Camping Tips & Supplies

How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Pads || REI


for the sake of both comfort and warmth
sleeping pads are crucial to getting a good night’s rest in the backcountry but
how do you know which ones right for you let’s talk about how to choose
backpacking sleeping pads when choosing a sleeping pad there are
three main factors that you’ll want to consider and those are comfort weight
and inflation comfort generally comes from thicker
cushy or sleeping pads but you can gauge this by trying out a couple you can do
that at your local REI weight is pretty self-explanatory which leads us to
insulation most manufacturers will use a number called an r-value to gauge how
well their pads resist heat transfer from your body into the ground the
higher the R value the more insulation the sleeping pad provides a silly pad is
a crucial part of your sleep system and your sleeping bag alone won’t provide
enough warmth without a proper sleeping pad so the first type of pad we’re going to
talk about our air pads these are pretty self-explanatory you blow air into them
either with your mouth or with a lightweight pump and then that’s your
mattress for the night these are very thick and comfortable while still being
lightweight and most of them are packable about two the size of a water
model they also come in a wide range of insulation options so it just as an
example this pod here has an r-value of under one so it’s truly a summer weight
sleeping pod and then this one is an r-value of 5.7 so it’s great for winter
camping air pods provide insulation by having extra layers in between the
exterior so that might be an insulation layer and or some sort of reflective
layer you can also adjust the firmness on an air pad by allowing some air out
of the valve like I said these pads are lightweight and compact which comes with
an automatic increase in price you also need to keep an eye out for sticks or
their sharp objects as they are easy to puncture but most air pads will come
with a lightweight patch kit and they’re very easy to repair in the field some
material on air pads can also be crinkly so that’s something to take a listen for
if you are a light sleeper also side sleepers sometimes find these to be not
as comfortable because their hips will touch the ground these are a great
option for backpackers that are looking to minimize weight while maximizing
comfort and pack ability on the trail and most lightweight backpackers will
choose to use an air pack I have an air pad and I love it self-inflating pads use an open-cell
foam to provide structure as well as insulation I have a cutaway piece here
of what a self inflating pad looks like and you can see that if you were to
store this you’d roll it up and that will compress all the air out but then
if you were to open the valve this sucks all the air back in and the pad self
inflates generally speaking you’ll probably have to blow some air into this
to get it to its maximum comfort level but they’re pretty hassle-free self
inflating pads are comfortable and they provide a lot of insulation they’re also
a really good choice for people who want something kind of a middle-of-the-road
in terms of cost and they’re really comfortable for certain types of
sleepers such as side sleepers these are a bit bulkier and they’re heavier than
their air pad counterparts and they are prone to getting punctures just like air
pads again they’re very easy to repair in the field these are a great choice
for backpackers who are looking for a little bit of extra comfort and don’t
mind the slight add in bulk and weight the last time a pad we’re going to talk
about our closed cell foam pads these are the large rolled or folded pads that
you see strapped to the exterior of people’s packs these use a dense foam
that doesn’t need to be inflated and therefore can’t be popped or really
destroyed at all you can see that this pad here has taken quite a lot of use
and abuse and obviously they still work just fine these are lightweight they’re
inexpensive and they’re basically indestructible and I like that you can
use them as a sip pad at camp they aren’t however the most comfortable
of pads and they are pretty bulky so you will need to strap them to the exterior
of your pack to carry them these are a popular choice for ultralight
backpackers or through hikers for their ease of use and their durability and
then some people will also use them in conjunction with another type of pad to
add some warmth as well as comfort some sipping pads also have a women’s
specific version and there are more differences beyond just the color that’s
demonstrated here with these two this orange pad is a unisex pad and you can
see where all the dots are those represent holes that are punched out of
the foam to cut down on weight because women tend to need more insulation in
their core and at their feet this women’s version of the pad has fewer
holes cut out at the torso and at the feet women specific pads also have a
slightly different shape than unisex pads and they tend to be shorter so
they’re a good choice for shorter backpackers as well if you want some
more information on how to choose gear or anything else about backpacking check
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