Camping is only fun when you have a sound sleep at night.
Just imagine dying of the cold at night when you have come out camping to enjoy nature at its best. That’s why it is important to buy the right sleeping pads they provide you with cushioning and insulation when you are using a camping tent and sleeping bag.
Here are some factors you should keep in mind when choosing the right sleeping pad for camping:
Types of sleeping pads
There are three types of sleeping pads, an air sleeping pad, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam.
These come in a wide variety of styles ranging from lightweight ones that are ideal for backpacking to thick ones. Air pads are good for camping in cold weather as they provide insulation. They’re also comfortable and lightweight. Designs and intended end uses vary widely. Be sure that the one you pick has an R-value suitable to the weather of your campsite.
Self-inflating pads offer a combination of open-cell foam insulation and air. They’re more durable and compact than air sleeping pads. Some are specifically designed for backpacking and can be folded lengthwise and rolled up to fit inside your bag.
Closed-cell foam pads
These pads can be rolled up or folded in a Z formation, they’re lightweight and great for insulation. Though these pads are perfect for backpacking, they are not very comfortable to sleep on, and tend to be more bulky. But they work great under other types of pads to improve insulation and prevent punctures, and can also double as sit pads in camp.
Intended use of the sleeping pad
Are you going camping? Backpacking? Do you have to carry your luggage everywhere? These are the factors you should consider.
How cold it is going to be
A sleeping pad has an R value rating which measures the pad’s ability to resist heat loss. The higher the R-value, the warmer the sleeping pad. Sleeping pad R-values range from less than 2 (minimally insulated) to 5.5 or more (very well insulated).
There’s a standard test for the R-values of sleeping pads, which means that you can compare this spec between any two pads across brands.
Here are some important facts about sleeping pads:
Higher numbers means more insulation, which means if you are going to colder climates, choose a sleeping pad with a high R-value.
To calculate the total insulation for stacked sleeping pads, simply add their R-values.
Consider your sleeping system
A sleep system consists of three basic components:
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeper’s clothing
Your sleeping bag and sleeping pad function insync. If you use a less-insulated pad at colder temperatures, your sleeping bag may not live upto its temperature rating. Also, it’s useful to know that a sleeping bag’s test rating is based on a person who is wearing warm clothes and is sleeping on an insulated pad with an R-value of 5.5.
You should also consider if the sleeping pad is compatible with your sleeping bag, and check if it has the correct kind of cushioning you want, and if it is too heavy.
How to choose the right sleeping pad according to your needs:
There are many options for choosing the right sleeping pad out in the market today. But you need to prioritize your needs to make the right purchase. And this is an important decision, because the success of your camping trip can depend on the sleeping bag that you choose.
Here are a few features of the sleeping pad that you should keep in mind while making a final purchase.
Warmth the sleeping pad provides
Make sure the R-value of the sleeping pad is right for the weather you are camping in!
The warmth of your sleeping system, and by default, your sleeping pad depends on:
The level of inflation affects the air in the pad. The more air in the pad, the warmer it is.
Though often overlooked, one of the most overlooked components of staying warm is what surfaces are the best for heat retention. Eg, between snow and rock, snow is a better insulator since snow is made out of alot of air.
Comfort the sleeping pad provides
Along with making sure your sleeping pad keeps you warm, you should also make sure it is comfortable for you. If you’re camping in summer and warmer weather, then comfort is the only reason to buy one.
When you want to buy a sleeping pad, the two important factors to consider are the warmth that the sleeping pad provides plus the comfort it provides. Another helpful tip is to try and pick out the sleeping pad that you want to purchase in person. Lie down in your typical sleeping position and see if it is comfortable to you, then make the final purchase.