Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sleeping Pad Types - The Outdoor Gear Review

Self Inflating Sleeping pads
- In this video :
Thermarest prolite plus
3.8 r value
1lb 6oz
Open cell foam

Air Pads

- In this video

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Peak Elite AC-Black-Regular
  • R-Value 2.2 - 4.4
  • Radiant Heat Return (R.H.R.) technology that increase your R-value by 10% for a warmer night sleep
  • 2.5 inches of air core cushion maximizes comfort on your ultralight excursion
  • Bio-Mapped Insulation to improve thermal efficiencies and allow for the smallest possible packed size
  • Oversided outside tubes for cradling you in the saddle to keep you from shifting of the pad at night
14. oz

Foam pads
- In this video 

Thermarest Ridge Rest Solar Sleeping Pad
3.5 r-value
1lb 3 oz
closed cell foam

Sleeping pads provide 2 vital benefits: cushioning and insulation. Cushioning might seem like a pad's most useful function, but often more important is its ability to insulate your body from cold surfaces. This article helps you find the best sleeping pad for your needs.
Sleeping pads insulate the same way that sleeping bags and clothing layers do. They trap and hold a layer of "dead" (non-circulating) air between your body and the cold (in this case, the cold ground). Your body gradually warms this layer of dead air and it becomes an insulating barrier.
Beneath you, though, a sleeping bag's heat-trapping loft gets compressed to almost nothing due to the weight of your body. As a result, you need a pad to buffer you from heat-depleting contact with the cold ground (this is known as "conductive" heat loss). The insulative performance of a pad depends upon how much air it holds inside and how free that air is to circulate.
When it comes to sleeping pads there are many different types as well as makes and models.  They come in different colors as well as different prices that range from extremely cheap to fairly expensive.  They also come in different sizes from long, to regular to even short (3/4 length).


Air Pads

These pads use air for cushioning and must be manually inflated. Some models integrate foam, insulative fill or reflective materials to increase warmth.
Pros: Comfortable and lightweight. Fine for backpacking or camping in warm conditions; insulated models can be used year-round. Can be extremely light.
Cons: Can puncture, though field repairs are not difficult. Noninsulated models offer poor insulation due to free circulation of air inside. Can be expensive.


Self-inflating Pads

Pioneered by Therm-a-Rest® pads, these offer a combination of open-cell foam insulation and air. Open the pad's valve and air fills the vaccuum. These pads are wrapped in air-tight, waterproof nylon shells. Popular with backpackers, a few of the thickest models are better suited for car campers.
Pros: Comfortable; excellent insulation; firmness is adjustable; very compact when rolled up.  More durable than air pads.
Cons: Heavier than simple foam pads and more expensive. Can be punctured or ripped, though field repairs are not difficult.


Foam Pads

These basic backpacking pads feature dense foam filled with tiny closed air cells.
Pros: Lightweight, inexpensive and durable; excellent insulators; won't absorb water.
Cons: Less comfortable. Relatively stiff and firm, so they tend to be bulky.  Often jut-out from the pack and can hit limbs, etc.
Pads of this type tend to be the cheapest and can be extremely light weight.  They are also known for being extremely uncomfortable.  A friend of mine just got back from section hiking on the AT and that was his only complaint.  The foam pad he brought left him tired, uncomfortable and soar.  
I recommend them if you are getting into backpacking and you are testing to see if this is something you are interested in.  Otherwise I would recommend a self inflating pad or an air pad.  They will cost more but if you're thrifty you can find them for comparable prices ($40 - 50).
-- Often times you will see inexperience hikers and outdoorsmen carry what are known as yoga mats or workout mats.  Yes they are cheap but they are also heavy and aren't made to sleep on.  With that being said they offer extremely poor performance when it comes to insulation and cushioning and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone.  Just because you can make it through the night on one doesn't mean you should.  For the same price of a typical mat you can find a good foam pad that will offer much better r-value and comfort.  A yoga mat or workout mat would only be acceptable during the winter months when it's used as an additional layer between you and the ground.  But still, a foam pad that's made for backpacking will be lighter and provide better performance.  Some yoga mats are closed cell foam just like some sleeping pads but that doesn't make them equal.  Typically weighed in POUNDS.
R-value: Insulation is measured according to its capacity to resist (that's the "R") heat flow. The higher a pad's R-value, the better you can expect it to insulate you from cold surfaces. The R-values shown on product pages are provided by the manufacturers and range from 1.0 (minimally insulated) to 9.5 (well insulated). Thicker pads generally offer higher R-values.


Air Mattresses
Are mainly for car camping and drive to camping sites.  For that sake I won't go into much detail there.
Choose a Pad Suited to Your Style
Your pad decision can be narrowed quickly by considering your type of travel.
  • Minimalists and long-distance hikers: If you seek the lightest possible pad, pick a basic foam pad or a "short" or "3/4 length" of a self-inflating or air-pad model. Low weight and a small packed size override all other concerns.
  • Backpackers: If you prefer a bit more comfort, compare pads with greater thicknesses and durability. The tradeoff, of course, is a moderate increase in weight.
  • Family campers, boat campers, car campers: For you, size and weight are not limiting factors. You are free to choose a thicker, larger mattress for more luxurious sleeping comfort.
  • Winter campers: Camping on snow requires more insulation. REI recommends the use of 2 pads: a self-inflating or air pad atop a closed-air-cell foam pad. The foam pad adds insulation and offers insurance in case the inflatable pad is punctured.


  1. Hi Luke! Love the videos!
    Just wondering if you have ever used reflectix? I have been looking for a comparison between the therm-a-rest SOL and reflectix and haven't found anything. I'd be curious to know if the reflectix works just as well(in a hammock) as the therm-a-rest SOL pad.
    Thought I'd ask if you've heard of any comparisons between the two.

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  8. Having a basic foam pad while backpacking or Trekking is an absolute must carry item.
    Like you rightly pointed out it safeguards one from cold and keeps one comfortable outdoors
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