Sleeping Pads / Ground Insulation (1 Viewer)


Jan 17, 2011
Kissimmee, FL(usually traveling though)
Just thought I'd throw in my two cents.

As far as cardboard goes, it seems really inconvenient to have to dumpster some cardboard every night before going to sleep.
Plus, it's the least comfortable option, gets wet if you're sleeping in the grass and doesn't insulate at all. The only plus is not having to carry anything.
Pros- No extra weight
Cons- Doesn't insulate, uncomfortable, gets soggy, inconvenience of finding it every day
But that's a lot more cons than pros.

The closed cell pads are ok. They're pretty light but also pretty bulky compared to a Thermarest Pro Lite. They insulate decently but still not as good as a Pro Lite or most inflatables.
Pros- insulate well, lightweight
Cons- bulky, not very comfortable

I have a Thermarest Pro Lite that I shoplifted. I actually shoplifted 3 after being so happy with the first. My girlfriend has one as well and I gave the other one away. They insulate great, fold up to the size of a small roll of paper towels, they're under a pound a piece and they're very comfortable. The only problem is they can get holes. I haven't had that problem et though and ive used it for 3 months. I figured eventually the dog would pop it but it's pretty tough material. They also inflate very quick compared to most inflatables. No more than 10 breaths will do it.

Pros- Lightweight, doesnt take up much space, comfortable
Cons- Can get holes in it

I probably never would have spent $100 on a sleeping pad but since I was able to get them for free I was very happy with them and I highly recommend them. I actually started with a Thermarest Trail Large and couldnt stand how bulky it was and how long it took to inflate. You'd be better off with a closed cell than that piece of shit. but if you got the cash or the means, get a Pro Lite or similar inflatbale. There are cheaper models that are basically the same made by other companies. I would do some research and find a nice thermarest type pad. carry a repair kit and you're good to go.

Also keep in mind that you loose a lot more heat through the ground than the air so insulation is important, especially in cold temperatures.
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Sep 7, 2009
I have an Rei inflatible and it works great inflated or deflated. mine got alot of holes and i cut in half and it still insulates and is comfortable. the inside is all foam which then fills with air and expands more when blown up but still is decent when popped.


Feb 22, 2011
knoxville, tn
I've always used a Big Agnes insulated inflatable pad. It's a bit pricey, I think $60 for a new one, but you could try ebay or this forum ( Gear Swap -- BackpackingLight Forums ) My only complaint with it is that it does take a while to completely let out all of the air, but I've found a decent method to expedite the process. But it's incredibly comfortable, and I've slept on concrete around 20 degrees and couldn't really feel the cold through the pad.

Also, if you're staying mostly in the woods, you could always just gather some smaller twigs and branches that are covered in leaves and make a bed out of that.
Jul 3, 2015
non-local consciousness
I find cardboard to be the most advantageous, 2 to 3 average sized boxes flattened out will insulate you just as well as your average foam pad, and generally only needs to be long enough to insulate from your shoulders to the bottom of your buttocks. If the weather is very cold, use body length cardboard pieces, thick corrugated cardboard won't easily crush and will offer the most insulation through dead air space.
The advantage here is that you don't have to carry unnecessary gear. If you are staying on someones couch or in warm weather, you wont need a sleeping pad. If you are staying anywhere in an urban area you can easily pluck a few pieces of cardboard from a cardboard dumpster. If you are headed out of the city you can bring some cardboard with you, whether you camp outside of town or are heading out on the road. When you no longer need it, you can dispose of cardboard knowing you can always find more later, remember to recycle.

If comfort is an issue, by all means use whatever kind of bed roll you think you need. I find sleeping on firm surfaces more comfortable and i wake up less groggy with less back pain than when sleeping on a soft surface. I also prefer to own/carry around pointless crap when a simpler option exists.
Jul 3, 2015
non-local consciousness
Has anyone tried using a yoga mat? I've always been curious if any of you have used these as sleeping mats. They look comfortable, and sell for next to nothing, compared to what outdoor sleeping mats go for.
I wouldnt recommend this, a sleeping pads primarary purpose is ground insulation, comfort being secondary. A yoga mat isnt going to provide much at all in the way of insulation from the ground. If you are looking for comfort, a yoga mat isnt going to add much that the bottom of your sleeping bag on soft ground or carpeted floor already offers.

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