Choosing the Right Sleeping Pad:
The use of a sleeping pad is crucial to regulating your temperature when sleeping on the ground. The mattress pad will provide insulation from cold coming from the ground. Mattress pad ratings should be matched to sleeping bag ratings. Note that foam core pads are more insulating than air-core pads. Also note that the thicker the foam core pad, the more insulation it will provide. However, a thicker mattress will be heavier. In addition to considering thickness, pay attention to the width of the mattress pad and be sure that your torso does not hang over the edges of the pad. Also, if you plan to do a lot of bushwhacking, you will want to consider a closed-cell foam pad because it will not puncture the way an open-cell foam pad will. For additional insulation in winter camping, add a closed cell foam pad to a self inflating pad. Finally, in general, be sure to match pad size and shape to the bag.
Caring for a Sleeping Pad:
To inflate a mattress sleeping pad, open the valve and it will self-inflate. To adjust its firmness and increase its warmth, blow into the valve to add air or push on the mattress to let air out. Before storing your mattress, be sure it is dry so mildew won’t grow and damage the mattress pad. It is best to store your self-inflating mattress with the valve open and unrolled. The mattress foam “remembers” it shape and self-inflate faster if stored unrolled. We suggest storing it under a bed or behind a door. If it is a hot day, do not store your mattress pad in your car or tent without opening the valve. If the valve is closed, the air inside the pad will expand and your pad my burst or delaminate. A closed-cell mattress pad can be stored loosely rolled, but do not put rubber bands around it. Tight banding will deform the pad. Keep your mattress pad clean with a sponge, a mild cleaner and water. Do not put it in the washing machine. This will ruin it.
If your mattress does not stay inflated, then you have a leak. It may be difficult to find the leak in your pad if the leak is very small. To find it, inflate the mattress as much as possible and close the valve. Fold the pad a couple of times to increase the pressure and immerse the mattress in water. Look for a small stream of bubbles (this is the source of your leak) and mark it with electrical tape. Dry off your mattress pad and make the repair using a repair kit made specifically for repairing mattress pads. Duct tape may be used temporarily. If water gets inside your mattress, open the valve and roll the pad to force the water out. Hang the mattress pad upside down with the valve open in a warm, dry place for three days to dry it thoroughly.