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How to Choose a Best Travel Mat

by Sinke Car

One of the three main things for a comfortable sleep in the field is a rug as well as bedding, etc. Many people mistakenly believe that if there is a good sleeping bag, the rug can be neglected, but in fact, it is not recommended to do it! The fact is that the main heat losses occur in contact with a cold base – earth, stones or snow.

And even the hottest sleeping bag will become useless in the fight for warmth unless there is a layer under it that holds it. For this, first of all, a travel mat is needed, and only then for softness, which is also important, because comfortable sleep largely determines the ability to recuperate after a hard day of hiking.

To choose the right carpet for you, you need to select six basic parameters:

  • Thermal conductivity – we do not want to freeze
  • Weight – We do not want to wear gravity
  • Softness – We need to Sleep
  • Packing Size – We want convenience when carrying
  • Durability – We go hiking a lot
  • Cost – We save on one, in another place to spend


The thermal conductivity of mats, as well as in general of any materials, is measured using the coefficient of thermal stability or ” R-value” R-value is an indicator of how well a material resists heat passing through itself. The higher the coefficient, the less heat will pass through the product or material, and in our case through the mat. This indicator is calculated using special tests, and all we have to do now is to read their result on the label: the greater the value, the warmer the mat. By the way, on most cheap floor mats, this value is simply not written (you have to look for approximate values for specific models on the Internet). If you are wondering exactly how this indicator is calculated, I recommend reading to eerily detailed and high-quality material at the link –

For convenience and clarity, you can pry the chart, roughly suggesting at what surface temperature (at which you will sleep), the R-value index is calculated.

Based on the conditions and your needs, we choose the direction of the models offered in stores. And, to help you in choosing, we will further make a conditional rating on these parameters, but first I will tell you about the types of travel mats.

Types of Travel Mats:


The most common and familiar option for many. It is polyethylene foam or similar materials with different names such as Izolon, EVA, and so on. Its main advantage is, of course, cost, such a rug can be bought at a price not exceeding 500 rubles. They are sold in any sport, and sometimes even in household and construction stores. Accordingly, such a rug is not a pity: you can safely put it near the fire, glass and any garbage, knowing, of course, that this will wear it out quickly. Also, the rugs are of very low quality (not Izhevsk) and are torn even if you just do not caress them shyly.

Shipping volume is one of the main problems of the Izhevsk rug: in normal thickness (and it can be different, on which the thermal conductivity also depends), it reluctantly folds up, and you have to either mount it outside, or make a kind of tube and lay it inside the backpack (provided backpack more than 40 liters). This is extremely inconvenient when moving in public transport, crowded places and in a dense forest.

The task of thermal insulation of foam does a relatively good job, for example, the standard thickness for Izhevsk rug is 8 mm, and the approximate R-value for it is 1.1, which is (again approximately) suitable for a temperature of +8 C (not air, but that below you). Since the rug is inexpensive, in the winter we can take two, or even three, at times increasing the insulation.

Another plus is the ability to trim the carpet as you like. If you have a small height, then with a standard length of 180 cm, extra centimeters can be cut off; someone may be superfluous and the width of 60 cm. and those who are fond of budget relief can have fun. This is not counting the fact that foam itself is one of the easiest bedding options for sleeping.

Self-Inflating Mats:


Firstly, why is he self-inflating? And all because the inside of the mat material resembling foam, which can be compressed, but after that restores its shape, and outside – sealed shell. As a result, if you open the valve, the carpet begins to finish off, taking its shape and sucking in the air (self-inflating). We close the valve – and we have a puffy carpet, but before that it is still better to create additional pressure, pumping it in several breaths through the valve. Accordingly, by opening the valve, we can again squeeze the mat to acceptable transport dimensions.

Inflatable Mats:

Do not confuse them with ordinary inflatable mattresses! In the mattresses, due to excess air inside, it constantly circulates, as a result, it cools you more (not to mention the weight and the need to carry a heavy pump).


Inflatable mats solve the problem of air circulation through various approaches and technologies. So, some options are filled with natural fluff, but more and more often complex structures with many thoughtful partitions inside (they interfere with cooling) appear and as a result you get the best thermal conductivity indicators.

Camping Cots:

Some famous companies sometimes produce interesting clam-shell options that are also worth seeing. No, of course, clam-shells produce dozens of companies specializing in camping, but only these guys have really interesting options. And they are interesting because they are also relatively small and light, and those who do not like to sleep on the ground can consider them even as a hiking option. Of course, they are also expensive, but in return, they can boast of a serious, unlike all rugs, durability.

How to Choose a Mat?

Now almost every major brand has several options for carpets. Most often it is self-tapping. Before buying you can check the reviews on each product and find out which is the best. A website name 5productreviews.com gives customer reviews on every product of daily use. You can visit their official website and get reviews.

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