This is a follow up on question that my friend asked earlier, but I can't comment on. My friend and I have an ongoing argument about a question :

During cold winter camping (-20C air temperature, ground has more than 20cm of snow thickness, in a regular summer tent that has a thin soft floor) my friend slept on a regular uninsulated airbed and I slept on a yoga mat. We both had similar sleeping bags.

I had a relatively comfortable night of sleep, my friend got very cold.

I believe that his choice of sleeping on a thick airbed filled with cold air was the main reason why he felt more cold than I did, since his mattress is so big that his body could never heat up the air inside. He disagrees and believes the air in the mattress acted as insulator that protected him from the ground cold.

Who is right, and why?

  • Adding a second question for what is essentially the same question isn't productive as I'd point you to my answer in the other question anyway.
    – Gabriel
    Sep 30, 2019 at 21:03
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    @GabrielC. Yes it is a follow up to that question, because I wanted to add more information but Stack Exchange requires 50 points to add a comment. I saw you modified your answer based on the info, thanks.
    – b0nd
    Sep 30, 2019 at 21:25
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    This is not the complement of what the previous question asked. The comparison was between using a sleeping bag on an air mattress, or directly on the ground. It didn't mention any alternative method of insulation. Sep 30, 2019 at 21:32
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    Without taking measurements it won't be possible to answer, apart from opinions as to which might be better. For example a 5 mm insulating mat might be colder, but a 20 mm mat might be warmer. Or maybe they are both warmer, or colder. Or from another manufacturer different again. Anyway, you also need to swap your matting and use each other's, as your yogic tolerance of cold might be superior ;) Sep 30, 2019 at 21:41
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    You are missing a complication. Different people experience different degrees of comfort sleeping in the same physical environment. My spouse tends to "sleep cold" and I tend to "sleep warm". My spouse typically has to wear pajamas and sleep completely covered by a heavy quilt, while I'm in my underwear under a simple sheet with the quilt kicked off to the side. There's no way to definitively answer your question from just the experience of you and your friend. Purpose made sleeping pads usually have an 'R' rating which is a physical measurement of how much insulation they provide. Oct 4, 2019 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


200 liters of air weighs about 240 grams and heats up about as fast as 240 grams of sleeping bag, or 240 grams of yoga mat, I mean in a short time.

It was reported that the air never heated up much though. Well that was because the air was moving around and dumping heat into the ground, as still air is one of the best insulators.

If a bony person lays on a hard mat, the thermal contact to the mat may be poor, which would be a good thing. Like when a processor cooler is installed incorrectly.


Both of those sleeping situations are not ideal. A yoga mat is very thin and not good for keeping you warm. Some air mattresses are good for warmth but others aren't. The best option is to get an actual camping sleeping pad and use that. You can get them at REI and online and they work very well.


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