How to Choose Camping Sleeping Pads & Camping Mattresses

Air Sleeping Pads & Mattresses, Camping Sleeping Pads, Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads -

How to Choose Camping Sleeping Pads & Camping Mattresses

How to Choose Camping Sleeping Pads & Camping Mattresses


Sleeping pads and camping mattresses are one of the most important camping gear. Other than your sleeping bag, your pad has the most impact on the quality and warmth of your sleep. A good pad will be practically invisible, if you’re not noticing it, it’s probably doing its job right. There are so many pads on the market, with different high tech features and designs that it’s easy to be overwhelmed. However, with this guide, we’ve broken down the styles, features, temperature ratings, and relative strengths and weaknesses of each type of sleeping pad. So if you just know you need a sleeping pad but aren’t sure what specifically you’re looking for, we’ll break it down for you.


Types of Sleeping Pads & Camping Mattresses

There are three main styles of sleeping pad & Camping Mattresses: air, foam, and self-inflating. They each have their own particular strengths and weaknesses, so which style you choose will be influenced by what you plan on using it for. We’ll break down each style below.


Foam Sleeping Pads

They are lightweight, durable, inexpensive and they last forever. You do not have to worry about punctures with these foam pads. Although they do take up the most space of the three, they are still pretty lightweight. They are versatile because they can double as something comfy to sit on without worry. They also do not require you to blow them up so you can just roll them out and be done with it.

They are the least comfortable of the three, so keep that in mind, but they do provide a lot of insulation. Foam sleeping pads are best for people who are looking to save money, who don’t want to worry about popping their expensive pad, and who are primarily sleeping on the pad in the warmer months. If that’s you, grab a foam pad!


Air Sleeping Pads & Mattresses

Air pads are the lightest and pack the smallest of all the sleeping pads. These are like miniature air mattresses. You can inflate them either with your mouth, or a small pump and their insulated chambers keep you comfortable and warm. The downside is that air pads are less durable, and bulky. They are at risk of punctures when camping so you will need to keep a repair kit with you.

The other downside of air pads is that they’re more expensive than foam pads. That’s because they’re more complex to build, and they keep you much warmer. For most serious backpackers and campers though, an air pad is the way to go.


Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads

These sleeping pads are almost like a hybrid of the other two types. They feature a valve like an air pad, but are full of special foam. When you unroll a self-inflating pad and open the valve, it allows the foam to expand and fill with air without you having to blow into it. You then can close the valve and sleep on it.

Self-inflating pads are a compromise that works very well for a lot of people. They’re much more durable than air pads, but not quite as durable as a foam pad. However, they pack down smaller than a foam pad, but not as small as an air pad. And they usually cost somewhere in the middle between a cheap foam pad and an expensive air pad. So if you’re looking for a pad that’s really versatile, without shelling out too much money, a self-inflating pad may be the way to go.


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