Sleeping pads are really the foundation of your bed when you are camping or backpacking. They act as a cushion against the hard ground and as a warm air insulator to help keep you warm and comfortable during the night.
There are two basic kinds to choose from, the closed cell and the self inflating open cell.
The closed cell sleeping pad is a nice dense piece of foam that is durable, insulates well and is both lightweight and very compactable. It is a great backpacking sleeping pad as it is very easy to strap onto your hiking backpack.
The closed cell foam sleeping pad is also fairly inexpensive AKSOUL electric pump making it a great choice. However, it is vulnerable to moisture and doesn’t work well when wet. It also won’t dry out very quickly.
There are several different types and styles of the closed cell variety, some are thicker than others, lengths vary depending on your height and needs and some are more compact than others. Squeeze the foam in your hands to feel how dense and cushiony it is. Will that be enough for you? Does it spring back when compressed?
Consider the weather you’ll be experiencing too. The colder the weather the more insulation you will need. This would call for a denser sleeping pad that will provide a better thermal barrier between you and the ground you’re sleeping on.
The second type of sleeping pad is the self inflating kind. This is also our favourite and we have a variety of self inflating sleeping pads we use for both car camping and backpacking.
This type is more expensive than the closed cell variety so if you are on a budget I would consider the closed cell. But, if your budget allows it, look at the open cell self inflating sleeping pads. They are excellent at insulating are light and compact well when properly deflated and are much more water resistant than the closed cell foam pads.
These come with a self inflating valve which is meant to be opened up, the sleeping pad rolled out flat and over a bit of time it will inflate. We usually have to help them along for a full inflation simply by blowing a few good breaths into the valve. With the air trapped inside you will have a warm barrier between your sleeping bag and the ground.
The only downside to these might be the rare chance of a hole or tear in the outer fabric but over all the years we have owned ours, we’ve never experienced any damage. It would be a good idea to carry a small repair patch with you though just in case.
And when you are packing up your sleeping pads, the same rule applies as with your tent. Make sure they are completely dry, wipe off any dirt or debris and make sure they are fully deflated first.