Best Sleeping Pads
For the avid camper or backpacker, when it comes to sleep there is nothing else as important as it gives you the strength needed to complete the activities that you have planned for the next day. Some of us when in the wilderness and nestled into our tent, have no problem rolling out our sleeping bag and getting comfortable on the ground, but for others, this can be a big inconvenience and can cause an uncomfortable sleep. Many who cannot get comfortable while sleeping in their sleeping bag due to the ground, usually look to invest in a sleeping pad. A sleeping pad is a portable pad which will add a sense of cushioning between you and the floor. If you are looking for a more comfortable sleep this summer season when you go camping or backpacking, then the below guide is for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 13 hrs of research
Easy to transport
Keeps you warm
Top Ten Sleeping Pads
1. Tenton Sports Outfitters
Easy to transport
Keeps you warm
This sleeping pad is fully packed with comfort, features, and comes from a great brand. Not only is the sleeping pad offer the most comfort possible to allow you to get a comfortable sleep, but it also is easy to transport which makes it great for backpacking and camping.Read more
This sleeping pad is highly rated amongst the previous customers and for good reason. Just looking at this sleeping pad, you can sense the comfort it supplies to its owner. You can use this sleeping pad directly on the floor, on a cot, or as an extra bed if you have a friend staying over for the night.
This sleeping pad from Tenton comes to you at a price of around $100. This is a reasonable price as the pad is built with quality and is quite versatile. Tenton is also a great brand and if you have any issues with the sleeping pad, have great customer service.
This sleeping pad comes with great insulation and will keep you warm during the night if needed. This sleeping pad also has a pillow pocket for you to stuff your pillow so it stays in place as you sleep throughout the night.
This sleeping pad looks sleek and rolls up nicely for easy portability. If you are a camper or backpacker this is a great option and will be with you for many years to come.
2. Lightspeed Outdoors
Molds to your body
This may be one of the most comfortable sleeping pads on our list as the foam that the pad is constructed from sinks your body in and molds to it, to create the most comfortable sleep as possible.Read more
This sleeping pad from Lightspeed comes highly rated from their previous customers and for good reason. This sleeping pad is quite comfortable and is easily rolled up and fitted into a carrying case for easy portability.
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $85, which is a little expensive but for the comfort and portability of this product, it is justified and worth the investment.
This sleeping pad will keep you quite warm and that is due to the insulation of the mattress and its ability to mold to your body.
This sleeping pad is great and its ability to mold to your body is a great feature. This sleeping pad also comes with an integrated pillow for extra comfort.
3. Coleman ComfortSmart
Can be turned into a cot
The pad could be thicker
This is another great product from Coleman, the outdoor kings! This sleeping pad is not only a comfortable pad but also comes with a cot to ensure you are lifted from the ground and have the proper support for a comfortable sleep.Read more
This sleeping pad comes from a great brand and is not only a sleeping pad but also gives you the feature of being a cot as well, which will add extra comfort and lift you from the ground to simulate a bed.
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $50 which is a steal for a Coleman product and that it has the ability to be turned into a cot. If you are looking for a product to get you off the ground, this is definitely a product to take a closer look at.
This sleeping pad will keep you warm but could have some more insulation. The primary purpose of this sleeping pad is to make you comfortable and simulate bed. The pad itself is thin so you may want to have a thick sleeping bag if you are in colder climates.
This sleeping pad has the difference from other sleeping pads of having the ability to be turned into a cot, which is great as it gets you off the ground and simulates a bed.
4. Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite
With its “reward” Amazon’s best choice, this Therm-a-rest Neo Air sleeping pad features a baffled structure which provides excellent stability and great support to your body. It is produced using advanced technology and its design speaks for itself.Read more
Although this is not a mummy sleeping pad, it does not have a bulky design like most rectangular pads. It is comfortable enough for sleeping, yet compact enough for packing it into your backpack.
This sleeping pad is quite pricey as it comes to you at a price of around $125.
Although the main reason for the pillowed structure of this sleeping pad is to provide comfort and support to your body, it is also providing extra insulation and isolation from the cold ground. In its manufacturing process, advanced fabrics are being used for the production, one of them being nylon material which is responsible for its waterproof properties.
It is promoted as a 3-season sleeping pad, although cold sleepers are not advised to use it in autumn on high altitudes. The insulation properties are provided by using the Core Matrix triangular construction design which minimized the heat loss of your body.
This is the most lightweight sleeping pad from the 3 season category. With its 1 pound, it is perfect for long backpacking trips and expeditions.
5. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
Tall off the ground
NeoAir XTherm, as the name suggests is an air pad that will provide you with comfort without you having to look for an even terrain to set it up. It has horizontal baffles allows you to sleep undisturbed from the rocks underneath you. It is the ideal choice if you are looking for a durable sleeping pad, though the price might deter some buyers.Read more
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm provides you 3,25 in elevation from the ground which means that the probability of you feeling the pine cones or rocks on the ground is significantly decreased. It is important to mention that the level of comfort significantly decreases if the pad is less inflated than its optimum capacity.
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $180.
The best part of the XTherm is its warmth. This is one of the warmest pads on the list with an R-value of 5.7. This pad will definitely keep you warm on those cold nights.
This is not a sleeping pad that is particularly lightweight. However, it is not in the heavy category neither. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a lightweight sleeping pad, take a look at our other suggestions such as the Sea to Summit Ultralight sleeping pad.
6. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus
Much more comfortable than competitive models
Offers great support
Sea to Summit has indeed shown their skills with this sleeping pad. It is highly comfortable as the name suggests and its structure is unlike most models on the market. With an R-value of 5, it is ready to go in the mountains in the coldest weather conditions.Read more
This is one of the few sleeping pads that are supported with sprung cells in order to provide your body greater support and comfort. It is designed with 596 cells which guarantee that your body won’t bottom out into the pad and you will have a refreshing night’s sleep. It is an inflatable sleeping pad though, which means it is recommended that you pay special attention to choosing the exact place where you are going to set it up. The pressure adjustment valve will allow that you wake up at the same elevation that you were when you fell asleep which is a pretty rare feature.
This is one of the most expensive sleeping pads on our list as it comes to you at a price of around $230.
When it comes to weight it is important that it is compared to the insulation rating. This particular sleeping bag has excellent weight to warmth ratios which makes it a perfect choice for backpacking in cold weather conditions.
The biggest problems when it comes to inflation and deflation are the bacteria that tend to grow inside the pad. However, this sleeping pad is treated with antimicrobial treatment which prevents such conditions.
This Sea to Summit sleeping pad includes a repair kit in its package as well as a waterproof sack that is made from durable nylon material.
7. Sea to Summit UltraLight
Stable & comfortable
Dot welds design
Does not maintain heat as good as others on our list
As the name suggests, this Sea to Summit sleeping pad is the lightest option on the market, so if that is your focus, this would be the perfect choice for you. However, if you need a warm sleeping pad, then we suggest that you look through our other options.Read more
The inflation process is pretty easy with this sleeping pad since the construction takes up most of the internal space. For this reason, fewer breaths are needed in order to blow the pad completely.
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $180.
This sleeping pad from Sea to Summit is made from thermolite which will keep you warm and maintain body warmth to ensure you have a comfortable sleep.
The design of this sleeping pad is pretty specific and it is responsible for the comfort it provides. Instead of baffles, Sea to Summit uses dot weld construction which is taking care of the bouncing issue and the weak edge construction which is the most common issue in pads. This makes the pad extra supportive, therefore your night’s sleep would be quite comfortable. However, the same dots that provide its comfort, tend to collect dirt which is making maintenance quite difficult.
8. Therm-a-Rest EvoLite
Pretty low R-value
The EvoLite pad is an inflatable sleeping pad that is very easy to inflate and it is comfortable as well. It comes at an affordable price and its surface is pretty smooth which increases its comfort. However, if your main focus in on the size of the sleeping pad, you might want to look through our other options since this one is a bit bulkier model.Read more
Even though air sleeping pads are usually the more comfortable option, this inflatable pad proves this wrong. It is the perfect combination of a semi-inflatable sleeping pad and an air pad and it features the best of both models. Although its design features strips in a horizontal line, the surface feels like a flat one when sleeping on it. It is also a rather stable sleeping pad.
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $85.
The R-value of the sleeping pad is 2.1 which means that it could withstand cold weather up to some degree. However, it is advertised as a 3 season sleeping pad which is good news for everyone except the cold sleepers who are advised to look through our warmer suggestions.
It weighs only 17 oz which makes it pretty light sleeping pad. However, if this is the main feature you are focusing, it is good to know that there are lighter options you could choose.
9. Big Agnes - Q Core SLX
Soft surface, yet it offers great support
Repair kit included
The support the Big Agnes provides is more pillowy than other mattresses, but it is still quite comfortable for those of you who prefer sleeping on softer pads. It has quite a compact design and it won’t take too much space into your backpack. Its length is a bit shorter than regular, but the comfort it provides is maximized.Read more
This sleeping pad comes from a great brand and is highly rated by previous customers and for good reason. This sleeping pad will provide you with a comfortable and warm sleep to give you the energy you need for the next day.
The material used in the production process is much more durable than similar sleeping pad models, therefore the higher price.
This sleeping pad will keep you warm and maintains body heat to ensure you are not cold during the night when sleeping in colder climates.
Even though the material is a rip-stop fabric which is quite common, it is a bit thicker than most models, therefore its durability.
Additional features include a repair kit which is necessary for your backpacking or camping trips. However, due to its durability, it is likely probably that you are going to need one.
10. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
Baffles provide greater warmth
Stable when inflated
Not the toughest material
The Klymit sleeping pad is known for its insulation properties. While it is good enough to use in warm climates, it is the ideal choice for lower mountain temperatures. However, it requires that you take good care of it since sharp objects and bumpy terrains are not the ideal environment for this sleeping pad.Read more
The feeling this sleeping bag provides while you are sleeping on it is unlike any other model on the market. It is specifically designed with side rails in order to increase comfort. Sleeping on vertical rails feels not so comfortable and horizontal ones tend to collapse on the edges. For this reason, Klymit’s side rails provide the perfect level of comfort!
This sleeping pad comes to you at a price of around $50, which is a great price if you are trying to stick to a budget but want comfort for your next camping trip.
The R-value of this sleeping bag is 4.4 and it is good enough to make you feel comfortable in snowy weather conditions. It is interesting to mention that comparing to other sleeping pads with the same R-value, this one, tends to feel warmer. The reason for this is simple, yet impressive. The baffles are designed a bit deeper than competitive models, so when the sleeping bag lays on top of the pad it fills the baffles. This leads to trapping the warmth inside, therefore you feel warmer and more comfortable. It is a brilliant and simple technology for increasing the warmth properties which is used in this sleeping pad only.
It weighs 19.6 ounces, which is a bit more than competitive options, but the R-value compensates for this fact.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Having a top-notch pad is important for many reasons. Even though comfort is in the top three reasons, it is not the most important one. A sleeping pad’s main role is to act as an isolator between you and the cold ground. Then why do you need a sleeping pad in summer? The truth is, even though the weather might make you think it’s a good idea that you hike in a swimming suit, the ground has a different temperature. The difference in the air temperature and the ground temperature could make you feel sore in the morning even though you were not cold during the night.
Needless to say, more expensive products usually have more features, although there are exceptions. The prices vary from $30 to $300 dollars for a sleeping pad with the highest quality. This doesn’t mean that you should get the most expensive one unless you have the need to do so. Sleeping pads with high isolation properties are intended for adventurers going on high altitude exhibitions and backpackers who spend a lot of time sleeping on the ground. For the rest of you, a sleeping pad with a price range from $100 to $150 should get the job done. The final destination is also very important in the decision-making process. Rocks tend to be colder than softer terrains, therefore require a better isolation pad which means that the price will significantly increase.
This is the first thing you should consider when looking for a sleeping pad or a sleeping bag. Even though most beginners are not familiar with the R-value of a sleeping pad, it is a feature that will provide you much greater comfort. R-value is a feature that becomes more important as the temperatures drop. However, if you are looking for summer sleeping pad only, feel free to ignore this value. R-value is the thermal resistance that your sleeping pad possesses. The bigger its resistance capacity, the greater is its ability to prevent the transfer of heat from the ground to your body. A sleeping pad with a higher R-value will have a bigger heat conduction resistance which will cause you to have a good and warm night’s sleep.
That said, if you are looking for summer sleeping pad, an R-value of 2 should be sufficient isolator from the ground. Most sleeping pads have R-value from 2-4 and they are promoted as 3 season pads. However, autumn on a mountain could feel like winter on lower altitudes. For this reason, we recommend a higher R-value. Sleeping pads with R-values above 5 would be ideal for temperatures below the freezing point. They are even suitable for sleeping on ice or snow surfaces. Nevertheless, cold sleepers are advised to choose a sleeping pad with a higher value in order to feel more comfortable.
Sleeping pads come in two forms: foam sleeping pads and air pads. The comfort they both provide is pretty much at the same level, however foam sleeping pads are much lighter, therefore more suitable for longer backpacking trips. They are also being used for other purposes such as providing extra support for your back in case you are carrying a backpack without a frame. However, they are also bulkier than air pads and not as durable. Aid pads on the other side are more compact, which is the main reason why they are backpackers’ first choice. If you also prefer them over the foam pads make sure you bring with you a tape since they are known for their surprise punctures on the field.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
The R-value of a sleeping pad is something that you are allowed to skip if you are only looking for a summer sleeping pad. However, as the temperatures drop, this value becomes more and more important. It is in fact, the level of insulation that your sleeping pad is able to provide to your body. A sleeping pad’s main purpose is to act as an isolator between you and the cold ground. Even though the temperature outside might be extremely hot, the ground is much colder than the air temperature.
It is always nice when looking for camping gear that it is versatile and is able to not only be used for camping at a campsite but also lightweight and able to be transported easily so you can also bring it backpacking. Make sure that the sleeping pad you are looking at is lightweight if you are a backpacker, then you will get a pad that can be used for all situations.
Other Factors to Consider
Every backpacker should be prepared for unexpected surprises on his trip. After all, it is why you are carrying all that gear on your back. A repair kit that will fix a puncture is a great idea for your backpacking gear.
That said, keep in mind that most punctures happen because of sharp objects underneath the pad. For this reason, it is always advised that you quickly scan the terrain for sharp objects before setting it up. Even so, be prepared that these things happen because of multiple reasons, so a repair kit will save you the trouble of sleeping on the cold ground. Most sleeping pads, that are with high quality, come with repair kits. However, if yours doesn’t have one, we recommend that you order it immediately.
When it comes to dimensions of the sleeping pad it is very similar to choosing a mattress. For a better nights sleep, you need proper support for your body and its main pressure points. If you are a back sleeper, those pressure points include the waist area, upper back, and neck. For side sleepers, it is crucial that their sleeping pad provides support in the shoulders and hips. By doing so, a sleeping bad will feel more comfortable and your sleep quality will increase.
Another important thing to mention is that if you are already investing in a sleeping pad with decent quality, let it be a full-length sleeping pad. Believe it or not, some weight-conscious backpackers prefer to get extra short sleeping pads that are supporting their torso only and leaving their legs without proper isolation from the ground. Even though the warmth is not the only issue here, sleeping with your legs at a lower level than your torso might cause lower back issues. For this reason, we advise against these sleeping pads.
This brings us to the next point – support of your arms. If you are a side sleeper, a regular size sleeping pad should be enough for your body to fit in. However, if you are a back sleeper, you might need a larger or wider sleeping pad. When looking for the perfect dimension for you, make sure you include your arms as well since sleeping with your arms on the ground is never a pleasant experience. Nevertheless, you don’t want to get a wider sleeping pad that your own body size since it will also be heavier. It is similar to carrying something in your backpack that you know that you are not going to use.
Packing is a necessary part of every backpacking trip. However, as many of you may already know, it is not as fun as you’d think. Some sleeping pads are easier to unpack and set them up, but they will take some time packing them. In this part, the foal sleeping pads have the absolute advantage. Air sleeping pads on the other side must be fully packed inside the backpack, otherwise, you are risking a puncture.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What size of a sleeping pad do I need?
Choosing a sleeping pad for the first time requires a lot of research or a lot of useful advises. We are providing the second option of explaining how to choose the right size for your sleeping pad. The size of a sleeping pad is something that you decide by your personal preference. For instance, there are full-length sleeping pads and half-length pads. The shorter ones support only your torso and your legs are left outside the pad and the ground is their support system. Although this is not too horrible because it allows you to minimize the weight, full-length sleeping pads are much more comfortable. The shortened ones are designed in a way that leaves your legs on a lower elevation than your torso and this could cause stiffness in the morning. So, for those of you who suffer from back and neck issue, this type of sleeping pad is to be avoided.
If you do decide to go at a minimum length then make sure your hips are on the pad. However, for colder weather, we recommend that you make sure your feet and legs are insulated as well. The typical length of a full-length sleeping pad is around 78 inches and the shortened ones are around 47 inches. As for the width of the sleeping pad, it is standard and it is around 20 inches. However, there are wider sleeping pads for bigger people or the restless sleepers who tend to roll around in their sleep.
q: What is the best thickness for a sleeping pad to still be comfortable?
People tend to look for thicker sleeping pads because they believe it will provide them more insulation and comfort. Even though they are right about the comfort, the insulation is something that does not depend on the thickness of the sleeping pad. If your sleeping pad is firm, it will prevent the middle part of it to bottom out while you are sleeping. This will provide better support for your spine, therefore, you will wake up without any back pain or feeling of exhaustion. However, what’s more, important than this is the structure of the sleeping pad. The structure will make some parts of your body to sink in the pad, or it could make you feel as though you were sleeping on your home mattress. A nice sleeping pad structure combined with a high-quality mattress could indeed deceive your body into thinking it is sleeping at home.
q: How to find a proper place for setting up the sleeping pad?
Knowing how to choose the right place for setting up your sleeping pad could increase the durability of the product itself. It could also increase the comfort of your night’s sleep which is why this is an important question. We are all aware that placing it on sharp objects could cause damage to the sleeping pad. However, you should also know that even small and not so sharp rocks could cause you great discomfort and you could feel it through the sleeping pad. You should also avoid uneven terrains since not all sleeping pads have a high level of stability. It is also advised to avoid terrains covered with grass since it is usually a place with high humidity that could lower the insulation properties of the pad.
According to all this, the best place for setting up a sleeping pad would be on an even surface, free from rocks and pine cones and away from grass.
q: Why do I need to use a sleeping pad?
Using a sleeping pad is usually optional. However, there are advantages and disadvantages that you will experience no matter which choice you make. For instance, sleeping in nature without a sleeping pad could decrease the weight of your load. However, it will also make your sleep much less comfortable and you could get cold. For the summer, you could even survive without a sleeping pad. However, when the temperatures drop, you will need an isolation pad and you will need a good one. If you intend on sleeping on snow or ice, carrying a sleeping pad with you might become a life or death situation.
That said, without a sleeping pad, you will end up sweating and shivering at the same time. For this reason, we advise that you sacrifice a bit and pick a pad with good quality if you haven’t already. After you try using it once, we doubt that you are going to leave it at home and sleep on the ground. And this tells you everything you need to know.