Sleeping Mats: How to Choose
Your sleeping mat is equally important – maybe even more important – to your overall comfort as your sleeping bag.
When selecting a sleeping pad, consider the following:
For summer backpacking in the Rockies an R-value around 3.0 should be sufficient but you may want a higher R-value if you spend more nights at higher elevations or if you extend your backpacking season into spring and fall - particularly if there is snow or frost on the ground.
When it’s very cold overnight (early spring, late fall and winter – or anytime on a glacier), use a closed cell foam pad, such as a Nemo Switchback, underneath your inflatable pad to provide a higher overall R-value.
Lighter weight is desirable – but you generally pay more for lighter weight sleeping pads.
Equally important as weight is packed size, particularly if you’re trying to overnight with a pack that is less than approximately 50 litres.
Thicker sleeping pads are generally more comfortable but are usually heavier. Thicker pads generally accommodate uneven ground more successfully and hide roots and rocks better.
If you are a side sleeper you should consider a thicker sleeping pad to accommodate your hips and shoulders.
Be sure to select the right size mat for your body shape and height. Some opt for a shorter mat and let their feet dangle off the end to save weight, but you end up losing body heat plus sacrifice comfort.
If you are a restless sleeper consider a wider matt (or a duo).
There are a number of styles to choose from. Mummy cuts are generally lighter but easier to slip off during the night, rectangular cuts waste space and are generally heavier, but a tapered design is a good compromise. If there will be two people sharing the mat, consider a duo mat as it avoids the middle split. Plus when you select a duo, there is often a small advantage in overall weight and price.
If you use decide to use two sleeping mats, use a coupling kit or make your own from fabric store elastic banding.
Following is a chart outlining the different sleeping mats that we carry at the Norseman and how they rate on the above factors:
|Exped Ultra 5 R||M Mummy||Medium||445 g||183 cm x 52 cm||7 cm||4.8||2.5 L|
|Exped Ultra 5 R||MW Mummy||Medium Wide||535 g||183 cm x 65 cm||7 cm||4.8||3.0 L|
|Exped Ultra 5 R||LW Mummy||Long Wide||540 g||197 cm x 65 cm||7 cm||4.8||3.2 L|
|Exped Ultra 3 R||M Mummy||
|365 g||183 cm x 52 cm||7 cm||2.9||1.5 L|
Exped Ultra 3 R
|MW Mummy||Medium Wide||440 g||
183 cm x 65 cm
|7 cm||2.9||1.7 L|
|Exped Ultra 3 R||MW Rectangular||Medium Wide||530 g||183 cm x 65 cm||7 cm||2.9||2.5 L|
|Exped Ultra 3 R||LW Rectangular||Long Wide||560 g||197 cm x 65 cm||7 cm||2.9||2.7 L|
|Exped Ultra 3 R||M Duo Tapered||Medium||830 g||183 cm x 105 cm||7 cm||2.9||3.3 L|
|Exped Ultra 3 R||LW Duo Tapered||Long Wide||1155 g||197 cm x 130 cm||7 cm||2.9||3.5 L|
|Exped Synmat HL||M Mummy||Medium||365 g||183 cm x 52 cm||7 cm||2.9||1.5 L|
|Exped Synmat HL||MW Mummy||Medium Wide||440 g||183 cm x 65 cm||7 cm||2.9||1.7 L|
|Exped Synmat HL||M Duo Tapered||Medium||830 g||183 cm x 105 cm||7 cm||2.9||3.3 L|
|Exped Synmat HL||LW Duo Tapered||Long Wide||1155 g||197 cm x 130 cm||7 cm||2.9||3.5 L|
|Nemo Switchback||Rectangular||Regular||415 g||183 cm x 51 cm||2.3 cm||2.0||9.3 L|
|Nemo Tensor||Regular Mummy||Regular||365 g||183 cm x 51 cm||8 cm||2.5||1.0 L|
|Nemo Insulated Tensor||Regular Mummy||Regular||410 g||183 cm x 51 cm||8 cm||3.5||1.0 L|
|Nemo Insulated Tensor||RW Rectangular||Regular Wide||540 g||183 cm x 64 cm||8 cm||4.2||1.5 L|
|Nemo Insulated Tensor||LW Rectangular||Long Wide||595 g||193 cm x 64 cm||8 cm||4.2||1.7 L|
|Nemo Flyer||Regular Tapered||Regular||640 g||183 cm x 51 cm||5 cm||3.3||4.2 L|
|Nemo Flyer||RW Tapered||Regular Wide||780 g||183 cm x 64 cm||5 cm||3.3||6.0 L|
|Nemo Flyer||LW Tapered||Long Wide||860 g||193 cm x 64 cm||5 cm||3.3||6.2 L|
|Sea to Summit Etherlight XT||WR Tapered||Women's Regular||495 g||168 cm x 55 cm||10 cm||3.5||2.0 L|
|Sea to Summit Etherlight XT||WL Tapered||Women's Long||600 g||183 cm x 64 cm||10 cm||3.5||3.2 L|
|Sea to Summit Etherlight XT||R Tapered||Men's Regular||490 g||183 cm x 55 cm||10 cm||3.2||2.9 L|
|Sea to Summit Etherlight XT||L Tapered||Men's Long||625 g||198 cm x 64 cm||10 cm||3.2||3.2 L|
|Sea to Summit Etherlight XT||RW Rectangular||Rectangular Wide||630 g||183 cm x 64 cm||10 cm||3.2||3.3 L|
|Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air||RL Rectangular||Regular Long||397 g||183 cm x 51 cm||8 cm||3.0||1.0 L|
|Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air||WXL Rectangular||Wide - Extra Long||510 g||198 cm x 64 cm||8 cm||3.0||1.4 L|
Article Contributor: Pete Minions, Assistant Manager, Norseman Outdoor Specialist