Insulation mats: Why are they so important?

You packed your sleeping bag, your camping cookware and you are ready to go. At the latest when darkness is climbing up the mountains and you have to rest on a cold and hard ground, you’ll know what you forgot: The insulation mat. Here we will tell you, why this never should happen, which kind of insulation mats there are and why they are always a good investment. 


insulation mats: why they just make sense

If you’ve ever slept outdoors without an insulation mat, you’ll know, why it’s so important to have one. Actually, it’s just as important as a sleeping bag. Nobody wants to wake up with horrible neck pain and pressure points caused by the stones underneath your sleeping bag. Nobody wants to sleep on a hard and humid ground, nobody wants to go hiking completely frozen and whacked. If you have a high-quality insulation mat, you won’t have problems like that. Insulation mats protect you from the cold and from wetness. Plus: you are able to sleep on a soft and even ground. Besides: sleeping pads not only protect your body but your sleeping bag as well. Stones, branches and moist soil aren’t good for your sleeping bag.  



Insulation mats: wich kind of types there are?

There are different sleeping bag types, there are different insulation mat types. You can choose between different variations – it just depends on what kind of trip you are planning.


The classic: insulation mats made of foam

You probably already slept on it: the Insulation mat made of foam. It’s a camping classic. Old memories will rise: Camping with the parents, parties on the lake. Perfect for insulation mats made of foam. Mostly they are not really expensive and they are easy to handle. You just have to roll them out.

Alu-PE sleeping pads will keep you warm. The aluminum coating on the foam insulates the warmth of your body and keeps the cold ground away from you. If you want, you can put the Alu-PE Insulation mat underneath or upon your other insulation mat.




The comfortable: inflatable insulation mats

Can you lie somewhere lighter than on air? Exactly. That’s why inflatable sleeping pads are so popular. You simply have to inflate or pump them. If you want to pump your insulation mat, you should get a Pumpbag, like for example the UL Pumpbag from Exped. Sometimes your insulation mat has integrated systems so you can inflate you insulation mat much easier. The air in your insulation mat ensures an optimum pressure equalization. Say Good Bye to pain in the back and in the neck.

The more quality your inflatable sleeping pad has, the more insulating and durable it is. Heat-reflecting thermal barriers will make sure, that you won’t freeze under the starry sky. Inflatable insulation mats have a low pack size, they are easy to pack and don’t weight much.

Inflatable sleeping pads, even can be filled with downs. Mountain Equipments Aerostat Down is a insulation mat certified with a Down Codex® . It will keep you warm, even if there are – 40 degrees out there. 




The practial: self-inflating insulation mats

Self-inflating insulation mats are very practical. To fill the insulation mat with air, you simply have to open the valve. After the night outside you simply release the air and close the valve

Self-Inflating insulation mats are easy to handle and don’t weigh much. Perfect for your next trekking tour.

Brands like Therm-A-Rest, Exped or Sea to Summit produce self-inflating sleeping pads which can 10 cm thick. So you’ll never have to forgo the comfy mattress-feeling. 



Insulation mats: What does the R-value mean?

Maybe you already heard from the R-value, while wandering through the outdoor section, but you don’t know what it actually means? 

It’s really easy. The R-value of your sleeping pad describes the thermal resistance of the fabric. The higher the R-Value, the better your insulation mat insulates. A insulation mat with the R-Value1 is perfect or nights up to  +7 degrees. If your insulation mat has the R-value 3 at least, it is suitable for nights up to -5 degrees. With an R-value up to 6, the maximum, nights up to -25 degrees won’t be a problem. A good clue: The thicker your insulation mat is, the higher the R-Value is.


insulation mats: How do i store my insulation mat?

Self-inflating insulation mats with foam should be stored inflated in a dry room. Inflatable insulation mats can be rolled up or can be stored compressed. If your sleeping pad is filled with downs, you shouldn’t compress it, it’s better to roll it up and keep the valve open

You shouldn’t store your sleeping pad either in the blazing sun for a long time. That could damage the fabric.


Insulation mats: how to take care of them?

If your sleeping pad gets dirty, you can clean it quite easily. You just wipe of your insulation mat. Just make sure, that it gets dry afterward.


Insulation mats: How to repair the insulation mat?

Your insulation mat has small cracks? Or it’s not tightly sealed? That can happen. On your trips the fabric of your insulation mat can be strained. But no need to panic.  

You can repair little damages easily yourself. If you are not sure or if the damage is too big, you should ask an expert.


Insulation mats: What else do i need to have a good sleep?

Of course, not only your body should lie on a comfy underground, your head needs a pillow too. Try an inflatable pillow. If you don’t want to drink your coffee in the morning on the hard and humid ground, you should get a seat cushion. 

In our Online Shop you’ll find a great selection.





Read more about Camping:

Sleeping-Bags: Everything you need to know

Find out about your night under a starry night in our Bivouac-Guide

Best outdoor coffee moment


Foto Header: ©BenMatthews for Thermarest