When preparing for your first overnight camping trip, you should be aware of the fact that you need to pack a lot more than only your tent. If you want a comfortable surface to sleep on, you will also need a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. These two are essential parts of the overnight camping gear that you need!
That is cool if you have never heard of sleeping pads before. These pads are a must if you want to have a comfortable sleeping experience on your trip. There are three types of pads that you should look into, which come at affordable prices.
I will dedicate this guide to telling you all about the sleeping pads that can provide you with a good sleep on your next camping trip. If you want to learn more about them and what they are all about, I recommend that you keep reading. So, let’s get right into the guide!
Table of Contents
Why Do You Need a Sleeping Pad for Camping?
Some people prefer to sleep with a sleeping bag only when camping. Even though this is a good option, adding a sleeping pad into the mix can be helpful in many ways. I would recommend always having both the sleeping bag and sleeping pad when you are camping.
But why do you need the sleeping pad? What can it help you with?
If these questions have popped up in your mind, I would love to give you their answers. You see, a sleeping pad can help you stay warm. It can offer you greater comfort and insulation while preventing you from feeling sore the next day. Let me elaborate!
I recommend having a sleeping pad at all times, but it will be especially helpful to have one during the colder months. The sleeping pad can prevent heat loss and protect you from the cold hard ground.
If you are camping in cold conditions, you should know that the ground will try to suck the warmth from your body's heat. That will make you feel cold and even cause sickness in some cases. You don't want to deal with that, so you should get a sleeping pad!
To sleep comfortably during your camping trip, you will need a sleeping pad. Instead of losing sleep over not feeling comfortable, you will be able to use the comfortable sleeping pad to sleep like a baby.
During camping trips, especially those involving hiking and other activities, you need to be well-rested. The more tired you are during the activities, the less attention you pay. And the less attention you pay, the more likely you are to injure yourself!
So, not only will the sleeping pad give you comfort, but it will also help prevent injuries. Getting a comfortable and warm night’s sleep is essential, so remember to take a sleeping pad with you!
Another reason why you need a sleeping pad is that it can protect you from sleeping on rough ground. Your campsite could have a lot of rocks or roots around. There might not be any flat surface that you can sleep on. If you have the right sleeping pad with you, you will not have to worry about this issue!
Do You Need a Sleeping Pad With a Cot?
Sleeping pads that come with cots are a special kind of sleeping pad. They can come at a bit of a higher price, but the investment is worth it, especially if you camp in cold weather. The cot can help you stay warm at all times.
The reason why cots are so great is because of their insulation properties. During the winter, having a cot can protect you from cold air going around you. You will be able to get a great night’s sleep without feeling cold at all!
Another thing you should know about sleeping pads with cots because you can always leave the cot behind and take the sleeping pad only. I recommend doing this in the summer when you are camping in warm weather.
Sleeping Pad vs Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags and sleeping pads are different in many ways. You need both things on most camping trips, including car camping trips. Let me tell you what makes both of them so great!
First of all, you need a good sleeping pad for camping trips during winter and summer. You can sleep on a sleeping pad during summer without using a sleeping bag. During winter, you will need both if you want to feel warm at all times.
In comparison, you need a suitable sleeping bag for the winter months. There are some quite expensive but very warm sleeping bags that you can use even in the dead of winter. I recommend those only for hikers who do extreme hikes to the tallest mountains.
Different people will have different opinions on when they want to use a sleeping bag, sleeping mat, or go with both at the same time. Which you choose to use for your camping trips depends on your preferences. Still, I recommend that you keep in mind the insulation of both of them since it is one of the most significant differences.
Sleeping bags can keep you warm, but they often come with bad insulation properties. Since they can cause heat loss, you will need to develop some other way to stay warm. I would recommend adding a few heated water bottles around your body to make yourself warm.
When it comes to sleeping pads or sleeping mats, you should be able to get great insulation at all times. If you want to stay extra warm, you can even consider using two pads simultaneously. Going with two pads will take up more space in your backpack or car, but it will be worth it since you will be able to keep the heat flowing around your body.
Finally, I would like to say that my recommendation is to go with one of them during summer and both during winter. You will have such a better experience if you go with both of them at the same time!
Foam vs Air Sleeping Pad
As I mentioned before, there are several types of sleeping pads you should know about. You can divide sleeping pads into two groups – the foam and the air ones. Even though they are somewhat similar, a few things separate them from one another.
If you are looking to get a new sleeping pad, I can help you make a more educated decision. I want to tell you the properties you should expect to get from both foam and air pads before deciding which one you want to go with. So, let’s get right into it!
Foam sleeping pads
If you ask me, I will go with a foam sleeping pad every day of the week! They are very easy to use and set up – you only need to lay them down, and you are good to go—no need to inflate them or anything.
They are also quite versatile. They come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. You can choose the thickness of the foam and the kind of foam used in the sleeping pad. No matter which type of pad you go with, it is bound to be durable and puncture-proof.
Another great feature of foam pads is that they are quiet, something that you cannot say for the air sleeping pads. These foam pads are the best thing you can get if you want to be sound asleep all night long. You should not welcome anything that will keep creaking in your tent!
If you think that these pads come at a higher price, I am here to tell you that the opposite is true. Foam sleeping pads are pretty cheap, and you can find them in most stores.
Air sleeping pads
Air pads are another option for you to look into. Many people consider them to be more comfortable than foam pads, while warmer at the same time.
Since you need to inflate these pads, you will need to have an air pump or prepare to blow the air pad up yourself. On the plus side, the air pad packs relatively small when deflated, and it is very light.
Having an air pad can provide you with thicker insulation underneath your sleeping bag. You will feel comfortable sleeping on it with or without a sleeping bag. It is great for both side sleepers and people with bad backs.
So, if you are a side sleeper, I recommend getting an air pad and trying it out. As expected, you will also need to get repair kits in case your pad punctures in the middle of the night.
Sleeping Pad Alternatives
If you do not like sleeping pads for some reason or still cannot find one you like, you can always go with one of the alternatives. There are several alternatives to sleeping pads - some that you will be able to guess, while others might sound a bit silly!
Air mattresses are one of your better options. Getting an air mattress will be like getting an air pad. The price will also be quite similar, as will be the comfort level.
Going from air mattresses to portable mattresses. The latter is like a foam pad. Then, you can also consider using a gym pad that is a bit thicker or even a nice yoga mat!
Yoga mats are a great option for the summer months and are hammocks. Hammocks can come in different sizes, so you can also find one that will fit both you and your friend or partner. They are also super comfy!
Any kind of cot, blanket, or thick sleeping bag can also work in this situation. You can pair the cot or blanket with either a sleeping bag or a sleeping pad. I would recommend the pairing only for the winter months because it can be too much for the summer months.
My final alternative will be the silliest, but I have tried it out and loved it a lot! You can also consider sleeping in a thick pile of leaves during summer camping trips. It will be quite comfortable, but you have to be aware that some bugs may be sleeping in there with you!
Types of Sleeping Pads
When it comes to sleeping pads, you can divide them into foam or air pads, but you can also separate them in another way. The second way involves dividing them into air pads, self-inflating pads, and closed-cell foam pads. Let’s see what they are all about.
These air pads are like the ones mentioned above. They require inflation, they are comfortable, and they are great for side sleepers.
The only con of these pads is the fact that they can puncture if you are lying on uneven, hard ground.
Self-inflating sleeping pads are the second option for you to consider. They are like a combination of the air pad and the closed-cell foam.
The reason why these pads are great is that they offer great insulation and good firmness. You will feel comfortable sleeping on these pads, but there will be that risk of puncturing during the night.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these pads are not the warmest, so you might need a blanket or something.
Closed-cell foam pad
The third type of pad is the closed-cell foam pad. These are like foam pads because they are nothing more than a big piece of foam. They are very easy to use and do not need any inflating.
You cannot puncture these pads, which is a great thing! They might not be very comfortable, but they are durable and affordable.