A sleeping mat slows heat loss into the ground and is as important as a sleeping bag for keeping you warm. Choose a mattress based on the temperatures you most often camp in.
High-density open-cell foam, down-insulation or synthetic-insulation are the warmest mattresses. Air-filled mats are the coolest, but also the lightest. Antimicrobial treatments will prevent fungal and bacterial growth inside the mat, caused by moist breath (from inflating the mattress). Foam-filled sleeping mats are die-cut or horizontally cored to reduce their weight.
Fabrics and finishes
Fabrics are patterned and coated to provide grip so the user doesn’t slide off during the night. They are DWR-coated to provide water resistance.
Generally speaking, the thicker a mattress, the warmer it will be.
Shape and size
Most mats come in short, regular (or medium) and large sizes. They can be tapered to save weight, bulk and to make laying two mats side-by-side easier. Shorter, tapered models are perfect for summer camping. Winter models are full-length and likely to be insulated or have a reflective interior coating that slows heat loss. Prices vary depending on size.
Foam-filled mats are self-inflating, drawing air in as the mat regains its unrolled shape, but they may require a few puffs to reach the desired firmness. Synthetic and down-filled mats will come with a pump sack to ensure moisture from your breath doesn’t get inside. The easiest way to use these is to hold the pump sack 30cm from your face and blow into it, then force the air into the mattress. Air-filled models only need your lungs to inflate.
Controls airflow in and out of the mat. Some mattresses have two valves; one used to inflate and the other to deflate.
Store the mat in a cool, dry place, unrolled, with the valve open.
A sleeping mat’s R-value (Resistance-value) measures its effectiveness at resisting heat loss. The higher the R-value, the warmer a mattress will be. The international ASTM F3340-18 standard ensures mattresses are tested in the same way to achieve consistent R-values across brands. It makes it easier for consumers to properly compare and judge the warmth of various mattresses.
Here’s a basic guide to give you an idea of what to expect from each R-value:
- R1-R2: For summer use when day and night temperatures are warm.
- R2-R4: Suitable for three-season use, including conditions where you might get a mild ground frost.
- R4-R6: All season use, including conditions where you might get a heavy ground frost.
- R6+: Below freezing air temperatures day and night with cold to frozen ground.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm $549.99 (regular)
Four-season mattress with patented reflective barrier technology for warmth without the bulk and weight of insulation, low bulk pack size, pump sack and repair kit, WingLock valve for fast inflation/deflation, 30D/70D nylon fabric. Packed 10x23cm Inflated 51x183cm, 6.4cm thick R-Value 6.9 Weight 430g. www.ampro.co.nz
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLight $539.99 (regular)
Therm-A-Rest’s lightest and most compact air mattress. Triangular Core Matrix provides support and minimizes convective heat loss, WingLock valve for fast inflation/deflation, stuff sack and repair kit included. Packed 9x15cm Inflated 51x183cm, 6.4cm thick R-Value 2.3 Weight 250g. www.ampro.co.nz
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite $469.99 (regular)
Year-round mattress with patented reflective barrier technology for warmth without the bulk and weight of insulation, Triangular Core Matrix construction minimizes heat loss, WingLock valve for fast inflation/deflation. Packed 10x23cm Inflated 51x183cm, 6.4cm thick R-Value 4.2 Weight 340g. www.ampro.co.nz
Sea to Summit Etherlight XT Extreme $449.99 (regular)
Four-season mattress with dual layers of Thermolite insulation, Air Sprung Cell construction, 30/40D nylon face fabric, stuff sack with integrated pump, antimicrobial treatment prevents internal mould growth, pillow lock attaches Aeros pillow, tapered and rectangular options. Packed 17.5x24cm Inflated 55x183cm, 10cm thick R-Value 6.2 Weight 720g. www.southernapproach.co.nz
Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Deluxe $499 (regular)
I-Beam construction for stability, quiet quilted two-way stretch top, larger outer chambers prevent roll-off, PrimaLoft Silver insulation, inflation sack, antimicrobial treatment. Packed 11x22cm Inflation 51x183cm, 9-11cm thick R-value 4.3 Weight 709g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated $469.99 (regular)
I-Beam construction for stability, PrimaLoft Silver insulation, heat-reflective lining, inflation sack, antimicrobial treatment, larger outer chambers prevent roll-off, quilted top, high-volume valve. Packed 11x22cm Inflated 51x183cm, 9-11cm thick R-value 4.2 Weight 539g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Big Agnes Insulated AXL $399.99 (regular)
PrimaLoft Silver insulation, double ripstop nylon fabric, two-way valve with micro-adjuster, antimicrobial treatment, storage sack, replacement valve seal and repair patches. Packed 8×16.5cm Inflated 50.8x183cm, 9.5cm thick R-value 3 Weight 371g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Insulated $349.99 (regular)
PrimaLoft Silver insulation, quilted top, high-volume valve with micro adjuster, offset I-Beams for stability, inflation sack, larger outer chambers prevent roll-off, antimicrobial treatment, quilted top, double ripstop fabric. Packed 11x22cm Inflated 51x183cm, 9-11cm thick R-value 3.5 Weight 465g. www.gearshop.co.nz
Therm-A-Rest ProLite Apex $319.99 (regular)
Self-inflating with US-sourced StrataCore thermal foam nestled between alternating ridges of air and foam to reduce heat loss, WingLock valve for fast inflation/deflation. Packed 12x28cm Inflated 51x183cm, 5cm thick R-value 3.8 Weight 630g. www.ampro.co.nz
Klymit Insulated Ultralite SL $289.95
Klymalite synthetic Insulation, body-mapping v-shaped design, side rails and lofted air pockets for support and comfort, deep weld patterning allows sleeping bag to loft, 20D polyester fabric. Packed 11x18cm Inflated 51x183cm, 6cm thick R-value 4.4 Weight 454g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Klymit Insulated Static V Lite $249.95
Patented v-shape body mapping design, Klymalite synthetic Insulation, deep weld patterning allows sleeping bag to loft, side rails prevent roll-off and inhibit air movement, 30D polyester fabric Packed 8x20cm Inflated 58x183cm, 6cm thick R-value 4.4 Weight 564g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Klymit Static V Inflatable $179.95
Patented v-shape body mapping design limits air movement, deep weld patterning allows sleeping bag to loft, easy-to-use valve for quick inflation/deflation, 75D polyester fabric. Packed 8x20cm Inflated 58x183cm, 6cm thick R-value 1.3 Weight 531g. www.outfitters.net.nz
Therm-A-Rest ZLite SOL $139.99 (regular)
Easy-pack folding design, heat-trapping dimples with reflective ThermaCapture coating, durable closed-cell foam for lasting, economical comfort. Packed 13x14x51cm Inflated 51x183cm, 2cm thick R-Value 2.6 Weight 410g. www.ampro.co.nz
Kiwi Camping Intrepid Lite Single $109
Heavy duty 40D, 310T nylon ripstop fabric, push ‘n’ pop valve for easy inflation/deflation, carry bag and repair kit. Packed 10x23cm Inflated 55x185cm, 5cm thick R-value 1.3 Weight 900g. www.kiwicamping.co.nz
Kiwi Camping Rover Lite $109
Compressible foam core, self-inflating, soft-stretch fabric, single valve, tapered design, repair kit, carry bag and compression straps included. Packed 20x29cm Inflated 55x183cm, 3cm thick R-value 1.3 Weight 900g. www.kiwicamping.co.nz
Increase your comfort and get a better night’s sleep by packing one of these ultralight pillows.
Therm-A-Rest AirHead Pillow $89.99 (regular)
Inflatable core with synthetic-fill top and brushed exterior, baffled air chamber for stability and loft, machine washable polyester cover. 158g. www.ampro.co.nz
Therm-A-Rest AirHead Lite Pillow $69.99 (regular)
Ultralight pillow can stow inside a pocket, 10cm of air padding, stretch fabric for customised firmness. 58g. www.ampro.co.nz
Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow from $64.99
Brushed 50D polyester stretch knit face fabric for soft hand feel, synthetic fill between pillow case and TPU bladder, curved internal baffles cradle the head, secures to any Sea to Summit sleeping mat. 79g. www.southernapproach.co.nz
Klymit Pillow X $49.95
Self-centreing X design positions and cradles the head, inflates in one-two breaths, ultra compact stows into a pocket. 55g. www.outfitters.net.nz