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Blow-up Sleeping Pads



Q: Is it worth it to buy a blow-up sleeping pad? If so, which one should I buy?

—Lucas the Sleeper, St. Bonifacius, Minnesota 

A: Inflatable sleeping mats are definitely worth it, Lucas. While a solid, closed-cell foam mat is affordable, durable and lightweight, lots of guys find inflatable mats more comfortable.

One of the best entry-level inflatable sleeping mats is the Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout ($50). It weighs about 1 lb., 6 oz., is 1 inch thick and has an R-value of 3.4. (R-value is a fancy way of saying it will insulate you from the cold of the ground. The higher the R-value, the more insulation it provides.)

By comparison, the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic ($20), a closed-cell foam mat, has an R-value of 2.6. Depending on the conditions, that extra insulation might be important.

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17 Comments on Blow-up Sleeping Pads

  1. I don’t like blow up pads they’re always deflated when I wake up.

  2. Trailduster // August 11, 2017 at 4:35 pm // Reply

    I use an inflatable Thermarest pad. I just got back from a Philmont trek with it a few days ago. It takes more time to set it up and to put it away, but I like how it compresses smaller. I also like how comfortable it is for a camping ground pad.

  3. My X-PED Synmat is as comfortable as my bed at home. It comes in all different sizes with varying r-values. There is also an ultra-lite version available. It was expensive but well worth it. I recommend it for adults only. For scouts I suggest a Z-pad or similar. You would get upset if your scout came home with a popped air mattress due to typical horseplay.

  4. 2 weeks at Jambo on my thermorest was comfy. My tent partner was old without a pad. We were on a canvas bed

  5. Depends on the activity you’re engaged in. Personally I used to use a nice self-inflating air mattress. Then as I get older & age caught up with me I upgraded to padded camp cot. The Scouts & my fellow adult leaders used to make noise, but I explained that either I use the cot & am able to participate in outings or I hurt my back on the ground & can’t help any longer.

  6. Closed cell are great for young scouts learning the skills of camping. As the boy ages, and begins more technical hiking, a light inflatable can be good.

  7. Inflatables are much less bulky than foam, also

  8. WilhelmWhisper // June 7, 2017 at 9:02 pm // Reply

    For new scouts I really shy away from these self inflating pads and recommend the therma rest zlite instead. Most young scout have trouble packing them because they can’t get all the air out, but they can fold up a zlite in about 2 second. They are also less than half the weight.

  9. Liberimontani // June 7, 2017 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    I believe in the inflatable however after many years of scouting and backpacking i find that 1 inch of air just doesnt cut it. Spend a few extra bucks and get one that has individual air pockets. They kind of look like a pool float. Some offer the same r rating as the foam and give you roughly 3 inches of pad to rest on for half the weight and 1/4 of the pack size!

  10. Depends on your activity. If it’s for summer camp, the closed foam mats over the cot provides more comfort and aren’t as hot. If you are hiking then the lighter the better. I use klymit inflatable pads as they are light and fold up quite nicely and are durable. If you are an adult and side sleeper, the more distance between you and the ground the better.

  11. Old Eagle Scout Tom // June 7, 2017 at 5:17 pm // Reply

    As far as inflatables go, I like sleep number 😉 Really, I agree it depends on conditions and age. Any comfort is a good thing, you’ll sleep better.

    As for tents, again it depends. If you are hiking, think light weight. For a base camp the Scout camps around here use a good one. Very heavy and durable canvas with wood floor boards. It’s old school, but sometimes old school is good!

  12. Tents rarely will give you a noticeable thermal protection besides the obvious. I always tell Scouts and Scouters to be aware of the camping conditions they’re heading into. Most sleeping pads, especially Therm-a-rest, have the R-rating on the packaging.

  13. As an ASM I would recommend the Exped Mega Mat for car camping. Its a DREAM to sleep on. Well worth the $. Most of my boys hammock, but the ones who do tent, use the classic.

  14. Perdidochas // March 29, 2017 at 7:26 am // Reply

    As a scout leader, I would recommend closed foam pads for younger scouts. They are almost indestructible and carefree. For older Scouts, the inflatable mats might be useful, but the foam mats work fine.

  15. The lord of the rings lego's // February 23, 2017 at 7:46 am // Reply

    What is the best tent you can ever buy?

  16. were is the code????????????????????

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