An Ode To The Best Camping Sleeping Pad I’ve Ever Owned
I have always loved tent camping. I love the coziness inside the tent, reading, and playing cards by flashlight, the sounds of birds signaling the dawn of a new day, and the often extraordinary views upon unzipping the tent flap.
I still love tent camping. It's just that as the decades have rolled by, my body no longer appreciates a night's sleep on the ground without a proper mattress. In a quest to get a comfortable night's sleep while tent camping, my choice of sleep pads has evolved over the years. I am happy to report that I have finally found “THE ONE” and it has recharged my camping life yet again.
As a child camping in the Smokies with my family, I don't think I even slept on a camping mattress. I just hopped in my sleeping bag and slept like a log. Fast forward to college and I still didn't need a sleep pad. I'd sleep on top of an extra sleeping bag if needed but I really don't remember ever being uncomfortable.
I finally purchased my first sleeping pad for a road trip out west. My small, lightweight Thermarest worked like magic. It kept me warm and dry on an otherwise cold and hard tent floor. I used this camp mat for years and have recently bequeathed it to my daughters.
After adding yet another decade of living to my body, the Thermarest no longer worked its magic. Since we were now a car-camping young family not worried about extra weight, I graduated to a longer, thicker Kelty pad. It was definitely more comfortable than my first sleeping mat, but I still woke up sore and stiff.
So I did what many thirty-something car campers do and purchased a Coleman single size inflatable mattress. I know my fellow campers appreciated the shrill whining sound emanating from my camp site as I happily inflated my bed with my battery-operated inflatable pump.
And the mattress was decently comfortable, at least at first. As the night went on though, it would gradually begin to lose air and I still woke up in the morning well aware of the hard ground below me. Plus, one of the biggest problems with the big inflatable mattress is that it is too cold for cooler night camping. My love for tent camping certainly began to wane during this time.
Perhaps it's true that as you get older you get wiser. After extensive research, I have finally found THE ONE! The Exped Megamat 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad is the best sleeping camp pad I’ve ever owned.
In fact, it’s almost as comfortable as my bed at home. I can sleep without my sides becoming numb, and I can actually stand up without pain when exiting the tent in the morning. It's warm, doesn't require a battery to inflate, and has restored my love of tent camping once again.
Exped Megamat 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
To inflate it, you simply unroll it, open the inflate valve, and leave it. It will automatically inflate on its own but you can then "touch it up" with a hand-pushed mini-pump (no battery required). It works like a charm and you can make it as firm or soft as you'd like.
Tip: Unroll it immediately upon arriving at camp to allow it time to inflate. (Exped states it takes 15 minutes, but I allow up to an hour to inflate and then pump about 10 times to desired firmness.)
It also easily deflates with a large deflate valve. When it's time to pack up camp, you simply open the deflate valve, roll it up to squeeze out the air, and pack it back in its generously sized carry bag.
Because of its large size, it is best suited for car camping. My husband and I each purchased one and my only complaint is how much packing real estate they take up in the car. But it's worth it.
The biggest drawback to this sleeping pad is the price. It typically retails between $200-$230. We found the best price on Amazon (at the time the sale price was $182) and they do go on sale periodically. I have to say though, our purchase has been worth it!
The Exped comes in several sizes. I'm 5'10" and my husband is 6'3", so we each purchased the LXW and it fits us perfectly.
MW = 72 in long x 25.6 in wide
LW = 77.6 in long x 25.6 wide
LXW = 77.6 in long x 30.3 in wide
If you love camping but dislike sleeping on the ground, this camp pad will be a game changer for you! Say goodbye to uncomfortable camping nights and enjoy camping once again!
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