7 Uses for a Sleeping Pad

When survival trumps beauty sleep, sacrifice your closed-cell foam mat for a higher purpose.
Publish date:
A closed-cell foam pad has lots of uses.

A closed-cell foam pad has lots of uses.

Trap heat

Face a campfire and prop the pad upright behind you to create a C-shaped heat reflector. On the move? Cut a hole for your head in the center of the pad. Use cordage to tie the flaps around your back and chest for an insulated vest.

Melt Snow

Lay snow on dark foam in direct sunlight, then fold the pad to funnel meltwater into a pot or bottle.

Make Shelter

Punch holes in the corners of the pad with a knife and use rope to tie the short edge of the pad overhead. Let the other trail behind you to create a sloped roof. (Anchor with rocks or guylines.) 

Prevent frostbite

Wet boots, freezing temps? Make warm camp shoes by cutting a piece of foam about twice the width and length of your foot. Face the reflective side inward and fold the foam over your toes and up your heel. Duct-tape the edges together.

Save fuel

Secure a strip of foam around your pot or bottle with duct tape to insulate hot water or rehydrating food. (Keep foam out of flames.)

Make a pfd

Tie your pad into a roll and throw it to a drowning partner (attach a
rope first) or use it as a buoy for deep river crossings.

Splint a leg

Cut the pad so it’s as wide as the broken bone is long, then wrap it several times around the affected limb. Secure with duct tape or cord.