Sleeping pads - 3 myths and 3 tips

In this post, I will bust 3 myths and share 3 tips about sleeping pads.

Myth #1 Sleeping bag insulates you from the ground.

This is the biggest myth about sleeping bags. The part of the sleeping bag that is compressed under your body weight has zero loft and therefore zero insulation. Therefore it cannot insulate you from cold ground.

Tip #1 The secret to a good restful sleep while camping outdoors?

It is having a warm and comfortable pad.

Unlike the compressed back side of sleeping bag, a sleeping pad can actually insulate you from cold ground and cushions you against uneven hard camping surfaces. This is because it does not get compressed under body weight and it maintains its loft.

Myth #2: A thin 8mm - 10mm pad is enough for freezing temperature.

Most hiker underestimate the thickness of pad required to stay warm. Insulating value of a pad is given by a number called R-value. For temperature between 10C and 0C you need R-value of between 2-3. For sleeping on snow, you need minimum R-value of 3.

  • 8mm pad from decathlon has R-value of 1.2
  • 10mm pad from Decathlon has R-value of 1.3

These pads won’t provide enough insulation for freezing conditions. Decathlon mentions on the product page that these pads are for temperature above 15c.

Tip #2 Look for a pad which has an R-value of minimum 2.2 for 3 season use.

Look for a 13mm - 15mm pad made from Evazote or XLPE foam as these materials are lightweight and have high R-value. 

A classic option is Therm-a-Rest Solite Ridgerest which is made from XLPE foam. This pad has R-value 2.8 and is 15mm. For winters, carry 2 of these pads for double insulation, or an air mattress plus foam mattress.


Myth #3 Air mattresses are reliable

These days air mattresses are very popular for a good reason—they are very warm, comfortable and pack small.The one I have is Thermarest Xthem and its has R value of 5.7.

But they have cons. The biggest complaint I have is that they are not reliable for expedition use. My friend, Pranav Rawat, borrowed my Therm-a-Rest Xtherm mattress for his trans Himalaya expedition. The valve started leaking during  the trip and he suffered a lot. I don’t know how managed sleeping many nights on a flat pad (by sheer force of will, I think).

I am not saying every pad will leak. Even if it leaks on a weekend hike, you have option to pack up and go back home. But on a multi-week expedition, leak is not acceptable. On longer, winter trip it is better to carry both foam and air pad on a longer trip.

The other cons for air mattresses are that they are heavy and expensive.

Tip #3 A new expedition pad coming out soon.

We are unsatisfied with the closed cell foam pad options currently available in the Indian market, so we’re designing a better, warmer foam pad. Meet the new 13mm Silver Pad.

Made from XLPE foam, the most thermally efficient material for expedition use (same as Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest pad) and has an R-value of 2.32. Unlike Ridgerest, its available in 60cm width as standard and we can custom make it to any size - any one interested in torso-sized wide pad? We can make that!

Right now, you can get this pad for free just pay for the shipping. We are looking for interested hikers/trekkers/campers who will test out the pad and provide us with feedback. If you have a trip planned this year, please reach out to us at info@blueboltgear.com to get your free custom-sized pad for testing.

 




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