One of the best and most useful investments that a tent camper or backpacker can make is a sleeping pad. A well-designed pad can make all the difference in the world when the time comes to either sleep in your tent or sleep in a hammock.

Yet, as simple as a sleeping pad is at its core, one of your main duties is to ensure that you’re properly storing yours to ensure it lasts for many years to come. Gee, that can’t be too difficult, you must be thinking. You know… you’re pretty much correct if you thought that.

How to store sleeping pad? At home, you’ll want to make sure the pad is fully dried and with the valve open, store it in a temperature-controlled and dry location. On the trails, it’s best to pack the pad inside of your backpack to avoid outside elements damaging the pad.

That’s the answer you came here to see, but we’d encourage you to stick with us throughout the entirety of this post. We’re going to detail a lot of juicy information for you regarding the storage of your sleeping pad. So, let’s get to it.

How to store a sleeping pad during your adventures

sleeping pad lying inside hiking backpack

As alluded to earlier, when it comes to how to store sleeping pad, it’s going to be different when you’re actually on your adventure and when you’re at home. You’d think that the more important of the two would be figuring out how to store it while it’s not in use for long periods of time.

While that’s certainly important, there are certain dangers that can persist if you don’t store your sleeping pad correctly while you’re hiking, camping, or backpacking. Specifically, the problem can be with backpackers who decide to lash their pad to the bottom or top of their packs.

Even though this can be more convenient than actually storing the sleeping pad inside the backpack itself (as it can save space), this leaves your sleeping pad more vulnerable to damage (both on top and on the bottom of your pack).

On top, your pad can get damaged by tree branches that pass you by and, on the bottom, the pad can get damaged when you set your backpack on the ground. Such is especially true if you forget the sleeping pad is lashed on the bottom and don’t set your backpack down gently on the ground.

Basically, the best way to avoid damaging your sleeping pad while you’re hiking or backpacking is to actually store it inside of your backpack.

How to store a sleeping pad when it’s not being used

drying a yellow sleeping pad

When the adventure is over and it’s time to store your sleeping pad away until the next one, there are a number of critical things to keep in mind. Most importantly, regarding how to store sleeping pad in this manner, you’re going to want to ensure that the pad is fully dry both inside and outside.

Drying the exterior is the easier of the two as all you need to do is inflate the pad and allow it to air dry. Don’t do so in direct sunlight, however, as the UV rays can cause damage to the material. Drying the interior, though, is a little trickier, but is still not too challenging.

To lower the moisture level inside your sleeping pad (as it can accumulate inside the foam), you’re going to want to inflate it and deflate it a few times. Yet, you don’t want to use your lungs as this will add more moisture on the inside. Instead, use a low-heat source (such as a hairdryer on low) to partially inflate the pad and deflate it a couple of times.

The reason you want to store your pad when it’s fully dry is this will prevent mold and mildew from growing on or in it. Additionally, don’t store the pad in a location that’s damp. Unheated and uncooled locations such as attics and some garages, also, are locations to avoid storing your sleeping pad.

Temperature-controlled and moisture-controlled locations are ideal for sleeping pads, basically. Think areas such as underneath your bed, closets, and such.

Lastly, keep this in mind:

  • For self-inflating foam pads, it’s good practice to leave their valves open and to leave them semi-inflated.
  • For air pads, avoid folding along the same crease lines each time you roll them up, and you can also hang them inside a closet.

How do you clean your sleeping pad?

cloth lying on yellow sleeping pad

In addition to ensuring that the sleeping pad is fully dry before storing it, it’s also a good idea to make sure that it’s clean. The good news is the process of doing so is quite simple, but we need to point out that opting for the washing machine needs to be avoided.

The lightweight materials that are used in sleeping pads will be prone to damage in a washing machine, and the same goes for using a dryer. It’s best to hand wash and air dry your sleeping pad for the best and safest results.

Regarding how to go about handwashing it, for starters, make sure that the valves are closed as you don’t want water to get inside of them. Using some sort of mild soap or even a biodegradable soap and a wet cloth, wipe down the surface of your pad.

Don’t submerge the valves, but you can then rinse off the pad to remove all the soap residue. With another soft cloth, you can wipe off the surface to get rid of the excess moisture. To then fully dry the pad, remember to ensure that all the moisture is gone from both the inside and the outside (which was explained earlier).

What about cleaning mold and mildew?

It’s kind of been an underlying theme of this post of how to store sleeping pad, but one of the most critical reasons you need to store your sleeping pad properly is to avoid the growth of mold and mildew. Quite honestly, this is the case for many of your camping items from sleeping bags to waterproof bags.

Mold and mildew can’t grow without moisture, so that’s the key. However, let’s just say that your sleeping pad has succumbed to some mold or mildew as we understand that sometimes you don’t realize that moisture is at play. Ridding the pad of it will be your next and immediate task.

While you can use a safe product that’s intended to fight mold and mildew stains, you can also wash the exterior of your pad with an odor eliminator product. The process will more or less be identical to that of simply washing and drying your pad. Using mild soap may also get rid of the mold depending on how severe the problem is.

How long will a sleeping pad last?

yellow sleeping pad lying on carpet

How you store your sleeping pad is important to ensure that your pad lasts for years to come. That said, how long can you expect your sleeping pad to last? This is a toughie to answer because many different variables can come into play.

The brand that you buy, how you care for your pad, and how many times you’ve had to patch your pad can all play a role. Thermarest pads, a very popular brand, have been known to last several seasons for campers and backpackers. Yet, again, it also depends on the other factors listed.

Also, it’s not as if one puncture is going to spell the end for your pad. That’s where repair kits can come in handy, so it’s always wise to bring one with you on your adventures.

Final thoughts

For such an in-depth analysis that we just conducted, the idea of how to store sleeping pad is actually a very simple one. On the trails, make sure that it’s protected inside of your backpack and, at home, make sure that it’s cleaned, fully dried, and stored in an area that’s not damp or overly cold or warm.

Yes, that’s just the basics and you can find the specifics up above, but it really shouldn’t be a complicated endeavor. Considering how much of a difference a well-designed sleeping pad can make when you’re sleeping in either a hammock or in a tent while camping, it’s advised to do everything in your power to ensure that it lasts as long as it can.

Storing it properly is certainly a strong way to do just that. After all, sleeping pads can get a little expensive if you’re having to buy one every other year due to poor storage and maintenance!