Updated: Jun 2
It’s time to deep-dive into another frequently-asked question about equipment for cycle touring and bikepacking –
How to choose a sleeping pad for your next adventure around the world?
We’ll be looking specifically at which camping mattresses or sleeping pads are ‘best’ for bikepacking trips – and how the definition of ‘BEST’ might differ depending on personal preferences and the details of your planned ride.
I’ll guide you through this topic by combining advice from my previous experience ( 21000km across 16 countries so far) with a list of currently recommended camping mattresses for cycle touring & bikepacking.
I have carefully selected for you 11 mattresses that you may want to consider purchasing for your next bike touring trip.
Ready? Let's ride.
This is why you should not buy a cheap air mattress...
This is the reason why you should not buy a cheap air mattress. Back in 2010, I did my first cycling touring trip in Australia from Perth to the Gold coast, I was clueless about what gear to purchase and because I did not have much budget either I bought very cheap gear. End up broken after only few days on the road...
The 3 Types Of Camping Mattress You Need To Know About
Within each category you’ll find a range of options and styles of interest to the cyclist, from a simple slice of foam costing $16 all the way up to to luxurious quality padded air mattresses costing between $80 to $150.
For bikepackers trying to reduce gear volume, ultralight inflatable mats or minimalist self-inflating mattresses will be the best option easy to set up in a seat pack or on your handlebar roll.
If you’re off on a fully-loaded tour, a bulky closed-cell foam mat or thick self-inflating mattress will sit happily on top of your rear rack.
1- Closed cell foam
Simple, cheap, and usually preferred by riders on a tight budget, generic closed-cell foam mattresses, satisfy the one essential criteria – insulation from the ground – and nothing else.
With nothing to puncture or break, they’re actually a durable choice – as long as you keep them away from over-tightened bungee straps, corrosive substances, and sharp rocks on the ground.
Do not expect much luxury from most of these mats, but most of them will do what they are suppose to do ( Can't expect much for less than $20 sleeping foam pad.)
1.1 Super Cheap : Coleman Rest Easy Camp Pad
Coleman Rest Easy Camp Pad: $9.85
Closed-cell polyethylene foam for water-resistant comfort
Lightweight and easy to transport
Size: 72 x 24 x x 3/8 in.
Made in the USA
1.2 Texsport Under Sleeping Bag Foam Pad Exercise Mat
Texsport Under: $16.75
Comfortable closed cell foam ideal for use on hard ground under sleeping bag
Portable and lightweight. Rolls up and stores easily
Water resistant and washable
Non-slip surface ideal for yoga, pilates or exercise mat
72" x 20" x 3/8" BUY HERE
2 - Inflatable sleeping pad
Best Inflatable Camping Mattresses For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
While there’s so much you can do with a slice of cheap foam, there’s a variety of styles available, thicknesses and insulation types among inflatable sleeping pad on the market to accommodate your sleeping preferences, body sizes, temperature ranges (depending where you are going), and other needs.
So why you you bother with inflatable other than your bike tyres? Are you not tired enough about punctures? All inflatable and self-inflating camping mattresses are vulnerable to being pierced (at least once) by thorns on that one night you’re not concentrating when pitching your tent. ( I know what I am talking about, it happen to me so many times...) That’s why they’re all supplied with patch kits and glue (yes, you Must absolutely bring repair kit with you on your bike trip).
Why many people do choose them is because they feel more comfortable to sleep on than closed-cell foam mats – indeed, for some, this might made the difference but keep in mind that it can blow up at anytime and then you may be in the middle of nowhere and not being able to purchase a new one for days, ending up spending the worst night ever & even getting back pain.
Let’s look at the most popular inflatable camping mattresses for cycle touring and bikepacking.
2.1 - Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad for Camping Ultralight 1 Lbs
1- Ultralight & Compact
Ultralight, compact backpacking sleeping pads are the perfect accessory for your camping and hiking adventures. The floor mattress for sleep deflates quickly and folds easily to fit in the included storage pack. It’s about the size of a water bottle to conveniently fit in your backpack.
2- Your Best Outdoor Experience
Enjoying the great outdoors doesn’t mean you have to toss, turn, and shiver all night. Our patented sleeping pad technology provides optimal support, comfort, and warmth. The isolated air cells limit air flow and reduce heat loss
Ultralight, compact, and durable Outdoors man Lab sleeping pads for backpacking have all of the premium features you need.
Lightweight: 16 oz cot pad perfect for backpacking and hiking
Compact Size: 8" x 3" x 3" for carrying and storage
Inflated Size: 73" x 21.6" x 2.2" fits all types of single sleeping bags
Easy-to-Use Air Valve: Quick inflation with 10-15 breaths and deflates in seconds
Thickness: 2.2" for optimal comfort, support, and warmth
R-Value: 2.2 for 4-season warmth
Material: durable 200 ripstop woven Nylon with a laminated TPU coating
Inflatable Pillow: large 11” x 9” pillow is easy to inflate with only 3-6 breaths (pillow is available in bundle only)
2.2 - WELLAX Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad
Having a highly packable sleeping pad is a must for every bikepacker & camper. If you choose a bulky sleeping pad, you may have to strap it to the outside of your bag and who needs the extra hussle?!
The purpose of the single layer of the Pad's Air Cells is precisely providing you with the most lightweight packed-volume while travelling, making it easy to staw inside your panniers or backpack.
Combine this with the fact that it’s cheaper, has a two flat valves, inflates and deflates quicker than most, uses slightly thicker fabric, and has a bit more width to keep your arms from sliding off, and now you’ve got a real contender!
Sleeping pads are also critical for keeping your body warm. They help insulate you from the cold ground, which makes them very important for safety as well.
Without fail, the conversations over coffee in the morning would always turn to aching backs from that rock or stick or even a clump of dirt that managed to poke through your half inch sleeping pad.
COMPACT and LIGHTWEIGHT
EASY TO INFLATE AND DEFLATE
Check as well:
3 - Self inflate mattresses
Pamir Highway - Tajikistan 2015
The Best Self-Inflating Camping Mattresses For Cycle Touring & Bikepacking
Is it the best mattress for you? Self-inflating camping pad combine an inflatable shell with an open-cell foam filling to give you a mattress with a firm internal structure plus pressurized air for added comfort and insulation.
Many riders find these mats really comfy as they feel like a ‘real’ mattress, which is probably the most common reason to choose one. They also take a little less effort and time to set up, and retain some insulating properties if punctured.
Let’s take a look at the most highly-recommended self-inflating camping mattresses for bike trips. For riders neither on a super-tight budget nor needing to absolutely minimize pack space, this is probably the most popular type of camping mattress for cycle touring.
3.1 Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Self-Inflating Foam Camping Pad with WingLock Valve.
The Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Women/men's Self-Inflating Foam Camping Pad with WingLock Valve offers an outstanding combination of comfort, compactness, warmth and value making it a great all-around camping mattress. Die-cut foam reduces weight and bulk while self-inflation adds convenience appreciated by all at the end of the day. The semi-rectangular shape increases sleep area and makes for better, gap-free mating with other rectangular air mattresses. The lightweight sleeping pad features the high-performance WingLock valve, allowing the pad to inflate three times faster thanks to a larger opening and one-way inflation.
Characteristics: Trail Lite self-inflating mattress offers a combination of comfort, compactness and value making it a great all-around camping mattress
Equipped with a dependable and rugged WingLock valve, the pad inflates 3 times faster than a classic valve and features lightning-fast deflation
Compact enough for backpacking without sacrificing comfort; lightweight die cut foam core easily self-inflates and packs up small
4.5 R-value means the Women's Trail Lite delivers essential warmth and comfort for year-round camping and backpacking
Regular measures 66x20x1.5 inches inflated, packs to 11x6.1x6.1 inches, and weighs 1.56 pounds; stuff sack included, made in the USA
3.2 Venture: Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
The VENTURE 4TH Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Self-inflating mats are 72 inches long x 22 inches wide and can sleep single adults comfortably. This ensures your shoulders and hips are supported, your legs insulated, heels cushioned and feet kept warm.
Simply roll pad out with the valve open. The pad self inflates as the foam expands. Top up with your own breath if you prefer a firm mattress. Deflating is just as easy. Open the valve and roll the mattress up slowly, pushing the air towards the valve as you go.
EXTRA THICK YOGA MAT
QUICK EASY INFLATE
KEEPS YOUR BODY WARM
And for the best comfort we highly recommend:
Just kidding !!
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