Best self-inflating camping mat for wild UK adventures

Our roundup of the best self-inflating camping mats for UK camping – featuring top contenders from Therm-a-Rest, Rab, and Sea to Summit.

Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Self-inflating sleeping mats: the halfway house between closed-cell and fully inflatable mats. This blend of the two makes for a fantastic investment for most campers. 

Self-inflating mats are typically structured with foam but still need air to function correctly. Unlike a manually inflatable mat, these pads will usually inflate up to 80% without assistance. Save a breath or two just before bed to bring your sleep system to 100% functionality.

These mats are the king of the all-rounders, meaning they’re just as perfect for backpacking as they are for car camping. Self-inflating mats are also more affordable than inflatable options, more effective than closed cell, and offer a fantastic night’s sleep. If you’re still not sure which type of mat would suit you best, check out our guide to choosing a camping sleeping mat

Whether it’s car camping, long-distance trekking, K2 summiting or a weekend of Lake District peak bagging, the best self-inflating camping mats will soak it all up. Check our top recommendations and independent product reviews for self-inflating sleeping mats for wild UK adventures. 

Editor’s notes

A step down from the more expensive fully inflatable sleeping mats, the self-inflating camping mat is great for getting to grips with backpacking without a limitless budget. Whether you’re car camping or trekking through the Scottish Highlands, there’s an inflatable mat with your name on it.

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Haven’t got the time to read our recommendations? Check out our round-up of the best self-inflating sleeping mats right here.

1. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Mat

Therm-a-Rest has been pioneering the sleeping mat world since its inception back in 1971. With lightweight camping and backpacking as a focus of everything they do, it’s no surprise that their inflatable Trail Pro sleeping mat is one of the best on the market for UK camping. 

The Trail Pro is offered in three different sizes, Regular (183 x 51 cm), Regular Wide (183 x 64 cm) and Large (196 x 64 cm). We do find the Regular pad to be sufficient for most users, but it’s always great to see different options available. 

The key takeaway of the Trail Pro lies in the warmth-to-weight ratio. With an R-value of 4.4 and a weight starting at just 820g, it boasts the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam mat. That’s an R-value that’s perfect for 3-season camping all with a weight of less than 1kg. 

All this makes the Trail Pro not only one of the best self-inflating sleeping mats, but one of the best sleeping pads overall for UK adventures. 

Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Best overallTherm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Mat 

With the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam mat – it’s hard to beat the Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro when shopping for an inflatable backpacking sleeping mat. 

  • Best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam mat
  • Three different sizes (Regular, Regular Wide and Large)
  • WingLock™ valve allows for a 3x inflation/deflation speed
  • Limited lifetime warranty on all Therm-a-Rest products
  • High pricepoint
  • Dimensions: Regular 183 x 51 / Regular Wide 183 x 64 / Large 196 x 64
  • Packsize: Packed Size: Regular 28 x 22 cm / Regular Wide 33 cm x 23 cm / Large 33 cm x 23 cm
  • Weight: Regular 820g / Regular Wide 1.04kg / Large 1.11kg 
  • R-Value: 4.4

2. Rab Exosphere 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat 

Great for trekking and camping, the lightweight Rab Exosphere 3.5 self-inflating sleeping mat is a fantastic choice for fast and light adventures. 

Starting at just 665g, the sleeping mat rivals some of the top inflatable backpacking mats on the market, whilst retaining the benefits of a self-inflating camping mattress. 

The Exosphere comes with a three-season R-value of 3.6 – making it perfect for camping adventures in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months. For a warmer sleeping pad, check out the Rab Stratosphere (5.5) inflatable sleeping pad.   

The self-inflating Rab mat is offered in two different sizes, a regular (183 x 51 cm and 665g) and a long-wide (196 x 64 cm and 875g) for larger users. 

A rectangular sleeping mat design accommodates a variety of sleeping positions (we’re looking at you, front and side sleepers) and a 5cm thick foam core offers the most comfortable outdoor sleep possible. 

To inflate, simply fully open the two-way valve located on the bottom of the sleeping mat, closing when the mat has inflated. If additional air is required for optimum firmness, users can blow into the one-way (top) part of the two-way valve. 

Rab Exosphere 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Also greatRab Exosphere 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

The Rab Exosphere 3.5 is a fantastic self-inflating sleeping mat, ideal for lightweight 3-season camping trips in the UK. 

  • Suitable for 3-season adventures
  • Low weight and small packsize
  • Durable and super easy to use
  • Repair kit and stuffsack included
  • Not suitable for cold weather camping
  • Larger packsize than inflatable alternatives
  • Dimensions: Regular 183 x 51 cm / Long Wide 196 x 64 cm
  • Packsize: Packed Size: Regular 26 x 17 cm  / Long Wide 33 x 18 cm 
  • Weight: Regular 665g / Long Wide 875g 
  • R-Value: 3.6

3. Sea to Summit Camp Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

The Sea to Summit Camp is a fantastic entry-level sleeping pad designed for both comfort and warmth for budget-cautious backpackers.

Although not the lightest sleeping pad (you’ll have to shop fully inflatable mats for those) the Camp self-inflating mat minimises its weight and packsize – making it a great solution for beginner backpackers and lightweight and wild campers. The regular-sized mat packs down to just 15 x 27 cm and weighs 780g – great for a mat at such a low cost. 

The R-value of the Sea to Summit Camp isn’t to be sniffed at either. Rated at 4.2, the Camp offers great warmth in 3-season camping, although we would recommend either a dedicated 4-season mat in winter or an additional closed cell layer. 

Sea to Summit Camp Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

Entry levelSea to Summit Camp Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

A well-priced, entry-level backpacking sleeping mat, the Sea to Summit Camp offers the best bang-for-buck when getting outside on wild adventures.

  • Fantastic entry-level backpacking sleeping mat
  • Great warmth-to-weight ratio
  • PillowLock system prevents Aeros Pillow from slipping
  • Different sizes available
  • Larger weight/packsize than other mats 
  • Low thickness may compromise comfort
  • Dimensions: Regular 183 x 51 x 3.8 cm / Large 198 x 64 x 3.8 cm
  • Packsize: Packed Size: Regular 15 x 27 cm / Large 16.5 x 33 cm
  • Weight: Regular 780g / Large 907g 
  • R-Value: 4.2

4. Quechua Self-Inflating Camping Mattress Comfort (65 cm)

The Quechua Self-Inflating Camping Mattress Comfort from Decathlon is a competitively-priced, high-performing sleeping mat that’s perfect for budget camping trips. 

For such a sensibly priced sleeping mat, this product offers a fantastic level of quality. A durable, comfortable non-slip sleeping surface is a good start and at 190 x 65cm with a thickness of  4.5 cm, this pad is a good size for most users. 

You’ll be able to use this mat year-round with an R-value of 5.2. We would have no problems using the Quecha mat in the winter – but we’d avoid taking it to below-freezing temperatures. This is pretty impressive for a mat at this price point.

With a total weight of 1.7kg and a packsize of 37 x 25 x 25 cm, the packed mat is big. But, if size and weight are less of a concern and you’re planning plenty of car-friendly camping trips, there’s nothing to worry about.

This self-inflating sleeping mat is built to withstand a minimum of 200 inflation/deflation cycles – more than enough for regular use outdoors. With a two-year warranty for added peace of mind, the Decathlon self-inflating mattress is a fantastic budget choice for car camping.

Quechua Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat Comfort 65cm

Budget pickQuechua Self-Inflating Camping Mattress Comfort (65 Cm)

With a huge R-value of 5.2, the budget Quechua Comfort self-inflating mat is a great pick for car camping. But, with a large packsize and heavy weight, it is unsuitable for backpacking or wild camping.

  • Foam mousse interior offers high comfort levels
  • Can be twinned with a multi-use zipper
  • Super easy to repack
  • Two-year warranty
  • Large packsize
  • Heavy sleeping mat
  • Dimensions: 190 x 65 x 4.5 cm
  • Packsize: 37 x 25 x 25 cm
  • Weight: 1.7kg 
  • R-Value: 5.2

FAQ: Best self-inflating camping mat for wild UK adventures

Have a question about the best self-inflating camping mat for wild UK adventures? Check out our FAQ below where we aim to answer some of the most popular sleeping mat questions.

A self-inflating sleeping mat works with the help of an inlet valve that allows the mat to reach an initial firmness before further manual inflation may be required. 

Typically, an inflatable mat should be entirely unfolded before opening this inlet valve. The mat should then be left for 5-10 minutes until an initial firmness level is achieved. For a firmer night’s sleep, most mats will allow the user to breathe into the inlet valve. This is recommended to maximise the R-value of the mat at the time of use.

As self-inflating sleeping mats utilise foam interiors, the thickness of the mats is not always a measure of quality. 

The Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro, for example, has a thickness of 7.6cm and boasts not only the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam mat, but one of the most comfortable nights sleep under canvas.

To deflate a self-inflating sleeping mat, first, remove the deflation valve and allow the air to escape – note that not all of the air will escape at this point. 

With the valve still removed, begin rolling the sleeping mat towards the deflation valve. Once all of the air is expelled, resecure the deflation valve and return the mat back to the stuffsack. 

Still haven’t managed to find the answer to your question? Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Adventure Pending team over on our socials and we’ll be happy to help!

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