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Sleeping Pads & Mats

Like your sleeping bag, a good sleeping pad or mat contributes to the comfort of your sleep, but also is critical in keeping your body warm by insulating it from the cold ground. There are a wide range of sleeping pads with a wide range of pricing. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting a sleeping pad or mat that is right for you and your camping style.

  • Weight: Most sleeping pads are light weight. If you are going to be backpacking you will certainly want a light sleeping pad for a lighter backpack.
  • Warmth: The ability of a sleeping pad to help insulate your body from the cold ground is measured in R-value. R-values of 0-2 are good for warm weather trips. R-values of 2-4 are good for most 3-season backpacking conditions. R-values of 4-6 are good for when the temperature drops around or below freezing.
  • Air Pads vs Foam Pads: Both are comfortable. Foam pads are less expensive, easy to set up, and can be used for other purposes, but they are bulkier and compress over time. Air Pads are very convenient, occupy less space, but have the risk of puncturing in the field.
  • Length, Width & Shape: Most people prefer the full-length pads that provide cushioning for their heels and help keep their feet warm. Side sleepers will often do fine with a standard 20” width pad, but back sleepers usually prefer a wider pad that supports their arms. Most people prefer the rectangular pad that allows them to spread their legs a bit while sleeping.
  • Thickness: A thicker pad is usually more comfortable and will typically better hold its shape.