Buying guide for sleeping pads for camping
Why buy sleeping pads for camping?
Camping trips require a lot of equipment and supplies. Aside from your shelter, food, and safety supplies, it’s important to consider your choice of sleeping surface. Cribs, sleeping bags, and hammocks are good options. The ground can be uncomfortably cold when sleeping outside in a sleeping bag, even in the warmer months. Insulating mats not only offer a nicely padded lying surface, but also decisive protection against icy temperatures. If you’re sleeping on a crib or off-the-floor hammock, whether you need a sleeping pad will depend heavily on the temperature and your preference for padding. On chilly evenings, the insulation will keep you warm while the pillow keeps you cozy.
What should you look out for when choosing sleeping pads for camping?
- Type: There are three main types of sleeping pads, each with advantages and disadvantages. Closed-cell foam mats are strong, easy to use, durable, and inexpensive, but they are not as comfortable as inflated mats. Manually inflated sleeping mats (airpads) must be inflated by blowing into a valve or with a pump. This style is good if you want a lightweight pad with adequate cushioning. Self-inflating mats are easy to use, durable and good insulation. If you’re concerned about punctured pads, there are repair kits that can fix them.
- Insulation (R value): The insulation quality of a sleeping pad is crucial for a good night’s sleep. A pad’s R-value determines its ability to resist heat loss, with larger R-values indicating better insulation. You see R values ranging from less than two to five or higher.
- Weight and pack size: A lightweight sleeping pad is easier to pack and transport when you’re on the go. Although necessary for insulation, remember that a pad with a higher R value is often heavier. Closed-cell foam mats can also appear bulky, although shorter ones are lighter. Check the weight specifications on the sleeping pad you are considering and plan how best to transport it during your trip.
- Length: Sleeping pads are usually around 72 inches or longer. This size is good for keeping the full length of your body warm and padded while you sleep. There are shorter pads, often around 48 inches, for those who need something more compact for their travels.
Should you have a sleeping pad if you use a hammock?
While sleeping in a hammock, a sleeping pad improves your comfort and helps you stay more stable. It also keeps you warmer by protecting you from the cool air that flows beneath you. Hammock specific pads are designed to fit snugly inside a hammock. Kits are also available to adapt regular sleeping pads to fit comfortably in a hammock.
Our tips for the best sleeping pads for camping
Advantages: Lightweight during transport, yet comfortable during use, the Sleepingo camping pad is our top choice. This pad is ideal for keeping you comfortable with its 2 inch thick support that cushions on varied terrain. The soft, quiet nylon material is flexible and durable to stay inflated for a peaceful night’s sleep. Plus, at just 14 ounces, this lightweight pad packs down to the size of a water bottle when it’s time to travel.
Disadvantages: Some find it difficult to successfully fill and close the inflation/deflation valve. If the valve is not properly sealed, air can leak out, causing the pad to deflate during use.
bottom line: If you’re looking for value for money in a lightweight sleeping pad, this one from Sleepingo might be a great option. Its ultra-light pack weight keeps you comfortable, and the 2-inch padding and R-value 2.1 insulation help you sleep comfortably.
Advantages: While versatile for use in different settings, this soft pad is specifically designed for use with collapsible cribs. It is 75 inches long and 29 inches wide and has ties on the back to attach it to a collapsible crib. This 1.5 inch thick cotton pad has a velvet cover that is ideal for warmth in cold weather, whether used with a sleeping bag or on a collapsible cot. The sleeping pad weighs 3 pounds, folds easily and takes up little space in your bag.
Disadvantages: With a thickness of 1.5 inches, the cushion is not as thick and fluffy as some other pads. However, it is also available in a 3 inch thick option which may be a better fit for those using this pad without a crib.
bottom line: This sleeping pad can be an excellent choice for those who prefer not to deal with an inflatable product. No inflation is required and there is no risk of punctures.
Best with raised edges
Advantages: This uniquely designed sleeping pad features a V-chamber pattern that conforms to your body for support. It also includes side rails that center you on the pad and prevent air from escaping. With 18.7 ounces and a pack size of 3 x 8 inches, backpackers appreciate its low weight for easy transport.
Disadvantages: This non-insulated option would not be an ideal choice in the colder months.
bottom line: This durable 72 x 23 inflatable sleeping pad is ideal for side, back and stomach sleepers looking for support, durability and light weight. If you’re camping in cooler weather, consider Klymit’s insulated option.
Best double pad
Advantages: Two people camping together could use two individual sleeping pads, but a gap could result in contact with the hard ground. The Hikenture Double mattress solves this problem because it is a sleeping pad for two people. This double width sleeping pad provides a cozy surface for tent or car camping. It’s comfortable and efficient, and measures 3.75 inches thick. The pad weighs 3.64 pounds, measures 79 x 47 x 3.75 inches when fully inflated and packs down to 13.8 x 5.9 inches when not in use. A built-in foot pump allows filling via the double-level valve. It also includes a storage bag for convenient portability.
Disadvantages: The material of this sleeping pad can become noisy when moving. If one of the sleepers moves a lot at night, this can lead to a disruption in rest.
bottom line: This pad is a good choice for two campers who want to sleep without two adjacent sleeping pads shifting and gaping. The quieter you are, the better.
Advantages: This Gear Doctors sleeping pad offers a simple, self-inflating setup. It also has excellent insulation with an R-value of 4.3, making it ideal for camping in colder weather. It weighs 2.2 pounds and packs down to 8 x 12 inches, making it a good backpacking option. It also features a hypoallergenic sleeping surface that measures 72 x 22 inches and is 1.5 inches thick.
Disadvantages: The 22-inch width may be too narrow for some.
bottom line: This can be a good option if you want an inflatable pad that doesn’t need to be inflated or pumped. The 4.3 R-value will keep you warm, but remember that the 22-inch width may not be ideal for some.
Camping trips should be exciting adventures, but back and hip pain or cold nights from sleeping on the ground can spoil the fun. Avoid that fate by choosing one of these camping pads for comfortable, restful nights in the great outdoors.