7 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads Reviews, Tips & Guides
- 1 7 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads Reviews, Tips & Guides
- 2 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads
- 2.1 Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad
- 2.2 Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Foam Camping Mattress
- 2.3 Thermarest NeoAir XLite Mattress
- 2.4 Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat
- 2.5 Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm Backpacking Air Mattress
- 2.6 Big Agnes Q-Core Slx Insulated Inflatable Sleeping Mattress
- 2.7 REI Co-op Flash Insulated
- 3 Buying Guides – How To Choose The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
Sleeping pads are those essential items, the importance of which cannot be overlooked on any backpacking trip. They provide a comfortable surface to sleep on.
With changing times, and new technology sleeping pads have been made a lot more comfortable than they were before. Sleeping pads only provide effective cushioning, but they also protect you from pointy rocks, branches, etc.
It is not possible to take your bed along, while you are camping. Sleeping pads are a substitute to that comfortable bedding you enjoy at your home.
With changing demands, sleeping pads have evolved themselves and market today, is flooded with varieties to suit different requirements. Before we move ahead, let’s understand a few basics the evolve around these sleeping pads:
- Types of sleeping pads– There are basically three basic types of pads – air, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam. Let’s understand them in detail:
A) Air Pads– Air pads are incredibly comfortable and lightweight. They have no foam in them, thus they need to be inflated, most probably with one’s breath. However, a lot of models feature a built-in hand pump too. Puncture of ripping off is a common phenomenon with these pads as they are made of thin materials, but field repairs are not difficult. usually, a repair kit is included with the pad. The best part about these pads is that firmness of the mattress can be customised by releasing some air from the valve, which makes it equally comfortable for side- sleepers too.
B) Self-inflating Pads– These were invented by Therm-a-Rest and completely changed the sleeping pad industry. They’re made with stronger fabrics than many air pads but are not as compact as air pads. It uses a combination of air and opens cell foam to provide a stable surface for a comfortable sleep. They inflate quickly (in just 10-12 breaths) and you can adjust their firmness by adding or releasing air. They are durable and provides excellent insulation. They are designed both for backpacking and car camping.
C) Closed-Cell Foam Pads– These lightweight pads are made of dense foam with small pockets of air in the cells of the foam. The air filled in tiny closed cells gives this pad excellent insulative properties that keep the user warm at night. They are extremely durable and are way cheaper than any other type of pad. Compared to air and self-inflating pads, these closed-cell foam pads are not comfortable to sleep on. However, with this pad, there is no risk of punctures or leaks.
- R-values– A sleeping pad’s R-value is basically its measure to determine the product’s insulative properties.The numbers range from 1 to 10- the higher the number the more warmth the pad provides. Any pads that have an R-Value of 5 or above will be warm enough for winter use. Pads with R-value of 1-1.5 R are only good for summer nights. Not all manufacturers have R Values on their pads. Some even use generic temperatures to indicate the insulation of the pad.
- Dimensions– It basically includes a sleeping pad length, width, and thickness. Most sleeping bags feature a standard length of 72 inches. All regular pads are 20 inches wide, which is enough space to sleep comfortably. Thickness is how above you are lying on the ground. Mats with adequate thickness are extremely comfortable and provide protection from any rock or harsh object on the ground. The general rule is: thicker pads are warmer than thin ones.
- Sleeping Pad Valves– Valves are how you inflate and deflate a pad. The original and most commonly used was twist and pull valve. These days a lot of other valves have made their way: flat valves, Therm-a-Rest SpeedValve.
- Exterior Material– The exterior of the pad is made up of polyester or nylon. Nylon is softer than polyester but is thinner and less durable. A thicker material is used on the bottom of sleeping pads to protect the pad from ripping. Considering the weight, nylon is much lighter than polyester, thus is widely used.
- Insulation Types– Looking for insulation in a pad is extremely important, because a lot of body heat is lost to the ground. Foam, baffles or heat reflective materials? Foam is great but it adds on to the weight. Baffle construction is extremely popular as it controls air flow inside the pad, keeping warm air close to you during winters. Heat reflective materials reflect heat back into your body. Apart from type, there are multiple factors that influence the amount of insulation a sleeping pad provides; your clothing, thickness of the pad, it’s interior and outer material.
To ease it out for you, we have listed 7 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads of 2021. Take a look:
Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads
Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping PadB00BZ3C900
As a premier sleeping bag company, Klymit offers products for the ultimate outdoor sleep experience. Klymit Static V is an addition to Klymit’s Static line of sleeping pads.
Its super lightweight design weighs only 18 .7ounces and packs up small. It features a rectangular design that gives you more room to spread out. This is an AirPad, i.e. your breath inflates this pad. It can be inflated with just 10 – 15 breaths.
The twist-pull valves allow for quick and easy deflation. It is made of abrasion-resistant 75-denier polyester and has a layer of Klymalite synthetic insulation. Polyester adds durability to this pad. It also has an anti-microbial laminate inside the chambers which prevents the growth of fungus and bacteria.
The Klymit sleeping pad has an R-value of 1.3, making it suitable only for summer-use. It comes in standard length of 72 inches and is 23 inches wide, i.e. it provides ample space to change positions during the night to provide comfortable sleep.
All of Klymit products features body-mapping technology to provide maximum comfort. The body-mapping technology puts pressure in key places to provide comfortable sleep.
This sleeping pad features a v-chamber design that limits air movement and heat loss, retaining your body heat inside and keeping you warm on cold nights. The side rails ensure that you stay in the center of the pad during sleep. A patch kit is included for emergency repairs.
Klymit’s sleeping pads are warrantied for life against manufacturing defects and workmanship issues. This pad comes at an incredible price and is sure to impress with the amazing features that make it ideal for every adventure.
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Foam Camping MattressB005I6R0WC
Therm-a-Rest is an American outdoor product company specializing in camping mattresses, sleeping bags, camp chairs, hammocks, cots, and pillows.
They are known for their innovation and quality products. The Z-Lite is one of Therm-a- Rest’s lightest camping mattresses.
It is made of dual-density closed-cell foam that will not absorb moisture. Closed-cell foam is incredibly durable and can handle years of abuse, thereby providing many years of worry-free performance.
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol mattress uses an accordion-style design that lies flat instantly without curling at the ends and folds up into a small package quickly and easily.
The molded egg carton pattern increases softness and traps warmth when sleeping. This pad uses an aluminized surface that has a silver reflective coating, which captures your body heat and increases overall warmth from previous model by nearly 20. Instead of baffles, this pad features dimples to help trap warmth.
With weight of 14.4 oz, this is almost as light as it gets for a full-sized pad. The closed-cell foam is denser at the bottom and softer on the top. The denser bottom provides additional durability against rocks or debris while the softer top ensures comfort.
Suitable for three season use, it comes with R-value of 2.6. There is no valve, thus no inflation is necessary.
The main problem with closed-cell foam pads is thickness. They are not very thick and therefore don’t provide much cushioning from the ground. Z-lite is no different. With 72 inches in length, it is only 0.75 inches thick.
Thus, this is a very thin pad. With dimensions of 20 x 5 x 5.5 in, Z-lite doesn’t pack down. It folds into itself to become a long brick of a pad. So, you have to lash this pad onto the outside of your pack.
Overall, Therm-a-Rest Z-lite pad is a versatile lightweight pad. Given the price and features, this inexpensive pad is warm and durable enough to provide a comfortable sleep on backpacking trips
Thermarest NeoAir XLite MattressB00PZL14EK
Thermarest is an American outdoor product company that has been crafting camping and backpacking mattresses, sleeping bags, cots, chairs, pillows, and tents ever since 1971. NeoAir XLite is a result of several years of testing and research from Therm-a-Rest.
With the weight of 12 ounces, this is one of the most ultralight mats available. This inflatable sleeping pad packs up small and flat. It features a standard 72’ length for regular-sized sleeping pads and is 2.5 inches thick. It comes in a tapered mummy shape design so it is wide on the shoulders and narrows on the top.
With an R-value of 3.2, it is a perfect mat for 3 season backpacking that will keep you warm on cozy nights. This mat features advanced fabrics that are softer and bring better next-to-skin comfort.
These 2.5 inch thick soft-touch fabrics adds to the durability. Another notable point is that these soft fabrics are less noisy compared to the previous versions of this model, yet may seem loud to some. These premium materials are made in the USA.
It features a Triangular Core Matrix construction which uses a reflective material to minimise any convective heat loss with double air pockets. The horizontal baffle type construction provides a stable surface to sleep. The ThermaCapture™ layers prevent radiant heat to leave the pad. The material comprises of 30D rip HT nylon, which is quite durable.
This is an uninsulated sleeping mat.
As this is an AirPad you need to inflate it via the mouth. It takes approximately 18-20 full breaths to get the pad fully inflated. This product comes with a lifetime limited warranty which covers defects in materials and workmanship.
The repair kit is included for fixing punctures in the field. It also includes a stuff sack. The only issue with this pad is that it is a little narrow for side sleepers.
Available in small, regular and large size this mat is comfortable to lay on and is one of the most popular pads in the ultralight backpacking community.
Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated MatB00MTZP8Z6
Australia-based Sea to Summit is best known for their quality products. This company strives to provide the ultimate solutions for outdoor enthusiasts looking for innovative, durable, lightweight and compact gear.
This insulated pad is super lightweight and weighs only 15.5 ounces. It packs down small enough for you to easily carry in around. With 72 inches in length, this mat is only 2 inches thick causing a bit of problem to the side sleeper.
The inner material comprises of independent air sprung cells made of Exkin Platinum fabric and Thermolite insulation; the combination of these two retains the heat inside keeping you warm and comfortable on cool nights.
Then, it is coated with Liquid TPU lamination in lieu of eliminating delamination issues. Antimicrobial treatment is added to the TPU to prevent mold issues caused by warm, moist air trapped inside the mat.
This mat features 181 Air Sprung Cells that almost look like the coils on top of a mattress. Air Sprung Cells differ from the traditional baffle construction of other air mats.
These cells are extremely comfortable as they support your weight with dozens of tiny flexing points unlike a few large chambers, to keep you intact on the mat. Even if you roll on your side, it won’t bottom you out.
It is constructed from a 40-denier ripstop nylon fabric that adds to the durability. The pad comes with a dual valve plug that has two options, a deflate and inflate plug. With 3.3 R-value, it is warm enough for you to survive cold nights. This rating also means that this insulated mat is suitable for 3-season use.
It features a multifunction valve that allows for easy inflation and instant deflation. An airstream pump is integrated into the base of the stuff sack for easy inflation. It comes with a repair kit that includes 6 self-adhesive patches for fixing punctures in the field, plus a spare silicone one-way valve insert.
Overall, this extremely comfortable mat is packed with some amazing features to your backpacking or kayaking experience into a memorable one. This versatile mat is bound to impress you.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm Backpacking Air MattressB00TSFYZAE
Therm-A-Rest is known for the quality products they produce. With NeoAir they have risen a level above. They have combined decades of their experience with the advanced, patent-pending technology and material to bring out the best in the market. NeoAir XTherm is incredibly lightweight and a compact sleeping pad.
XTherm features a “Triangular Core Matrix” technology that restricts airflow and encourages heat retention, keeping the pad extremely warm in winters.
The ThermaCapture reflective barriers reduce radiative heat loss by reflecting that heat back to you. It features a horizontal baffle construction that is extremely comfortable as it provides a more stable sleep surface but the edges are prone to collapsing. Baffling also creates an internal truss system that reduces the movement of air.
At just 15 ounces, this is the lightest insulated pad on the market. It is a classic air pad and it takes 25-30 full breaths for full inflation. It includes a ‘pump’ stuff sack thus this pad is easy to inflate.
XTherm has a rectangular shape and not a tapered one like many mummy style pads. It is an insulated inflatable sleeping pad.The XTherm has 30D rip HT nylon top and features a 70 Denier Nylon on the bottom, that adds to the durability.
Advanced fabrics and coatings are one of the main reasons behind its lightweight.
It comes with a standard length of 72 inches and a regular width of 20 inches. It is wide enough to work for most and is extremely comfortable for side sleepers too. With the thickness of about 2.5 inches, this pad gives enough cushion to keep you off the ground.
With an R-Value of 5.7, it is a perfect four season sleeping mat. The R-value of this mat is amazing and is able to trap in warmth like no other. Usually, pads with R-values as high as the XTherm are very bulky when packed regardless of construction type. But X-therm is different. It packs down really small and doesn’t feel bulky at all.
This pad comes at a hefty price, but given the features and quality, this is completely worth it. If you’re planning to get into winter camping or backpacking, then this will be the best pads you’ll ever come across.
Big Agnes Q-Core Slx Insulated Inflatable Sleeping MattressB01G7SPW06
Big Agnes, the name is enough, They are known to make some of the best sleeping bags in the market. With Big Agnes Q-Core Slx they have introduced a new level of comfort.
Weighing just 16 ounces in the regular length, the SLX is lightweight and packs down easily. With dimensions of 20″ x 72″, this mat packs down quite small. With 4.25 inches of thickness, this pad is comfortable for side-sleepers too.
It features a quilt-like baffle system. SLX utilizes welded I-Beams to create a lofty, quilted sleep surface that aims to provide more cushion for a comfortable sleep. The quilted pattern creates an excellent cushion feel that makes this mattress extremely comfortable.
One of the main reasons behind its lightweight is the minimalist I-Beam construction that reduces weight and provides stability. The durable WRM high-loft synthetic insulation provides exceptional warmth without adding much weight.
The outer chambers are large enough to keep you in the middle of the pad so that you don’t roll out. The pad is constructed from new double rip-stop nylon and aviation grade TPU lamination technology.
TPU is shorthand for thermoplastic polyurethane that provides extra durability to the material. The new and improved double rip-stop nylon improves tear strength and durability of this mat by 25. The pad is treated with an antimicrobial treatment that prevents microorganism growth.
There are two separate valves for inflation and deflation. The inflation valve is a one-way valve which means you can easily inflate while taking breaks in between.All you have to do is open the valve and blow in.
It also has a red micro air pressure button that lets you maintain the air levels in the pad by letting small amounts of air out of the inflation valve. Perfect for 3-season use this sleeping pad is rated for temperatures down to 15°F (-9°C).
Big Agnes doesn’t rate the warmth of their sleeping pads with an R-value but instead gives a minimum temperature.
If you are looking out for that one pad that will fulfill all your requirements without breaking your bank, then this one is exactly what you need. This mat is far too comfortable and is worth the try.
REI Co-op Flash Insulated
REI is an American retail and outdoor recreation services corporation that sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment, and clothing. With their recent products, REI has upped its game and brought a lot of budget-friendly quality products to the market.
The Flash employs a relatively new baffle design, wherein there are multiple inflatable pockets rather than horizontal or vertical baffling.
The great part about this pad is that REI includes an insulating layer inside the baffles and they have added a reflective mylar layer to help reflect your body heat back to you.
The dual-fiber insulation combined with a Mylar reflective layer provides a high warmth-to-weight ratio.
The pad comes with 124 dimples that provide an even sleeping surface as it minimises the movement of air within the pad when you roll over. Plus the dimples speed up the process of inflation.
As far as inflation and deflation are concerned, it features advanced inflation technology, i.e. there are 2 flat valves: 1 for inflation and 1 for deflation. As it is an air pad it requires just 10-12 breaths to inflate and deflation takes just a few seconds through a separate deflation valve. However, it also includes a stuff-sack style pump to fill the pad.
The exterior fabric is comprised of a lightweight 30-denier ripstop polyester i.e. a perfect combination of low weight and durability. The fabric is non-slippery and is a bit quieter than various other competitive models. With the weight of just 15 ounces, this pad is lighter and even. This bag is in a tapered mummy shape that reduces overall weight and packed size.
As it is an air-filled sleeping pad, it packs up smaller. With R-value of 3.7, it is perfect for 3 season- use. The Regular is 20” wide by 72”long. At only 2 inches thick, the Flash isn’t quite cushioned enough for side sleepers, but for back and stomach sleepers it is extremely comfortable.
One of the main reasons behind its popularity is a price to performance ratio. It ranges somewhere between $100-120, that is quite reasonable given its functionality. It is perfect for those who want to travel light on a budget.
Buying Guides – How To Choose The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads
There are many types of sleeping pads: self-inflating, manual inflating and solid camping. They all have different weights due to their material composition, size and the contents they contain.
However, people who backpack with their sleeping bags are still concerned about weight.
The weight of your sleeping pad is not an issue if you plan to transport it in a car or an RV.
There are many thickness options for pads, ranging from a slim 1.5 cm to a luxurious 11cm. While thicker pads provide more comfort and cushiness and are bulkier, they also tend to be heavier and bulkier. Comfort-seekers and side sleepers should select a pad at least 4cm thick.
Comfort is key to a good sleeping pad. There are two types of sleeping pad: closed-cell foam pads that are more practical and thin, and inflatable pads that are thicker and raise you off the ground. Inflatable sleeping pads are more comfortable than closed-cell foam pads and have a higher R value. However, inflatables can be used during the day as a sit pad and they are significantly cheaper and last longer than inflatables. Although no sleeping pad is as comfortable as a mattress, it is worth considering how close you would like to have a bed-like experience.
The R-value of a pad is the insulation between the user’s body and the ground. Insulation stops your body heat from getting into the ground below. If you don’t have an insulation pad, it is possible to sleep on the ground, even though the temperature is relatively warm.
A sleeping pad with a R-value less than 3 is sufficient for warm summer conditions. If you intend to backpack in cooler shoulder seasons, however, a sleeping pad with an R-value of less than 3 is sufficient. An R-value of 5 or more is recommended for winter camping.
Dimensions of a Sleeping Pad
Based on the dimensions of your pad and your own, you need to know how much space you will have to fit on it. If you are tall, ensure that your entire body fits on the pad. A smaller sleeping pad will be more suitable for you if you are petite or short. This will allow you to save weight. A portable sleeping pad with minimal dimensions is the best.
Here is where sleeping pads have made significant improvements. These sleeping pads are now smaller than Nalgene bottles, so they take up less space in your bag. You’ll need something that can be folded down to approximately 4-5.5 inches by 8-11 ins for backpacking.
Inflation and deflation
Foam pads don’t require inflating to be used, but all other types of pads have an integrated air valve. The weakest point of sleeping pads has been their valves, which can be hard to replace.
Now, high-quality backpacking pads have reliable valves that allow for quick inflation and deflation.
Flat valves are common in air pads. These include an inner flap to prevent air from escaping between inflation breaths. These valves are durable and simple. Most pads with flat valves can only be inflated with between 10-25 breaths.
The self-inflating pads can be filled up by themselves once the valve has been opened, but they will need to be inflated regularly to become firm.
Use it quickly
A good sleeping mat should be simple to use. A closed-cell foam mattress mat is easy to roll or unfold and then hit the hay. They will take up space and won’t fit into a standard daypack. The process is a bit different for self-inflating mats or air mats. It all depends on the valve design. A double valve is now available to help you quickly inflate and expel air.
A good sleeping pad can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. Foam pads are typically the most affordable, while lightweight air pads tend to be the most expensive.
When determining your budget for a sleeping pad, keep in mind that it is an important piece to your comfort and quality of sleep after a hard day on the trail.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is R-Value? It measures the warmth of a sleeping pad.
When shopping for a mattress, there is one important thing to remember: R-Value. This is the measure of how well the pad protects you from the cold ground. The pad’s insulation value will increase the more you pay. An R-Value of 1 to 2 is sufficient for those who only camp in the summer. An R-Value of at least 3 or 4 is recommended for anyone who plans to camp through spring and autumn. For winter camping, you should aim for an R-Value of at least 3. As the R-Value goes up, sleeping pads become heavier and more costly.
Stacking pads can increase your R-value. An R3 pad placed on top of an existing R1 pad will give you the equivalent R4 pad. However, carrying both an R1 pad and an R3 pad can be more cumbersome than carrying an R4 pad. For most people, it is worth buying a pad with an R1 and an R3 value. This will allow them to sleep in colder nights.
What is the best R-value for a sleeping pad?
The R-value you need for a given trip will determine the ideal R-value. A sleeping pad with an R-value below 3 is suitable for summer. An R-value between 3 and 4 is good for three-season use. A rating of 4.5 or higher makes it suitable for winter camping.
How warm do they need it to be?
Warmth is measured as the R-value of a sleeping pad. This means that you should only wear as much warmth as you really need. An extra jacket can save you money on buying a new sleeping pad in colder seasons. To make pads warmer, many are filled with synthetic insulation or foam. The newer models include a thin metallic reflector which bounces heat back up towards you. This keeps you warmer without adding weight.
Isn’t a regular sleeping bag as comfortable as a pad?
No. A sleeping pad is designed to keep you warm while you sleep on the ground.
How do I clean a sleeping bag?
After you return from camping, clean your sleeping pad using a damp cloth and mild soap. It should dry completely before you put it away.
Which type of camping sleeping pad is best?
The size and weight of your sleeping pad is irrelevant when you drive to your campsite. Comfort over convenience is the best option. Because they are easy to inflate and offer plenty of insulation and cushioning, self-inflating camping sleeping bags are a great option. Although they are more difficult to inflate, air pads can be quite comfortable for car camping.
If you are looking for the best backpacking sleeping pads, we have compiled a list of our top five picks. We evaluated each pad across six different categories to provide you with an in-depth analysis and comparison so that you can easily find what is right for your needs and budget. To make it easier on yourself, we even include some pros and cons by category as well as links to where these products can be purchased online or at various retailers near you! Choose wisely! Which one of these backpacking sleep pads do you think would work best?