How to choose the best sleeping bag and sleeping mat for a desert race

One of the most important things when we talk about racing in the desert is where and how we sleep. Yes, sleep is a key aspect of this kind of races, as it represents the recovery from fatigue of the day. On the other hand, a bad sleep can become an “Achilles heel” even of the fastest and most experienced runner. In self supported races, like Oman Desert Marathon, another crucial aspect is the weight of the backpack. Many unexperienced runners decide to save space and weight choosing an inadequate sleeping matt or sleeping bag: this choice is paid most times with very high price, as the more performing backpack dose not compensate days of bad sleep.

We will give you some tips to find a good compromise in backpack size and weight and sleeping comfort.

  1. The temperatures during the night drop down, and the perceived temperature is even lower, as at night the competitors are tired and often go to sleep with a lower calories intake than they are used to. Never underestimate the cold at night. Fortunately, the night temperature in Oman is quite mild if compared to other deserts, for example of the Sahara. Expect a temperature of 12-15° Celsius.

2. The sleeping mat might not be optional! Before deciding to leave home your sleeping mat to save space think twice about this decision and try to sleep one week on the ground covered just with a carpet. If you can handle it, good for you, leave home the sleeping matt and save space and weight. Most runners and outdoor enthusiasts consider the sleeping matt even more important than the sleeping bag, as provides insulation and a soft and uniform base for sleep. Testing the equipment is the only method to do the right choices.

3. The Oman Desert Marathon will provide big tents for sleeping, where the runners will find shelter at the end of each stage. The tents are open on one side, so you will not be sleeping in an enclosed space and fresh air can circulate.

1 season sleeping bag

So, to summarize, a very good solution is to bring with you an extra light sleeping bag and to use the one provided as a mattress beneath the sleeping bag.
But how to choose the right sleeping bag? The weight should be from 500g to 800g, no bigger than the size of a hand, and the technical specification to look for is a ‘1 Season’ sleeping bag – be sure not to buy a ‘1 to 2 Season’ sleeping bag. Prices vary from €20-60 (£15-£45).


The sleeping mats have very variable prices according to the weight, size and insulation properties. You don’t need much insulation as we will not be in a wet environment, but you should focus on size and weight to find out the best solution for your needs

Camping sleeping mat: this is the cheapest solution ( about 7 euro) but wastes a lot of space

Inflatable ultra light sleeping mat: light, small but more expensive (30-90 euro)