Sleep. Just uttering the word can induce a yawn and wistful anticipation for those blissful hours when you get to lie down and drift into a dream. Sleep is also a critical time when out bodies heal and refuel for the day ahead. With something so essential, there’s  little wonder that we’re so dang particular about how we sleep. It’s a deeply personal and individualized aspect of each day, and that’s exactly why we’ve created different sizes, shapes and models of sleeping pads. After all, we understand that sleep is the unsung, nighttime hero of our best days in the outdoors. Here are a few crucial considerations to make when choosing the sleeping pad to create heroic sleep:

Sleeping Pad Shapes

sleeping pad shape

There was a time when we made all of our pads the same rectangular shape. However, in 2003, we took a cue from sleeping bags and introduced the mummy-style cut which tapers toward the head and feet.

If you’re a Fast & Light ounce counter, a mummy-style mattress is probably your weapon of choice. Beyond the obvious fact that they weigh less, these pads also pack down smaller, saving valuable room in your camping kit.

However, despite the fact that a mummy-cut pad occupies less space in your pack, it also means less sleeping area. For those that hate feeling restricted during slumber or roll around a bit during sleep, a traditional, rectangular pad may be the optimal choice. You may gain a bit more weight going traditional, but you’ll also have more room to spread out at night.

Another factor to consider when choosing the shape of your pad is the weather in which you’ll be camping. Diehard, dead of winter campers often prefer a traditional shape pad. Because these pads are wider, you have more room to move and spread out before reaching the edge of the pad where the insulation ends and the cold begins. Check out the NeoAir XTherm Max for a prime example.

Sleeping Pad Sizes

Sleeping Pad Size and Shape Chart

There are two elements to contemplate when sizing up your sleeping pad: length and width. If you’re tall, consider a size large. for Therm-a-Rest, that means a pad that measures about 6 feet 5 inches in length. Our size Regular, for reference, is 6 feet. Both of these are considered “full-length” mattresses. However, some campers actually prefer a size small, which measures about 3 feet. This allows them to save weight and room in their pack and use a backpack, climbing rope or extra clothing to go under and insulate their feet and/or legs. Once again, the length of your mattress is about more than height–it’s about how you travel too.

Then there’s width. Most of our mattresses are 20 inches wide in size Regular, and 25 inches wide in size Large. But here’s the cool part:recently we also introduced the size Regular-Wide. Yep, this is a 6-foot long mattress that’s 25 inches wide for those who dig more sleep surface. So once again, we’ve done our best to give you a host of choices so you can fine-tune your sleep system.

But we’re not done yet. There’s one more choice to consider.

Women’s Sleeping Pads

womens sleeping pads

We created our women’s mattress with two things in mind: length and warmth. Because women are, on average, shorter than men, our women’s specific pads come in shorter lengths. That way, if you’re 5’4”, you don’t have to buy a 6-foot pad. You can purchase the 5’6” pad instead and save unwanted weight and bulk. But these pads aren’t just shorter, they’re warmer too. Because body mass is basically the main deciding factor to how warm you sleep, smaller people (men or women alike) can use a little added warmth. So our women’s specific sleeping pads have a few special tweaks to make them warmer.

In foam versions, we make fewer die-cuts in areas where more warmth is needed—the hips, foot and torso areas of the sleeping pad. Anatomically, the added hip foam also provides extra support for side sleepers.

If you’re looking for extra warmth in a shorter-length mattress, tryout our sleeping pads with the women’s label.

Now that you’re well versed in the sizes and shapes of camping mattresses, you’ll be able to navigate the plethora of choices with ease and find the perfect pad for your camping adventures.

And if you think you’ve got sleeping pad size and shape dialed, but are still questioning other variables  (air vs. foam, R-value, etc.), don’t despair. You can learn more about how to choose a sleeping pad on our blog. We help you make those crucial decisions and find the camping mattress of your dreams!

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Updated. Originally Published March 15, 2018.