best minimalist sleeping pad?

Van Living Forum

Help Support Van Living Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Morgana

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
1,375
Reaction score
1,598
Any suggestions for a good option for something mattress-y to put under your sleeping bag while car camping?
It doesn't have to be sturdy enough to stand up to full-time use. (If/when it comes to that, I can rethink.)
I have an SUV with the back seats removed, and I could probably sleep in it as is, but it would be nice to even out the surface and cover up the metal bits that stick up out of the floor.

Cheap would be good (since I just spent a king's ransom on custom window shades), but not so cheap that it's impractical (since ditto). Compact would also be good.

Futon? yoga mat? those folding waffle-type things I've seen at Walmart? cardboard?
Any pitfalls to look out for on the lower-priced stuff in a generic camping section?

All clues welcome!
Thanks.
 
A quality option i use since sleep is so important is the Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Sleeping pad. Its nice and thick, wide and long for 1 person. Awesome insulation (6 R value) but its over $100. I needed this for the cold camping I do plus its needs to roll up small.

Otherwise you can do just about anything. Yoga mat is too thin and a regular mat will transfer inconsistences so you would need to use a flat platform under it. Likely best bet for something simple are the foam camping pads you can get anywhere like Walmart REI: https://www.rei.com/product/171690/therm-a-rest-z-lite-sol-sleeping-pad

But sleep is really important and a good sleeping surface is key. So a Therm-a-Rest or some kind of air filled mattress will be best. I used the foam ones for years, but defiantly not very comfortable. Regular mattresses just get funky and are too big for me.
 
When I was camping out of a Subaru Forester I had 2" open cell foam for a mattress. I was warm and comfy down to 20ºF. Most OC foam degrades in sunlight so best keep it covered.

Friends use self-inflating backpacker pads.
A thick, cheap sleeping bag (or two); I find them all the time at thrift stores.
Futon mattress would be good but might be too wide.
Couch cushions.
Yoga mats are too thin IMO.
Couple of layers of thick carpet.

It all depends on your tolerance for a hard surface and your tolerance for cold coming up from under you.
 
Any suggestions for a good option for something mattress-y to put under your sleeping bag while car camping?
It doesn't have to be sturdy enough to stand up to full-time use. (If/when it comes to that, I can rethink.)
I have an SUV with the back seats removed, and I could probably sleep in it as is, but it would be nice to even out the surface and cover up the metal bits that stick up out of the floor.

Cheap would be good (since I just spent a king's ransom on custom window shades), but not so cheap that it's impractical (since ditto). Compact would also be good.

Futon? yoga mat? those folding waffle-type things I've seen at Walmart? cardboard?
Any pitfalls to look out for on the lower-priced stuff in a generic camping section?

All clues welcome!
Thanks.
I bought one of these and like it. It has memory foam and is supposedly self-inflating, but if you want the full thickness you need to blow in one of the vents with the other closed; easy to do, doesn't need a lot. https://www.amazon.com/Powerlix-Sle...efix=powerlix+sleepi,sporting,118&sr=1-4&th=1

Cheaper purely air mattress: https://www.amazon.com/Powerlix-Sle...efix=powerlix+sleepi,sporting,118&sr=1-4&th=1

If you have metal pieces poking up, I'd get a waffle closed cell foam pad also to put underneath, to have a more durable material for those.
 
To my surprise, a single bath towel was enough to cover up those metal rings (what the seats used to be fastened to, I assume) and even out the other bumps in the area. I pressed down pretty hard and couldn't feel the rings, so I think it will work. That will simplify things, I think, though I'll still need something. Thanks for all these suggestions!
 

Attachments

  • cushion.jpg
    cushion.jpg
    95.8 KB · Views: 2
I bought one of these and like it. It has memory foam and is supposedly self-inflating, but if you want the full thickness you need to blow in one of the vents with the other closed; easy to do, doesn't need a lot. https://www.amazon.com/Powerlix-Sleeping-Pad-Self-Inflating-Backpacking/dp/B08FTD8XC1/ref=sr_1_4?crid=3OTUKM9D808GW&keywords=powerlix+sleeping+pad&qid=1645466066&s=sporting-goods&sprefix=powerlix+sleepi,sporting,118&sr=1-4&th=1

If you have metal pieces poking up, I'd get a waffle closed cell foam pad also to put underneath, to have a more durable material for those.

Nice, that self inflating mattress is very similar to the Therm-a-Rest I have but cheaper and a higher R-Value. How's the durability so far?
 
A quality option i use since sleep is so important is the Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Sleeping pad. Its nice and thick, wide and long for 1 person. Awesome insulation (6 R value) but its over $100. I needed this for the cold camping I do plus its needs to roll up small.

Otherwise you can do just about anything. Yoga mat is too thin and a regular mat will transfer inconsistences so you would need to use a flat platform under it. Likely best bet for something simple are the foam camping pads you can get anywhere like Walmart REI: https://www.rei.com/product/171690/therm-a-rest-z-lite-sol-sleeping-pad

But sleep is really important and a good sleeping surface is key. So a Therm-a-Rest or some kind of air filled mattress will be best. I used the foam ones for years, but defiantly not very comfortable. Regular mattresses just get funky and are too big for me.
For the last 3 years I have slept on a thermarest basecamp, the 25 x 75" model, and like it alot. I put a closed cell foam pad under and a cheap sleeping bag on top...and sleep on top of the sleeping bag with whatever additional insulation I need.
 
Nice, that self inflating mattress is very similar to the Therm-a-Rest I have but cheaper and a higher R-Value. How's the durability so far?
Only used it once, so can't say. They need to be air tight, so I 'd make sure to not lay on sharp stuff. They are heavy and pretty big also, definitely not for backpacking. Also it says it has an integrated pillow... but it ain't enough to make a difference.
 
If it won’t take up too much room in your vehicle, you can get 3 inch thick high density foam from amazon for a decent price. 6 feet long, 2 feet wide (or other options available). I bought some 4 years ago, and it’s still holding up well.
 
Did you make a cover for the high density foam?

For a bed just make sure it's medium or soft, rather than firm.
 
Did you make a cover for the high density foam?

For a bed just make sure it's medium or soft, rather than firm.
I did make a cover, out of slippery polyester knit (easier to make a close fit, and won’t stick to everything). I chose firm, because I like a firm mattress, but that’s matter of preference. If the foam is only 3 inches thick, though, it’s possible that soft foam might bottom out at the points of greatest weight (such as hips), and might not be comfortable…
 
I'm a big fan of tbe egg crate pads. Preferably a queen or king size, folded in 1/2 widthways for comfort.
 
"Egg crate" is a shape, not a foam spec though. There are surely good ones, but the cheap ones are crap... little support, short life.
 
Re-reading these, now that I've figured out that I'm not 20 years old anymore and "cheapest option at Walmart" is not gonna cut it :rolleyes:... thanks again for these ideas, and one follow-up question. Has anyone here tried a hammock (inside a vehicle), and if so how did that work out?
Thanks.
 
^I've tried one and it was comfortable but for me it wasn't very easy to get out of. I had installed it in a full- size van but I wonder if you'd have enough height in a minivan?

Finding anchor points for it in a finished van might be a problem,too. Do you often need to use the toilet at night? That's what made it unworkable for me since I'm an older guy and have to go at least 3 times/night.
 
Last edited:
Top