There is little doubt that Sleep Mats provide more comfort when camping.
- They make the uneven / hard surfaces more tolerable.
- Provide much more protection against cold damp surfaces.
- Reduce heat loss. This is why quality light sleeping bags are thinner on the base, they are supposed to be used with insulation sleep mats.
There are many types of sleep mats for your needs.
- Self Inflating
Works by opening a valve to allow air in as the foam expands. Come in many forms. The lightest weight will be Mummy shaped to reduce weight and will have what looks like a diamond pattern all over it. This diamond pattern is cut in the foam to again reduce the weight and as there is less foam to begin with air will more easily flow into and out of the mat. Less foam inside the mat will make the mat more compact, which is good for backpacking. Also it is available in different thicknesses and lengths depending on how comfortable you wish to be verses the additional weight and cost. You can expect this type of mat to be the more expensive.
Tip:- Self inflating mats are best stored inflated out of the bag as the foam is not stored compressed. New mats are slow to inflate initially for this reason.
We usually sell three type of self inflating mats. One for light weight backpacking but in full length and a little thicker. The weight difference is about 100 to 200 grammes which is not a lot. A Lower priced mat is for general use but is heavier whilst good enough for backpacking is better suited for general camping from cars and trailer tents. A third self inflating mat is usually sold solely for the last point.
A good versatile product and a lower cost alternative to self inflating mats. The best types are manufactured using techniques to make small evenly formed bubbles. Also the best grade foam mats have good memory and will not stay compressed which is important for insulation. Probably the main downside of this type of mat is that it is bulky but it is very light weight.
3. Inflatable Mats
Great for car and trailer camping or quick home use beds where it is not being carried. Their bulk and weight make it unsuitable for Backpacking.