Are You Still Using a Foam Sleeping Pad? Here's Why You Should Upgrade

Upgrade your sleeping gear and get a better night's sleep. You won't regret it!

By: Tyler McKay + Save to a List

I recently got back from a 3,000 mile long road trip that involved a little bit of backpacking, particularly my time at Havasupai.

I was so surprised at the amount of people that were walking in and out with foam sleeping pads. It’s 2018, people! Upgrade your sleep gear and get the sleep that seems to escape you when you’re under the stars. I’ve heard so many people say that they rarely sleep well when they are camping and from what I can see, they are reluctant to upgrade such a vital part of their kit. 

A sleeping pad serves two main purposes, to insulate you and keep you comfortable. Insulation occurs from separating you form the cold ground and the comfort comes from having something that’s actually soft to sleep on. If you get a good night's rest on a glorified egg carton, then stick with it. However, that’s not for me and as far as I can tell, not for most. 

For those that don’t know what I’m talking about, foam sleeping pads are those that you see either rolled up or folded up. They don’t get super small, so you will generally see them attached to the outside of someone’s pack. The pros to this set up are the fact that they are durable, lightweight, and inexpensive. However, there is a reason they are cheap; they don’t give you any support when you’re sleeping, which is one of the main purposes of having it. 

A foam pad will run you anywhere from $20-$50 and typically weigh between 10-20 oz, which can make a big difference if you’re trying to go ultralight for a long trip. Yet, I prefer a little extra comfort and I’m willing to sacrifice some (very little in reality) weight for that. If you give an inflatable pad a try, I’m willing to bet this will become your attitude as well. 

Enter the inflatable sleeping pad. Historically they have been a little bulky and pretty expensive. As technology keeps advancing in the outdoor industry, inflatable pads are becoming more durable, lighter and cheaper. All the things that keep people from moving on from their foam mats. 

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite outdoor companies, Klymit. I now have two of their sleeping pads and a pillow, which I take with me any time I go camping. I have a Static V2, which comes in at 16.6 oz. That’s right, the weight of this pad is competitive with a foam pad, but man, the comfort level is through the roof! My first night on this thing was the best night sleep I had ever gotten camping and if you’ve been stuck on a foam pad I’m willing to bet this will be your experience too. The Static V2 is lightweight, but what about the size? This thing will get smaller than your Nalgene! No joke, if you have a 1L Nalgene, it is actually smaller when you compress it and put it in its sleeve. Oh, did I mention you could pick one up for about $50? 

I also have a Klymit Insulated Static V Lite, which I use for winter camping because it offers more insulation to keep you warm at night. While it is definitely larger, it still only weighs 20 oz and compresses to a little bit larger than a Nalgene. That extra insulation will cost you though; this one will run you closer to $100. 

Additionally, both sleeping pads come complete with a lifetime warranty and I can vouch for their durability. I have a Lab and Mastiff that I take camping with me and they both have walked all over them. Both are still in excellent shape and I haven’t had a puncture on either despite my lackadaisical effort at keeping the dogs nails trimmed. Seriously, these things are durable and in fewer than 15 breaths you can have one fully inflated. This is just one brand that I happen to be a fan of. There are many others out there that make inflatable sleeping pads, so do some research, but I can personally vouch for Klymit. 

So let’s recap: weight, durability, and cost have kept you sleeping on your foam pad. However, you can find all of these in an inflatable pad along with a much better nights rest! I have a buddy who spent some significant time in Alaska sleeping on a foam pad and after his first night on an inflatable pad he couldn't get over how well he slept. In fact, he couldn't believe it took him this long to invest in one. Now, he also has two different pads for different weather. 

Quit waking up with sore hips or a sore back when you want to go camping. You go camping because you love the outdoors, but that doesn't mean you should be uncomfortable. The technology is there! Upgrade your sleep gear, stay warm, and wake up feeling refreshed. Just because you are sleeping under the stars, doesn't mean you should wake up feeling like it. 

Let me know if you have made the leap to an inflatable pad and what brands you love! If you have any questions or brand recommendations, shoot me a message on Instagram!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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