you are tent camping or sleeping out under the stars,
the hard ground is not conducive to a good night's rest.
Sleeping pads are basically just flexible sheets of foam. They are lighter (some weigh less than a pound), more compact and easier to carry than either air mattresses or cots, making them a good choice for backcountry use.
purchasing a pad, campers should remember that pads are available in
different degrees of thickness. Some offer little cushioning, but
others have ridged or egg-carton patterns that are more comfortable.
Some of the better pads even have egg-carton foam on top and
insulating foam on the bottom, making them both comfortable and warm.
Pads should last the camper a long time. They are more durable than air mattresses, which puncture easily. In general, pads are the cheapest of the sleeping accessories, but there is a wide range of prices for all three types. If campers want to spend as little money as possible, they can just use a sheet of egg carton-shaped open-cell foam. However, campers should be aware that open-cell foam soaks up water like a sponge.
pads are just one solution to providing some layer of comfort between
you and the hard ground, but there are other alternatives.
Air mattresses inflate manually or with a pump, and are often flocked on the top surface. Some find them more comfortable than pads because they provide more cushion between the camper and the ground. However, they provide little protection from the cold, so are best used for car camping in warm weather.
A regular air mattress (NOT a sleeping pad) is cold because you are sleeping on air. Your body heat will warm the surface of a regular mattress, but you can never produce enough heat to warm the air in an air mattress. You will need something THICK between you and an air mattress - a sleeping bag is perfect, but you might get by with a quilt or thick mattress pad. The point is, you will need something to sleep ON as well as something to sleep UNDER.
Some like to use a pad and air mattress together.
mattresses, especially the large, two-person kind, are heavier and
bulkier than sleeping pads. This is especially true if the mattress
has to be inflated with a compressor powered by a vehicles lighter,
which makes the mattress hard to transport if the vehicle is far from
the campsite. Compressors can also disturb other campers, though this
can be minimized if the mattress is inflated before sunset. Air
mattresses can be inflated with just lung power, but this can be a
very tiring chore, especially for larger mattresses.
The main disadvantage of air mattresses is that they are vulnerable to punctures. This is especially true if the mattress is placed directly on the ground. Even a small, undetectable hole or tear in an air mattress can make it deflate during the night, leaving the camper on the hard ground by morning.
In general, air mattresses are more expensive than pads but less expensive than cots.
My wife and
I purchased from Wal Mart a Queen-Size Air Mattress With Frame.
We have a large Family size Canvas tent to accommodate this queen-size bed which is more comfortable than our bed at home.
Self-inflating mattresses are hybrids of pads and air mattresses, and are the most popular sleeping accessory among backcountry campers because or their excellent portability, cushioning and warmth.
When the valve is opened, the internal foam structure causes the mattress to self-inflate. An airtight shell keeps the air in. When its time to pack up, the valve is opened again and the mattress is rolled up, forcing the air out.
The price of
self-inflating mattresses varies widely. They range from about the
price of a pad to twice the price of a cot. The more expensive models
offer the most cushioning and insulation, while using the lightest
materials possible. Conversion kits allow some self-inflating
mattresses to be set up as chairs during the day.
Cots are less portable than either pads or air mattresses, being both heavier and bulkier. For this reason, cots are more often used when sleeping in a vehicle or when the same site will be used for an extended time. This should not be misconstrued to mean that cots have no portability, as most can be folded up and conveniently carried for short distances.
Cots have the advantage of elevating campers well above the ground, which produces extra storage space in a tent. This quality also protects campers from hard protrusions and provides protection from animals such as snakes and scorpions that might climb on campers during the night. However, cots offer little insulation from the cold air below, so a pad can be used simultaneously to remedy this drawback. Another advantage of a cot is that sleepers don't slide off, like they can with pads and air mattresses.
Cots are very durable, but if you are a large individual, make sure the cot you buy can support your weight. Different cots have different weight limits, though most are adequate for most people.
Got a Pick
Up with a cap on it?
solution for those weekend getaways in the truck is to get one of
those pick-up bed tents like the Sportz Truck tent from Napier®
which even comes with a floor.
are as many varied ways of camping as there are campers.
chosen a method of ground protection for under your bed,
it's time to add the finishing touches that will determine your bed's degree of cozy.
have only one viable solution: sleeping bags.
campers, on the other hand, need not be as concerned as backpackers
about weight and size of gear.
With enough space, take regular bed items to the campground:
sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters, and quilts.
If you happen to be camping at the beach where sand eventually finds its way into everything, consider using flannel sheets rather than cotton. Flannel sheets are more comfortable because they have a loose weave that allows sand to pass through.
campers, standard fare will be a rectangular sleeping bag.
Now that you've decided what items you need to construct a comfortable sleeping place at the campground, it's time to add a roof over your bed and consider a shelter for protection from the elements of wind, rain, snow, heat, bugs and critters.
Putting a roof over your campground bed
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