How to Increase the R-Value of a Sleeping Pad?

If you’ve got an uninsulated sleeping pad and want to increase its R-value for colder nights, you can do so by using just a few things. In this article, I will show the trick that I personally use and it makes the R-value of my sleeping pad go up. I use this trick when I need a little more warmth from my sleeping pad. I am a hot sleeper and for me, spending money on insulated pads is just useless. So I don’t buy winter sleeping pads. Also, it is not possible to reduce the R-value of a sleeping pad. So it is best to buy a summer sleeping pad and use it year-round.

Below I have used the Big Agnes sleeping pad as an example. This is a summer sleeping pad and I will show you how you can increase its R-value.

Materials Needed

For this trick, all you need is the following materials:

  1. Mylar Blanket
  2. Medical or athletic tape

That’s all!

Increasing the R-value

To increase the R-value of your sleeping pad, just follow these simple steps:

  1. Measure the length and width of your sleeping pad so you can cut the Mylar blanket to fit.
  2. Use scissors to cut the Mylar blanket to the size of your sleeping pad. Leave a little bit of extra material around the edges so that you can tape it down.
  3. Use athletic tape or another strong tape to attach the Mylar blanket to the bottom of the sleeping pad. Make sure that the tape is secure and that there are no gaps between the Mylar blanket and the sleeping pad.
  4. Once the Mylar blanket is attached, test the sleeping pad to see if the R-value has increased. Now, check the temperature at the surface of your pad. Use a thermometer and then compare it to the surrounding air. If you notice a difference, this means that your method worked.

This method is very effective and cheap to use. It also doesn’t harm your sleeping pad and you can always undo the process.

How does this method work?

The Mylar blanket has some heat-reflecting properties. They are thin sheets of plastic film and a layer of aluminum foil. This reflective material reflects radiant heat back towards the body, which helps keep you warmer. When you attach the Mylar blanket to the bottom of your sleeping pad, you get an additional layer of insulation underneath you. The Mylar blanket helps to reflect your body heat back towards you. It prevents heat from escaping into the air or ground.

What other options are available?

There are a few other methods available to increase the warmth of your sleeping pad. The followings are the ones that I personally recommend.

Use a sleeping pad liner

Most people are familiar with sleeping bag liners but very few actually know about sleeping pad liners. It is a thin layer of fabric that you place between your body and the sleeping pad. Some liners are like a sleeve where you can put your sleeping pad. They are like a protector or cover for your pad. The primary purpose of these liners is to protect your pad but some liners come with insulating materials that actually increase the warmth.

A good example of a sleeping pad liner is the Therm-a-Rest Synergy Lite Sheet. It is a lightweight sheet that you can wrap around your pad. It increases the warmth of your sleeping pad and it also protects your pad from getting dirty. Liners also extend the life of your pad and reduce the need for cleaning. They are machine washable and they can fit both rectangular and mummy-style pads.

Wear clothes in layers

Another option to increase the overall warmth of your sleep system is to wear clothes in layers. This mainly includes your base layer (such as long underwear or a moisture-wicking shirt), an insulating layer (or a mid-layer, such as a fleece hoodie or a down vest), and an outer layer like jackets and pants. You can even wear beanies and gloves if it is really cold outside.

Use two sleeping pads

Packing two sleeping pads adds a little weight to your shoulders but it is totally worth it. And personally, I think this method works better than any other method. You can also keep a cheap foam pad under your expensive pad and it will work. It will also protect your expensive pad from sharp objects.