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Choosing the Right Sleeping Mat With Novapro Sports


Sleeping is important no matter where you are, whether it’s your house or the great outdoors. There is no doubt in the fact, that a good night's sleep has a great number of benefits on your body such as growing muscle, repairing tissues, etc. On the other hand, sleeping less has its own set of problems which are mostly if not all, health-related.


Similarly, when you go hiking and camping you need to remain fresh, energetic and alert to truly enjoy your experience. A sleeping mat is thus a necessity to achieve that goal. Now when you think of a sleeping mat, the first thought that pops into your mind is that they are very comfortable to sleep on; however, sleeping mats provide you with something which is as important and that is warmth.


When choosing a sleeping mat, you need to ask yourself the following three things:


  • What type of sleeping mat should you get?
  • Where are you going to use the sleeping mat?
  • What kind of features are you looking for?

    Let’s look at each of these questions in detail to provide you with insight and help you make your decision.


    I. What type of sleeping mat should I get?


    Sleeping Mats


    There are a variety of options for you to choose from when it comes to sleeping mats, let’s look at the three basic ones and see how they work as well as their pros and cons:


  • Inflatable Sleeping Mats


    Standard Ultralight TPU Sleeping Mats


    Air mats are by far the most popular choice among hikers when it comes to sleeping mats. They are very light when packed and the most comfortable option out the three basic sleeping mats. The materials used in making these air mats have evolved over the years giving them the ability to contain insulation and retain warmth. Most of these air mats, require you to blow them up with your own breath; however, over the past few years, air mats now come equipped with their own built-in hand pumps while others have lightweight external hand pumps that can be bought separately.




    1. Comfortable and Lightweight

    1. More expensive as they get lighter and more compact

    2. Very Compact when packed

    2. Can get damaged

    3. Flexible with some designs made for warmer weather while others are made for colder weathers

    4. Adjustable firmness

    2. Self-Inflating Mats


    Self-Inflating Mats

    Image Courtesy of Lightspeed Outdoors


    Self-inflating mats feature some of the most diverse combinations of sleeping mats. The way this mat works is by opening the valve on the mat and air automatically fills up the various compartments in the sleeping mat. When we talk about the diverse combination of self-inflating sleeping mats we are of course referring to the various options you have in terms of design. Some self-inflating mats are made for backpacking purposes and can be folded and easily rolled up to fit into your backpack while others that are designed for other camping options such as car camping, roll up easily without folding. Furthermore, they also have the most number of options in terms of warmth, size, and pricing.




    1. Comfortable and Compact

    1. More expensive than simple foam mats

    2. Excellent Insulation

    2. Not as compact as air mats

    3. Adjustable Firmness

    3. Can get damaged

    4. Not easy to damage


    3. Closed-Cell Foam Mats


    Closed-Cell Foam Mats

    Egg Crate Sleeping Mat Anti-Moisture – Blue


    The foam mat is the most basic form of a sleeping mat style made using a dense foam which is filled with closed air cells. This style of sleeping mat is ideal for backpacking/hiking, thru-hiking and ultralight adventures.




    1. Lightweight

    1. Less comfortable than air pads

    2. Cheap

    2. Bulky (Even though lighter)

    3. Durable

    4. No need to worry about punctures or tears


    II. Where are you going to use the sleeping mat?


    When choosing a sleeping mat for yourself, it is important to ask yourself under what conditions are you going to be using it as the conditions differ for each category:

    • Car Camping: When you are backpacking, you need to take size and weight into consideration. However, when car camping you are not limited by size and weight and thus have the option of choosing a thicker sleeping mat for yourself. Thicker sleeping mats are also generally cheaper than their ultralight substitutes. We recommend using self-inflating mats for car camping purposes.
    • Backpacking: Backpackers now have an amazing list of options to choose from when it comes to sleeping mats. By far, the best options to go for are air mats or self-inflating mats when it comes to backpacking. They provide you with a variety of options in terms of insulation, durability, weight, and price. This allows the backpacker to choose the option that works best for them while not having sacrifice in terms of comfort. Some even come with optional kits that convert your sleeping mat into a chair, this flexibility is a luxury for backpackers.
    • Ultralight Backpacking: Weight and bulkiness is the supreme deciding factor when it comes to choosing a sleeping mat for ultralight backpacking. An air mat is the best fit for this type of situation as they are super lightweight weighing under 0.5 KGs while they can be easily folded and carried around. Before you purchase one, ensure that you read the specifications for the weight and size to pick one that best fits your needs.
    • Thru-HikingThru-hiking basically means to hike on a long distance trail end-to-end in one season. Thus, weight is very important here but apart from that, durability is very important as well. Since air mats and self-inflating mats are prone to get damaged, we recommend that you go for closed-cell foam mats here for this. Most hikers get foam mats that are short or ¾ the length to save on weight.
    • Winter Camping: Due to the extreme weather conditions, winter camping requires more insulation. We recommend getting an air mat or self-inflating mat and placing it on top of a closed-cell foam mat, this way you are provided with more insulation and protection in case your air mat or self-inflating mat gets punctured.

    III. What kind of features are you looking for?

    When you are choosing a sleeping mat for yourself, there are certain features that are more important to you than the others. Here are some features you should look out for when choosing a sleeping mat for yourself:


    1. Insulation and R-Value

    Insulation is very important when choosing a sleeping mat even during the summer. We lost body heat quickly when we are lying on the ground so insulation is very important to reduce the amount that is lost, this is the reason why air mats and self-inflating mats have a layer of synthetic insulation inside them to trap heat. There are several pads that feature down insulation which is much more effective in providing insulation and is geared more towards extremely cold weather conditions.


    The R factor refers to the ‘resistance’ that is provided by a sleeping mat against the heat cycle. The higher the R-Value of a sleeping mat is, the more it is able to protect you from the cold surface and provides you with better insulation. The R-Value can range from 1.0 (minimal insulation) to 9.0 (heavily insulated) and are provided to the mats by their manufacturers.  


    The R-Value is a good way to measure how much protection the sleeping mat offers to you from the cold. The higher the value, the more the protection. During the summer, it’s best to get a sleeping mat with a rating of 3 while during the winter it’s recommended that you get a sleeping mat which has a minimum value of 4. Gender-specific heating pads such as the ones for women provide extra insulation in the core and leg areas where women lose heat the fastest. It is worth noting that a higher R-Value doesn’t mean you’ll end up making yourself warmer, unlike sleeping bags.  


    2. Sleeping Mat Length

    At a minimum, in order for the mat to be effective, it needs to at least reach your shoulders and hips. However, in chilly weather conditions its best to get a sleeping mat that covers your legs and feet to provide you with the most effective form of insulation.  


    3. Sleeping Mat Width

    The average width of a sleeping mat is around 20 inches. If you are someone who is larger or tends to roll around a lot, consider buying two sleeping mats. However, ensure that these mats can fit into your tent before you buy them by checking out the measurements. Most mats that are longer in length are also wider although this is not always the case. Furthermore, even though it is rare there are chances you may find a sleeping mat that is wider than longer.  


    4. Sleeping Mat Inflation

    Some sleeping mats now have two valves: one for inflating the sleeping mat and the other for deflating the sleeping mat. This can considerably speed up the process of inflating or deflating the bag and is also convenient if one section of the sleeping mat gets damaged but the other one is still fine and can be inflated. 


    5. Sleeping Mat Construction

    Sleeping mats come in different constructions. For example, some have larger baffles on the side which prevent the user from rolling off the sleeping mat in their sleep and is great for children. Some feature thicker pillow baffles which provide more cushion and support when sleeping.  


    6. Sleeping Mat Surface

    If you are a restless sleeper, pick a sleeping mat with a more textured surface rather than plain one. This helps keep you and your sleeping mat in place preventing it from sliding off.  


    IV. Novapro Sports Product Comparison: Naturehike Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump vs. UAM Lightweight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump


      Naturehike Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump vs. UAM Lightweight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump  

    Comparison Table
    Naturehike Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump UAM Lightweight Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pump
    1. Cheaper 1. More Expensive
    2. Higher R-Value 2. Slightly Lighter (0.6 kg vs 0.62 kg)
    3. Slightly Longer (30 cm vs 28.5 cm)
    4. Thicker Material (20D Nylon TPU Ripstop)


    Both of the products featured here are of extremely good build & quality and come with their own pumps. However, there are key differences between both of them and one may serve you better than the other depending on what your specifications are. You’ll notice that these are all subtle differences but each one is suited more towards a specific audience base and fulfills a different need. The fact is that both sleeping mats are not bad in any way than the other but have different features which warrant different prices and you may go for either one of the sleeping mats depending what your needs are.  

    V. Closing thoughts

    Sleeping mats may seem like an easy item to buy on paper. However, there are many features you need to take into account and this guide goes into detail highlighting all the important things you need to look out for. Don’t forget to check out our collection of sleeping mats here and get yourself a sleeping mat that fulfils your needs the best.  


    Leave a comment down below telling us anything essential we missed out on when it comes to choosing a sleeping mat. Additionally, subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest quality camping, hiking & outdoor gears at low prices and amazing discounts. Follow us on our Facebook to be the first to know when it comes to good news and new goods.  


    Novapro Sports is an online platform that caters towards camping & hiking outdoor enthusiasts, offering quality camping & hiking gears at low prices without the unnecessarily high markups, and providing information & tips on outdoor activities & adventures.

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