Yoga Mat as a Sleeping Pad – Can It Work?

A lot of times beginners go camping and they often wonder if they can use a yoga mat as a sleeping pad. Well, when it comes to yoga mats vs sleeping pads, yoga mats are usually a bad choice, except for one special case.

Can you use a yoga mat for camping? Using a yoga mat as a sleeping pad when camping is not recommended. Yoga mats offer little comfort and insulation, making them a poor substitute for a sleeping pad outdoors. Thicker yoga mats are acceptable in warm temperatures.

Why Yoga Mats Aren’t Good Sleeping Pads

Various yoga mats

Yoga mats are designed to give you traction during poses and exercise. They are usually very thin and offer little comfort or insulation. Because they are so thin, you’ll still feel the hard ground beneath you when sleeping. And not to mention any rocks or roots that may be underneath.

You’ll also feel cold even in a good sleeping bag. This is because all sleeping pads for camping, whether they are closed foam or air pads, use trapped air as an insulator. Yoga mats are so thin and don’t have the right construction to trap dead air space, make them poor insulators.

What About Thick Yoga Mats?

Thick yoga mat for camping

There are some thick yoga mats out there, some of which are 1″ thick (see the 1″ ultra-thick mat at Amazon). These thicker yoga mats are going to be a lot better than the thinner yoga mats, but will they be good enough?

I think here it depends on a few factors:

  • Temperature
  • Personal comfort level

It’s tough to say what the ‘R value’ of a yoga mat is because they aren’t designed and tested for camping. Either way, an inch thick of padding from a yoga mat in warm weather is probably going to be fine. After all, you can go camping without a sleeping pad in some cases.

As it gest colder, a thick yoga mat might not provide enough insulation. This is because yoga mats really aren’t designed to trap dead air space needed to insulate you from the ground.

And when it comes to comfort, it really depends on your personal comfort levels. If you’re unsure if a yoga mat will be comfy enough for camping, then why not try it out? You can try sleeping in your backyard or on the hard ground or floor and see how comfortable you are.

Sleeping Pad Options

Unless you do have one of those thick yoga mats, a cheap closed cell foam sleeping pad will be much better than a yoga mat. I’ll admit, some of these can be tough to sleep on, but they will offer a lot more insulation and will be much better than a yoga mat.

A cheap closed cell foam pad for camping can cost you $10 from your local Walmart. If you are looking for something even cheaper, buy used gear from your Facebook Marketplace or even rent gear from your local REI Store. Amazon has a great selection as well.

Other great options are the REDCamp closed-cell foam pad and the Sleepingo Pad, which comes with a lifetime warranty.

Sleeping Pad Alternatives

If you are in a pinch and need something else to use as a sleeping pad and can’t borrow gear from friends, there are other ways to sleep comfortably camping.

Here are a few alternatives:

  • Sleeping cot
  • Air matress
  • Lots of blankets or thick sleeping bag
  • Hammocks

Conclusion

When it comes to yoga mats vs sleeping pads, a typical yoga mat isn’t going to be good for camping. Yoga mats are thin and offer no insulation. The exception to this is if you use a thick 1″ yoga mat in warmer weather. If you are on a tight budget, consider getting a closed cell sleeping pad like the REDCamp closed-cell foam pad instead. And remember, it’s always wise to try out your gear before your camping trips.

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