Camping Tips

Best Ways of Sleeping Off the Ground While Camping

sleeping pad and sleeping bag outside of tent

Going on a camping trip will take you to many new sights, trails, and landscapes, but when it comes time to wind down and sleep, what are the best ways to sleep off the ground on your camping trip?

The best ways to sleep off the ground are using a inflatable sleeping pad, foam sleeping pad, air mattress, or a memory foam sleeping pad. Each of these options will keep you insulated from the ground and help you fall sound asleep.

I have been camping for many years and have tried many different options. There are a few things you should consider before making your purchase that could be the difference of you tossing and turning all night or sleeping like a baby.

How do you sleep off the ground when camping?

view of looking outside of tent at snow

Inflatable Sleeping Pad

The first option you have and one of the most popular is to use an inflatable sleeping pad. There are many great benefits of using an inflatable sleeping pad such as being light weight, small size when packed away, and provide great insulation from the ground. I have used inflatable sleeping pads for years with no issues.

Although inflatable sleeping pads are one of the most popular choices there are a few cons. Inflatable sleeping pads can be loud as you move around, it takes time to inflate the sleeping pad, and they can feel a bit slippery when lying down on them. Despite these issues, inflatable sleeping pads are still very comfortable and the pros outweigh the cons.

The Most Recommended Inflatable Sleeping Pad by Campers On Amazon

Open Cell Foam Sleeping Pad

Your next option to sleep off the ground is to use an open cell foam sleeping pad. These are also incredibly popular in the camping community as they are very lightweight, easy to setup, and very comfortable. I have also used open cell foam sleeping pads and enjoy the convenience of just rolling it out and laying on it after a long day of hiking.

The downsides of open cell foam sleeping pads are that they do not pack down well and can be very bulky. If you are trying to minimize your pack footprint and carry less then you probably want to opt for an inflatable sleeping pad since they take up significantly less space. You also have to find a pack that supports holding a foam sleeping pad.

The Foam Sleeping Pad I’ve Used For Years on Amazon

Closed Cell Foam Sleeping Pad

The third option you have to sleep off the ground are closed cell foam sleeping pads. Closed cell phone sleeping pads are typically more dense, more thin, and very light. This is likely the lightest option of the bunch. Closed cell sleeping pads will keep you off the ground and comfortable

The downside of closed cell foam sleeping pads is that they are more thin and a bit more spartan. This is your choice if you want to go completely ultralight and carry the lightest pack possible. Since these pads are more thin they will not be as comfortable as open cell sleeping pads or inflatable sleeping pads.

The Most Popular Closed Cell Foam Pad on Amazon

What is the most comfortable thing to sleep on in a small tent?

If you are camping in a smaller tent that is only big enough to fit you, another person, and your sleeping pads then your choices to sleep off the ground are more limited. With these limits in place you will be able to narrow down your options more quickly. There are two main things to consider so you have the most comfortable sleep in your tent.

Sleeping Pad Thickness

The factor that makes the biggest difference in comfortablility is how thick the sleeping pad is. Since you are sleeping on the hard ground then thickness will make a huge difference. The main tradeoff for thickness is weight vs comfortability.

Sleeping pads range in thickness from 0.5 inches all the way up to 5 inches and above. The more popular sleeping pad thickness are between 2 to 3.5 inches. These have enough thickness to make you feel comfortable and like you are sleeping on soft and weigh less than 2 pounds. If you are car camping and don’t need to carry in your gear then you can opt for a sleeping pad that is more thick and you will feel like you are sleeping on a bed.

Sleeping Pad Length

The next thing to consider is the length of the sleeping pad. You want a sleeping pad that is a few inches longer than your height so that your feet or head are not on the ground. The first time I bought a sleeping pad I bought one that was a few inches too short and my feet were very cold at night since they were on the ground. A few extra ounces of weight for more comfort is definitely worth it.

Sleeping Pad R-Value

The next thing to look at before buying your sleeping pad is the R-value. The R-value tells you how much heat loss you will have. The lower the number the more heat it will lose as you sleep. As your body generates heat during the night then you would want a sleeping pad that helps maintain that heat. You would want a lower R-value for the summer so that the heat escapes more easily and you can stay cool. You want want a higher r-value in the winter so that your heat is maintained and you stay warmer as you sleep.

The Inflatable Sleeping Pad with the Best R-Value For the Money (Amazon)

What is the most comfortable thing to sleep on in a larger tent?

view of looking outside of car while laying down on sleeping pad<

Camping Air Mattress

If you have a large tent or plan on sleeping in your large vehicle and have pull down seats then you have the option to get a camping air mattress. Camping air mattresses are the ultimate luxury for campers. For some models you will feel like you are sleeping on the cloud and actually believe you are sleeping on your normal bed. This is hands down the most comfortable option aside from bringing your own bed with you on your trip.

The major downside of a camping air mattress is bulk and weight. Camping air mattresses should only be brought on car camping trips where your tent will be very close to your car. Camping air mattresses have a large range but can weigh between four pounds and more than 30 pounds. They are also incredibly bulky so attempting to put them in your pack is probably a no-go. Another thing to consider is some air mattress require manual pumping and some are self inflating, but can take awhile to fully inflate.

The Best Rated Camping AIr Mattress on Amazon

Camping Memory Foam Pad

Your next option for ultimate comfort in a large tent are camping memory foam pads. These are incredibly soft, have a large footprint, and only need to be rolled out to be setup. Sleeping on these is also like sleeping on a fluffy cloud.

The downside of the camping memory foam pad is that they can be too soft for those who want to sleep on something more firm. Another downside of these is that they are very big, and usually weigh more than 5 pounds, and are bulky so you won’t be able to pack it down and stuff it in your backpack. These are ideal for car camping since it will be very difficult to carry.

The Highest Rated Memory Foam Camping Mattress on Amazon

Final Thoughts

Going camping is a lot of fun, but finding the best way that suits you for sleeping off the ground will make it even better. Finding the right mat or mattress will make a huge difference in your sleep quality. Testing out the many options you have between inflatable sleeping pads, foam sleeping pads. air mattresses, and memory foam sleeping pads will be a trial and error process, but once you will be so glad you find what works for you!

If you are opting to carry less weight and less bulk than inflatable sleeping pads and foam sleeping pads will be your best bet. If you have the luxury of doing car camping and don’t need to carry your gear to far than you can splurge and get an air mattress or memory foam mattress. There is fun in trying these options out, enjoy your next camping trip!

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