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Choosing the Right Sleeping Mat With Novapro Sports


Sleeping is important no matter where you are, whether it is in 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 for 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, hence, a goodnight's sleep is important. But, unfortunately, we cannot bring our bed home in the woods to help us relax and get cozy at night. So how can we make a good night's sleep possible? Sleeping mat. This item is one of the favorite camping essentials among seasoned hikers and enthusiasts. It may not be as fluffy or snuggly as yours at home; nevertheless, it can help you loosen up at night and get that much-needed energy for the next day. Apart from our food, we also need to recharge our bodies, especially after going on rugged terrain. 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 as that warmth. Sleeping mats are more than just our bed during camping. They also serve as our body's shelter to withstand the fluctuating weather at night. So if you plan to spend days at a camping site, keep an eye on what you will be getting. Selecting a mat is not as random or easy as choosing your favorite color or food from the menu. It takes a lot of contemplation before you find the right one perfect for your trip.


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?



    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. Since they are inflatable, they tend to be more soft and fluffy at the same time, giving you enough space between the ground with unrivaled comfort and ease. 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, which is a huge bummer. You may need to spend a handful of minutes blowing your lungs out before you can even inflate them. Or, to make life easier, you can bring a pumping blower to pump these mats, but it will cost you extra baggage. 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. These revolutionary ideas changed inflate gaming by bringing convenience to your camping trip. You only need to pump the mat using your hands or feet to extend the sleeping mat. In addition to avoid getting heavy equipment during your expedition, because they are light and only look like one liter of bottled water, you no longer need to torture yourself from blowing before you can get cozy at night.




    1. Comfortable and Lightweight

    1. More expensive as they get lighter and more compact

    2. Compact design for traveling

    2. Can get damaged

    3. Flexible with some designs made for warmer weather while others are made for colder weather (To avoid confusion and carrying the wrong mat for the season of your trip, consult the store before getting one)

    4. Adjustable firmness

    2. 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. It is as easy to use as laying it in bed and allowing the mat to inflate on its own. Makes the camping trip a whole lot easier, speaking about convenience. 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 These types of mats are typically miniature and look like a pouch when rolled up that you can easily attach to your bag. While others that are designed for other camping options such as car camping, roll up easily without folding. These mats are more comfortable and reasonably compact. 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

    5. Comes with different designs


    3. Closed-Cell Foam Mats

    Closed-cell foam mats, as the name implies, are mats made from completely closed cells. 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. Nowadays, these mats have evolved, and some are now even waterproof to help you camp without worry during the rainy season. These are good options for those camping on a budget since they are cheaper than other types of sleeping mats. But, they are less comfortable than those with others and often bulky to carry.




    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. You have the privilege to opt for a more comfortable and bigger sleeping mat that can fit in your car without having to worry about the weight that you will be carrying since you are in the comfort of your vehicle. Thicker sleeping mats are also generally cheaper than their ultralight substitutes. We recommend using self-inflating mats for car camping purposes to accompany you during your trip. This is by far your best choice, given that you can just pull the back seat of your car and place the mat to get a bed for the night hassle-free.
    • Backpacking: Backpacking used to be one of the most challenging but popular forms of camping. You need to make sure that all the things you need can fit inside a bag, and sleeping bags are no exception. Gladly, things have changed and there are now thoroughgoing gears that are haulable. 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. As for your backpacking needs, go for air mats or self-inflating mats to accommodate your sleeping needs at night. 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 to sacrifice in terms of comfort. As we have mentioned earlier, there are now air mats or self-inflating mats that are the size of a water bottle when folded, this design alleviates backpackers from having to schlep bulky sleeping mats that cannot equally fit to their bags. Some even come with optional kits that convert your sleeping mat into a chair, this flexibility is a luxury for backpackers.
    • Ultralight Backpacking: Backpacking is already a tedious task. So what more is Ultralight Backpacking? Backpacking and Ultralight Backpacking are almost the same, except the latter is more strict when it comes to the weight you add to the bag. 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-Hiking: Thru-hiking basically means to hike on a long distance trail end-to-end in one season. It is a form of specialized backpacking covering high mileage within a given time frame. Thus, weight is very important here but apart from that, durability is a necessity 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. If you can find a light one when rolled up, go for those designs since it will mitigate the weight of the things you will be tagging along with you during your hiking trip.
    • 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 of the qualities 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 is best to get a sleeping mat with a rating of 3 while during the winter it is 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 does not mean you will 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. For this one, it would be best to check the weather condition of the day of your trip to determine what type of mat you need. If it is cold, you should go for longer ones, for comfort and warmth. But if it is during the summer, a standard-size mat would suffice.


    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. It is always ideal to check for the specification when purchasing to get a clearer vision of the length and width of the mat and imagine it into your tent to get a glimpse of what you will be getting.  


    4. Sleeping Mat Inflation

    Some sleeping mats now have two valves: one for inflating the sleeping mat and the other for deflating. 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 is still fine and can be inflated. A broken sleeping mat in the middle of your trip is a BIG NO, so getting a sleeping mat that is equipped with two valves gives you ease and extra precaution in case the first one gets broken.


    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. So if you need an extra cushion to sleep comfortably, check for the construction of the sleeping bag to know precisely about the baffles it has and how it can help you relax during camping.


    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

    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 specifications you are looking for in a sleeping mat. You will 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.

    Of course, if you are into comfort and would like to avoid the hassle of having to bring heavy equipment along on your trip, the UAM Lightweight Inflatable Sleeping Mat With Pump will be good for you. It already comes with a pump and is even made of thick material, ideal if you are planning to camp during the cold season. But if you are on a tight budget but would like to get the best out of what you pay for, the Naturehike Ultralight Inflatable sleeping Mat with Pump will be your best option — it even has a higher R-value!


    V. Closing thoughts

    Sleeping mats may seem like an accessible 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. May it be your first time shopping for camping gear or you have been camping for years, you need to figure out what a sleeping mat can do to your trip and why having a particular taste is always a MUST. Always remember that the secret to a good mood lies in your sleep. With that, if you want to enjoy your camping vacation, wake up with a smile on your face and a relaxed body to keep the fun rolling; pick only the best sleeping mat you can give yourself! Do not 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.


    [Last updated on March 21, 2023]

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