Everyone in the team at Gearshop agrees: using a sleeping mat in NZ conditions makes a lot of sense. In fact, we think a sleeping mat should be an essential part of every sleeping system along with a good-quality bag and liner. As you’d expect, we have plenty of all of those things in our camping range, and we think they are at their best when you use them together.
In the case of sleeping mats, there’s a widespread misconception that they’re there for comfort alone. Granted, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for recharging your batteries and restoring your energy for another long day of outdoor exploration. Sleep, plenty of water and good nutrition work together to keep you feeling strong and ready for anything that comes up while you’re out there, and a sleeping mat is certainly a very important part of that equation.
But while a sleeping mat can make your night’s sleep a much more comfortable and restful one, we think that its primary purpose is to prevent the loss of body heat into the ground while you’re sleeping. The materials used in a basic foam sleeping are typically filled with air pockets; these air pockets slow down the conduction of heat through the mat, as air is one of the best (and cheapest) insulators. For that reason, even the cheapest foam mat will be so much better than any mat at all as it is still capable of performing a very vital function i.e. keeping you warm.
You can go one step further than a foam mat that you roll out every night. For example, an inflatable sleeping mat will provide even more insulation against the cold ground beneath you and further slow heat conduction. There are manually inflated sleeping mats or, for the ultimate in convenience, self-inflating mats that allow you to hit the sack so much sooner. After a long day of hiking and climbing, don’t discount how nice it feels to have a bed that makes itself! And because inflatable mats are that much thicker than foam mats, they do give you a very comfortable night’s sleep - not that comfort is the primary purpose!
You’ll spend a lot of time choosing the right sleeping bag and liner. We believe you should devote just as much time when selecting a sleeping mat. It’s an essential part of any sleeping system and we’ll happily help you choose the best one for your requirements. Just get in touch!