Can a Yoga Mat be Used for Camping

Person using a yoga mat for camping

Getting out of the city for some fresh air is a great way to go to the Off mode and relax. Camping is a great option to do so!

Not planning your camping trip in advance might get you in a situation where you need to improvise. Last-minute packing can leave you with no choice but to substitute a sleeping pad for a yoga mat. However, you are reading this article and probably have a few minutes to think and plan something.

Can a yoga mat be used as a sleeping pad? It could, but no.

A yoga mat would be as comfortable as a blanket stacked up on the bare ground. It will not provide proper insulation and long term comfort that a sleeping pad or camping mat. 

The purpose of a yoga mat is only for exercise, and not for camping. Their design allows traction during yoga practice and their specific and durable poses. Expert mats are very thin and serve only one purpose.

Table of Contents

Why Is Insulation So Important When Camping?

A yoga mat is too thin for sleeping on the hard cold ground. Imagine how you will feel in the morning? You will also feel cold if you snuggle up in a sleeping bag. If your pad does not provide insulation, the temperature will fall during the night.

As your bedtime gets closer, your body temperature starts to fall naturally. Your body will lose heat so you can fall and stay asleep. But if the temperature change is too drastic and you are unable to maintain a steady body temperature you will spend the night trying to stay warm.

Our bodies are designed to regulate temperature all on their own. The natural hormones make our body temperature drop in the evening and rise in the morning. Even though we have inner mechanisms, we should never expose them to extreme conditions before some training and preparations. Because of this, it is important to know how cold is too cold for hiking and camping.

Sleeping on the cold ground or with a material that cannot retain body temperature is not a smart choice. You will feel cold, and since most people aren’t accustomed to the outdoors, you are likely to get sleep deprivation or even get sick.

Can You Use a Thicker Mat for Your Camping Trip?

Can a thicker yoga mat be your secret weapon?

Standardized yoga mats for advanced yogis are only 3-5 mm thick. You can find thicker ones, but their function is different. They can even be around 25mm thick (five times the average). But their non-slip, moisture-resistant cushions work better for pilates and physical therapy.

You will feel more comfortable if you compare it to a regular yoga mat. The more important question is will it be good enough for sleep?
It depends on a few factors:

  • Temperature
  • Personal comfort level

There is no way we can rate a yoga pad in any camping equipment ranks, as it is not a part of camping gear. In any case, an inch thick pad of any kind is better than a thin yoga mat. In warm weather, you won’t probably need any type of sleeping pad. This is only reserved for camping destinations that have warm weather during the nighttime. A forest or desert environment has a significant drop in temperature and requires layers of bedding.

As we already mentioned, it all comes down to your endurance. Some people can manage barefoot and in extreme weather, but those people are not your average glampers from the city. If you think you can manage, try it out. Try sleeping on your yoga mat on the floor with all windows open, or go outside if you have a backyard. See how it feels and whether you will be able to handle it.

What Is So Special About Camping Sleeping Pads?

A thick yoga mat can be a good alternative for a hot summer camping site. If you don’t have one, you really should consider purchasing even the cheap cell foam sleeping pad. It is much better than a yoga mat.

Sleeping pads are designed to retain the air and allow your body to maintain its temperature easily. You can get them at your local Walmart for as low as $10. But if you are really on a tight budget, reach out to your friends who may have a spare sleeping mat in some storage, or consider renting out the equipment.

Sleeping pads are made for sleeping. The materials are often combined with cell foam pads that keep you from feeling the cold ground. It is a bed only outside so you shouldn’t use it indoors.

There are differences among sleeping pads. Depending on the materials used and construction design, you can choose from many manufacturers. Do your research before making a purchase and you will manage to find a sleeping pad that suits your needs.

Are There Any Other Alternatives for Camping Sleeping Pads?

If you have outsourced all other options, there are a few alternatives for sleeping pads. All are better than a yoga mat!

A Sleeping Cot

This is a great last resort option. It is easily folded and can be stashed away in a garage, and fit in a car, along with your tent easily. It may not be the coziest, but the material stretched over some bars will keep your body temperature safe as you are above the cold ground. Pair it up with a fluffy sleeping bag and blanket and you are good to go.

Air Mattress

Air mattresses were a great hit by the end of the 20th century. They require an air pump but are lighter to carry than a sleeping cot for example. The air trapped inside will provide sufficient insulation, but remember to double-check for any air leaks before you go camping.

Lots of Blankets or a Sleeping Bag

Okay, we admit that this should be first on the list. But even thinking about layers of thick blankets, and the room they take up when packing is enough to just skip this option. Again, yes, better than a yoga mat. But if you are considering this, you might as well use all the available materials for layering at your disposal.


Using a hammock rather than a sleeping or yoga mat is a topic all on its own. In recent years more and more studies imply that sleeping in a hammock has additional health benefits. Not just while camping, but if you are considering sleeping in a hammock full time you may have benefits for your sleeping habits. Promoted deeper sleep, a shortened sleep onset, reduced insomnia, alleviated back pain, etc. Of course, if you are already rocking this lifestyle don’t change it to a sleeping pad or yoga mat in any case.

Can a Camping Mat Be Used for Yoga?

While doing some great and relaxing outdoor activities, your camp mats can be used for quite a few things. After knowing that a yoga mat is not the best choice for camping, it is perfectly normal to wonder whether a camping mat can be used for yoga.

You can use a camping mat for yoga as they share some similarities. Would we recommend it?

Woman using a camping pad instead of yoga mat

The recommended thickness for a yoga mat for beginners is 6 mm so they can avoid getting injured. After you acquire some foundations and experience, you can transfer to a yoga mat 3-5 mm-5 mm thickness. Of course, if you are afraid of pain, you can always go with a thicker version of the mat.
If your yoga training is a simple stretch and some Morning Sun Salutations, you will find that people practice yoga while sitting on a camp-mat. Most of them are beginners as well.

On the other hand, if you plan on trying Power, Flow, or Ashtanga Yoga, which are more dynamic, you need a thinner and harder outdoor mat. Some yoga mats can be too soft and thick, preventing your security while moving. And, some people are more demanding and will complain about how thicker mats block out their contact with the ground. It is safe to conclude that it all comes down to personal preference.

In Conclusion

Sleeping/camping pads and yoga mats are designed for different purposes. The difference in materials will provide different benefits. Thin yoga mats will provide traction, which will make your exercises safer. On the other hand, sleeping pads trap the leftover air and allow proper insulation, where your body temperature will be retained because of the material and allow you a relaxing good night’s sleep.

If you are serious about both camping and yoga, the best option is to invest in both. Your camping trips will be more relaxing if you have a good night’s sleep (and you need a good sleeping pad for that), and practicing yoga will be safer if you have the right mat. Even if you use it for a while and then decide something is not the right fit, give the equipment to a friend who wants to try, so you make all your money worthwhile.

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