Camping Sleeping Pad Guide

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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

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 Pad

ALPS Mountaineering Foam Mat, Regular 375 - Green

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.

Advantages:

  • Foam pads are lightweight and robust, cheap to buy.

Disadvantages:

  • Bulky when packed
  • Provide less insulation than the latter two.

Self-inflating sleeping pads

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture WV Mattress Large

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.

Advantages:

  • 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

Disadvantages:

  • They are a bit heavier than foam mats and cost more

Air Pad, the most comfortable sleeping pad

Fox Outfitters Airlite Sleeping Pad for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking. Quick Inflating Design with Built-in Pump.

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.

Advantages:

  • Air pads provide very good insulation to weight ratio and packing size
  • They’re very comfortable sleeping on

Disadvantages:

  • 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:

  • Lightweight
  • Small packing
  • Good protection against cold
  • Protection against rocks and hard ground
  • High lying comfort

Tips

  • 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
SaleBestseller No. 1
Clostnature Self Inflating Sleeping Pad for Camping - 1.5/2/3 inch Camping Pad, Lightweight Inflatable Camping Mattress Pad, Insulated Foam Sleeping Mat for Backpacking, Tent, Hammock
  • IDEAL COMFORT: When you're in the backcountry one comfort you shouldn't sacrifice is a good night's sleep. A sleeping pad is cheap sleep insurance that offers superior cushioning and support, you won't feel the ground with this foam sleeping pad. Do not be anxious about the thickness, 1.5'' thick is just right to balance comfort and portability. What's more, we offer a limited ONE-YEAR WARRANTY!!!
  • EXCELLENT INSULATION: Waterproof fabric with 1.5'' thick memory foam padding. The camping sleeping pad introduces environment-friendly material without any plastic or chemical smell, this inflatable sleeping pad helps you have a pleasant sleep at night by offering firm support. Up to 4 R-value provides ultimate insulation in cold weather
  • SELF-INFLATING CAMPING PAD: Super easy! No pump is needed, twist the quick valve to inflate in minutes. Roll up the camping mat to deflate. The pillow attached to the camp pad can be used separately, the quick button makes pressure adjustable. Reclaim your time from tedious air-blow stuff
  • COMPACT&LIGHT: Open size: 6'3''x2'x1.5'', rolled size: 13''x6''x6'', weight: 3.1lb. 2 ways packaging design: dumpy or slender packaging depends on your needs. Two straps and 1 storage sack for easy storage and carry
  • Every camping sleep pad has a 48-hour leakage inspection, this allows protection as you use it as your sleeping bag pad, cot pad, camping bed, or hammock pad. Snaps design allows both sides of the foam camping mat to be connectable to double for couples and family
SaleBestseller No. 2
TOBTOS Inflatable Camping Sleeping Pad with Pillow, Thick 6 Inch Ultralight Sleeping Pad with Built-in Pump, Lightweight Sleeping Mat for Camping, Backpacking, Hiking, Tent (Grey)
  • 【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 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.
SaleBestseller No. 3
Yuzonc Double Sleeping Pad - Self Inflating 4" Extra-Thick for 2 Person with Pillow Built-in Foot Pump Inflatable Sleeping Mat for Backpacking, Hiking, Traveling, Tent, Portable Camping Mat
  • 【4‘’ Ultra-Thick Double Sleeping Pad with Pillows】Camping sleeping pad is designed with a larger size and thicker: 79.8” X 53.5” and 4 inches extra thickness after inflating, which provides generous space and strong support, big enough for 2 person, won't touch the ground no matter how you flip, camping pad built-in pillows are suitable for every sleeping position and gives you every comfortable and warm sleeping night.
  • 【Fast Foot Pump to Inflate & 1s Deflation】Sleeping mat has a built-in foot pump that can be fully inflated with foot pressure in just 1-3 minutes. No need to pack an extra pump to save backpack travel. Besides, self inflating sleeping pad two double layer valves on the pillow can effectively prevent air leakage and achieve rapid deflation. Note: Please make sure to close the 2 valves on the back of the pillows before pumping air.
  • 【Durable & Comfortable Camping Mat 】Our 2 person sleeping pad is made of ultra-tough 40D nylon and TPU coating for durability and tear resistant, making the mats suitable for a wide range of outdoor environments. Plus an ergonomic pressure-dispersing water ripple design and one-piece pillow, air pad providing ultimate comfort whether you are lying on your back, side or stomach.
  • 【Ultralight & Portable, Easy Storage】This camping mattress pad is compact to be easily folded back in the 12” X 5.9” carry bag, and at an ultra-light weight of 3 pounds, inflatable sleeping pad can easily fit into your backpack, perfect for camping, hiking, backpacking, climbing and traveling without any burden on you. Besides, this backpacking sleeping pad is easy to clean, if there is any dust or dirt, just wipe it down with a damp cloth.
  • 【After Service Warranty】We offer a one-year warranty for this camping pad 2 person. We're committed to providing our customers with the best possible experience. If you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, please feel free to contact us!
Bestseller No. 4
FNARMW Double Sleeping Pad Camping, Self Inflating 5'' Extra-Thick 2 Person Pillow Built-in Foot Pump Waterproof Inflatable Sleeping Mat Backpacking, Tent, Hiking, Portable Camping Pad (Navy Grey)
  • 5" EXTRA THICK 2 PERSON CAMPING PAD: FNARMW double sleeping pad measures 79" x 55" x 5" after inflation, much wider and thicker than other camping sleeping pads on the market. Unlike other cheap thin sleeping pads, The 5" thickness allows your body to keep off the hard ground, providing better support whether lying flat or on your side for a good night's sleep during camping. 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 CAMPING PAD: Unlike ordinary thermoformed sleeping pads, FNARMW 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, FNARMW wide sleeping pad features a built-in foot pump. It takes only 3mins to fully inflate this thick queen sleeping pad by foot pressing, no mouth, no hands, clean and hygienic, even kids can finish inflating. Two double layer valves on the pillow can effectively prevent air leakage and achieve rapid deflation, just remember to close the valves tightly before inflation. NOTE: the inflation time depends on the speed of your foot pressing.
  • DURABLE & PORTABLE: Ultra-thick waterproof 50D 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 camping air mattress weighs only 5lbs, packs 2 people's sleeping gear in just one, You can say goodbye to sore backs and other discomforts normally left by bumps and rocks underneath the floor of your tent! ideal for family camping, hiking, backpacking, car trips, or for guests at home.
  • 100% RISK-FREE PURCHASE: FNARMW guarantees to serve you! We offer a one-year warranty for this camping mat. We hope you are happy with this camping sleeping pad! Owning it will bring you more pleasure. If you have any questions, suggestions, ideas, please feel free to contact us! In addition, this sleeping pad is easy to clean, just wipe it clean with a damp cloth and please do not use strong detergent.
SaleBestseller No. 5
Double Sleeping Pad for Camping, 5"Ultra-Thick Queen Camping Mattress 2 Person with Pillow Built-in Pump, Self Inflating Camping Pad for Backpacking, Hiking, Traveling, Tent, Portable Sleeping Bed
  • 【 5" Ultra-Thick Sleeping Pad 】Are you still struggling with narrow and flimsy camping sleeping pad? Ours 5" super thick double sleeping pad can easily support at least two people, keeping you from touching hard floors. With its generous size of 77" x 57" inches, you're guaranteed to enjoy seriously luxurious comfort. Unlike ordinary thermoformed camping pad, ultralight sleeping pad adopts an ergonomic design. It helps to give better support and balance, this double camping pad will give you top-of-the-line comfort.
  • 【 Upgraded Supportive Camping Pads】Unlike thermoformed double sleeping pads, our 2 person sleeping pad adopts distinctive drawstring support technology. The air support unit can be individually adjusted to meet the body curve and effectively disperse gravity. The weight capacity of this camping pad mat is up to 800lbs. Need not to worry about the weight exceeding its capacity to handle!
  • 【 1 min Inflate & 5s Deflate 】Our full size camping mattress is dedicated to making your travel life easier. With the built-in pump of camping pad for sleeping, you can easily inflate it in 1 minute foot-pumping. At the same time, after opening the valve, it only takes 5 seconds for deflate. (Two double layer valves on the pillow can effectively prevent air leakage and achieve rapid deflation, just remember to close the valves tightly before inflation.)
  • 【 Resistant and Portable 】The camping mattress 2 person is made of ultra-thick 40D nylon and TPU material which is waterproof and tear-resistant. The special texture on the surface provides an anti-slip effect, making it suitable for harsh outdoor environments. The double sleeping pads for backpacking weighing only 5 pounds, can be folded down to 6.7" X 12.6", just fits into a backpack or suitcase without adding any burden to your trip.
  • 【 Ideal Companion for Outdoor Activities 】The double sleeping pad with pillow is in one design, you only need one to sleep two people even more. It's perfect for camping with family & friends, and for activities like hiking, fishing, backpacking, car traveling, and mountaineering. Moreover, we offer a 1-year warranty for this self inflating sleeping pad. We also offer you a full refund / free replacement for defective products, no need to return. If you are unhappy with our double camping pad, please feel free to contact us!

Last update on 2024-06-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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