The Best Camping Mats (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Increase your comfort while sleeping in the great outdoors with these camping mats.
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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON July 12, 2021
If you’ve ever spent a night under the stars in a tent, you know just how incredible the experience can be — well, as long as you don’t wake up with aches and pains, that is. Camping is usually a fun experience, but camping in a tent can sometimes cause serious headaches (as well as other pains) when you set up your sleeping bag to lay down on the ground. Problems like rocky ground, uneven surfaces, or even just the plain lack of cushioning and support can leave you longing for your bed. However, you can boost your comfort and get a better night’s sleep outdoors by using a camping mat. Available in different thickness levels and made from many different lightweight materials, a camping mat can be your most helpful camping accessory. Here we list the best camping mats you can find.
A thick, supportive mat that’s tough enough for every outdoor environment.
- 2 inches of sturdy material
- Made with tear-resistant fabric
- Backed by a lifetime replacement policy
- The bottom of the pad is a bit slippery
An affordable, lightweight option with solid cushioning and decent support.
- Non-slip material keeps the mat in place
- Insulates while you sleep
- Rolls up for easy carrying
- Tears and rips pretty easily
A comfortable, warm, and extra-thick camping mat made with top-tier materials.
- Made with strong, tear-resistant material
- Quickly inflates and deflates
- Cushions against bumpy surfaces and rocks
- Can be difficult to deflate
Benefits of Camping Mat
- Good night’s sleep. Instead of tossing and turning all night due to the uncomfortable hard, bumpy ground beneath your sleeping bag, a camping mat allows you to get a good night’s sleep. It offers a layer of comfy cushioning between you and the ground (and your tent floor).
- Critical insulation. Insulation is pretty important when you’re sleeping, and the insulation provided by a camping mat can keep you warm when the ground is very cold. This is especially important so you don’t lose body heat while you sleep, ensuring you stay warm and safe.
- Smooth over rocks and bumps. Forget about rocks, lumps, and other bumps that can appear once you’ve pitched your tent and laid down for the night. A camping mat will eliminate these uncomfortable elements, softening their impact, and helping you feel more comfortable whether you’re sitting or sleeping.
- Light and easy to carry. Whether you’re packing a ton of gear or carrying everything in a single backpack, you can always fit a camping mat. Lightweight and designed to flatten or roll up compactly, these mats won’t weigh you down and can fit just about anywhere.
- Can make an air mattress more comfortable. An air mattress lifts you off the ground so you can sleep on a more bed-like surface, but even these handy additions can be uncomfortable. To achieve better insulation and increased comfort, you can use a camping mat under your air mattress for extra cushioning.
Types of Camping Mats
Air mats are pads that are filled with air. Typically constructed out of tough material that includes insulation and reflective fabrics, an air camping mat can offer insulation in addition to comfort — and many don’t require you to blow them up to use them. Available in many different styles, air mats are very comfortable and very lightweight. They become even more compact when packed, and many allow you to adjust the air inside to achieve a customized level of firmness. However, these mats can be a bit loud if you’re rolling around in your sleep.
Foam mats are the simplest camping mat option, but they’re very comfortable and offer thick cushioning. They’re lengths of dense foam, and quite lightweight. Foam camping mats will never puncture or spring a leak, and they can be used alone or in combination with other types of mats or pads. These mats can be rolled up for carrying along with the rest of your gear. Some people may find foam mats to be stiffer and firmer, and they can be bulky when trying to pack light.
Self-inflating camping mats are kind of a mix of both air mats and foam mats. They’re made with both open-cell foam insulation and air, and they use a valve that draws in air to expand the foam inside. These mats can either be folded or rolled up for compact carrying, and you can find options with varying warmth, sizes, and thicknesses. Self-inflating mats tend to offer great insulation, and they’re quite durable. However, they are heavier than other mats — and they can be more expensive.
Since 1993, Alps Mountaineering has crafted products that can take you to mountain summits and beyond. All of the products from Alps Mountaineering are designed for outdoorsmen and women, with options like the Alps Mountaineering Foam Camping Mat that offer a combination of solid value and comfort for the great outdoors.
Wakeman is a lifestyle brand dedicated to outdoor products — specifically, products that can make your camping trips easier, more comfortable, and a lot of fun. With a wide selection of items, you’ll find camping mats that are specifically designed for getting comfortable at any campsite, including the Wakeman Lightweight Non-Slip Foam Mat.
Camping Mat Pricing
- Under $50: Many camping mats are budget-friendly, and you’ll find mats of all different thicknesses and types priced for less than $50.
- $50 to $100: If you want a heavy-duty or highly cushioned camping mat, you’ll find these options priced at over $50. Some of the top-tier mats, like those made for “glamping”, can reach up to $100.
Weight is an important feature since you’ll need to carry your camping mat with all of the rest of your camping gear. Whether you’re backpacking or packing your items in your car, a lightweight camping mat is always a great choice. Lighter mats won’t weigh you down, and they ensure you aren’t dealing with gear that’s too heavy. Check how much a camping mat weighs (both inflated and compressed) to find the right fit for you.
How a camping mat inflates is also very important. Most mats do require some kind of inflation, and most require you to inflate with your breath. Look at how much air a camping mat needs and if it’s possible to inflate quickly. Some options, like foam mats, don’t need any inflation at all — you can simply unroll them and you’re done with the setup. Others self-inflate, which is also incredibly easy and convenient.
Camping mat material affects both insulation and your comfort. Thicker materials, or materials that can prevent heat loss, will offer better insulation when you’re on cold ground. You’ll also want to consider materials that are grippy or non-slip to prevent movement while you sleep. And since some materials can be crinkly or loud when you move or roll around, you’ll want to choose a mat that isn’t made with noisy material.
- Don’t Forget About Width and Length. You want to make sure you’ll fit on your camping mat, so make sure to look at both the width and length before buying. You can use your sleeping bag or your measurements as a guide — just make sure to give yourself a little room to roll around.
- Think About Where You’ll Use Your Mat Most. Do you frequently drive to campsites? Do you prefer backpacking? Are you a cold-weather camper or do you only break out your tent when it’s warm? Think about how you plan to use your camping mat to narrow down your options and find one that will meet your biggest needs.
- Insulation and R-Value Matter. Insulation and R-value are two pretty important factors to consider if you camp in cold weather. A camping mat’s insulation determines how much heat loss — or how little — you’ll experience. The R-value refers to how resistant the mat is to the cold. Assess these details if you’re picking out a mat that you’ll use in cold environments.
Best Camping Mats Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- The more features a camping mat has, the more expensive it typically is. Simple mats can do the trick — so decide which features are the most important to you to avoid overspending.
- If you’re a backpacker, look for a camping mat that can collapse or fold down to a small, thin package. You’ll want something that can easily slip into your pack without taking up much room.
- Need an extra-tough mat? Look for camping mats made with material that prevents rips, tears, and punctures. The tougher the exterior material, the better it’ll handle rough environments.
- For more cushioning and insulation, it is possible to stack multiple mats. This works best if you’re using foam camping mats, and it’s an easy way to customize non-inflating mats to your preferences.
Q: What is the most comfortable sleeping pad for camping?
We like the Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad Mat, which is the mat we consider the best of the bunch.
Q: What is the best sleeping pad for side sleepers?
Side sleepers will want a camping mat that’s thicker for better support. An option like the Wellax UltraThick FlexFoam Sleeping Pad, which is extra cushioned and offers greater thickness under your sleeping bag, is a good choice.
Q: Can you use a yoga mat as a sleeping pad?
Yoga mats are very thin and aren’t supportive, so they don’t make for good sleeping pads. Instead, you’ll want to choose a mat that’s specifically made for camping. These mats are made to handle the challenges of campsites and the outdoors, from the bumpy ground to cold temperatures.
The Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad Mat is our pick for the best overall camping mat, with excellent comfort and coverage on any kind of ground. The Alps Mountaineering Foam Camping Mat is another great option, and it offers an affordable price that’s hard to beat. Which mat are you planning to try out on your next camping adventure?