How to Choose a Sleeping Pad for Camping
A bad night’s sleep can ruin a camping experience. A sleeping pad for camping can be just as important as a sleeping bag or even a tent when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. If you do not go camping on a regular basis, you may find it challenging to sleep in a tent or campground versus your own bed at home. Add a cold, hard ground with rocks and bumps, and you are in for a long night.
A sleeping pad gives you a comfortable surface to sleep on, insulating you from the cold hard ground. Sleeping pads even make a world of difference when it comes to comfort sleeping in the back of an SUV or truck. You do not want to underestimate the power of a good sleeping pad, but that does not mean you need to spend a lot of money.
Here are four different sleeping pad options:
1. Air Mattress
Air mattresses are a good choice for those who want cushioning but do not want to pay a lot of money. Air mattresses for camping are thinner than your traditional guest room air mattress at home, so they pack up smaller and require less air to inflate. They can easily be inflated manually or with a pump. Many have a single air chamber, but there are some air mattresses that contain multiple air chambers. Air mattresses can rupture, so you’ll want to have a patch kit on hand when you are camping.
2. Self-Inflating Pad
Self-inflating pads are the most popular option when it comes to sleeping pads, probably because they are easy to set up and provide good cushioning, like the traditional air mattress. The self-inflating feature causes them to usually cost a bit more money than manual air mattresses. They inflate effortlessly when the air valve is opened, and they quickly compress and roll up into a small, lightweight shape can easily be carried around. As with the air mattress, the self-inflating pads can rupture, but can be easily repaired with a patch kit.
3. Closed Cell Foam Pad
Backpackers who want something small and lightweight are the people most likely to choose a closed cell foam pad. They are also handy for people short on packing space or who prefer a firmer pad. Closed cell foam pads are very durable, and can be rolled up tightly, so they do not take up much packing space. Although they are more rigid than the inflatable pads, they prevent you from losing body heat into the ground. Unlike the inflatable pads, you do not have to worry about a closed cell foam pad rupturing.
4. Open Cell Foam Pad
Budget camper will like the open-cell foam pad as it generally costs less than the other options. An open cell foam pad is a good option if you are looking to save money but you still want cushioning. This pad is less dense than the closed cell alternative, so you get greater comfort, but it is bulkier when rolled up and takes up more space.