Expert Advice on Self-Inflating Mats

Sleep is an important part of everyone’s day, and when camping it’s no different, so  a comfy mat to sleep on makes a lot of difference.


The most basic type of mat is the Classic PE sleep mat which is a thin solid foam sheet which insulates you from the ground and stops clothes/sleeping bags from soaking up the early morning dew after a summers night.


They aren’t particularly compact when rolled up and although they are puncture resistant as they are not inflatable, they can still be perforated by rocks and pebbles if being laid on an uneven surface.

Classic PE sleep mat

More premium mats of this type are available, for example this mat from Summit which features heat insulating silver foil covering and a thicker material.

Summit Mat

None of these rolling non-inflating mats are particularly compact compared to a lightweight self-inflating mat. They also don’t offer much comfort either but are a cheap alternative to a trekking airbed.


A self-inflating mat offers higher levels of comfort and once inflated is thicker than the equivalent roll mat. Self-inflating mats are available in several different thicknesses from 2.5cm to 12cm, the thicker the mat the more comfortable it will be.


The advantage of a self-inflating mat over a traditional airbed, is that they take no pump to inflate and can be unpacked and packed away in minutes. Whilst also less prone to punctures than a traditional airbed.


A point to remember is that the thicker the mat, the more space it will take up when packed away


Self-inflating mats also have the benefit of having adjustable firmness, so this can be done by manually inflating the pressure to the desired level of firmness.


For trekking applications, Multimat have developed a half-length mat to provide the comfort for your top half only.  They are very compact and take up far less room than the equivalent roll mat.


Great for trekkers and those who are travelling with a minimum of equipment.


But for those who will be using the mat on family camping trips, this lack of comfort would not be an ideal option. A good starting point for a slightly thicker self-inflating mat is the Outwell sleepin’ single (or double) self-inflating mat.

This is a 3cm mat that is a good quality mat at a very low cost.

Outwell sleepin’ single

For a more comfortable night’s sleep most campers opt for a 5cm mat or thicker.


The Vango 7.5cm mat is available in either single or double guise and is a cheap and effective move up from the thinner mats.

Vango 7.5cm mat

This is a single density mat, meaning that there is only one type of foam used for the whole thickness of the mat with no air pockets to add softness and comfort.


A mat such as the Outwell Deeplseep 7.5cm has air tubes which run through the mat working as a softer and more forgiving type of foam, this also allows for the pressure to be adjusted more exactly to give the best available comfort.

Outwell Deeplseep 7.5cm

Outwell Deeplseep 7.5cm

These mats also feature a great valve system and allow the mat to be inflated without unscrewing the valve or even losing any air when you are adding some extra pressure to the mat.

a great valve system

Rolling up the mat is also made easier as no more air can enter the mat when the valve is set to deflate.


Also using the same type of air pocket design is the Outwell Dreamboat 12cm, these fell very similar to a domestic mattress when inflated and offers an extremely high level of comfort.

Outwell Dreamboat 12cm

If you have any questions on this, please don’t hesitate to contact the sales team.