Camping Gear: Sleeping Pads (Mats) and Air Mattresses

I cannot sleep well without a sleeping pad or air mattress under my sleeping bag when camping. With just a sleeping bag on the floor of the tent, sticks, stones, roots, and other debris create a great deal of discomfort. The pad or air mattress will smooth out the ground below, so that you can sleep in comfort. We have air mattresses and sleeping pads (foam and self-inflating) and use them interchangeably to suit the type of camping trip that we go on. The number one goal of using sleeping pads or air mattresses is to sleep comfortably. If you do not sleep well, you will probably not enjoy your camping trip. 

Air Mattress: An air mattress must be inflated with a foot or power-assisted air pump. Self-inflating air mattresses are also available, but they are much more expensive. An upscale version of the air mattress is the larger “airbed,” which is even more comfortable. Air mattresses tend to be bulkier and heavier than foam pads or self-inflating pads; however, air mattresses provide the most comfort for sleeping and are the best choice for car camping in the summer months. Some points to consider: 

  • A foot pump can be purchased for about $7. Power-assisted (battery/electric) pumps are noisy and more expensive, and cannot be used without a power supply at the campsite.
  • A repair kit is recommended in case the air mattress gets punctured. 

Foam Pad: Foam pads do not require a pump and are light, durable, compression resistant, and waterproof. They insulate you from the cold ground below and can be punctured without impacting performance. Foam pads outlast the self-inflating pads and air mattresses and are less expensive. The only problem with foam pads is that they are the least comfortable for sleeping on. Foam pads are the best choice for cold and wet weather camping, due to their insulating and waterproofing features.                      

Self-Inflating Pad: Self-inflating pads fill with air when unravelled and the air valve is opened. Once inflated, you only need to blow into the valve a few times to achieve the ideal level of pressure before sealing the valve. Self-inflating pads insulate against the cold ground more than air mattresses, but less than foam pads. Self-inflating pads are much more expensive than foam pads and most air mattresses. Self-inflating pads are usually sold with a repair kit. They are more comfortable than foam pads, but not as comfortable as air mattresses. Self-inflating pads are suitable for car and backcountry camping. 

You can see a wide selection of sleeping pads and air mattresses by clicking the following link: 

For more details on sleeping pads, air mattresses and other camping gear, see The Camp Tripper. The Camp Tripper includes: trip planning, reservations, gear, meals, setting up camp, activities, breaking camp, maintenance of gear and many tips for memorable camping trips in Ontario. The book is very reasonably priced and small enough to fit in the glove compartment of your vehicle. Here are four reasons why you might prefer to order it in e-book (electronic book) format:

  • The e-book price is 37% less
  • No shipping costs, which saves you even more
  • Instant delivery to your computer or hand-held device
  • Eliminates paper and saves trees

This book is currently only available in online bookstores.


About Patrick Dzieciol

I have authored and published "The Camp Tripper - The Secrets of Successful Family Camping in Ontario" If you want to get in touch with me, please drop me an email at:
This entry was posted in Book, Camping, Gear, Mattress, Ontario, Pad, Park, Sleeping, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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