A SIMPLE GUIDE TO SLEEPING MATS
There are so many different types of sleeping mats on the market that it is easy for first time buyers to get a little lost and confused. And for those gear freaks amongst us it is also very easy to get distracted by the hype and excitement of the latest model. What many people often forget, or maybe never realised to begin with, is that a sleeping mat is not just about a cushioning layer to sleep on, but more importantly, its main function is to provide a layer of insulation between your body and the ground. When you lay down, your body loses more heat through the ground than through the air which means that having a suitable sleeping mat for your overnight adventures is just as important as having a warm sleeping bag and appropriate clothing.
HEAT LOSS 101
Conductive heat loss occurs when objects of different temperatures make physical contact with each other. In regards to sleeping, this occurs when your body lays down on a surface that’s cooler than your body temperature. During the night, or day for that matter, your body will cool to a point where it reaches equilibrium between the temperature of the ground and that of your body. A sleeping mat will prevent this heat loss by lifting you off the ground and putting an insulating layer between you and the cold surface.
TYPES OF SLEEPING MAT
Closed Cell Foam Sleeping Mats
Are made from a sheet of dense foam filled with tiny air cells. They are basic and are considered the ‘original’ prototype that started the evolution of the sleeping mat.
Pros: Cheap, relatively lightweight, can’t puncture.
Cons: Bulky and not very comfortable.
Use a combination of compressible foam and air to insulate and give comfort. When the valve of the mat is opened the air causes the foam to “self-inflate”.
Pros: Excellent insulation, comfortable, lightweight options, most are compact.
Cons: Can be expensive, can puncture.
Manually inflated and use air for comfort. There are two types of air mats: insulated and non-insulated. Insulated mats are filled with materials such as down, synthetic fill or other reflective materials. Such materials help to increase the warmth of the mat.
Insulated Air Mats
Pros: Excellent insulation, very comfortable
Cons: Can be heavy, not always very compact, can puncture, and can be expensive
Standard Air Mats
Pros: Light and comfortable
Cons: Can puncture, poor insulation
WHAT SLEEPING MAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
It is important to remember that every sleeping mat is slightly different and just like a sleeping bag each have their own temperature rating. When looking at purchasing a mat or simply packing one for an upcoming trip it is important to look at and consider a number of things.
- The environment you are going in to. Will it be warm at night or cold?
- The type of activity you are going to do. Hiking, mountaineering or car camping?
- The size of your load. Do you want to have the smallest and lightest load possible or does size and weight not matter that much to you?
Once you have an idea of your needs you will find it easier to choose the most appropriate mat for your activity. If you have any further questions or need some expert advice, please call (08) 6103 4544 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org