Sleep Systems: Kayak Touring / Expeditions
A good night's sleep is key for a successful weekend away or expedition. Our sleeping system has five components , plus the bags necessary to keep them dry on a paddling weekend.
Check out our video of our premium sleep system that we use and recommend for sea kayak touring and expeditioning:
A good tent is vital shelter on any camping trip - you want a tent that is light and low volume when packed.
For kayaking trips your tent should also be spacious enough for comfort and have decent vestibules for storing wet gear overnight.
The MSR Hubba Hubba is a free-standing 2 person tent - as you can see from the YouTube you hardly even need to bend over to put it together up to the point of pegging it down. Having a free-standing inner is useful if the ground is too hard or very sandy - just weight the tent down with your gear so it can't blow away.
There is plenty of space inside for 2 people or use it for a single person and there is enough space for a large (2m) sleeping mat. It has a big vestibule both sides so you can keep all your gear under cover outside your tent. Do not store food or food waste in your tent or creatures great or small may come burrowing through to get at it!
When packing your tent for a paddling trip, pack your peg & pole bag separately - it can fit into a narrow space in your canoe or kayak. The inner and fly will pack down in a Compression Dry Sack.
Selecting the best sleeping bag for you can be quite a confusing undertaking!
Some considerations are:
- Synthetic or Down? While Thermolite insulation is more suited to trips in wet environments (sea, snow) in that it will stay warm and not go clumpy and horrible if they get wet, they are very bulky. A good packing system, good tent and dry bag can overcome that and allow you to use a good, more compact, down bag. If you are in a permanently damp environment for a longer period of time (like Alaska!) it may better to look at synthetic insulation, such as the Sea to Summit Voyager sleeping bag.
- Shape - very much a personal choice whether you like a closer fitting bag such as a mummy shape, such as the Sea to Summit Talus, or a rectangular shape such as the Sea To Summit Trek.
- Loft - the amount of loft and fineness of the down determines how warm the sleeping bag will be. Within a series of sleeping bags such as the Talus or Trek sleeping bags there are different amounts of down fill - three levels of thickness, weight and warmth. Where your adventures are typically taking you will determine our needs!
- Other neat features in a sleeping bag - draft tube at the neck to keep warmth in; reversible zipper at the feet to allow heat out if needed; water-shedding external fabric (NanoShell) - good if you like sleeping under a tarp!
A Sea to Summit Compression Dry Sack is the best for transporting your sleeping bag on a paddling trip. Most will fit in Medium size, some sleeping bags will compress to Small size. If it only fits Large it may create a space issue in your kayak!
They have a dual valve - a two-way valve so that you don't lose air during inflation and you pop that one out for rapid and complete inflation - no need to waste time squeezing air out.
The Comfort Plus is dual layer - great for adjusting to just the right amount of inflation, and in case one layer has a mishap the second layer means you don't end up lying on the ground. That being said, in two years use it hasn't had a puncture. The mat is used either in a tent or on a ground sheet.
The Sea To Summit sleeping mats have a antimicrobial treatment on the inner TPU lining - you don't need to worry about introducing bacteria or mould to your mat by puffing into it. The Air Stream and Jet Stream pump sacks are also fast inflation options, as shown in the YouTube.
The sleeping mats roll up small - the Large Comfort Plus Insulated rolls up smaller than my previous, smaller and thinner mat, and easily fits into a 8 Litre Lightweight Dry Sack.
For many years we were skeptical of inflatable pillows which never quite seemed to be the right height, shape, size or too slippery. Stuff some clothes in your sleeping bags cover we'd say. This pillow, the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium, however, is just right and has delivered on a good night's sleep.
It is high enough for side sleepers and comes in two sizes - Regular (11cm high) and Large (13cm high for broader shoulders). The fabric is soft and non-slippery and it has a nice shape that curves to your body's contours. The Aeros pillows have the same valve system as the Sea To Summit Sleeping Mats so it is quick to inflate, deflate and pack away. Winner!
Sleeping Bag Liner
There are dual benefits to using a sleeping bag liner:
1. It keeps your sleeping bag cleaner, with longer between cleaning / reconditioning as the body oils and dirt from an expedition or even a weekend away will be absorbed by the liner instead of the sleeping bag. They can also wick moisture away from your skin for a more comfortable night's sleep.
2. A liner can add extra warmth - stretchy fabric liners such as the Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor series and the Coolmax Adaptor are rated to provide varying levels of extra warmth. In the tropics and on warmer nights the Coolmax Adaptor is great as a light, stand-alone covering - really useful for our Raja Ampat and Philippines paddling trips!.
Classical silk and cotton liners are still a favourite of many - the silk liners now have a poly/lycra panel to add additional comfort, in the Sea To Summit Premium Silk Travel liner.