R-Values Explained - Sleeping mats aren't just designed to add comfort to your camp set up - but also to keep you warm.
A key function of a sleeping mat is to insulate you from the ground, especially when the ground is colder. To know whether you will sleep warmly it is essential to know how well your sleeping mat resists heat loss into the ground. This resistance is known as an R-Value.
If you've looked at any of our sleeping mats you will have come across the R-Value of each mat. But what does it mean and how can this help you to choose the right mat?
R-Values- What do they mean?
R-Values are a figure derived from an independent industry standard ASTM F3340-18 test. The R-Values are a measurement of thermal resistance – they tell you how well your sleeping mat resists heat loss.
The higher the R-Value the more your mat resists heat loss and the better it insulates you from the cold ground.
So for summer camping with warmer air temperatures and no ground frost a rating of 1 may be warm enough - if you are camping in the winter on snowy or frozen ground you will need a warmer mat with a rating of 4+.
Which mat do I need?
We have a wide range of sleeping mats designed for different needs and conditions - so using the R-values will help you find the right mat for you.
Our matt with the highest R-value is the Etherlight XT Extreme with a rating of 6.2 which will help to keep you warm in even the harshest of environments.
While having the right rated mat is important - this is only one part of your sleep system! Pairing your mat with the right sleeping bag, pillow and even liner will give you the best chance of having a comfortable night sleep whatever the conditions.
Here’s a simple chart which compares R-Values with external conditions (notice it focuses more on ground temperature than air temperature…)
If you look at our Women’s sleeping mats, you will notice that they have higher R-Values than the Unisex versions. This is because they have more insulation than unisex models. In the case of the Self-Inflating mats, the increased insulation is concentrated into zones in the foot and torso areas of the mat. The higher R-Values quoted for these mats relate specifically to these greater insulation/comfort zones.
Your sleeping mat is the foundation for a good night’s sleep – it’s the first component of your sleep system. Without an insulation level appropriate to the conditions you are sleeping in, the best sleeping bag may just not keep you warm at night.