How to Pick the Best Sleeping Pad That’s Just Right For You?

A sleeping pad is one of the most important pieces of outdoor gear in your backpack. The right sleeping mat will keep you comfortable on hard ground and warm in any weather. There are three key things to consider:

  • budget
  • type of pad
  • how you’ll use it.

Budget for Sleeping Pads

You can expect to pay from $25-$150 or more depending AKSOUL electric pump on the quality, features and type of camping mat. The less expensive sleeping pads are air mattresses and the common closed cell “foamies” found at most big retailers or camping stores. Sleeping pads at the higher end of the budget tend to be self-inflating pads. As a general rule, the more you spend, the more comfort you will get.

Sleeping Pad Types

When you start shopping for a sleeping mat for backpacking, you’ll find three basic types:

  • air mattresses
  • open or closed cell foam pads
  • self-inflating sleeping pads.

Air mattresses are generally not a good choice because they’re not very comfortable, can be easily punctured or damaged by heat, and are usually poorly made. Save them for floating around in the pool or at the lake.

Foam pads are widely available, not expensive and depending on your choice, may be comfortable enough on shorter backpacking trips. Open cell foam pads are somewhat bulky and when wet they provide poor insulation. Closed cell foam pads are made of denser material, not as compact, but can provide a comfortable night’s sleep. They are durable, a bit bulky, though lightweight. They’re often the sleeping pad of choice for many ultralight backpackers.

Self-inflating pads are the Rolls-Royce of comfort. At the mid to higher budget, you can expect to pay from $40 to more than $150 if you want all the bells and whistles. These camp pads usually have an air valve, inner foam sandwiched between solid nylon fabric layers with solid construction. Some come with repair kit and stuff sack (recommended).

The most popular brands include Therm-a-Rest (Thermarest), Exped, Big Agnes, Nemo and Pacific Outdoor Equipment. Like your sleeping bag and tent, I recommend you buy the best you can afford. With proper care, you’ll get many years of use and a better night’s sleep in the backcountry.

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