There are many different types of sleeping mats and different sizes. This range of designs caters to different people and different sleeping habits, and also budget. To get you off in the right direction, begin with reading our section below on what to look for in a hiking sleeping mat. In this article, we've also suggested a number of different sleeping mats.
A good mat is an essential component of a restful night’s camping, adding comfort and insulating your sleeping body from the cold ground. Here’s how to choose the right one, and don't forget to check out some of our other guides to camping gadgets and sleeping bags, for example.
What to look for in a sleeping mat
Type: Mats fall into one of three categories:
Foam mats are lightweight, cheaper and weather-resistant, but provide minimum cushioning and are bulky to carry.
Self-inflating (take this with a pinch of salt) mats pack down small but are not always the most supportive.
Inflatable mats are like compact air beds and tend to be more comfortable, but unless they have some kind of insulation inside they can be cold.
R-Value: R-value is a measure of thermal resistance; the higher the R-value, the warmer the mat. As of 2020 a new industry standard was adopted by most brands to standardise the measurement of R-value – the ASTM FF3340-18 R-value standard.
Weight: A sleeping mat will spend more time being carried in a pack than being slept on, so lighter is better, but toughness can diminish with weight, so there’s a balance to be found.
Packed size: Mats with smaller packed sizes are easier to fit into a rucksack along with your other camping gear. Warmer mats tend to be bulkier, so really compact mats are best saved for summer.
Repairability: Self-inflating and inflatable mats become unusable if punctured, so usually come with some kind of repair kit. Foam mats are far more resilient and continue to offer insulation even when wet.
The best sleeping mats
Exped Ultra 3R
Best 3-season sleeping mat
Type Inflatable | Weight 465g | Packed size 27 x 13cm | Dimensions 183 x 52 x 7cm | R-value 2.9
This lightweight and packable 3-season inflatable mat uses Bluesign certified synthetic insulation, recycled 20D ripstop polyester fabric, and is certified carbon neutral by myclimate.org.
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus
Best self-inflating sleeping mat
Type Self-inflating | Weight 650g | Packed size 28 x 17cm | Dimensions 183 x 51 x 3.8cm | R-value 3.2
A great combination of weight, packsize and warmth, and at a good price. The ‘self-inflating’ might require some manual assistance, but the comfort provided is good for this kind of mat.
Robens Polarshield 80
Best winter sleeping mat
Type Self-inflating | Weight 1595g | Packed size 34 x 20cm | Dimensions 200 x 70 x 8cm | R-value 4.1
Using new foam profiles and fabric bonding techniques, this chunky self-inflating mat offers incredible comfort and insulation at a weight and pack size that, while still hefty, would previously have been impossible for a mat of this thickness and warmth.
Klymit Inertia Ozone
Best compact sleeping mat
Type Inflatable | Weight 369g | Packed size 9 x 6cm | Dimensions 183 x 55 x 4cm | R-value not given
Astoundingly lightweight and packable, albeit not the warmest, the Inertia Ozone relies on your sleeping bag to provide most of the insulation, leaving gaps in the frame of the mat in which the bag can loft.
Multimat Camper 8
Best foam sleeping mat
Type Foam | Weight 180g | Packed size 51 x 15cm | Dimensions 180 x 50 x 0.8cm | R-value not given
Light, tough and exceptionally budget-friendly, this mat is suited to warmer conditions and predictably comfortable pitching locations where its lack of cushioning and insulation won’t be missed.