Sleeping pad function
Insulation and R value
Even in summer, insulation is important for good sleep because you reduce body heat to the ground. To offset this, most air and self-inflating cushions now have a synthetic insulation inside. Some cushions provide insulation and tend to sleep in very cold environments.
The R value of a sleeping pad measures its ability to resist (and therefore "R") heat flow. The higher the R value of the pad, the more you can insulate it from cold surfaces. The R value shown on the REI.com product page is provided by the manufacturer and ranges from 1.0 (minimum insulation) to a maximum value of 11.0 or higher (very good insulation).
Most manufacturers provide R values or temperature ranges to help you measure how much insulation the pad provides. Thicker pads usually provide higher R values, while normal summer camping pads should be 3 or higher. Sleeping cold campers, usually women, may want to choose a pad with an R value of at least 4. Some women-specific pads place more insulation in the core and foot areas, and women lose heat the fastest. Please note that unlike sleeping bags, choosing a higher warmth in the sleeping pad will not cause overheating.
The ultra-light pad is great for backpacks, but more expensive. You can choose a mummy or tapered shape to reduce volume, reduce volume, and thus weight. Short-length closed-cell foam pads are also heavy. If you're traveling with a partner backpack, a two-person cot can save ounces.
Sleeping pad length
At the very least, your shoulders and hips need to rest on a cushion. Regular (usually 72 inches long) and long (usually 78 inches) pads will isolate your legs and feet-a great advantage for cold fall and winter trips. A short or 3 / 4-length pad (usually 47 or 48 inches) is lighter in weight and smaller in packaging (you can put folded clothes or your backpack under your legs and feet to keep some).
Sleeping pad width
Almost every pad offers a standard width of 20 inches. If you are a big man or tend to tumble a lot, you may need a width of 25 or 30 inches (but consider the size of your tent to ensure you can place two wider pads side by side). Normally, the "long" version of the print pad will also be wider by default, but in some styles you can get a wide pad that is still "regular" in length.
Sleeping pad construction
Some cushions have larger side bezels, often called "rails," which help you prevent rolling when turning while you sleep. This is especially good for children. Some cushions have pillow guards for your head. The design of the bezel largely depends on personal preference.
Inflation of sleeping pads
Some pads have high-capacity inflation and bleed valves that can accelerate air inflow or outflow. Some new pads have larger "neck" openings that allow rapid inflation and less breathing. A cushion with a separate inflatable chamber or layer gives you peace of mind: if one layer fails, the other layer will still give you some cushioning.
Surface of sleeping pad
If you are a restless sleeper, look for a textured or brushed fabric surface pad. This helps prevent you and your sleeping bag from slipping off at night. It might also be quieter.
Extra sleeping pad considerations
Sleep system: Some sleeping bags have an integrated sleeve to hold the cushion. This prevents you and your sleeping bag from slipping off at night. Check sleeve width before purchasing a pad.
Hand Pump: If you don't like to consume your breath after a long hike, look for a cushion with an integrated hand pump or buy a bag-type hand pump that can be rolled up and weighs just a few ounces (sold separately). Patch kits are a great idea for backpacking. Find out if they are padded or sold separately. It is important to understand how to repair punctures before leaving home in case you have to repair them in the dark.