LAST UPDATED: October 15, 2019
Best Sleeping Pads: Get a Better Night’s Rest
Sleep more comfortably under the stars with these high-quality sleeping pads
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON October 15, 2019
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 2020
The nylon material is noise-free and flexible and will remain inflated throughout the night. It’s also perfect for any sleeping position. Additionally, it is ultralight to aid in backpacking.
However, the nylon material is not as comfortable, and it often slides underneath the mat. Although it comes at a fair price, it takes time to inflate perfectly.
What makes this sleeping pad exceptional is it's designed with waterproof polyester taffeta material. The pad has a high-resilience sponge for durability and exceptional performance. Its self-inflating design also guarantees that setting it up is quite easy.
It’s easy to buckle together for an extra-large sleeping space, making it suitable for family usage. Also, this is an ultralight sleeping pad for easy transportation, ultralight backpacking, and seamless setup. It also has a higher R-value of 2.2, which guarantees it’s comfortable for various weather conditions.
The storage bag is slightly bigger, making it uncomfortable to carry. Additionally, the pad is slightly short, and it may not be comfortable for tall people.
The rugged design makes this pad unique and convenient for all your camping adventures. The polyester material is super strong and ensures the pad is resistant to puncture regardless of the terrains. Its ultra-lightweight for easy and comfortable transportation.
The pad comes with a patch kit and storage bag for portability and easy setup. It also features a V-shaped design for superior support and comfort all night long even when you sleep on your side, stomach, or back. Also, side rails design provides secure and comfortable sleep by ensuring you are centered on the pad, thus inhibiting air movement when tossing or turning.
The downside of this sleeping pad is that it has a lower R-value of 1.3, making it suitable for short camping sessions only. It is also expensive compared to the other sleeping pads we reviewed.
This lightweight and compact sleeping pad is 15 inches by 6.7 inches by 6.7 inches when packed and is 76 inches by 1.5 inches by 24.8 inches when fully inflated. It weighs 3.3 pounds and is made of weather-resistant 190T polyester pongee fabric. The pad has open-cell foam for support and a tufted design for comfort.
The FreeLand sleeping pad is easy to self-inflate and deflate and features non-leak air valves. It comes with a carrying sack and compression straps, so it's easy to store and carry. Each pad undergoes a 72-hour "leakage inspection" prior to shipment and comes with a puncture repair kit. Overall, it's a great value compared to many more expensive, well-known brands.
However, it may take a while to inflate this sleeping pad, and it may not inflate as much as you expect. It also may not be as comfortable for larger individuals. It's a little bulky if you use it for backpacking purposes.
The WELLAX sleeping pad is made of ripstop nylon with a TPU coating. It features a single layer of air cells that flex similarly to a pocket-sprung mattress. The pad is only 14.5 ounces and is just 10 inches by 3.5 inches when packed. When inflated, the sleeping pad is 78 inches by 24 inches by 2.5 inches.
The pad is lightweight, durable, waterproof, and abrasion- and tear-resistant. One of the best features is that it's quiet when you move around on it, so you won't disturb anyone nearby with any crinkly or squeaky sounds. The pad has two flat valves for inflation and deflation, and it inflates with nine breaths or less. It's a great sleeping pad for backpacking, and it's comfortable and warm.
One downside is that it's not the most comfortable option for side sleepers. It may stop holding area after a short period of use, and it's a little slippery. It's also not as thick as some users would like.
This ultra-light sleeping pad weighs 14.5 ounces, has an R-Value of 22 to keep you warm in cold weather, and rolls up to 8 inches by 3 inches. OutdoorsmanLab has designed this sleeping pad to conform to the shape of your body so you wake up feeling refreshed.
The pad is made of thick, flexible, abrasion-resistant nylon. It is water- and rip-resistant and is easy to inflate and deflate. It takes between 10 and 15 breaths to inflate it, and you can change the firmness and support based on how much air you use. The company provides a 30-day refund and free replacements for defective products. Overall, it's very comfortable and durable, and it rolls up easily when you're finished using it.
One problem with this sleeping pad is that it may bottom out if you're a larger individual. It is also a little slippery underneath a sleeping bag, and it may start to lose air after a short period of use.
This thick camping pad is constructed of open-cell foam that keeps you warm. It's easy to carry and features roll-up straps and compression buckles, so it's simple to pack. The sleeping pad is designed to be used with a cot or on the ground. It fits with the TETON Sports Adventure Cot.
This is the sleeping pad to use if you want comfort. It’s soft like a memory foam pillow topper. The pad has a canvas shell, which you can remove for cleaning purposes, and it comes in three different sizes to accommodate a wide range of people. It's a good sleeping pad to use on trips when you can haul your stuff with a vehicle. It's not inflatable, so it will never lose air. You also won't have to fix any punctures.
However, the pad is somewhat big and heavy, so it is not a great backpacking option. It's better suited for car camping or when used with a portable cot. It's also rolled very tightly by the manufacturer and can take a while to fluff up when unrolled.
This extra-large, extra-thick sleeping mat is four inches thick. It's made of PVC-free FlexFoam fabric, which is non-slip and stretchy. It's designed not to bottom out, and the foam conforms to your body. It weighs 5.74 pounds and is 78 inches by 30 inches by 4 inches when inflated.
The pad is easy to inflate and deflate using the two-way valve. It doesn't sag or leak and self-inflates in about five minutes. It only needs one or two breaths of air to completely inflate. It's a good option if you're a side sleeper, it rolls up quickly and easily, and it features an elevated pillow on one end. It also has a 6.3 R Value.
However, with prolonged use, the pad tends to lose air, even without any detectable holes or damage. The valve may also break after a short period of time, and the seams may fail prematurely.
- 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.