Does a Sleeping Pad Go Inside a Sleeping Bag?


Should You put your sleeping bag inside your sleeping bag?

Ever wonder if you could use a sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag? It seems like an easy way to stop you from rolling off your pad, but will it work?

Should you put a sleeping pad in your sleeping bag? Most people can put a sleeping pad inside their sleeping bag, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Putting your sleeping pad inside will help you stay on the pad, but you won’t have much room to move around.

Sticking a thick pad in your sleeping bag will definitely stop you from rolling around, but you might not be comfortable. With that being said, there are definitely advantages to using a sleeping pad inside your sleeping bag.

A Few of My Favorite Sleeping Pads

  1. Therm-A-Rest NeoAir X-Lite
  2. Coleman Self-Inflating Camping Pad
  3. Budget Pick: Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Foam Backpacking Mattress

Should You Put Your Sleeping Pad Inside Your Bag?

Coming from a king sized bed I can never seem to stay on my sleeping pad all night. Considering my Therm-a-Rest pad is only 25 inches wide (which is the large version), it’s no surprise I roll off my pad at night.

After years of twisting and turning, and never waking up on my sleeping pad I figured there had to be a better solution. So I decided to try putting my sleeping pad inside my sleeping bag.

If you toss and turn at night you should definitely consider putting your pad inside your sleeping pad. You won’t have to worry about rolling off your pad and it will actually make your sleeping bag warmer.

1) You Won’t Roll Off Your Sleeping Pad

If you put your sleeping pad inside your bag you can’t roll off in the middle of the night. There just isn’t enough room in the bag to roll off your sleeping pad.

Do You Have Enough Room in Your Bag?

Whether or not you should put your pad in your sleeping bag mainly comes down to space. Do you have enough room to fit your pad inside your bag?

If the pad causes your bag to squeeze around your body it’s going to reduce loft. You won’t roll off your bag, but you will end up with cold spots throughout the night.

Do You Sleep On Your Back?

How do you sleep at night? If you sleep on your back you’ll have a few options. Pads take up a lot of space, but you should have enough room to comfortably get a good night sleep.

If you sleep on your side you are going to be out of luck. As a side sleeper you aren’t going to have enough room between the pad and the top of your bag. Sleeping curled up on your side there’s absolutely no way you can sleep with a pad inside.

2) It Will Keep You Warmer

Putting your sleeping pad inside your bag might increase the temperature of your bag. Air is a really bad conductor of heat. This means that body heat won’t be able to escape through the bottom of your bag.

My pad actually has a R-Value of 3.2 which makes a huge difference when sleeping on the cold ground. Check out my post on staying warm inside a sleeping bag.

Remember that the warmth difference between keeping your pad inside/outside your bag will be minor if you actually stay on the pad. But if you’re like me and roll off your pad immediately there will be a huge difference.

There Could Be a Draft

When the sleeping pad is inside your bag there’s going to be air space on both sides of your body. This means that there will definitely be a noticeable draft around your body. It’s not really that bad, but it is worth noting.

3) Protects Air Filled Sleeping Pads

Use an inflatable sleeping bag long enough and you’ll eventually get a puncture. Putting your pad inside the bag will help prevent thorns/sticks from poking through your bag.

Personally, I always prefer using a firmer durable pad underneath my air filled pad. It’s going to reduce the possibility of damaging your air mattress and significantly increase the R-Value of your pads.

Laying down a tent footprint is probably a better idea, but every little bit of protection helps. I usually lay down a tarp as a cheap tent footprint. It will also help protect the bottom of your tent.

4) You Can Double Up Your Pad

I normally pair my pad air filled pad with a cheap Therm-A-Rest foam backpacking mattress. For the price you really aren’t going to beat Therm-A-Rest’s Z-Lite foam sleeping pad.

When using both a foam pad and air mattress style pad consider playing around with their placement. Keeping the foam pad on the bottom will protect your air mattress, but you will lose some warmth.

Foam Pads Offer More Insulation

CCF Pads are always going to offer more insulation than air filled sleeping pads. The downside is they weigh a lot more and take up more space in your pack.

It should seem fairly obvious, but think about how much harder it is to push heat through a solid surface than air. While an air mattress might have a higher R-Value a Foam pad will keep your body heat closer to your body. It’s a tradeoff between short-term and long-term heat loss.

Can’t Wear Thick Layers

You won’t have enough room to wear multiple layers to bed. There just won’t be enough room in your sleeping bag for a pad and thick down jacket.

You just won’t have enough room to move around. It’s going to feel like your stuffed inside a breakfast burrito.

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