Tips to Choosing the Best Sleeping Pad for your Backpacking Gear

An outdoor sleeping pad gives you the comfort of a bed, while you enjoy the beauty of nature in the woods. Campers and backpackers are often confused about how to choose between the wide varieties of outdoor sleeping mattresses. The most common of them are air pads, self-inflating pads and foam pads. Let us first discuss the pros and cons of the different types available.

  • Air Pads: Air pads are the most lightweight and easy-to-handle sleeping pads. The air in these bags can be customised according to your liking. However, if you want a more comfortable option in this category, you will have to spend even more bucks. They are also prone to damage easily.
  • Self-Inflating Pads: They are compact and light, but have an additional feature that they can fill and release air on their own. In terms of cost, these pads are a bit more expensive and they require maintenance.
  • Foam Pads: These sleeping pads are filled with air in a cellular design that gives them extreme toughness as compared to others. However, this also makes them uncomfortable than airy sleeping pads.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

Insulation Power

The sleeping pad should be warm and cosy. This means the mattress should have the ability to resist the conductive flow of heat. For this, these pads are marked with an R-value which gives you the measure of their insulation power. Sleeping pads with a higher R-value provides more warmth, whereas the ones with a lower R-value are appropriate for summer.

Heaviness, Length and Thickness

It is obvious that the dimensions of the sleeping pad depend on your body size and the number of people sharing the pad. Long, wide or regular—all sizes are available in the market. All you have to do is explore and decide the kind you like. The best way to do this is to try them yourself. Lie down on the one you like, even turn and roll to be sure if it feels like the right one.

Designs and Surfaces

Do you like to toss and turn a lot while sleeping? Do you want your sleeping pad to be comfortable and have a pretty pattern? Crisscross or baffled, look for all the designs and surfaces that suits you best.Choosing the perfect sleeping mattress is not a daunting task, but every aspect must be considered so you don’t have to compromise your sleep.


Chris shares his passion for cycling, hiking, skiing, and climbing from Buxton, in the Peak District. As a blogger for Outdoor Look, Chris shares outdoor tips and indoor tricks to help you get the most out of your time spent outside. When he's not out adventuring he's making videos or trying to keep up with his 4-year-old son.

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