Tourist sleeping mat is a common name for all types of mats that will be useful to you on a hike or a trip to nature, protect you from hypothermia, discomfort, and dampness. It is used under a sleeping bag, tent, or just for spreading on the ground.
Among the options proposed by domestic and foreign manufacturers, here is a general classification:
- Inflatable sleeping mat have been known to avid travellers and hikers for a long time. They used to be of poor quality and could be ripped by a tree branch or a pebble at any time. Today, the materials are way better, and even inexpensive models have a much lower chance of being damaged. Although the possibility cannot be ruled out completely.
- Self-inflating mat – the next step in the evolution of mats. It is much more comfortable to sleep on, but it is heavier to carry: it weighs about 3 kg (against 0.5-1 kg in the previous version).
- The military camping mat differs from its “brothers” only in the use of more high-tech materials. This affects the cost of the mat, but at the same time increases its durability: they are resistant to abrasion, do not absorb moisture, and the most “advanced” ones are inflammable.
Almost all the described models can be rolled up for transportation. Some people prefer this option: it is convenient to attach to a backpack from the outside, with compact dimensions it even fits in the bottle compartment. But for those who do not like such a geometric solution in space, there is a folding mat. It looks like an accordion and does not twist when unfolded like those that were in a roll. It can also be used in the folded state as a kind of stable chair due to the snug fit of the layers without slipping.
A sleeping mat for hiking, picnicking, and sports
Modern sleeping mat are really convenient! The active development of new materials and the addition of reinforcing elements only increase the convenience of them. The scope of such a product is extensive, and provides a lot of advantages:
- Due to the thermal insulation properties, it helps to keep warm when in contact with wet ground or thin floor of the tent. Lightweight guarantees ease of transportation even for those tourists who are forced to carry all the equipment.
- If a hike or a picnic is not planned to be held in a place specially equipped for tourists, you may encounter rocky ground and uneven terrain. A dense padded seat will relieve you of this discomfort.
- This mat is commonly used for yoga, gymnastics, and fitness. One can also take it to nature or to the park.
- If you look at the photo of the mats, you will notice that any material of manufacture is dense and opaque. Therefore, it is guaranteed to protect you from wind or bad weather. This is not its intended purpose, but it can help in extreme conditions.
Talking about extreme situations: due to the light porous structure of the mat, it floats well on the water. Therefore, although such a thing will not serve as a lifeline, it will help to win a few minutes to help a drowning person.
Which sleeping mat is better to choose according to the material?
There are a lot of manufacturers of sports equipment, but for any mat there are only three materials at the moment:
- Foam – thin, light (up to 700 gr.), It can be from 3 to 17 mm thick. The most frequent choice. Cleaning only requires soap and water. Dries up in a matter of hours.
- Foiled mat, but only on one side, which increases the thermal insulation properties. It is chosen by experienced travellers who know what problems can be encountered on long trips. Mats are double layered, but this does not affect the compactness and weight.
- On a short outing into nature a couple of kilometres from the city or even within its boundaries, it is optimal to use an inflatable mat. If you look at what surface you put it on and first clear it of sharp objects, the chance of a puncture is minimized.
An inflatable mat can also be used as a watercraft if you swim in calm waters. This camping mat does not have very large dimensions, but as a support on the water it will do.
If you went over the general characteristics, now you should pay attention to the rules for selecting a specific product, depending on how you plan to use it:
- Those who are going to hike in the mountains, especially in winter, should take a model with a thickness of at least 15 mm or more.
- Standard sizes are 50 by 200 cm, suitable for an average person. But you can find a mat for children with small dimensions or, conversely, a double-sized one.
- With regard to foams, it is important to pay attention to the number of layers: for hiking for several days, 2-3 layers are needed to eliminate any discomfort.
- Don’t forget to take a cover for your sleeping mat with you: it is waterproof, thin, and as light as possible. It’s great if it has elements for attaching to a backpack, otherwise you will have to come up with a secure attachment yourself.
If we analyse everything together, it turns out that the foam is the best solution both in terms of price and quality. For those who do not go in for hiking and do not go on multi-day trips to the mountains with climbing, a budget two-layer option will be enough, possibly, with a foil base. Polyurethane foam is the best material at the moment, because it suits both tourists and athletes, and those who just want to have a good time in nature (barbecue and sunbathe). But if you also plan to swim, then you should go for an inflatable mat. If there is a flat surface, it will even be softer, and, therefore, it will be more comfortable to sleep on.
Also, on the sports luck blog, you will find articles about cold accumulators and tourist shovels.