opening at the top to partially inflate the way you describe...then you finish it off with the valve. And you are right - crappy, leak-prone design (which has been discontinued for this reason).

98+% of Neoairs (Xtherms, Xlites and Uberlites) do not have this...just a normal valve.
 
Blackdogyak
distinguished member (126)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/26/2022 11:54AM  
sns: "Blackdogyak: "I have used the Thermarest NeoAir X-something-or-other.....and it was by far the most comfortable inflatable I have used. Not the lightest. But I was happy. However, the NeoAir part of the design refers to the method of inflation. It's kinda like how you flap.open a garbage bag....wave it through the air to get air into it. It leaked and the pad deflated during the night. No bueno."


Believe you are referring to the SV (SpeedValve) models within the Neoair line - those with the SV designation do have a really big opening at the top to partially inflate the way you describe...then you finish it off with the valve. And you are right - crappy, leak-prone design (which has been discontinued for this reason).


98+% of Neoairs (Xtherms, Xlites and Uberlites) do not have this...just a normal valve."


Ah yes.....you are correct sir! The NeoAir itself is great. The SV thing....not good.
Boy, was that thing comfortable! I was so disappointed that I couldn't get that stupid rolltop to seal airtight. Makes you wonder.....how the heck does a pro manufacturer design something like that and never QC the final product?
 
01/26/2022 12:01PM  
Blackdogyak: "Makes you wonder.....how the heck does a pro manufacturer design something like that and never QC the final product?"

Good question! I'm sure you were not the only unhappy customer, and I bet they got an earful about it. To be fair, they tend to have strong customer service and I will wager they sent out a ton of free replacement pads to folks.

I'm with you - hammocks are the answer for sleeping comfort.
 
LarryS48
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01/26/2022 01:17PM  
I suppose the answer to what to sleep on depends on what you want from a sleeping pad. The giant air mattress was for comfort. I take a sleeping pad mostly for insulation. I can sleep well on hard surfaces as long as I don't have a large root or bulging rock under me. That makes it a lot easier to find a suitable pad without breaking the bank. I currently have two pads, a Thermarest Ridgerest SOLite (closed cell foam), and a Thermarest Trail Scout (self inflating). The Ridgerest is nearly indestructible, light and is adequate in terms of insulation for summer and early fall. It does, however, pack up very large. The Trail Scout is very thin compared to most inflatables but provides slightly more padding than the Ridgerest. That said, there are many options that provide way more padding that either of these. The Trail Scout packs up a lot smaller than the Ridgerest, is slightly heavier and is also not suitable for winter camping. For winter, I'd have to get a more insulated pad or, perhaps, put one on top of the other.
 
ockycamper
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01/26/2022 02:12PM  
sns: "Blackdogyak: "Makes you wonder.....how the heck does a pro manufacturer design something like that and never QC the final product?"


Good question! I'm sure you were not the only unhappy customer, and I bet they got an earful about it. To be fair, they tend to have strong customer service and I will wager they sent out a ton of free replacement pads to folks.


I'm with you - hammocks are the answer for sleeping comfort.
"


Those that haven't tried hammocks because they are side or stomach sleepers need to try a bridge hammock. We use Chrysalis Hammocks, Ridgerunners and a couple of other types. You can use an underquilt for insulation, or an insulated sleeping pad. I have a Chrysalis myself, like the one in the link. It literally goes up in less then a minute and has its own mosquito netting and rain fly built in. Storage areas front and back inside. I put my shoes and fleece jacket in the storage areas for those nightime trips.

Chrysalis bridge hammock
 
breanna
 
02/03/2022 05:59AM  
Fearlessleader: "I’ve been taking my wife canoe camping for the last 50 years and for most of that time, due to back issues, she has insisted that we use a heavy inflatable air mattress.

This year may be my first trip without her because my son wants me to go with him and two other guys to Woodland Caribou for a week. I have very little experience with what might be my best option for sleeping pads.

So what suggestions do you have for an old guy that hopefully won’t break the bank??"


Hello, Fearlessleader.
I have a little hiking experience with my bad back (it's a long story).
In my opinion, there is nothing better than an air mattress for camping https://mattressella.com/.
They are cheap, practical, take up little space when folded, and that to inflate it there is already a large number of electric pumps. You can buy a mattress + pillow set at once it will be more profitable.
 
ockycamper
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02/04/2022 03:10PM  
The first year we went. . .16 years ago. . .we paddled through the numbered Lakes out of Ely. Not to difficult. . .3 portages. Two of the guys were in their mid 60's at the time and went together and brought a 4 man tent for the two of them, a full size home style inflatable mattress with pad, blankets, pillows and put it all in the largest size Sealline packs that Sealline makes. The packs were so heavy they could not lift them. We would get to the portages, and they would pick up the paddles and pfd's and portage through, leaving their massive packs for the younger guys to carry.

At the end of the trip they paddled up to the takeout in Ely, pulled their canoes up, took out their packs, took 20 steps and dropped everything and took naps.

My point is that their desire for the comforts of home caused them to hate the trip due to weight and bulk, and they never came back.

It also caused our group to impose a hard/fast rule that everyone carries their own gear. . .no exceptions. The only shared carry from that point on was the canoes and food packs.

Fast forward 5 years. . .all the guys were mid 50's to 70 and all in hammocks. And all with back issues.
 
iCallitMaize
member (46)member
 
02/08/2022 03:18AM  
The link that boonie posted is where I would begin. Solid, solid choices in that group with additonal links at bottom.

Fearlessleader: "I’ve been taking my wife canoe camping for the last 50 years and for most of that time, due to back issues, she has insisted that we use a heavy inflatable air mattress.

This year may be my first trip without her because my son wants me to go with him and two other guys to Woodland Caribou for a week. I have very little experience with what might be my best option for sleeping pads.

So what suggestions do you have for an old guy that hopefully won’t break the bank??"
 
lindylair
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02/10/2022 06:27PM  
I bought one of those Neo Air SV pads at Sierra Trading last year because it was ridiculously cheap, like 30 bucks. I had watched the video of a guy who effortlessly inflates it by blowing into it. I was skeptical but it was a solid pad aside from that feature so i gave it a try. My first several attempts with it didn't work very well but once inflated it was great and very comfortable. By last fall I was able to get it about 80% inflated using their magic method and it was easy enough to top it off to a comfortable level. In principle you blow into the bag and your warm air draws in cooler air along with it. As you blow again the air in the pad is pushed over to the sides of the pad but can't escape because of the flap/baffle at the mouth of the bag. I haven't given up hope on it yet, I think it depends a lot on how hard you blow in a tight stream and how far your mouth is away from the opening. But even if I never get it beyond 80% inflated the rest is easy and I will be fine with it.

I will say it is a very comfortable pad and I have had no trouble with it leaking over a several night camping trip using the roll up and seal technology that they built into it. Overall I am very satisfied with it for the price I paid for it and looking forward to using it a lot more. But remember i only paid 30 bucks for it. A steal at that price.

Perhaps one of the reasons why I like it so much is that i have been using BA Q core 20 inch pads in my two BA bags for several years and as I get older (and larger) I find those are just too restrictive for me.
 
pswith5
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02/10/2022 08:14PM  
I sleep on my side.
 
Cvendel
member (14)member
 
02/17/2022 10:58AM  
What is the brand you use?? I have been really thinking of getting one of these light cots??
 
ppine
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03/04/2022 06:19PM  
For paddling, I like the Thermarest cot that weighs under two pounds. Great for beaches with gravel and rocks. Comfortable and airy. For cold weather it needs a pad.
Thermorest Basecamp in dark blue is several inches thick and good sized. Too heavy to backpack. I like it better than Neo Air and other lightweight pads made to carry.
 
03/05/2022 11:56AM  
I'm 63 and I still really like my Sea to Summit comfort plus. On the heavy side for a pad, but very comfortable, and the stuff sack doubles as a pumpsack to inflate. Wide enough for a side sleeper. I've had it for 3 years now.

comfort plus pad
 
deepdish71
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03/05/2022 04:28PM  
Fearlessleader: "I’ve been taking my wife canoe camping for the last 50 years and for most of that time, due to back issues, she has insisted that we use a heavy inflatable air mattress.

This year may be my first trip without her because my son wants me to go with him and two other guys to Woodland Caribou for a week. I have very little experience with what might be my best option for sleeping pads.

So what suggestions do you have for an old guy that hopefully won’t break the bank??"


Get 2 exped mega mat 10 pads. We love ours. Spoiler alert: the bank will break but it is worth it. We use them for guests at home also.
 
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