Sleeping Pads

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About Sleeping Pads at Altitude Sports

Roughing it in the woods doesn’t have to be rough. In fact, getting a great night’s sleep not only makes your wilderness experience more enjoyable, it helps your body recover during those high-intensity adventures.
To make the most out of your camping trips, it’s essential to choose the right sleeping pad. Luckily, today’s sleeping pads are as comfy as they are lightweight, durable, and packable. Let’s break down what you need to know when shopping for a camping mattress or sleeping pad.

How to Choose a Camping Mattress

There isn’t one sleeping pad perfectly suited to every occasion. Don’t be surprised if you end up with a gear closet full of them—trust us. To get the low-down on the best sleeping pads, check out Best Cambing Mattresses Reviewed blog post.

Type of Adventure

Backpacking trips and front-country camping adventures don’t share the same criteria when it comes to pads. The former is more focused on weight and packability, while the latter is all about comfort. Ironically, the slightly-less-comfortable ...backpacking pads are often more expensive than an ultra-plush, luxurious pad.
That’s because the technology is more advanced; these pads balance comfort, durability, weight, and packed size. In contrast, car campers can opt for a budget camping mattress that simply fits in the trunk of their car.

Temperature Rating

Whether hot or cold, you’ll want to choose a sleeping pad with an R-value suited to your climatic conditions. A low R-value is perfect for west coast camping in July, but opt for a high R-value for east coast camping in October.
Also note that winter camping pads are not the same as their three-season counterparts; they’re exceptionally thick to keep you elevated above wet ground and boast a stellar R-value.

Size and Weight

When it comes to sizing, avoid mats that are too short. But also be wary of mats that are too long: Too much space and you’ll be unnecessarily carrying extra ounces.
If you’re concerned about pack weight, pay close attention to this metric when shopping for a pad. Anything under a pound (16 oz / 453.6 grams) is considered exceptionally light. Over 3lbs and you’re pushing into car camping territory.

Inflatable VS Foam Mattresses

Foam pads tend to weigh less than inflatable camping mats; however, they do take up more volume in your pack. Some ultralight hikers cut foam pads down to about half the size. This allows it to pull double duty as a torso-length sleeping pad and backpack lumbar pad.
Even among inflatable mattress options, you’ll need to choose between a self-inflating mattress and a traditional air mattress. Self-inflating camping mats are easy to inflate and let you adjust firmness. That said, air mattresses are more affordable and have fewer points of failure.
Unlike a foam mattress, both self-inflating pads and air mats come with a stuff sack for increased portability.

Related Articles from our Experts

Best Camping Mattresses and Sleeping Pads
How to Choose a Camping Mattress?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a sleeping pad?

A sleeping pad provides a combination of insulation and cushioning when sleeping outdoors. This is achieved by placing a soft barrier—usually either air or foam—between your body and the cold ground beneath.

Do you need a sleeping pad?

While you don’t necessarily need a sleeping pad, it’s advised. Just like your sleeping bag and tent, sleeping pads are one of the pillars of a good camping shelter. They offer a less firm sleeping surface than the ground, while also adding some very welcome warmth on cold nights.
That said, you could get away without one on warmer nights or during short backpacking trips. But there’s no harm in giving it a shot. At Altitude Sports, we offer a 30-day return policy on all of our products. Plus, enjoy free shipping across Canada for purchases over $74. Outside of the country? We’ve got you covered with ourinternational shipping and return policies.

What does R-value mean in sleeping pads?

A sleeping pad’s R-value is a measure of its thermal resistance. This value is expressed as a number, indicating the object’s ability to resist heat flowing through it. In other words, it’s an indicator of how well an object retains heat and resists thermal loss.
The higher the value, the greater a pad’s insulating ability. A rating of 2 or less is considered minimally insulating, while a rating of 5 and up is classified as high.

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