A camping mattress and sleeping bag forms an essential part of your sleeping system while camping. They are especially critical if you’re camping in cold weather because you’re not likely to survive the cold without them.
Sleeping well is important on a backpacking trip because you need the energy to carry on the next day. Lets first look at the sleeping bag. To choose a sleeping bag you first need to know for what purpose you’re going to use it for.
Of course you’re going to use for sleeping but you to know whether you’re going to use it for horse riding, backpacking, car camping or whatever. Weight and bulk becomes important if you’re going backpacking or motorcycle camping. The type of material you need depends on where you’re going.
The next thing you need to know before buying a sleeping bag is the minimum temperature of the place where you’re going to use the sleeping bag. Even though the temperature rating may not be accurate, you can use it as a rough guide.
To be safe, choose a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating than you need. It will only be uncomfortable if the sleeping bag is too hot and you open up the zippers to make it cooler but a sleeping bag that doesn’t keep you warm enough can kill you.
A rectangular synthetic sleeping bag is commonly used for car camping or base camping but they’re too bulky for backpacking. For backpacking you can either use a synthetic sleeping bag or a down sleeping.
Down sleeping bags are a lot lighter than synthetic sleeping bags and they keep your warmer. The problem with down sleeping bags is that when wet they cease to provide insulation. Synthetic sleeping bags still gives you some warmth when it’s wet.
Now, a sleeping bag protects your whole body well against the cold except for under you. That’s because your sleeping bag is compressed under you by the weight of your body. Here’s where a camping mattress comes in handy.
However, more a commonly known purpose of the camping mattress is for cushioning. There are 3 different types of camping mats. The lightest option is a foam pad or closed cell pad. They’re very good insulators but they’re not so good for cushioning.
If you want better cushioning go for open cell pads or inflatable open cell pads. These are much softer and much more comfortable to sleep on. The self-inflatable type camping mattress is more comfortable of the two but it also costs more. Open cell pads are heavier than foam pads but the comfort they provide makes the extra weight worth it.