The Popularity Behind Camping Mats and How to Choose the Right Type

The sleeping mat is that one item that every traveller needs, but frequently forgets to bring. Even if you do have one, in your mind it’s probably less important to you than the backpack, tent, and sleeping bag if you plan to pack and camp light. Yes, those are essential items for any overnight in the wild, but we’d argue the sleeping mat is just as important today.

Why Are Sleeping Mats for Camping So Popular?

Sleeping Mat


Sleeping while camping has never been as comfortable, warm, and light as today. So, say goodbye to restless sleep at night under the starry sky with premium sleeping mats. In other words, camping with one completely changes the nature of sleep in the backcountry as it will stop the ground from sapping your body heat. Furthermore, these mats offer you more comfort than you would normally have if you were sleeping directly on the ground.

How to Choose the One?

Having in mind how a good quality sleep is important especially when camping, sleeping mats are perhaps one of the most important pieces of gear to bring to your night adventures in the wild. However, finding the ideal type for your needs can be challenging. To help you choose right we have narrowed down some of the most important factors you should pay attention to when shopping.


When choosing the right type, consider exactly what type of activity you want to use it for and how you’ll be getting it to your overnight location. The closed-cell foam mat is the real original sleeping pad, if such a thing exists. It is a compressed foam pad that is usually less than one inch thick. Though it doesn’t fold up small, it is still inexpensive and lightweight. 

These foam pads have insulating qualities that keep you warm at night because of tiny air pockets within the foam’s cells. Since there is nothing to burst because there is no air, these goods are resilient to handling, hard terrain, and animals. Additionally, you will feel significantly warmer because of the closed-cell foam pad’s increased insulation and ability to shield the other pad. Self-inflating sleeping pads are arguably the most commonly used type available today. 

They create a comfortable, stable sleeping surface by combining open-cell foam with air. By opening the valve on these pads, air can enter automatically through a vacuum-like process that is created by the open cell foam. The hiker or camper saves time as air rushes in to fill the gaps in the foam and inflates the pad most of the way. Self-inflating pads are useful for both car camping and backpacking, but car camping is the best application because foam tends to be heavy.

The main reason why people adore them is because they are available in a wide range of options. There are affordable self-inflating mats that are lightweight, thin and packed down conveniently, but they are just passably comfortable. Then there are the high-end self-inflating automobile camping mats that are large, bulky, and nearly as comfy as your home bed.

Air pads are the most recent option introduced to the market. These new verities only need air to fully inflate and do not contain any foam. Because of their size and weight, they are a favourite among ultra-light and wilderness backpackers and make the ideal sleeping pads for hiking as well. Gone are the days when air pads have seen a substantial transformation. 

These days, they are both equal to and sometimes even surpass the comfort of the majority of self-inflating pads. These options are great for side and stomach sleepers because you can buy a thicker air cushion for the same (or less) weight when using air to inflate. Having said that, their cost is typically higher than that of other types of pads.

R Values

Outdoor Sleeping Mat


Sleeping pad R-Values are the outdoor industry’s best attempt to standardise the warmth a sleeping mat provides. The ability of heat to travel from hot to cold through materials is measured by a value called an R-value. The insulating qualities of many other products, such as walls in dwellings, are determined by their R-Value, as one might expect. 

Unlike EN testing, R-Values for sleeping pads are not established by a standardised, independent authority. Because of this, no mat can have a single “correct” R Value assigned to it. Every manufacturer uses a different approach for testing. However, they are all generally accurate.

Insulated or Uninsulated

You may notice sleeping pads offered in “insulated” and “uninsulated” varieties, which serves to further complicate things. These two pads are identical in most cases; however, the insulated one has a higher R-Value and occasionally a more resilient fabric. Therefore, always consider the temperature rating or R-Value associated with a certain pad and base your choice on the weather conditions that occur most frequently in your area.