Sleeping Pad : What is it?
Sleeping pads are large sheets of foam, plastic, or other soft material used to add padding and insulation to sleeping bags. They mainly protect against twigs, rocks, and small items that may hurt the back during sleep. They also replace the cushioning and insulation that is reduced in the parts where the user weighs down on the bag and compresses the fill.
A basic sleeping pad is a bare sheet of foam rubber that rolls up for transport and is secured with cords or straps. Some are made of reflective metalized plastic, which reduces comfort but provides excellent insulation. A popular design, particularly with high-end models, is one where the pad is made up of a pattern of air cells. Sleeping pads can usually be rolled or folded up, allowing them to be attached to backpacks on long hikes.
Kinds of Sleeping Pads include the following:
Air mattresses are made of pre-formed fabrics that can be inflated and deflated for easy transport. They are usually inflated with hand or foot pumps. Most models feature compression controls, where the user can compress or inflate the air sacs as needed.
They offer adequate comfort and good insulation. Small punctures can render the pad useless, so they must be handled with extreme care.
Foam pads are made of porous foam or foam rubber. They insulate by trapping warm air released by the body inside the foam's pores. They are generally larger than air mattresses, but are much lighter and easier to set up.
Self-inflating pads combine the advantages of air mattresses and foam pads, with a foam pad encased in an air cell cover. They can be rolled up for transport and will automatically start inflating when unrolled. Most models can be inflated faster by blowing into an air valve on the side of the pad. They are less vulnerable to punctures and can be used as foam pads while the air cover is being repaired.
Comfort: Choose a sleeping pad that feels soft and comfortable under your body. Make sure you cannot feel the hard surface or any hard objects underneath when using the pad. Look for one made with soft materials such as foam and cotton. Make sure it offers adequate insulation against cold winds.
Durability: Choose a sleeping pad made with sturdy, heavy-duty materials that will not tear or fray easily. Look for a thick foam rubber or plastic pad for maximum durability. If you are getting an air mattress, make sure the walls of the air cells are thick and will not puncture easily.
Portability: Choose a lightweight sleeping pad that you can carry on your back for long periods. Lightweight materials like foam are usually the easiest to carry. Make sure it folds to a small size for more comfortable transport. Most pads will not be small enough ti fit inside your bag, but they must be easy to secure to your bag to keep them out of the way during hikes.
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