8 Sleeping Pad Alternatives You Didn’t Even Think Of


We all love our sleeping pads, or at least we should since they provide us with comfort and warmth. It got me thinking about what if we didn’t have a sleeping pad, what other alternatives could work for sleeping on?

Here are 8 sleeping pad alternatives you didn’t even think of:

  1. Yoga mat
  2. Another Sleeping Bag
  3. Mattress topper
  4. Lots of Blankets
  5. Pool float
  6. Multipurpose foam from a department store
  7. A bunch of clothes
  8. Your Hammock

Keep in mind that these alternatives are in no way as good as a real quality sleeping pad, so if you need a new one then don’t settle for these silly alternatives. These ideas are simply for one time “emergency” uses.

By the way, If you are in the market for a new sleeping pad, then you should click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.

Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is probably one of the closest things that you will get to a real sleeping pad. Even though it could work in a pinch it will not provide the same level of comfort that a real sleeping pad would. If you are new to camping and do not have any camping gear, but you do have a yoga mat then maybe it could be a viable option for a quick mid-summer camping trip.

The reason why yoga mats make inferior sleeping pads is that the thick dense rubber material that they are made from does not make for a comfortable sleeping surface. Sure it will be a better surface than the cold hard ground, but it is nowhere near the level of comfort that a real sleeping pad provides.

Yoga mats are designed for exercise, usually brief exercise of an hour or less. Sleeping pads are designed for comfort all night long. The same can be said about most of the other following sleeping pad alternatives. If you are more interested in finding out why a yoga mat does not work as a proper sleeping pad you can read the full article that I wrote about it here.

Another Sleeping Bag

If you have two sleeping bags at your disposal then using one of them under you as a sleeping pad might just work in a jiffy. One of the main functions of a sleeping pad is to shield you from the cold hard ground. Not only for comfort but for insulation. Sleeping bags are designed to insulate your body heat as well.

Although they are made to insulate your body heat by trapping it into a warm cocoon, they can also work for insulating underneath you as well. If the weather you are camping in is mild then you should be able to easily get away with just a second sleeping bag in place of a sleeping pad.

Sleeping bags are designed with lots of insulating properties and are also pretty soft, which makes them a viable option for sleeping on in place of a real sleeping pad. If you don’t have any gear but you are going camping with friends or family then using an extra sleeping pad could work for you. It is more likely that someone with camping gear has extra sleeping bags as opposed to extra sleeping pads.

Mattress Topper

Mattress toppers can make great temporary alternatives to sleeping bags when camping. You need to be extra careful with these because they can and will get dirty if you take them camping, so be aware of that. Mattress toppers come in many shapes, sizes, and materials.

The most common is probably a foam mattress topper. If you have an old mattress topper that you are willing to let get dirty and you have an upcoming camping trip then look no further. Another benefit of the foam mattress toppers is that they can be cut down to size to make them more appropriate to fit into a tent.

Additionally, mattress toppers, especially foam. Do have insulating properties. Foam can keep you warm while camping. I don’t know the specific R-value of foam, but it is a step up from being against the cold hard ground. Keep its weight and size in mind if you are thinking of using a mattress topper in place of a sleeping pad since they can be bulky. If you have the extra room then you could fold a mattress topper in half to make it thicker and therefore warmer and more comfortable.

When I first started camping, I used a mattress topper. I don’t exactly know why I chose a mattress topper, but I think that it had a lot to do with it being on clearance at a Target store in my neighborhood. I was looking for my first round of gear and stumbled upon the foam mattress toppers on clearance. The topper quickly became dirty and difficult to wash and quickly replaced it with a proper sleeping pad when I knew camping was something I wanted to continue doing for years to come.

Lots of Blankets

If you don’t have a real sleeping pad but have a bunch of regular blankets around the house then consider bringing them to sleep on. Different fabrics will have different resistance values, but creating a big enough stack of blankets should keep you adequately warm and comfortable in milder environments.

This is going to be a big option for many people since blankets are pretty universal and just about everyone has spare blankets in their home. If you have a choice I would go with blankets that are warmer and moisture-wicking. The best kind of material for this, in my opinion, is wool. Wool blankets will keep you warm and will reduce sweating. I’m sure there are plenty of people that go camping every year that exclusively use extra blankets.

One of the first trips I took camping with a good friend of mine included just laying on a bunch of blankets inside of a tent. It was only for one night and I survived, so I think you will too if you aren’t doing any extreme camping. Make sure you have enough to make a nice thick layer, we didn’t bring enough and so comfort was an issue, they did, however, do a good job at insulating from the ground.

Pool Float

On a less serious note, a pool float very closely resembles an air sleeping pad. It certainly doesn’t have any insulation properties. I’m not actually sure if it is as comfortable on land as it is in the water, but you can sleep on one. I bet someone has done this before. If you have exhausted all the other alternatives but you have one of these lying around the house then have at it.

Multipurpose Foam From A Hardware Store

I swear you can find any and all alternatives to everything at a hardware store. Hardware stores often sell general foam mats that can be used for all sorts of things. If you are in need of something to sleep on then look no further if you are near a hardware store. I doubt you will make any significant savings if you go with this option, but as we have previously discussed, foam is a good insulator.and it is pretty comfortable to sleep on.

A Bunch Of Clothes

Okay so if you are already camping and forgot your sleeping pad then what are you left with? All of your clothes. Start laying them out on because it’s the best you got. Your clothing will provide a minimal amount of insulation and comfort. This is like rock bottom of the alternatives and if you are using a bunch of clothes as your sleeping pad then I feel for you. In reality, you should go ask someone if they have something else you can borrow to sleep on.

Your Hammock

There is an entire group of campers devoted to hammock camping. If you don’t have a sleeping pad then you could sleep in a hammock. I can personally attest to their comfort as they are the only places where I am able to take mid-day naps. If the weather is warm enough at night then sleeping in the hammock could be a good option.

You need to closely consider the outside temperature because if you are sleeping in a hammock without a tarp over you and an underquilt then basically you have no insulation. Sleeping in a hammock is colder than sleeping in a tent. If you are more interested in reading about why that is you can read the full article I wrote in it. So you need to make sure you won’t freeze if you are in a hammock.

A sleeping bag will help a little for warmth, but you still won’t have insulation under you without a hammock underquilt. In addition to that, if you are in a hammock then you are at the mercy of insects if they are present. That is why hammock campers need a net set up around them most of the time.

Conclusion

These sleeping alternatives are only recommended if you absolutely cannot get access to a sleeping pad. The only reason I think you would need to use one of these alternatives is if you are brand new to camping and don’t have any gear. If you are not sure that you like camping then sure use one of these alternatives as your sleeping pad and see if you like it. If you are a regular camper that lost or damaged your sleeping pad then just get a new one, you know how important sleeping pads are.

My Favorite Camping Gear

  • Air Mattress: click here to check out my favorite on Amazon.
  • Tent: click here to see my favorite tent available on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Pad: click here to check out the one I love on Amazon.
  • Sleeping Bag: click here to see the one I recommend on Amazon.
  • Camping Stove: click here to see the best camping stove on Amazon.

Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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