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How to choose a camping pad?

Why is choosing a sleeping pad or mattress not worth to underestimate??

To begin with, it is important to remember that it is not the mattress itself that keeps us warm, but the heat produced by our own bodies. Therefore, the thermo-insulating capacity of the mat (i.e. the ability to reflect our body heat back) is important. Having a sleeping bag is not enough - when you lie down, you compress the bottom of the sleeping bag with your body and thus significantly reduce its insulating properties. Therefore, choosing a mattress is just as important as choosing a sleeping bag.

According to the basic division, the mattresses are divided into foam, self-inflating and classic inflatable. The key features to consider when making your choice are: durability, weight, insulation and comfort.

Types of pads

The foam mat

This is the most affordable type. The foam mattress is lightweight and almost indestructible. Another advantage is that it does not suck water and can be adjusted to the desired shape with scissors. It is also suitable as an exercise mat.

The disadvantage isa size of it when it is folded (rolled up) and also that it gradually "comes off" with more frequent use.

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ALUmat is usually made of a thin layer of foam and aluminium foil. The advantage is that it is light and thin and easy to pack. At the expense of being the least comfortable of all. In our e-shop you can find several mattresses that are a combination of a foam mattress and an ALUmat.

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TIP: ALUmat is properly placed with the shiny side up and the foam side down. This is because the aluminium reflects body heat back and increases thermal comfort.

Self-inflating mattress

In recent years, the self-inflating mattress has become the most popular type of mattress - it combines the best insulating properties and comfort. Self-inflating mattresses have a foam material inside with extremely open pores laminated to an impermeable fabric. This material draws air into itself and expands when the valve is opened - this inflates the mattress. Thicker mattresses are more suitable for car journeys due to their weight, which is up to around 1 kg. The lighter and thinner ones will be appreciated by hikers who carry their gear in a backpack on their back.

The disadvantage is that the self-inflating mattress must not be stored in the heat or in direct sunlight. There is a risk of delamination - bulging at the point where the fabric unravels.

Although the inner foam of the mattress will come off over time, it has the advantage over other mattresses that you can inflate it to its original size with your breath.

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Inflatable mat

The main difference between the inflatable and self-inflating mattresses is that they do not have porous material inside and are therefore much lighter (around 400 g) and more compact, which is very convenient for hiking trips. However, quite a lot of air is needed to inflate the mattress, and this could be debilitating for some people in the absence of a pump. An inflatable air mattress can also easily puncture itself on a sharp rock. Another disadvantage is that the pad has, due to the air flowing in the "buns", almost zero thermal insulation. And as mentioned above - without a pump, at least a foot pump, inflating will be harder.

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Inflatable mattress

Inflatable mattresses are used both for sleeping outside the home (most often in campsites) and as an emergency bed for visitors in the home. However, they are very unsuitable for transport on foot because they are large and heavy and difficult to inflate with such a large volume of air - this is mainly done with a pump or compressor.

The height of the mattress reminds a classic bed, it is easier to get up and sit on it. The disadvantage is that it has very poor thermal insulation due to the air flow in the inflated space - but this can be easily solved by placing a blanket on top of the mattress under the sleeping bag.

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  • If you are going into extreme conditions such as wet, rain or snow, always check the waterproofness (water column) of the mattress and its cover.
  • If you use (self-)inflating car mattresses, it is a good idea to have a glue kit or aluminium foil (such as in a first aid kit) to use asIf you are going into extreme conditions such as wet, rain or snow, always check the waterproofness (water column) of the mattress and its cover.
     emergency insulation in case of a puncture.
  • If you go under a tent a few times a summer and even by car, you don't have to pay so much attention to the weight of the mattress or how good the thermal insulation is.

You can also read a guide on how to choose a tent: