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Camping in a tent can actually be quite comfortable even on a long trip with the right gear. If you like to travel and stay outdoors often or only get out a few times during the year, then the products on this list are definitely worth looking into.
For those who are just getting into camping and aren’t sure where to start when it comes to sleeping in bliss, then I would suggest a hard pass on air mattresses. We will discuss this further at the bottom of the article.
Getting a good night’s rest while camping makes the cost of a sleeping pad worth every penny. Initially sleeping mats are more expensive than an air mattress but you’ll end up saving money in the long run due to their longevity and durability. They are easy to set up and pack nicely back into its bag which saves space, time and a lot of hassle.
Whether you are camping primitive or at a site with electric and a raised tent platform then picking up one of these sleeping pads is a must.
Sea to Summit Camp Plus Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat
This sleeping mat provides ample comfort in any season and rough terrain. Featuring a tough abrasion-resistant 75 denier polyester outer shell to help prevent rough or semi-sharp objects from puncturing or cutting the sleep mat.
The multifunction valve makes it easy to inflate and deflate the mat when rolling it up, forcing the air out with ease. The 3″ thick foam layer keeps the user off the ground while also adding some extra warmth.
Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad
Nemo is one of best when it comes to camping gear and they really hit the nail on the head with the Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad. Being an ultralight pad the Tensor is a top choice for primitive campers that walk in miles sometimes to their selected site.
Surprisingly the 3″ thickness of this sleeping pas not only insulates from cold ground but also holds up well with weight distribution. Also, the Nemo tensor is 100% bluesign which is constructed from recycled 20- denier polyester fibers.
Klymit Double V Sleeping Pad
The Klymit Double V sleeping pad is a great option for couples who are tired of laying on uncomfortable air mattresses. The V-pattern design in this mat distributes weight efficiently which allows one person to get up and move around while not unintentionally waking their partner.
The distinct V pattern also allows to trap air giving that extra bit of warmth during a cool night. Being just over 6 feet long, just under 4 feet wide and 3 inches tall the Klymit douvle v sleeping pad provides plenty of room for two people to lay side by side comfortably throughout the night.
Nemo Quasar 3D Insulated Sleeping Pad
Every pad and Mat on this list are going to provide as much comfort as possible while camping. That includes the Nemo Quasar, from its slightly elevated baffle serving as a headboard to help keep the pillow on the pad during the night all the way to the extra bit of warmth it gives off during a cold night makes it one of the top choices in my opinion.
Inflation and deflation are a breeze with the provided vortex pump sack provided with the pad as is a repair kit.
Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus sleeping pad may cost a little more than their camp plus but if you’re backpacking and want to shave some weight from the load then this sleeping pad is a viable choice.
This pad is designed to be used in all 4 seasons while providing top comfort while being constructed from lightweight material.
As mentioned before, sleeping pads aren’t necessarily cheap and in the case of the comfort plus this is true however the investment in a quality pad like the sea to summit comfort plus keeps paying dividends along the way.
Are Sleeping Mats Comfortable?
If the alternative is sleeping directly on the ground, then yes, absolutely!
If you are comparing a sleeping mat to a deluxe, queen-sized bed, then probably not.
Using a sleeping mat or pad while tent-camping (or lying directly under the open night sky) will add a thin-but-effective layer of cushioning. I have found that sleeping pads also prevent the type of tossing-and-turning encountered when lying on hard ground.
Personally, I would not camp without a sleeping mat at this point. I wake up more refreshed and, often, sleep better than I would at home on a mattress. If you are pairing your sleeping pad with a high-quality sleeping bag and a good tent, you can have a pretty comfortable night of rest.
How Much do Sleeping Mats Cost?
As always, the cop-out answer: it depends
For instance, the Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad is an indoor sleeping mat that can typically be purchased for under (or around) $50. If you are looking for a fairly comfortable sleeping mat that can be used during sleepovers or hunting/camping trips, this one likely holds up.
If you are sleeping in a tent or under the stars, though, investing in a higher-end model might be worthwhile. Klymit also makes a Klymaloft Sleeping Double Pad for nights when multiple people want to share a sleeping space. This will run considerably more than the Static V, however.
Lower-end models can generally be purchased for around $40-60 while higher-end models will cost north of $100. Unless you are buying a specialty sleeping pad (like the aforementioned Klymaloft), however, you should be able to get a good variety for under $200.
What Are the Most Popular Sleep Mat Brands and Products?
Above, we discussed several popular brands, including my personal favorite: Sea to Summit.
Below, we will offer a short list of popular items by some of the top sleep mat brands.
Sea to Summit
- Comfort Deluxe Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat: Higher-end, but worth the price
- Switchback Ultralight Sleeping Pad: Very affordable — great for beginning campers
Can Sleeping Pads Get Wet?
Sleeping mats can vary in their resistance to water and moisture. Some sleeping mats are designed to be water-resistant or waterproof, which means they can withstand getting wet to some extent without absorbing water. These mats are typically made with materials like closed-cell foam or synthetic fabrics that repel water.
However, not all sleeping mats are waterproof. Some mats are made with materials that can absorb moisture, such as open-cell foam or natural fibers like cotton or down. These mats are more likely to get wet if exposed to water or high humidity. Once they become wet, they may take longer to dry and could potentially become heavier or less comfortable to sleep on.
If you’re planning to use a sleeping mat in wet or rainy conditions, it’s important to consider its water resistance capabilities. Waterproof or water-resistant mats are more suitable for such situations as they offer better protection against moisture. It’s always a good idea to read the manufacturer’s instructions or specifications for your specific sleeping mat to understand its water resistance properties and any recommended care instructions for keeping it dry.
Sleep Mats/Pads vs. Air Mattresses
I try not to show too much bias when reviewing products, but in this case, there is a clear winner.
The main problem with your run-of-the mill air mattress is how quickly they deflate. After a couple uses, they begin losing air. The more you lie on the air mattress, the more quickly it deflates. If you are a larger person and aren’t using an expensive model, you will likely be going to the store and replacing your mattress every year (or sooner).
I have had many mornings waking up with back pain due to a mattress losing air and wrapping itself around me, and I promise it’s not pleasant. On the rare night I “camp out” overnight on the boat, this is especially uncomfortable in the mornings. The same holds true for tent and ground camping, however.
A far superior alternative to most air mattresses is a sleeping pad. The biggest pro of the sleeping pad is that it stays inflated throughout the night. You won’t have to worry about waking up inside a deflated mess. Many sleep pads are self-inflating. Some can also be inflated by blowing into them in under a minute. If you inflate and deflate them properly and also provide proper care, they can also last for years.