In the old days, rugged Finnish hunters used to make their camp beds out of spruce twigs. However, nowadays you’d better not do that without permission. Luckily we have modern alternatives. If you invest in a good sleeping pad in addition to a high-quality sleeping bag, sticks and stones won’t hurt you as much when hiking and camping. Read the full story

In the old days, rugged Finnish hunters used to make their camp beds out of spruce twigs. However, nowadays you’d better not do that without permission. Luckily we have modern alternatives. If you invest in a good sleeping pad in addition to a high-quality sleeping bag, sticks and stones won’t hurt you as much when hiking and camping.

Select the sleeping pad based on your needs

First, you should consider whether you need the sleeping mat all year round or just during certain seasons. In winter, you won’t freeze your ass on a thick sleeping pad. And you should choose a wider pad for camping on bare ground than what you use in a tent, unless you like sleeping with your pants wet. If the price is a decisive factor, military surplus is the ideal remedy for that. You will get good quality military sleeping pads at nice prices. If you’re interested in camping but hate the idea of sleeping on the ground, maybe the hammock could be your thing.

Foam sleeping pad

The closed cell sleeping mat is the traditional model. Cheap, sturdy, and well-insulating but takes more space than the air pads. It can usually be attached on top or at the bottom of your backback quite nicely though. These are very reliable; they will never go flat. They come in roll-up and accordion style models as well as smooth or dimpled. The dimpled ones have air pockets that insulate better than the smooth ones. The size matters; the thicker the thingy is, the better it feels. However, these are never as nice for your back as the air pads.

Air sleeping pad

The inflatable and self-inflating sleeping pads pack smaller than the traditional foam pads. Therefore they are perfect for camping with a bicycle or a kayak. They are also often more comfortable than foam pads. When inflated, that is. They are a lot less comfortable when punctured. Military sleeping pads are sturdier than the sleeping pads designed for backpacking. However, you shouldn’t tempt fate by collapsing on one of those in your spikes and rivets after a heavy metal festival. Their heat insulation ability depends on the design. In winter, you should use a foam pad underneath. It insulates better and reduces the amount of suckage if your air pad goes boom. These are more expensive than foam pads, but sweet dreams are worth it.


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