The tourist mat pro­tects a per­son from cold and damp com­ing from the bot­tom of the ground, and also smooths out the uneven­ness of the soil; pro­vides a com­fort­able sleep, pro­tects against colds or rheuma­tism and oth­er “march­ing” dis­eases.


Kare­mat or not inflat­able mat (“foam”) — a clas­sic light­weight mat, reli­able and easy to use: it only needs to be laid out on the ground. Such a rug can be used as a splint for injuries or wind pro­tec­tion when cook­ing.

In com­par­i­son with oth­er types of rugs, kare­mat los­es in com­fort, com­pact­ness and ther­mal insu­la­tion. Usu­al­ly, a kare­mat is under­stood as an “Izhevsk” tourist rug.

Inflat­able rug (mat­tress) is a very soft, light and com­pact rug that can also be used as a float­ing craft. Pos­sess­es low ther­mal insu­la­tion.

Unlike a mat, an inflat­able mat is dif­fi­cult to oper­ate: it must be inflat­ed with a pump, and fold­ing / unfold­ing requires a lot of effort. It is worth not­ing its sen­si­tiv­i­ty to mechan­i­cal dam­age: in the event of a punc­ture by a stone or a sharp branch, the prod­uct will fail. An inflat­able mat is quite expen­sive and has the short­est lifes­pan.

Self-inflat­ing rug — com­bines the advan­tages of the two pre­vi­ous types: the reli­a­bil­i­ty of the mat and the soft­ness of the inflat­able rug.

The self-inflat­ing mat is char­ac­ter­ized by good ther­mal insu­la­tion and reli­a­bil­i­ty: even in the event of a punc­ture, the mat will par­tial­ly retain its qual­i­ties thanks to the foam inside. In terms of com­pact­ness, the mat occu­pies a mid­dle posi­tion between a kare­mat and an air mat­tress. How­ev­er, such a prod­uct is quite heavy, requires addi­tion­al infla­tion and is more expen­sive than oth­er rugs.

Seat - dif­fers from the rug in small­er size and weight, as it is used only for sit­ting. Accord­ing­ly, it will be rel­e­vant in those con­di­tions when there is no need to orga­nize an overnight stay. Seats are made as mats or self-inflat­ing mod­els with all their advan­tages and dis­ad­van­tages.

Self-inflat­ing pil­low — has the same width and length as the seat, but has a greater thick­ness for com­fort­able head place­ment.


camp­ing mat — designed for a long stay of a tourist in the park­ing lot. Such a rug should per­fect­ly smooth out uneven ter­rain and have good ther­mal insu­la­tion. The reverse side of com­fort is the large weight of the prod­uct, which will not allow it to be used for long trips. A good option for camp­ing would be an inflat­able mat.

Trekking rug — designed for long hikes. This rug should be light, reli­able and durable. From a com­fort point of view, a self-inflat­ing mat is the best choice, although it is quite heavy. If light weight is a pri­or­i­ty, then you can use a less com­fort­able mat­tress.

Expe­di­tionary rug — designed for long trips in harsh con­di­tions (high moun­tains, frosts). Like the pre­vi­ous ver­sion, it should have a small weight, and besides that, be very durable and warm. All these advan­tages make the expe­di­tion mat an expen­sive piece of equip­ment. These mats are usu­al­ly self-inflat­ing.

The most impor­tant cri­te­ri­on for select­ing an expe­di­tionary mod­el is the indi­ca­tor R‑value (ther­mal resis­tance).


Mats are made of poly­eth­yl­ene foam (PE, PE) and eth­yl­ene vinyl acetate (EVA, EVA).

Poly­eth­yl­ene foam is of the fol­low­ing types:

  • poly­eth­yl­ene foam - the cheap­est and short-lived mate­r­i­al. Such a rug is very eas­i­ly torn and wrin­kled, has poor ther­mal insu­la­tion and does not smooth out uneven ter­rain. Poly­eth­yl­ene foam kare­mat can­not be repaired and is most often dis­pos­able;
  • peno­fol (foil poly­eth­yl­ene foam) — dif­fers from the pre­vi­ous mate­r­i­al in bet­ter ther­mal insu­la­tion. It is rec­om­mend­ed to use such a mat as an addi­tion­al one in com­bi­na­tion with oth­er mod­els;
  • isanol (cross-linked poly­eth­yl­ene foam) is a cheap and wear-resis­tant mate­r­i­al. Isonol kare­mats (“Izhevsk”) — light, prac­ti­cal, quite soft and warm. The dis­ad­van­tage is the large dimen­sions when fold­ed.

Impor­tant: poly­eth­yl­ene foam pads can be cut into pieces, which is use­ful both for adjust­ing the size of the prod­uct to a spe­cif­ic per­son, and for cre­at­ing a seat.

Eth­yl­ene vinyl acetate - warm and soft mate­r­i­al that remains flex­i­ble even at low tem­per­a­tures. Dis­ad­van­tages: large dimen­sions when fold­ed and a ten­den­cy to defor­ma­tion when exposed to high tem­per­a­tures. Good for both sum­mer and win­ter trips.

See also
How to choose a camp stove

The sur­face of the rugs is smooth or cor­ru­gat­ed (cel­lu­lar) on one or both sides.

A ribbed mat is prefer­able to a smooth one because it is lighter and has an anti-slip prop­er­ty. Such a prod­uct accu­mu­lates mois­ture to a less­er extent: con­den­sate forms only at the bot­tom of the cells, and not over the entire sur­face of the rug, which pro­tects the sleep­ing bag from get­ting wet. The dis­ad­van­tage of a cor­ru­gat­ed rug is a rel­a­tive­ly low wear resis­tance.

Inflat­able The rug is made from the fol­low­ing mate­ri­als:

  • polyvinyl chlo­ride (PVC, PVC) — light and cheap mate­r­i­al, but very sen­si­tive to mechan­i­cal dam­age;
  • rub­ber­ized fab­ric - More durable, but heav­ier and more expen­sive.

You can also meet inflat­able filler mats:

  • down filler – opti­mal bal­ance of heat-insu­lat­ing qual­i­ties, soft­ness and weight. How­ev­er, the fluff is exposed to mois­ture, which leads to its rolling and there­fore it is bet­ter to inflate it not with the help of the lungs, but with a spe­cial pump;
  • microfi­bre filler - dries faster and even when wet, it par­tial­ly retains its heat-insu­lat­ing qual­i­ties. It should be not­ed that microfiber fill is less durable than down fill.

Self-inflat­ing the mat con­sists of a poly­ester shell and polyurethane foam filler.

Poly­ester – has high strength and is resis­tant to tem­per­a­ture extremes, mois­ture and UV rays.

Polyurethane foam (PU, PU) — a porous mate­r­i­al that, when the mat is unfold­ed, absorbs air (auto­mat­i­cal­ly inflates). It should be not­ed that the prod­uct is not ful­ly inflat­ed (max­i­mum 2/3 of the vol­ume). Polyurethane foam pro­vides good ther­mal insu­la­tion and has a long ser­vice life.

Due to the com­plex struc­ture of a self-inflat­ing mat, a “her­nia” may appear in it, that is, a peel­ing of the shell from the filler. To avoid the for­ma­tion of a “her­nia” should not:

  • allow trans­verse fold­ing of the mat;
  • inflate the rug too much;
  • wash the rug with chem­i­cals (it is rec­om­mend­ed to use a warm mild soapy solu­tion).


Ther­mal resis­tance — this para­me­ter indi­cates the heat-insu­lat­ing prop­er­ties of the prod­uct, which is impor­tant for hik­ing in the cold sea­son or in harsh cli­mat­ic con­di­tions (expe­di­tionary mod­els). The high­er the numer­i­cal val­ue, the warmer the mat.

R‑Value 0.7 1.2 2.1 3.2 4.0 4.6 4.9 6.0 8.0 9.5 11
tem­per­a­ture, aboutS +11 +8 +2 -5 -11 -15 -17 -25 -38 -48 -61

This indi­ca­tor also depends on the types of rug:

  • “Izhevsk kare­mat” — 1.1, oth­er non-inflat­able mats — up to 4;
  • inflat­able mat — up to 0.7 (for some mod­els — 2);
  • self-inflat­ing rug — 2–5;
  • self-inflat­ing seat — 3–5.

Combination of 2 rugs

An inter­est­ing option would be to use two rugs that do not have high R‑values. For exam­ple, two prod­ucts with an indi­ca­tor of 3 are quite suit­able for spend­ing the night in con­di­tions down to ‑25 ° C. Even bet­ter, if the two mod­els have dif­fer­ent R‑values, that is, one rug will be warmer than the oth­er. In this case, the tourist will receive rugs for three tem­per­a­ture regimes.

It is worth not­ing that two rugs can be lighter and cheap­er than one very warm mod­el. If one of these mats is inflat­able or self-inflat­ing, then the sec­ond one (kare­mat) will pro­tect it from pos­si­ble dam­age.

In a dif­fi­cult and long trip, a spare mat can always come in handy, for exam­ple, in case of loss or dam­age to the main one. Such a rug can help out a fel­low trav­el­er in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion.

Seasons of use

Sea­son­al - designed for the warm sea­son and con­sist of one lay­er. These include:

  • Sum­mer – R‑value up to 3;
  • 3 sea­son (spring-sum­mer-autumn) — R‑value with­in 3–5.

All sea­son – uni­ver­sal rugs from two lay­ers; stronger and more durable than sin­gle-lay­er, but their price is high­er. R‑value — from 5 and above.

Impor­tant: Trav­el mats designed for sum­mer or 3 sea­sons must be warm enough to with­stand freez­ing tem­per­a­tures, which are found in the moun­tains even in sum­mer.

See also
How to choose a backpack

Folding method

The way the mat is fold­ed affects the con­ve­nience of trans­port­ing the prod­uct when fold­ed.

rolled (“pipe”) — such a rug is easy to clean, but takes up a lot of space in a back­pack. It is bet­ter to fas­ten it to the back­pack using the side ties.

Fold­ing (“accor­dion”) — allows you to save space in your back­pack and is espe­cial­ly use­ful on a bike trip (it fits per­fect­ly in the trunk). This rug is more dif­fi­cult to care for, as the fab­ric of its sheath­ing is heav­i­ly soiled.

Number of valves

1 – serves both for inflat­ing and blow­ing off the rug. Advan­tages: rel­a­tive­ly low price and ease of oper­a­tion. The dis­ad­van­tage is the slow fold­ing of the rug.

2 — each valve has its own func­tion — infla­tion and defla­tion. In this case, the mat can be blown off much faster. If the prod­uct is dou­ble, then each valve works in the same way as in the pre­vi­ous ver­sion.

4 — found in dou­ble rugs. The prin­ci­ple of oper­a­tion is sim­i­lar to a sin­gle prod­uct with two valves.


Length and width

Man­u­fac­tur­ers indi­cate two sizes of the rug — unfold­ed and fold­ed. The first para­me­ter makes it pos­si­ble to assess how the prod­uct is suit­able for a par­tic­u­lar per­son, and the sec­ond — how much space it will take dur­ing trans­porta­tion.

The length and width of the rug should be suf­fi­cient for a tourist to com­fort­ably sit on it, so the prod­uct should be cho­sen based on the height and physique of a per­son. The stan­dard para­me­ters of the rug in the expand­ed state are 180/200x50/60 cm, the seats (pil­lows) are 40x30 cm. The width of the dou­ble mod­els is 119–132 cm.


The soft­ness and heat-insu­lat­ing qual­i­ties of the rug depend on this val­ue. The small­er the thick­ness, the more com­pact and cheap­er the prod­uct, but such rugs are hard and cold. The greater the thick­ness of the prod­uct, the soft­er, warmer and more expen­sive it is.

Dif­fer­ent types of rugs have dif­fer­ent thick­ness­es:

  • poly­eth­yl­ene foam kare­mat — 0.3–1.6 cm, stan­dard para­me­ter — 0.8 cm (“Izhevsk kare­mat”). The thick­ness of the EVA mat is 0.5–2cm;
  • inflat­able mat — 6–10 cm;
  • self-inflat­ing mat — 2.5–10 cm (stan­dard — 2.5–3.8 cm);
  • self-inflat­ing seat — 3–8 cm;
  • self-inflat­ing pil­low — 8.5–15 cm.

The abil­i­ty to change the thick­ness in inflat­able and self-inflat­ing mats makes them anatom­i­cal, that is, the abil­i­ty to take the shape of the human body. To do this, inflate the mat “to fail­ure”, then lie down on it and, open­ing the valve, release air until the mat becomes com­fort­able and soft.

The weight

This para­me­ter (when fold­ed) allows you to eval­u­ate the con­ve­nience of car­ry­ing the rug and using it on long trips. The less the prod­uct weighs, the bet­ter it is suit­able for expe­di­tions. How­ev­er, lighter weight may indi­cate a low rugged­ness of the rug or an increase in its cost com­pared to more mas­sive mod­els.

Dif­fer­ent types of rugs have an approx­i­mate weight:

  • “Izhevsk kare­mat” — 430 g;
  • inflat­able mat — 400‑4000 g;
  • self-inflat­ing mat — 600–900 g;
  • self-inflat­ing seat — 80–300 g.

Maximum load

The max­i­mum allow­able weight that an inflat­able or self-inflat­ing mat can sup­port with­out risk of dam­age. It is assumed that the load will be dis­trib­uted rel­a­tive­ly even­ly over the entire sur­face of the prod­uct. It should be remem­bered that with point loads, the risk of dam­age to the rug increas­es.


The pump (built-in or exter­nal) should be used not only to facil­i­tate and speed up the process of inflat­ing the mat, but also to avoid pre­ma­ture fail­ure of the prod­uct.

First­ly, fillers such as down or syn­thet­ic fibers are very sen­si­tive to mois­ture when the mat is inflat­ed with the help of lungs (even the destruc­tion of the filler is pos­si­ble). Sec­ond­ly, dur­ing the cold sea­son, mois­ture from human breath can cause the valve to freeze.

There are fol­low­ing types of pumps.

See also
How to choose a thermos

Mechan­i­cal pump - dri­ven by human mus­cle pow­er. Advan­tages: ease of oper­a­tion, inde­pen­dence from the pow­er sup­ply. These pumps include:

  • pump bag – a pack­ing bag of the mat, which is con­nect­ed to the valves of the prod­uct using short tubes (adapters). You can store clothes and equip­ment in it or use it as a coun­ter­weight (by fill­ing it with snow), which increas­es the sta­bil­i­ty of the tent, for exam­ple, in strong winds;
  • built-in (foot) pump — is locat­ed inside the inflat­able mat and works by press­ing it with your foot or hand. The advan­tage of this pump is that it can­not be lost or for­got­ten at home. Such a device sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­es the price of the prod­uct.

Elec­tric pump - allows you to quick­ly inflate the mat with­out any effort. How­ev­er, it depends on the pow­er sup­ply (bat­ter­ies, accu­mu­la­tor), and it is not cheap.

Number of seats

Most rugs are designed for one per­son, that is, they are sin­gle. There are also dou­ble mod­els: some of them can be unbut­toned and used sep­a­rate­ly.

Quilt­ing — makes it pos­si­ble to con­nect two rugs and there­by increase the total area of ​​u200bu200bthe prod­uct. This fea­ture is use­ful, for exam­ple, if you want to cre­ate a fam­i­ly bed.

Impor­tant: pay atten­tion to the com­pat­i­bil­i­ty of the attach­ments of the two mats. Two prod­ucts may not con­nect even if they are made by the same man­u­fac­tur­er. It is best to pur­chase two iden­ti­cal rugs.


Case – pro­tects the rug from dam­age and facil­i­tates its trans­porta­tion. It gives the self-inflat­ing mod­el the nec­es­sary com­pres­sion to make it more com­pact. The cov­er sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­es the life of the mats.

Repair kit — designed to repair an inflat­able or self-inflat­ing mat in case of a punc­ture or cut. It includes glue, patch­es, tools need­ed to repair the mat in the field.

alu­minum lay­er — increas­es the ther­mal insu­la­tion prop­er­ties of the rug, but its price ris­es sig­nif­i­cant­ly. If we talk about inex­pen­sive prod­ucts, then this film quick­ly peels off in it. In addi­tion, mod­els with such a screen rus­tle loud­ly, inter­fer­ing with a com­fort­able sleep.

Impor­tant: the loca­tion of the alu­minized coat­ing is of great impor­tance: if it is in con­tact with the ground, then in this case the prod­uct is pro­tect­ed from get­ting wet, and if it is in con­tact with the human body, then ther­mal insu­la­tion is improved.

Anti-slip coat­ing – pre­vents the mat from slid­ing on the sur­face on which it is placed.


  • Poly­eth­yl­ene foam mats should be washed with soapy water. It is not advis­able to use too hot water and chem­i­cals. To avoid defor­ma­tion, EVA pads are not rec­om­mend­ed to be exposed to high tem­per­a­tures (for exam­ple, to pro­tect car inte­ri­ors from heat).
  • Self-inflat­ing mats should not come into con­tact with chem­i­cals, hot sur­faces, pierc­ing or cut­ting objects. It is very impor­tant to avoid get­ting sparks from a fire and cig­a­rette ash on the rug.
  • The self-inflat­ing mat should not be used as a float­ing aid. In this case, water can get inside the prod­uct, which can lead to the for­ma­tion of mold in the filler. Such a rug is dried in a warm, dry and well-ven­ti­lat­ed area.


For short hikes in the warm sea­son, you can buy any rug in the super­mar­ket. It will per­form its main func­tions, it will quick­ly wear out or tear, but it will be inex­pen­sive. How­ev­er, if you are fond of tourism or want a qual­i­ty item, then it is bet­ter to pur­chase a rug from rep­utable man­u­fac­tur­ers. For exam­ple, Han­nah, High Peak, Camp­ing, King­Camp, Sirex, Ter­ra Incog­ni­ta, Tramp, Trimm, Wech­sel, Izolon. Even sim­ple “foams” of these brands will last longer than “non­ame”. Most rugs are light­weight and fold well. Com­plex and expen­sive mod­els use inno­v­a­tive mate­ri­als that increase the heat-insu­lat­ing prop­er­ties of the mats and their ser­vice life.