I want to make a custom sleeping pad to fit a non-rectangular footprint. I have 3.5” - 4” of thickness to work with. Are there any guidelines/suggestions on what foam or combination of foams and their respective thicknesses should be used to achieve a certain feel? The sleeping pad will be on a very firm surface.

I have tried a few combinations so far. I will describe them from the bottom layer of foam to the top layer.

  1. 3/8” cross linked polyethylene (XLPE) 2lb, 2” polyurethane

Could feel ground on hip and shoulder, otherwise comfortable.

  1. 1/2” XLPE 3lb, 2” polyurethane

Too firm. I don’t think I could feel the ground, but the 3lb foam is not much better than the ground.

  1. 1/2” XLPE 3lb, 1/2” minicel t200 (cross linked EVA), 2” polyurethane

Best so far, but can still feel very firm 3lb XLPE.

One idea is to use 2lb XLPE under minicel t200. Also, maybe I could benefit from replacing the polyurethane with something else.

I am asking because iterating is time consuming and expensive. Thank you for your input.

  • 1
    I have very little natural padding, but I have been able to sleep well on anything (except ice because it melts into a shallow grave) , even bare granite if it is contoured right. So I can't offer much help, except too say that if only your hips and shoulders are uncomfortable add one more layer of what you already have, but of a length to go only shoulder to hip. Can you try this out by folding your pad?
    – ab2
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 23:20
  • what's your constraint on materials?
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 20:21
  • @njzk2 with respect to what? With respect to money, I would be happy to spend less than $200, but could be persuaded to spend more if the result was very comfortable.
    – DavidG25
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 21:02
  • @ab2 the materials I am using now and the footprint do not lend themselves well to folding.
    – DavidG25
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


It sounds like you need more EVA (than option 3), or very slightly firmer PU and omit the other layers unless they're needed to protect the mat from the ground. There are different grades. Alternatively just use the whole space with PU

I've got 6" of firm PU in my van for summer camping. You don't have that much space, but I also have a 2nd set of cushions consisting of 4" slightly softer (much cheaper, wouldn't last as long) PU. These were made as a backup set to save the good ones when I use the van for kayaking in the winter, but they're also fine for sleeping on.

The base of mine is 2" wide pine slats with about a 2.5" gap between them (and 1" thick), so not rock hard but with very little give.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.