How To Find The Best Winter Camping Sleeping Pad: A Buying Guide

Are you planning on camping in the cold weather? Do you want to buy a sleeping pad for winter camping but are unsure which one to choose? We prepared this winter camping sleeping pad article.

Women sittin on sleeping pad

Winter Camping Sleeping Pad: How to Choose

Let’s talk about a few important factors when choosing the right option for you: type of sleeping pad, R-value, weight, size, packability, comfort, extra features, and camping style.

Types of Sleeping Pads

Air Pads

Air pads or mats are usually very lightweight and compact sleeping pads because they use only air without foam inside. Today many air pads contain insulation and reflective materials that increase body heat. Some air pads are also made with a high R-value, perfect for winter camping.


  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Packable


  • Price
  • Less durable
  • Lose heat faster
  • Noisy when moving around
Woman laying down on green sleeping bag

Inflating and Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads

These sleeping pads combine open cell foam insulation and air inside the pad. This combination prevents losing heat and allows longer insulation periods. Inflating and self-inflating pads are heavier than air pads but provide more insulation for winter camping. Inflating pads need to be inflated by mouth or with an air pump, while self-inflating pads do all the work for you.


  • Insulation
  • Comfort
  • Durability


  • On the heavy side
  • A bit bulky

Foam Pads

Foam pads are made from closed-cell foam materials. These are the most lightweight pads but are less comfortable and warm. They are very light to carry and durable.


  • Lightweight
  • Lower price
  • Durable


  • Less packable
  • Less warm
  • Less comfortable 
Couple Camping


Sleeping pads have different sizes to choose from. You should select the dimensions of your pad according to your height and size. 

If you bring your sleeping pad with you in your backpack, you don’t want to carry around extra weight. If you’re looking for more comfort, you should always choose a wider option. The most important thing with winter camping is that your pad is not too small for your needs. 


When camping at night, our bodies lose heat to the cold ground beneath us. To prevent this from happening, we use pads with a high R-value.

For winter camping temperatures, which go below 50°F or 10°C, you will need specialized sleeping pads. One needs a specialized winter camping sleeping pad with an R-value of 5 and above for winter camping.

sleeping pad r value temperature chart


Another thing you should consider is the weight of the sleeping pad. This aspect depends on the type of sleeping pad, material, thickness, and size. This aspect is not important if you are car camping. But, if you plan on bringing your pad in the backpack, you should look for a lighter option. 


The packability of the sleeping pad usually depends on the type of sleeping pad, size, material, and thickness of the pad itself. The longer you carry the pad, the lighter and smaller you want it to be.

Men climbing


The rule of thumb is that thicker pads are more comfortable. Fewer inches of thickness save you a little bit of weight but are also less comfortable. 

When choosing a pad for your needs, it’s best to know your preference. It can be a sleeping pad that allows you to sleep on the side, a pad with a stiffer surface, or a puffy air mat. The best way to make sure is to try the sleeping pad out.

Woman sleeping in a tent

Extra Features

It’s a big plus if your sleeping pad has snap buttons that enable it to attach to multiple sleeping pads for a wider sleeping area. You may even stack up two sleeping pads and securely snap them together to add extra insulation when winter camping. The KAMUI self-inflating sleeping pad has this feature that makes it versatile as a single or multiple users sleeping pad whatever season of the year.

Other extra benefits of sleeping pads include anti-slip materials, repair kits, and pillows. 

Camping Style

Each camping style calls for a different type of sleeping pad. You might need to choose a sleeping pad that will match the kind of adventure you’re most engaged in. Nevertheless, many sleeping pads currently on the market, like the KAMUI self-inflating sleeping pad, can meet the rigors of sleeping outdoors. The most popular camping styles include car camping, backpacking, thru-hiking, winter camping, family camping, river camping, hammock camping, and many others.

Winter camping requires well-insulated sleeping pads with a high R-value.

Orange tent in snowy mountains

FAQ: Winter Camping Sleeping Pad

What R-value of sleeping pad do you need for winter camping?

A higher R-value is recommended for winter camping in lower temperatures. This R-Value lands around 5. Also, the place you plan on camping, climate, and temperature all play an important role when choosing the right sleeping pad.

Do I need a sleeping pad for winter camping?

A sleeping pad is essential to keep you warm and insulated from the cold ground, especially when camping in winter. Experienced campers recommend sleeping pads with an R-value of 5 and above because they can handle sub-zero temperatures and help retain body heat. You don’t want to experience ground chill during winter campouts, so choosing a pad that gives sufficient insulation and warmth is vital.

How do I increase the R-value on my sleeping pad?

The best way is to buy a good sleeping pad with an R-value adequate for winter camping. Another method is to combine two sleeping pads by stacking them up. This will double your sleeping pad’s R-value. If you have a closed-cell foam pad, you may put it under your sleeping pad to increase insulation and to keep you warmer.

What does R-value mean for sleeping pads?

R-value measures the capacity of a material to resist heat flow.  Our bodies lose heat to the cold ground beneath us. We use pads with insulation or a high R-value to prevent this from happening. 

How thick should a sleeping pad be?

The thickness of your pad depends on what type of camping you are planning and your personal preferences for sleeping. If you want a stiff surface, find a closed-cell foam pad. If you like cushioning, choose air or self-inflating pads. If you prefer sleeping on the side, choose a thicker mat.

What do you sleep in during winter camping?

A sleeping pad with an R-value of 5 and above offers excellent insulation and sleeping comfort during winter camping. The higher the R-value, the more insulation it provides. If you are not insulated from the cold ground, you’ll lose heat and might subject yourself to hypothermia.

Does a sleeping pad keep you warm?

Sleeping pads are designed to keep you warm and provide thermal insulation. Nowadays, many sleeping pads are made of reflective materials to increase body warmth, especially in freezing temperatures. Sleeping on a tent floor without a sleeping pad will lead to heat loss. 

KAMUI sleeping pad in tent


Our Choice is the KAMUI self-inflating sleeping padThe KAMUI sleeping pad has an impressive R-value of 5.7, perfect for winter camping. It is a comfortable sleeping pad with 2 inches of thickness. 

We hope our article helped you answer your sleeping pad questions. It all comes down to your preferences when choosing the right sleeping pad for your needs.

KAMUI Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

  • Connectable with multiple sleeping pads
  • 4-season sleeping pad
  • Provides great back support
  • Comes with a storage bag
KAMUI Self-inflating Sleeping Pad Green with Blue variation