Sleeping mats and airbeds for camping

By Jeremy | HOW TO

Nov 15
sleeping mats airbags
(Last Updated On: October 7, 2018)

Along with good tents for camping, sleeping mats (with good mattress topper) and airbeds are becoming indispensable items for campers.

You purchase sleeping mats and airbeds mainly for two reasons: sleep comfort (bedding) and the thermal insulation. A good sleeping mat or airbed is necessary!

Whether you then choose a sleeping mat or airbed depends mainly on your camping plans, your budget and personal preference. Below, we discuss various options.

The development of sleeping mats and sleeping bags

Previously, the campers do not have many opportunities to spend the night comfortably. On the one hand there was the rubber / canvas mattress that need to be inflated with the foot, hence causes difficulty and takes a lot of space. On the other hand, there was the so-called eggshells mattress which is not comfortable and offers less insulation.

The introduction of the self-inflatable (self-inflating) sleeping mat in the 70s unleashed a revolution for vacationers. These mats not only were folded compactly, but also were light, and offered good comfort and gave an excellent insulation. The price for these mats was initially a stumbling block, but it soon became apparent that a good quality sleeping mat worth every penny.

In recent years, there has also been a new and interesting development in air mattresses industry. The traditional air bed (like the SoundAsleep camping model) has been replaced by a much lighter version which insulates well, is extremely comfortable and is compact to carry along. The disadvantage is still the high purchase price and to a lesser extent, the vulnerability of the mat.

Types sleeping mats and airbeds

Below we discuss the different types of sleeping mats and airbeds

  • Insulation mats (foam sleeping mats)
  • Airbeds
  • Self-inflatable mats

1. Insulation mats

insulation mat

This is the classic backpackmat. Insulation mats have open cell foam and closed cell foam (polyethylene). The first one has lower insulation value than closed cell foam sleeping mat, hence the second is more suitable. The disadvantage is that closed cell foam mats are quite voluminous, rapidly become dirty and require proper clean. The advantage, however, is the friendly price they normally have. Moreover, they can take a beating, flat tires and go almost a lifetime. They are especially suitable for long-term and heavy use. For those who are really looking for comfort and insulation and is willing to pay, the mat with closed cell foam is a good choice.

2. Airbeds


The traditional air mattress of canvas and PVC has long been the norm for campers. The disadvantage was that this type of mattress insulated badly, because cold air can circulate in the mattress and nothing was “held”. In addition, this type of air mattress was hard and it took a long time before it was pumped by foot.

For camping, now we have better alternatives. A new generation of air mattresses (air mattresses) approaches the self-inflatable sleeping mat in terms of insulation, weight, and comfort. They are waterproof and filled with feather or synthetic padding. For lightweight campers, these mats are certainly interesting.

3. Self-inflating sleeping mats (self-inflatable mattress)


In contrast to an air mattress, a sleeping mat is made of insulating plastic material. Self-inflating sleeping mats can be purchased in a thickness of 2.5 to 10 cm and insulate very well. Single sleeping mats available in widths between 51 and 79 cm wide, but there are also double versions. Sleeping mats can be a coupling set “simple bind together to form a double ‘bed’. The advantage of sleeping mats compared to traditional air mattresses is that they are a lot lighter, thus easier to carry and can not pump.

Backpackers, cyclists, and motorcyclists are especially prefer compact, lightweight self-inflating sleeping mats. This isolate still good, but due to the reduced thickness, you should add some on for comfortable sleeping. Because air may become self-inflatables leak; So always make sure you have a repair kit with you to fix them.

What to notice when buying a sleeping mat or airbed?

Length and width. Especially in winter conditions, an appropriate mat is essential because all body parts must take full advantage of the insulating properties of sleeping mat.

  • Packing volume: The lighter the equipment needs to be, the more valid the pack size of the tent.
  • Comfort: The thicker the mat, the more comfortable. But against more comfort, is again more weight.
  • Weight: Weight plays a role, depending on your vacation plans. Itinerant campers opt for a light mat or airbed.
  • R-value. The insulating value of a sleeping mat is indicated by the so-called R-value (where the R stands for Resistance or resistance). The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

Currently, you will find a variety of different sleeping mats and airbeds. Air mattresses: Aerobed, Exped, High Peak, Intex, Safarica and Therm-a-Rest. Sleeping Mats: Bardani, DWS, Exped, High Peak, Safarica and Therm-a-Rest.

Hope you find a good one for your vacation!

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