4 Tips To Add R-Value To Your Sleeping Pad

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To increase the R-value of your sleeping pad is easy and does not require a lot of money. There is no reason to be cold when sleeping outside on the ground again.

To add R-value to your sleeping pad you will want to add a layer of material made from mylar under your sleeping pad to reflect your heat back to you. The material can be a thin mylar blanket or a thicker fabric material. This will insulate your sleeping pad to keep you warmer.

After you go through these 4 tips you will no longer need to ask, “How do I add R-value to my sleeping pad?” In fact, you will be able to help others too at any price range. From $0 to $20 anyone can sleep warmer outside without needing to purchase another sleeping pad.

Mylar Blanket and Medical Tape

Using a mylar blanket to increase the R-value to your sleeping pad is easy, low in cost, and lightweight. All you need is the blanket and medical tape. Cabela’s has a 2 pack for $4.99. Each blanket is 56″ x 84″.

mylar blanket wrapped around a sleeping pad

How to Use the Mylar Blanket on Your Pad

  1. You will want to layout the mylar blanket on the floor.
  2. Then lay down the sleeping pad on top of the blanket.
  3. Lastly, wrap up the mylar blanket along the sides of the sleeping mat and tape.
  4. Sleep with the mylar blanket facing the ground.
wraping a mylar blanket around a sleeping pad
Wrapping the mylar blanket around the sleeping pad.

Yankee Tanker shows us how this is done in his video here (He does it slightly differently). He explains that medical tape is best so it’s easier to get off and doesn’t leave the stickiness on the pad.

Avoid Sleeping Pad from Sliding

You may notice that your sleeping pad might move due to the mylar blanket being a bit slippery. The easiest way to help keep your sleeping pad from sliding is to use some tenacious tape to tape the sleeping pad to your tent.

Also, the best way to help your pad from sliding is to sleep on the flattest surface possible. Check out my on how to sleep on a slope, if you can’t find a very flat surface for sleeping.

Insul-bright Fabric

insul-bright fabric under a sleeping pad
A 1 yard of insul-bright fabric weighs about 180 grams or 6.5 ounces.

Kamper 2020 has thought of a clever way to increase the R-value for sleeping pads. He learned that insul-bright fabric is used in hot pot holders, which reflects heat and prevents you from getting burned. Insul-bright is made of reflective mylar and polyester fibers. He then went out and bought some at his local fabric store.

On a 24 degree night he slept outside with the insul-bright fabric under his sleeping pad and it kept him warm all night.

The advantages of using this fabric are that it’s soft, machine washable, inexpensive (about $5/yard) and your sleeping pad won’t move.

Reflectix Insulation Mat

Reflectix insulation under a sleeping pad.

Another great item to add to the bottom of your sleeping pad is reflectix insulation. This is typically used for insulin in a house, but will also work for increasing your R-value to your sleeping pad. You can purchase this at any local hardware store like Home Depot or even at a Walmart.

The average cost for a roll of this material can be around $15 to $20.

The reflectix insulation has 3 layers. The middle layer has a bubble wrap material and the outside layer is mylar material. So not only will this help increase your R-value, but it’s also additional soft padding for sleeping that’s lightweight.

This mat idea was from Nature Calls Backpacking on YouTube.

Use Your Backpack

backpack under a sleeping pad

If all else fails you can use your backpack to help increase your sleeping pad’s heat. If you turn your pack around and look at it where it touches your back, you will see the built-in padding. This padding will help as extra insulation to your sleeping arrangements.

All you need to do is empty the contents of your pack and place it under your sleeping pad on the ground.

This may not be the ideal solution but if you have nothing else it will work. Chris has explained that it has worked for him in the Sierra video on YouTube.


No matter what size budget you have, you can enjoy warmer sleeping arrangements outside. My favorite method is to use the insul-bright fabric because it add some extra cushion, it doesn’t make noise and will keep your bad from slipping off the pad.

  • Mylar Blanket and Medical Tape
  • Insul-bright Fabric
  • Reflectix Insulation Mat
  • Use Your Backpack
4 different things to increase R value to a sleeping pad

What R-value do I need for a sleeping pad?

The R-value that you will need for your sleeping pad will depend on the time of the year and temperature. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation will be. When it’s really cold out, you will want an R-value of 6 or higher for northern winters. Then when it’s hot out, an R-value of 1 or 2 will work fine. For everything in between R-values between 3-5 will work (1).

R-Value Chart Sleeping Pad

Use this chart for an easy understanding of what r-value sleeping pad you may need.

50 °F0-2
32 °F2-4
20 °F4-5.5
0 °F5.5+
If you are a warm sleeping, choose the lower R-value in the range. Numbers from REI.