Best Sleeping Pads: Get a Better Night’s Rest
Sleep more comfortably under the stars with these high-quality sleeping pads
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If you’re planning a camping trip, one of the best pieces of gear that you won’t regret buying is a sleeping pad. While a sleeping bag may be slightly padded, the comfort of a sleeping pad will provide you with an even more enjoyable and restful night’s sleep. It provides a raised cushion for you to lay a sleeping bag on. Check out the best sleeping pads on the market.
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Benefits of Sleeping Pad
- Keeps you warm. Sleeping on a cold ground especially during the cold weather season is very unpleasant and uncomfortable. Even during warm days, the ground still remains cool, which creates an unfriendly environment for your body. However, with a sleeping pad included in your backpacking gear, you are sure that your body heat will be retained, so you stay warm throughout the night.
- Improves sleep quality. When your body is comfortable and balanced, it’s easier for you to sleep better. The camping pad offers the perfect cushioning and insulation from the cold ground, regardless of the ground you are sleeping on.
- Helps your muscles relax. When campaigning, scouting, hiking, or involved in any outdoor activity, your body gets so tired that all you think of is a good night’s sleep. However, in the backcountry, it would be hard to get to a comfy bed. That is why campers and hikers need to include backpacking sleeping pads in their winter camping trips. These inflatable sleeping pads offer a comfortable place to stretch your muscles and rest after a long day’s work.
- Easy to carry. When going involved in backpacking trips, you need a packable sleeping pad. While mattresses are lightweight, sleeping pads are the lightest and most compact. This compact design allows you to carry them around comfortably. Most of them are self-inflating sleeping pads and they can easily be deflated to perfectly fit in a backpack.
- Cost-effective. A sleeping pad is cheaper than an air mattress. With a sleeping pad, you will not have to compromise your comfort even when working on a fixed budget. You are sure your winter camping is worthwhile without having to spend much on camping gear.
Types of Sleeping Pad
These are easy to set up. With only a few breaths, the pad is ready for use. It's also easy to transport and can fit any camping bag, thanks to its compact size and light weight. They are also super firm and comfortable, giving you the power to regulate the amount of air you need. Although most of them feature a one-way valve that you can use to inflate the sleeping pad using your breath, some of them come with a built-in hand pump. Additionally, these pads have insulation or reflective material to shield your body from the cold ground.
Self-inflating sleeping pads feature a combination of open-cell foam and air. Therefore, preparing your bed at night is quite easy with self-inflating pads since you simply need to open the valve, and the pad begins to expand automatically. Some of these pads are designed for car camping where they can only be rolled but not folded, while other models suitable for backpacking can easily be folded lengthwise to fit in your pack. It's also highly resistant to puncture compared to air pads. Apart from closed-cell foam pads, this category has options for the widest, the warmest, and least expensive pads.
These are the most basic backpacking pads. Their construction features dense foam filled with very small closed air cells. They can be rolled up or folded in a Z-formation only. Campers love them since they are the light, economical, and durable and offer good insulation. They are also puncture-free and leakproof, making them suitable for winter camping. They can also be used as sit pads in camp. However, they are stiff and firm, making them uncomfortable. At least you are sure they won't deflate in the middle of the night.
This is an American company located in Seattle, Wash. It was founded in 1971 by two avid backpackers and former Boeing engineers. It was initially named Cascade Designs, which later gave birth to Therm-a-rest and other outdoor brands. Therm-a-rest specializes in sleeping bags, camping mattresses, camp chairs, and other outdoor accessories. Its best-selling sleeping pads are the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress.
Big Agnes Company
Unlike any other brand, Big Agnes specializes in creating and developing outdoor gears that are durable and comfortable. The company has been in existence for more than 20 years and has a high reputation for quality. They specialize in sleeping pads, camping tents, and other outdoor gears. Some of its best selling products include the Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad and the Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad
Semoo Lango Outdoor Inc.
The company is located in Jilin town, Ningbo Zhejiang China, and has been in existence for more than a decade. They are a leader in manufacturing the best backpacking sleeping pads and camping tents for outstanding outdoor experiences. Some of its best sleeping pads include the SEMOO Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pads and the SEMOO Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pads Lightweight Comfort 1.2 Inch
Klymit, which operates in Utah, is a renowned brand for both indoor and outdoor sleeping accessories. They are best known for their well-built hammocks, tents, sleeping pads, blankets, and mattresses. Its products include the Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad and the Klymit Hammock V Sleeping Pad.
Sleeping Pad Pricing
- Under $30: These pads tend to have cheap foam, which has a higher risk of puncture. They are best suited for car camping or any other indoor resting. However, they are not suitable for outdoor camping adventures due to their risk of puncturing and inability to shield users from cold weather.
- $30 - $100: These sleeping pads are super comfy and designed to last longer. In this budget, you are to find a high-quality sleeping mat of an appropriate size that is suitable for backpacking trips and other outdoor activities.
- $150 and above: With this price range, you are likely to find a sleeping pad that is super comfortable for all-weather camping. The pad in this range is both thick and soft, and it's suitable for all side sleepers and cold sleepers. Also, the pads are likely to be waterproof, strong and large, yet lightweight. Some even come with a free pump bag for inflation.
Insulation and R-Value
Choosing between insulation or R-value sleeping pads can be tricky. Sleeping pads with insulation helps maintain body temperatures hence keep you warm all night. On the other hand, sleeping pads with a higher R-value helps in ensuring you are warm. However, R-value is different among various sleeping pads. The higher the R-value, the warmer and more comfortable the sleeping pad will be. The R-value commonly ranges from 2-4.
Size of the Sleeping Pad
The size will often be determined by the person and sleeping position. Ensure you buy the correct size depending on your height. Also, if you want to sleep two people together, you will want a wider sleeping pad. The most appropriate size for everyone should be at least 74 by 30 by 3 inches.
Weight of the Sleeping Pad
Sleeping pads should be easy to carry and comfortable to sleep on. The weight typically ranges from 2.5 to 10.5 ounces. The more it weighs, the harder it is to carry. Try to choose the most convenient weight depending on your trip requirement, but be sure not to compromise on comfort.
Inflation and Deflation
Good sleeping pads are easy to inflate to ensure you don't spend a lot time trying to set up. Some are inflated with a few breaths, while others come with pump sack to ensure convenient inflation. Also, there are self-inflating pads that expand automatically when you open the valve. When you are done with the sleeping pad, make sure it can be deflated easily to fit in your backpack.
Thickness and Comfort
Both thickness and comfort are essential when it comes to buying sleeping pads. The thicker the pad the more comfortable and insulative it is. However, it should not be extremely thick or it can be too heavy to transport.
Construction and comfort often go hand-to-hand. Some pads have rails that prevent you from rolling off while you are sleeping to ensure you are comfortable all night. Also, ensure the construction material of your pad is strong, waterproof, insulative, and durable.
- Sleeping Pad Design. Sleeping pads come in all types of designs. However, when choosing, ensure to buy one that has a raised head design for comfortable sleep.
- Sleeping Pad Surface. Textured or brushed fabric surfaces are quite convenient for restless sleepers. It helps keep you and your sleeping bag from sliding off the pad.
- Hand Pump and Patch Kit. A hand pump helps you inflate the pad without using your breath. It's quite beneficial, especially after a busy hiking day. On the other hand, a patch kit or repair kit allows you to repair the sleeping pad in case of any punctures. Since not all camping pads come with these kits, it is advisable to go for one that includes a repair kit and hand pump for added convenience.
Best Sleeping Pad Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Use a powered inflater if you can. It may be too cumbersome for backpacking backpacks but will allow you to blow up the pad quickly and safely.
- Always test a sleeping pad before you use it to ensure it airs up properly and does not contain a leak.
- Consider airing it up as soon as you get it to stretch out the fabric and ensure it is comfortable.
- If you start to feel light-headed when blowing up the pad, stop and take a break. You can also have another person to help you, so you don’t get sick.
Q: What is the R-value of a sleeping pad?
A: It measures how well the pad insulates your body from the temperature of the ground. The higher the R-value, the warmer the pad and the warmer you will be at night. Values between zero and two are good for warmer weather, while ones between two and four are best for all-season camping.
Q: What can I do to make the area beneath the sleeping pad more comfortable?
A: Clear away any sign of rocks, sticks, or debris before setting up the tent. This will ensure you don’t rip or puncture the tent and sleeping pad and sleep more comfortably. Then lay down a tarp or tent pad and set up the tent. After this, you can inflate the sleeping pad and set it out where you are going to sleep.
Q: Do sleeping pads have a weight limit?
A: While they do not have a weight limit, they generally can hold up to 225 pounds at the most before they may begin to lose air.
Our top pick for the best sleeping pad for your tent is the Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad for its thick pad for additional comfort.
Also, there’s the SEMOO Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pads, which is less expensive, comes with soft padding, and has a great R-value for a better rest.