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A sleeping pad can make bedding down and rest for the night after a long day of hiking a lot more comfortable, but it’s also one more thing you need to carry to your campsite. How can you strap your sleeping pad to your backpack comfortably and without making it more difficult to carry your gear?
Here are a few tips.
First of all, it’s important to understand the value of your sleeping pad and why it’s a necessity. Everything you carry with you when you’re hiking needs to be a must-have item. You have limited space for packing, and you want to carry as little weight as possible, so all of your items need to serve a crucial purpose.
Your sleeping pad is a vital part of getting a good night of sleep, and we don’t need to explain how important quality sleep is when you are trekking through the wilderness. You want to be fresh and ready to face each day and sleeping well is an essential part of feeling your best. Without a sleeping pad, you don’t stand much chance of getting a good night’s sleep, so you should consider it a necessary item when gathering your gear together for your next outing.
You don’t need to worry about a sleeping pad adding much weight – most are nothing more than the dense foam – but you do need to consider how you’ll carry it because it tends to be bulky. There are inflatable sleeping pads, but they aren’t our top choice because there are so many risks. One little poke or puncture and you no longer have a pad. You’re better off investing in a foam pad even if they are a little more difficult to pack.
Packing Your Sleeping Pad
So now that you have a reliable pad that’s going to help you get a good night’s sleep, where should you pack it? Most sleeping pads are too bulky when rolled up to fit into a pack. Even if you can get it to fit it doesn’t leave much room for other gear. If you do have a larger pack and think fitting the pad inside is your best bet, pack it vertically to economize space as much as possible. Also, make sure you are rolling it tightly. You might even consider banding it once it’s rolled to avoid it expanding.
A better option in most cases is to attach the pad to your pack on the outside.
Many of the backpacks on the market today feature straps on various parts of the pack. The straps feature friction buckles, snap clips, or hook-and-loop closures to keep items secure. Most bags have a set of straps wide enough for a standard rolled sleeping pad. Check your pack to see if there are a set of straps you can use to attach your pack. If all of the straps are already in use or there are no straps on your pack, you’ll need to find another way to attach your pad to your bag.
Adding Straps to Attach Your Pad to Your Backpack
If you don’t have enough straps to attach your pad to your pack or you don’t like the location of the straps on the pack, you can add additional straps. The best way to carry your pad is vertically down the center of your backpack. This prevents you from adding any width to the pack, and you don’t need to worry about snagging the pad on branches or anything else sharp you might walk past. Attaching the pad this way also helps you avoid making one side of your pack heavier than the other. Your pad is light but throwing the balance of weight off even a little on a moderate to long hike can leave you with an aching back for days.
Some campers like to attach their sleeping pad to the bottom of their pack. This protects it and solves any issues related to balancing weight, but it can be tough to do if your pack doesn’t come with bottom straps. If you need to add straps for your pad, you’re better off carrying it down the center vertically.
We’ve found the best way to strap the sleeping pad to the backpack is with bungee cords. They have hooks on the end that keep the wrap secure and are made of tight elastic, so they’ll hold the pad flush against your pack. They are also quick and easy to attach and detach.
It’s also possible to strap your sleeping pad with rope or cord. You’ll need to use a bit more care when using these items, especially if they are just random pieces and don’t feature hooks on the ends. You’ll need to tie secure knots and make sure they are wrapped tight enough, so your pad does not come loose.
Longer zip ties might also work, but they take longer to detach. There is also no stretch, so you’ll need to wrap your pad as tightly as possible and be able to pack up in a consistent manner each time. The benefit of using the bungee cords is you get a bit of flexibility with packing because they are elastic.
Conserving Space When You Pack
One final suggestion for strapping your sleeping pad to your backpack is to create a system where you wrap up your sleeping pad in your sleeping bag. Together they make for a bulkier item, but if you have built-in straps on your pack that are long enough, you can conserve space by storing these two items together. Some people even roll their pillow into the mix, though this tends to make the roll very bulky.
Ultimately, you’ll need to decide the best way to carry your sleeping pad based on your specific backpack and the other items you are carrying. You want to consider weight, bulk, and what other tools you need to secure your pack if your bag lacks the straps needed for the attachment. The important thing to remember is that having a sleeping pad with you is worth whatever effort it takes to carry it along on your trek.