How to Insulate a Sleeping Pad

How to Insulate a Sleeping PadProper padding and insulation play a critical role in having a good night's sleep while camping. Whether you are car camping or backpacking, following a few simple steps when setting up your tent and sleeping bag can make a big difference in your comfort overnight. Keep reading to learn several methods of insulating your sleeping pad and creating a warmer, softer sleeping environment.


Difficulty: Easy

Insulating in the Backcountry

Things You’ll Need:
  • Sleeping pad
  • Emergency blankets
  • Other sleeping bags (optional)
Step 1
Focus on site selection and preparation. Choose the driest, flattest and least rocky site you can find. Clear the selected area of all large rocks, sticks and other objects that could ruin a good night's sleep. If dry leaves or pine needles are available, spread a thick layer of them over your site before pitching your tent.
Step 2
Place your emergency blanket. Unfold and spread your emergency blanket inside your tent where your sleeping pad and sleeping bag will go.
Step 3
Place your pad. Put your pad on top of the emergency blanket so that the blanket is under as much of the pad as possible. If you put the emergency blanket on top of your pad, you will slip around more and guarantee a noisy, crinkly night's sleep. Keep in mind that inflatable pads generally provide more cushion and thermal insulation than foam pads.
Step 4
Organize your clothes for the next day. Place the clothes that you plan on wearing tomorrow between your pad and sleeping bag. This will make sure that they are dry and warm in morning.

Insulating While Car Camping

Step 1
Prepare the site. This step is basically the same as described above, though it will very likely be much easier since many developed campsites have clean, flat and manicured tent sites. Still, be sure to remove all large rocks, sticks and other debris that might ruin a good night's sleep.
Step 2
Unfold your emergency blanket and lay it on the ground inside your tent.
Step 3
Get creative. The weight and size of supplies doesn't matter nearly as much when car camping. Feel free to use your creativity to build the ultimate camping nest. For instance, you can throw down multiple pads. Keep in mind that inflatable pads usually provide more cushion and thermal insulation than their foam cousins.
Step 4
Use extra sleeping bags. Unzip them and lay them out flat. This step really makes the sleeping area look and feel extra cozy.
Step 5
Next add your sleeping bag to the top of the mountain of padding and insulation. As mentioned earlier, you might consider tucking tomorrow's clothes under your sleeping bag so that they will be nice and warm in the morning. For added comfort, warmth and luxury cover yourself with a down comforter.

Article Written By Johnnie Chamberlin

Johnnie Chamberlin lives and works in Bloomington, Ind. He holds a Master of Science in civil and environmental engineering from Duke University and a Bachelor of Arts from UC Berkeley. Over the last five years, he has written numerous articles for several magazines,, and other websites. He is the author of "Trails of Little Rock."

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