13 Uses for Closed-Cell Foam Sleeping Pads

Article by NEMO

13 Uses for Closed-Cell Foam Sleeping Pads

As gear becomes more and more specialized these days, it's not often that we can take a piece of equipment from one of our pursuits and use it so broadly across a diverse range of other activities from our lives. But something as rugged, comfortable, and inexpensive as a closed-cell foam pad can deliver a surprising number of other uses; from various levels of comfort and support when you need it to helping your garden grow, from saving a friend with a broken leg to reaching a more enlightened and peaceful version of ourselves.

A closed-cell foam sleeping pad isn’t just for sleeping. Functionality and price point are prime reasons why it’s chosen time and time again by both outdoor enthusiasts and everyday individuals alike. Obviously, you can get a little too creative and some of these uses may void your warranty, but it's worth for a little extra comfort sometimes. And obviously, if you're saving someone's life we'll always honor your warranty — we'll even send you both a replacement.

Below are some of the reasons why closed-cell foam sleeping pads are our favorite.


1. Sports Bleachers and Stadium Seats

For anyone who has been to sporting events or big concerts, you know all too well the discomfort and cold that seeps in after sitting on an aluminum bleacher or fold-down plastic seat for hours on end! Unfold a Switchback™ all the way for the whole family to share a bench or just open a couple of folds for a thicker, warmer, and more comfortable seat liner for yourself.


2. Yoga Mat

When you find yourself deep in the backcountry needing to clear you mind with a meditation of gratitude, or maybe you feel inspired to do a few Sun Salutations to loosen up from yesterday's strenuous 26-miler — a closed-cell foam pad is a great stand-in for a yoga mat. Some might even say it's better than a classic yoga mat and use it at home too... claiming the nodes massage the soles of your feet and stimulate your muscles as you stretch.


3. No Sled, No Problem

Have you ever found yourself camping somewhere and notice hill that you would just love to send? Snow, sand... or even a homemade slip-n-slide — in a closed-cell foam pad you have a pretty inexpensive sled at your disposal for some unexpected — and comfortable — fun! This may be one activity that could void your warranty, but I think we can all agree that it will most likely be worth it! Just make sure someone films it and sends it to us!


4. Reflect Heat

Have you ever been on a summer backpacking trip and a couple days in, you realize you got a lot more sunburned that you thought? If there is little shade around to hide under, you might feel a bit hopeless during the day. Well, your Switchback™ may just provide the solace you need. Setup your tent, flip your mat with the reflector side up to deflect heat and lay it over the top of your tent instead of the fly. It will keep your tent cooler and keep your skin from getting scorched.


5. Car Seat Protector for Animals

Our furry, 4-legged friends love to go on adventures just as much as we do. But sometimes the idea of their muddy paws ruining the back seats in our vehicles keeps them at home, sadly waiting for your return — knowing you had some outdoor adventures without them. When you don't want to leave your pup bored and at home, and also don’t want to spend a fortune on seat covers, grab your Switchback™ sleeping pad and throw it over your seat. This added protection will keep your car clean and keep your mind at ease.


6. Beach “Towel”

It's funny that we bring something as porous and moisture-loving as a cotton towel to lay on at the beach. The loops of terrycloth fill with sand and absorb moisture from the salty beach below, and there is little cushion to keep you comfortable. Using your closed-cell foam pad as a base layer for your towel makes the perfect spot to hang out on between surf sessions. Or when you just feel like relaxing at the beach for sunset or reading a book at the rocky cliffs of your local mountain gorge — grab your pad and go chill. This is also a great way to meet other outdoor enthusiasts like yourself.


7. Gardening Mat

We love backyard gardens. It's actually a part of our philosophy as a team to source our food more sustainably and gardening is a sure way of doing that. But it's no easy task, diligently working to plant seedlings and pull weeds puts a toll on your back and knees. Grabbing a Switchback™ pad to put under your knees protects them going to sleep or kneeling on small pebbles, and also allows you to have better posture, making your time with your garden more enjoyable, comfortable, and productive.


8. Pillow

When you don’t have a pillow and don’t want to use your bundled up clothes, a Switchback™ can fold up to various heights of comfortable neck and head support. Just unfold about ¾ of the length of your pad and keep the top ¼ section or so folded — it creates a nice, little makeshift pillow in a pinch. Adjust as needed to match your neck height and grab a sweater or fleece to throw over to make it even more comfortable.


9. Mechanic Mat

Some people are just old school. When they work on their vehicles, you see them laying directly on the concrete floor of their shop. Or when they're fixing the plumbing under the sink, you can't help but to think, that tile floor can't be comfortable. And you ask yourself, “Why not grab your closed-cell foam pad and throw it out on the floor for some added comfort so you can enjoy working on your project?" But you don't say it out loud, because... well, you know — some people are just old school.


10. Camp/Outdoor Shower Floor

After a long day of hiking your favorite trail in a summer rain, you’re more than likely to be filthy... but also very happy. Sleep is going to be divine tonight, especially when you get washed off and change into some fresh, dry clothes. No need to hop into your sleeping bag all dirty — just grab your Switchback™ pad and throw it under your feet so you have a stable, yet comfortable surface to enjoy your outdoor shower and get dried off without touching the mud.


11. Splint

Let’s hope you don’t have to, because nobody likes to or wants to think of this, but you CAN use your pad to splint a leg if someone gets injured. Cut your pad accordingly; as wide as the limb that is broken, and long enough to be able to wrap around the injury several times. Secure with whatever you have, ripped strips of shirt, duct tape, paracord, or rope. This WILL NOT void your warranty if you use it to save a life and get someone out of the woods safely. We will be more than happy to replace this for you.


12. Added Cooler Insulation

It’s the peak of summer, you have a prime camp spot, but there is no shade in sight for hours. You’ve traveled quite a ways into the backcountry and are a little worried your beer and food won’t stay cold in your cooler. Grab your Switchback™ pad and throw it on top, reflector side up, to reflect heat and save your ice.


13. Wind Blocker

When the wind is blowing pretty hard, it can be difficult to light your camp stove. Set up a wind blocker by enclosing the space around you with your closed-cell foam pad on its side. The accordion fold allows you to set it up in a V formation, just be sure to secure it with some rocks on either side. Dinner will be ready in minutes! At NEMO, our mission is to make your adventures in the outdoors more comfortable and enjoyable. But, you never know when you might discover a new use for Switchback™.



Our new Switchback™ delivers a warmer, more comfortable sleep than other classic closed-cell foam sleeping pads in an industry-leading packed size. Hexagonal nodes are molded with a dual-density Axiotomic™ foam to create Hypnoelastic™ zones that conform to your body in a perfect balance of comfort and support. Find it here.