Sleeping Pad Information


A good sleeping pad can keep you warm at night, and even offer protection while you sleep.

Here is how to choose the best one for your needs.


Don't leave home without it! A ground pad is essential. Most of the cold will come from the bottom, believe it or not, and a good foam pad will allow you to sleep comfortably even on snow! You'll be surprised in the morning to see you haven't melted the snow. A tent will add another 5 to 10 degrees comfort, while sleeping in clean, dry clothes will also help to keep the heat in.

Go with the good stuff Avoid plain air mattresses and open cell foam for backpacking. The first doesn't insulate well at all. The second soaks up water and won't let it go. If it gets wet, it's like sleeping in a sponge. The least expensive pads are made of closed cell foam. They are very effective. Supposedly, they'll keep down to -20 degree cold away from your back. When it gets colder than that, mountaineers add another pad. A 6 foot pad will weigh only 14 oz.


Sweet dreams! Another excellent pad is a combination of foam and air, giving you the comfort of an air mattress with the insulation of foam. Example: Thermarest. These are self-inflating if you are patient. In theory they can puncture, and repair kits are available. If cared for and put in a protective sack when traveling, you should get a lot of mileage out of one. Mine has been in continual use for about10-12 years and has never needed repair. It is best to store these out of the sack and with the valve open to maintain resiliency.