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Do you have a great sleeping bag but you still feel worn out in the morning and your back is sore? The best sleeping bag may be useless without a quality sleeping pad. When lying in the sleeping bag it gets compressed under your body weight and insulation and comfort underneath you are lost.
So a quality sleeping pad is just as important as a good sleeping bag whether you are on an expedition of on a family camping trip. It cushions you from small stones and branches and insulates you against heat loss to the ground
Table of Contents
Selecting the best sleeping pad for camping
When you are looking for the best sleeping pad, you need to consider similar criteria as when looking for a sleeping bag.
- warm: (R-value): good insulation from the ground
- durable: the mat is used outdoors it should last
- lightweight: less to carry – gets you further
- packable: already enough stuff in your pack
- comfortable: well-rested for the next day
- no noise: when the mat squeaks with every movement you don’t rest well
- slip: the best sleeping pad does not help if you are half the night next to the mat
Insulation – The R-value
Besides being comfortable when lying down on, the most important feature of a sleeping pad is proper insulation against cold from below. The thicker the more insulation, but also the surface texture and the structure play a role. A Honeycomb structure, for example, provides higher insulating performance. To identify the insulation properties of mattresses, the so-called R-value is used, which stands for the thermal resistance of a material or how a material conducts heat. The higher the R-value of a sleeping pad, the better the insulating.
- R = 1: for 3 seasons, warm nights
- R = 2: for 3 seasons, temperate nights
- R = 3: 3 to 4 seasons, cooler nights
- R = 4: 4 seasons, suitable for winter
- R = 5: alpine winter bivouacs
- R = 6: extended winter trips
Different sleeping pads for different requirements
- Foam pad
- Self-inflating Pad
- Very comfortable Air Pad
Foam pads are the simplest sleeping pads, they are made of polyethylene foam (PE). Pay attention that you buy one made of high-quality closed-cell foam. If the foam is of lower quality they wear out quickly and thus loses its insulating effect. Higher quality mattresses made of closed-cell polyethylene foam and are more elastic and pressure-resistant. They also do not soak up water when getting wet.
Foam mats are generally very tough and are less sensitive to punctures, stones and the like. Foam pads differ in terms of insulating performance depending on thickness and the surface. A dimpled or waffle structure creates voids between the mat and sleeping bag, which increases the insulation factor. They are cheap to manufacture, thus cheap to purchase. They are, however, not the most comfortable when compared to self-inflating pads or air pads.
- Foam pads are lightweight and robust, cheap to buy.
- Bulky when packed
- Provide less insulation than the latter two.
Self-inflating sleeping pads
The most popular sleeping pads are self-inflating mats. They use a combination of open-cell polyurethane foam insulation and air for cushioning enclosed in an air-tight envelope. For transport, the sleeping mat is easily rolled up while the air is pressed out of the foam and the channels. To use it, simply open the valve, allow air to enter and the pad will inflate itself to its original shape as the pores and channels are filled with air.
Compared to conventional foam pads, the self-inflating mat offers the advantage of greater thickness, more comfort, and insulation from the cold ground. The insulation pad should be at least 2 fingers thick, but anything more than 4 fingers thick will not increase sleeping comfort notably anymore. But not only the thickness is responsible for the sleeping comfort of the mat. The structure and material of the foam play a crucial role too. The best sleeping pads may target the foam to certain regions of the body for support while it is a little softer and more compliant in other areas. Don’t forget to consider the weight and packing dimensions. Look at the surface texture to minimize slippage especially when used on not entirely flat ground or if you are a restless sleeper.
- Self-inflating sleeping pads provide good insulation and are comfortable to sleep on
- They can be rolled up tightly and strapped to your backpack
- Even when punctured, the mat will still provide some insulation
- They are a bit heavier than foam mats and cost more
Air Pad, the most comfortable sleeping pad
These air construction sleeping mats are the most comfortable ones for backpacking. They are modern high-tech camping mats, which are made from air-tight, extremely lightweight laminates. The air chambers of those mats are filled with down or microfiber so they provide much higher insulation (R-value) than foam mats or self-inflating mattresses.
However, they need to be handled with more care, as they can be punctured or ripped easily. When damaged they deflate and their insulation is gone. Make sure you use them with a protective pad (groundsheet, tarpaulin, etc.) If you going remote or at a very low temperature you must have a repair kit or even a spare sleeping pad with you as the repair kit won’t help with large-scale damage or valve problems.
- Air pads provide very good insulation to weight ratio and packing size
- They’re very comfortable sleeping on
- They must be actively inflated
- Care must be taken to not accidentally puncture them
- High price.
Sleeping Pads Summary
Chose a sleeping pad wisely depending on your physical needs, too thin is useless (though still better than no mat). Look for a good compromise between function and comfort.
You want the pad to be:
- Small packing
- Good protection against cold
- Protection against rocks and hard ground
- High lying comfort
- Before pitching your tent, unpack the sleeping pad first as it takes a while to inflate
- Careful when inflating by mouth with frost, moisture in your breath may cause ice crystals that damage the foam
- On long trips or remote, have a repair kit with you or even a spare pad in the group
- In hot weather leave the valve open to avoid damage by heat-induced pressure, keep it out of the sun
- Never store the mat rolled up over a longer period, always spread it at a dry place with the valve open
- 【Innovation Hexagon Design】Just Want to sleep comfortably anywhere? WANNTS sleeping pad innovation hexagon design is made special with body mapping technology.No need to suffer with a cheap, flimsy, and undersized outdoor sleeping pad! This quality portable camping pad is perfect,great sturdy and super comfortable - great for any sleep position!
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- 4" Ultra-thick Sleeping Pad: Elegear self inflating sleeping pad measures 79" x 26" x 4" after inflation, much thicker than other camping sleeping pads on the market. Unlike other cheap thin sleeping pads, this 4-inch thick inflatable sleeping pad will keep you away from the hard ground and won't touch the ground no matter how you flip. You will feel the comfort and security of lying on a home mattress when using our inflatable sleeping pad, and enjoy a good night's sleep during a camping.
- Top Comfortable Caming Pad: Unlike ordinary thermoformed sleeping pads, Elegear ultralight sleeping pad adopts a unique drawstring support technology. The air support unit can be independently deformed to meet the body curve and effectively disperse gravity, increase the weight-bearing capacity of the inflatable sleeping pad to 800lbs. Plus an ergonomic one-piece pillow, this camping sleeping mat is much more comfrtable than others and will give you top-of-the-line comfort.
- Built-in Foot Pump: No mouth blowing, no extra pump, Elegear camping air mattress features a built-in foot pump. It takes only 2mins to fully inflate this thick sleeping pad by foot pressing, no mouth, no hands, clean and hygienic, even kids can finish inflating. The double layer valve on the pillow can effectively prevent air leakage and achieve rapid deflation, just remember to close the valve tightly before inflation. NOTE: the inflation time depends on the speed of your foot pressing.
- Durable & Portable: Ultra-thick waterproof 40D nylon and TPU eco-friendly materials, durable and tear-resistant, make this compact sleeping pad perfect for harsh environments in the field. The thickened film ensures that our self inflating camping pad is effectively puncture and moisture resistant without air leakage. Such a inflatable camping pad weighs only 2.4lbs, ideal for family camping, hiking, backpacking, car trips, or for guests at home.
- Go Camping With Your Family And Friends: There are 6 buttons on each edge of the sleeping pad, just connect the buttons and you can connect two or more sleeping pads together. Call your family and friends to go camping and enjoy a comfortable night together with Elegear sleeping pads! Tip: it's recommended to connect the buttons before inflating. Elegear guarantees to serve you! Any questions, suggestions and ideas please feel free to contact us, we will offer you a well-pleasing solution!
- 【New Upgraded Extra Thick & Wide Camping Pad】TOBTOS latest sleeping pad is wider and thicker than others on the market. Inflatable pads can be up to 6 inches thick once full of air, which is our biggest advantage. It can stay away from the hard ground and sleep comfortably in any sleeping position.
- 【Camping Grade Durable Material】This sleeping mat is made of ultra-tough 40D nylon coated with a waterproof TPU coating, providing extreme pressure-bearing and durability. The edge of the camping mat is heat-sealed, so you don't have to worry about air leaks or tears, even under harsh conditions.
- 【Lightweight & Ultra-Portable】The camping air mattress can be folded into a compact 10.6"x4.7" size and weighs only 2.36 pounds, just enough to fit in your backpack without adding any burden to your trip. It can be used as camping gear for backpacking trips or for overnight use by guests at home.
- 【Ergonomic Integrated Design】The camping sleeping pad is equipped with a one-piece pillow that fits to the curve of the head and neck. The sides of the pad are higher than the middle position, it helps to give better support and balance, thus providing effective protection against turning over.
- 【Easy Inflation & Deflation】No more blowing your camping pad with your mouth! It has a built-in foot pump that allows you to inflate it by foot in 1 minute. Simply open the deflation valve and it will deflate in seconds. You can adjust the firmness of the mat by adding or releasing air according to your preference.
- 【Luxurious Comfort】 AKSOUL 4-inch ultra-light sleeping pad. Say goodbye to cold floors, wet ground, and hard stones, and indulge in a blissful sleep outdoors.
- 【Easy Inflation】 Camping sleeping pad features built-in foot pump. Simply step on the sleeping pad and inflate the sleeping pad in 30 seconds. Save 40%-50% of your precious time when inflating your sleeping pad.
- 【Compact & Portable】 AKSOUL Camping sleeping pad is your perfect travel companion. Its small size and easy-carry design make it ideal for camping and travel. Enjoy a comfortable sleep without sacrificing space.
- 【Expandable Double Bed】AKSOUL Inflatable thin camping pad boasts a connectable design with snap buttons. Easily combine two mattresses to create a spacious double bed. Enhance your camping experience with extra room.
- 【Unparalleled Quality】 Trust in AKSOUL camping sleeping pad. Crafted with premium stretch material and TPU, it offers exceptional durability. Which is durable and can withstand up to 440 lbs when inflated, ensuring reliability for your adventures.
- SOFT COMFORTABLE& SLEEP PEACEFULLY ANYWHERE: Our camping mattress comes with super soft foam layer and enhanced 1.5 INCH THICKNESS. No matter where you are, side, back or stomach sleeper No more waking up tired, grumpy, Much more comfortable than traditional inflatable sleeping pads . Non-slip surface ensures you do not slide during the night. thermo-insulation 4.3 R-value,It can keep the temperature for you in a very cold night
- SUPER TOUGH COMFORTABLE FABRIC：This backpacking sleeping pad Constructed with high rebound foam and tough 20D RIP-STOP Nylon+TPU layer. soft and silent surface fabric，waterproof and wear-resistant bottom. no more squeaky noise, lightweight waterproof, heavy duty ripstop, weather-resistant, puncture-resistant, fadeproof and well sewn, you will never worry about any tears or holes, this insulated sleeping pad is built to last and can power through the rockiest terrain and harshest weather.
- QUICK AND EASY AUTO INFLATING: Our ultralight Sleep mat Using the most advanced Self-inflating technology, Just twist the pad’s durable non-corrosive leak-proof valve and unroll your pad, air starts filling up the pad’s open cell foam. You only need to add a few more puffs of air and your pad can hold its firm shape. used for strongest camping equipment. Fully inflated size is 78”×25”×1.5”.
- MULTI-PURPOSE: This Camping sleeping mat only 2.3 lbs. easy foldable to an incredibly small size (6” x 13”)， to Insulated sleeping pad compresses to roll up tightly for compact storage or travel，No worry about being bulky and heavy. Perfect for indoor and outdoor activities like backpacking, hiking, car travel, bike trips, climbing, Beach camping , Especially for winter camping, or sleepover, Padama will take good care of you.
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Last update on 2023-09-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API