A Guide to the Different Types of Sleeping Mats


A sleeping pad is the one item that should be on every camper’s packing list yet is usually overlooked. You may not feel like your sleeping bag is good enough until you have spent a miserable night on the cold ground. Sure, bags are necessary essentials for any overnight camping trip, but some think that a sleeping mat is just as critical nowadays.

Why Camping Mats Really Matter

Camping mats are certainly popular among campers but are they really that useful? Some think they’re the best thing ever invented, while others think they’re a waste of money. So is buying a camping mat really worth the money?

It’s ideal for those who want to sleep well while camping because it creates an additional layer between you and the ground, making you not only warmer but also more comfortable. This additional warmth and comfort will help you sleep considerably better and for a longer period of time than when lying directly on the ground.

These mats are comprised of breathable and heat-resistant fabrics, so they may help keep you cool and comfortable throughout the summer months. For those looking for an all-around sleeping mat with a good balance of weight, comfort and packed size you should consider buying a sleeping mat for camping with premium down insulation, appropriate for conditions down to -32°C.

Many believe that sleeping mats help you to fall asleep faster, which is why they are mostly advised for people who suffer from insomnia. However, not all sleeping mats are made equal, so it’s important to consider the different types and what they offer.

Source: cleverhiker.com

Closed Cell Mats

A closed-cell foam mat is a type of sleeping mat for camping composed of microscopic cells that are joined together. When these cells are crushed, they produce a thick and solid foam. These mats, which are lightweight but take up more space than others, provide insulation through closed air pockets inside the foam substance. These trap air within the foam and keep you warm against the chilly ground.

These foam mats will not collapse since they are built of closed air cells so no air can escape each cell. As a result, they are significantly stiffer and perhaps a bit more uncomfortable than the other two options. They will also take up more room because they must be rolled when stored.

There are various advantages to using a closed-cell foam mat over other types of mats. For one thing, it is less likely to trigger allergies or asthma attacks. It also retains its shape better than other types of mats, making it less prone to becoming crushed or wrinkled. Finally, a closed-cell foam mat is simple to clean.

Inflatable Mats

Inflatable mattresses are air-filled pads into which you blow. Inflatable mats are classified into two types: insulated and non-insulated. Insulated air mattresses contain material, such as down, to reduce the quantity of air inside the mattress, resulting in a warmer resting surface than a non-insulated air mattress. While this somewhat raises the top weight, the primary benefit of a warmer night’s sleep is likely to exceed the increased burden you will have to carry.

Source: bikepacking.com/

Air mattresses are inflated by either blowing them up or using a pump. Costlier models are designed with more air trapped in separate chambers or baffles, reducing the volume of air that circulates throughout the sleeping mat and lowering the temperature. These mats are exceptionally lightweight and compact, making them ideal for anybody looking for a low burden.

Self-inflating Mats

Self-inflating mats work by absorbing air when the valve is open, causing the foam to expand. They are made internally of foam packed inside an airtight shell. Because of the kind of foam utilised (open cell), they are compressible, making them more comfortable and simpler to pack than closed-cell foam sleeping mat for camping.

The amount of foam placed inside the mat determines the level of comfort and insulation you’ll have, which typically results in a trade-off between weight and expense. Due to their lightweight but compressible nature and great insulation, self-inflating mats are possibly the most popular among campers.

Temperature Rating

The sleeping mattress you carry on an adventure might be the difference between a relaxing day in nature and a terrible night of tossing and turning. But how do you know which pad to get and how much warmth you’ll require? Well, the R-value of every camping mat is a good place to start. R-value is the best indicator of a pad’s capacity to insulate, yet it can be rather obscure and misleading.


If you slept directly on the ground while camping, you’d feel chilly very quickly owing to heat transfer from your warm body to the cold earth. Even a sleeping bag would be ineffective since your body compresses the synthetic or down insulation. Thus, sleeping pads act as a barrier between you and the ground, to varying degrees, depending on the thickness, insulation, and other features of the pad.

The R-value of the pad indicates the amount of insulation. An R-value, in technical terms, evaluates how well an object resists heat. This number isn’t just used on sleeping pads, but it quantifies thermal resistance in windows, house insulation, and much more. The higher the R-value of a sleeping pad, the more it will prevent heat transfer and keep you warm. R-values for sleeping pads typically vary from 1 to 7, although thicker mattresses can reach double digits.

Remember that this is a stand-alone ranking system since the R-value numbers have no correspondence to temperatures. Also, when choosing a sleeping mat, you should be mindful of the sleeping bag you’re going to use it with. If you buy a bag without considering the temperature rating or a pad without considering the R-value, you will not be maximising their potential.

When hiking, consider your sleeping bag and pad as a single unit, taking into account both the sleeping bag rating and the pad R-value. In fact, manufacturers suggest that an R-value of at least 4.0 is required to enhance the temperature rating of your sleeping bag. Additionally, you should consider the style of hiking tent you have as well as the clothing you’ll be wearing for bed.