5 Best Sleeping Pads for Camping and Backpacking (2021): Buyer’s Guide and Unbiased Reviews

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Are you on a quest to find the best sleeping pads?

Then you’re in the right place. Because I have done the hard work for you and have reviewed dozens of products to bring you the best sleeping pads.

In addition, I will introduce the following related topics.

  • Product Details
  • Buyer’s Guide
  • Other Considerations for a Sleeping Pad
  • Tips on How to Care for Your Sleeping Pad

Without further ado, let’s begin!

Top 3 Picks

In a Hurry? Here are the winners.

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Chief Editor

Brian

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Hours Researching

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Products Evaluated

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Best Sleeping Pads

Getting a good night’s rest on backpacking trips was once a rarity. However, today the sleeping pads currently available on the market feature many improvements when compared to their predecessors. Comfort has improved significantly with advanced cell designs and baffling, packed size and weight continue to drop, and you get to enjoy all the warmth and insulation needed for colder weather.

1. Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping Pad – Editor’s Choice & Best Seller

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Our first option weighs in at a mere 14.5 oz. and can be packed down to a roll 8″ X 3″. But, when it has been fully unraveled and extended, it measures a full 73″ long, 22″ wide and 2.2″ thick. This makes it suitable for temperatures dropping all the way down to 40°F.

One of the things we are sure consumers will like the most about this top-quality option is that it is so easy to set up. It can be fully inflated in just about 10 to 15 breaths. And, deflating can be done easily as well, simply pull out the thick sturdy rubber seal and the air just drops right out.

Another good thing is durability. Durability is not something to take lightly when you will be relying on your gear for your survival far from the comforts of home. The OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad has the kind of durability you can expect from Nylon construction that can repel moisture and provide the same quality support time after time.

2. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress – Professional’s Choice

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The Therm-A-Rest is incredibly light, unbelievably comfortable, and offers impressive levels of insulation. It is suitable for use in all four seasons and a good option for side sleepers.

It combines next level ThermaCapture Technology that works to trap the warmth within the sleeping pad keeping the occupant toasty warm inside. A patented TraingleCore Matrix also improves the stability of an internal structure in insulating cells. This is a must-have item for those who will be sleeping in the cold.

Best of all, you will be able to pack down this type of luxury and warmth into a compact 1.6L container. So if you can withstand the slightly elevated prices, the XTherm will be the right choice for you.

3. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad – Best Value

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The Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic provides that perfect balance between the right price and an impressive level of quality. This pad has a perfectly executed closed-cell foam design that provides a durable structure. The pad is a mere 19 oz. and measures a full 77″. It can easily be folded up and placed inside any backpack, it is lightweight and easy to accommodate.

Furthermore, the pad comes with a special polyethylene material in a cross-linked construction that is virtually indestructible, within reason. This durable design will allow you to lay down and get some rest in the rockiest terrain. Furthermore, this option features anti-slip pads that will prevent any slipping around which can lead to very uncomfortable sleep.

However, the Therm-a pad has a couple of drawbacks. First is the need for extra sleeping bags and warmth if you will be in the wilderness in a colder climate or time of year. Then, you will have to lay this option down on a fairly flat surface as it does not even out by itself. Finally, the pad is a bit stiff too.

4. WELLAX Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad

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This is an inflatable mat that comes in two color options, blue and green. It is constructed of quality nylon with TPU coating. This sleeping pad features a design that allows it to act as a pocket spring mattress with uniquely designed flexible air cells. This provides important stability that prevents the pad from wobbling about while you are asleep. The mat is fairly light at 14 oz. and only measures 10″ X 3.5″ when packed down. When fully extended, the mat rolls out to 78″ X 24″ X 2.5″.

Thanks to a 20D rip-stop nylon construction this option is an especially durable one. It is practically impervious to tearing and abrasion and has a special surface that is both waterproof and reflects that upward to the sleeper. Another nice point is the fact that this option is much quieter than the other options you will find.

A couple of drawbacks should be considered. For one, there will be times of the night when certain body parts make contact with the ground below, even if the mat is fully inflated. Furthermore, it seems this mat has a major design flaw and lacks the capacity to hold air effectively. The material is a bit thin too.

5. KLYMIT Static V2 Sleeping Pad

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This inflatable sleeping pad weighs 16.6 oz. and inflates to 7.5″ X 23″ X 2.5″. It is easy to inflate and the heaviest chain smoker can still inflate the pad in about 15 breaths. When packed down for storage, it is only 8″ X 3″. The intelligent V-shaped air chambers allow greater support where it is needed and helps to limit the movement of air chambers.

This clever design also ensures your body naturally sinks to the center of the pad while you are sleeping.

Unfortunately, a small error in the planning allowed for a hard plastic air cap to leak air during the night and that is a bit of a downer. Furthermore, it has been noted that the small barriers between interior air chambers can begin to separate during extended use, which allows them to form one giant air chamber.

Buying Guide

Before you choose a sleeping pad there are various factors to consider, and some of these may impact another.

Thickness

Thickness is one of the factors that contribute to a comfortable pad. The thicker pads feature more cushioning, making the pad more comfortable. However, the thicker pads are heavier and will also require more effort to fill the pad up with air. It is important to find a balance between comfort, convenience, and weight.

Shape and Dimensions

Sleeping pads are generally unisex and available in 2 to 3 sizes allowing you to choose a pad according to your comfort preferences and your height. The standard pads usually measure 20-inches in width (at the widest point) and 72-inches in length. The large pads usually measure between 77 and 80-inches in length and 25-inches in width. When it comes to shape, these pads are usually available in two types. These include the rectangular pads which are more spacious, accommodating active or comfort-minded sleepers. Or the mummy pads that reduce weight by tapering towards the bottom (where your feet go).

Weight

The ultra-light sleeping pads are ideal for backpacking or hiking, but they are more pricey. To save weight rather go for the tapered or mummy shape. These pads pack small and reduce volume. The closed-cell foam pads in the shorter lengths also help to keep the overall weight down. If you go backpacking with your partner, a 2-person sleeping pad can also help to keep down the weight.

Compactness

The compactness and size of your sleeping pad is also an important factor which will depend on your backpack (the size), and how you pack. The inflatable sleeping pads typically pack down the smallest, while self-inflating pads are typically bigger, while the foam sleeping pads are the biggest. Depending on the way you pack, a foam sleeping pad will probably work better attached to your backpack on the outside since they are so large. Even though the closed-cell foam sleeping pads won’t absorb water, should the pad get wet, it is advisable to dry the pad off before you put a quilt or sleeping bag over it.

Internal Structure

Regardless of the thickness, any air mat that does not have an internal structure is going to feel squishy or bouncy, similar to a waterbed. Look for dividers or baffles that define individual pockets. This improves stability and lowers air movement.

Types

The sleeping pads are available in 3 types. These include the closed-cell foam pads, self-inflating mattresses, and the air mattresses. The air mattress packs up small when deflated and offers the highest level of comfort. These models typically come with lightweight stuff sacks (you use them to inflate the pad). The self-inflating mattress is typically the heaviest of the 3, which fills up with air partially when you unroll the mattress. You still need to blow the mattress up slightly. The closed-cell foam pads are usually the cheapest option but are bulky which means you may need to attach the pad to your backpack from the outside. These pads are waterproof and the most reliable since they cannot be punctured, which means they also won’t become heavier when it starts to rain.

R-Values

R-value is the most reliable and accurate measurement of insulation. For 3-season camping and backpacking, the recommended R-value is 2 or higher. For winter camping and backpacking, the recommended R-value should be 5, or higher. The R-Values are also additive, which means you can use two pads on top of each other to increase the warmth level. Women require R-values that are higher since their body mass is typically lower than men. Adding an R-value of 1 is typically recommended for cold sleepers and women.

Inflation and Valves

In previous years, just about every version of a sleeping pad used a type of twisting valve. This involved turning the valve quickly to one direction for inflation and then turning it the other way to trap the air inside and close the valve.

While this method may have worked, it is not the easiest way to inflate. Since the air freely moves around, you have to constantly create pressure while you are blowing the air pad up or use your tongue in a skillful way to stop any air from escaping when you inhale. It is possible, but many of us are grateful and prefer the latest inflation technology, especially when you are exhausted from spending your entire day on a trail.

Today, most of the pad utilizes flat valves that come with dedicated deflation and inflation settings. There is also a flap that stops the air from flowing out during inflation. Along with these valves, most pads also come with an inflation bag.

Durability

Durability is very important before you choose a sleeping pad. Consider the conditions and areas where you plan to backpack. This may include a shelter-floor or hard-packed soil or dirt. For these conditions, consider the inflatable pads for a comfortable night’s rest. If the terrain is rooty, rocky, or contains sharp objects, the closed-cell foam pads would be a better option since these pads cannot be punctured.

Noise

A common complaint that comes up often about a backpacking lightweight sleeping pad has to do with the crinkly, and loud noises that they make. While packing light is favorable, sleeping on noisy pads that sound like a chip bag is also not ideal. Having your tentmates toss-and-turn throughout the night could be even worse. Luckily many manufacturers have taken this problem into account and have started to produce much quieter pads.

Price

There is nothing wrong with great value, but it is more important to invest in gear that not only performs well but also lasts for many years. If you only have plans to sleep outdoors once or twice a year, then a budget-friendly pad may be the best option for you. But if you go camping often, then it is a good idea to look at the more expensive brands.

Your sleeping pad will make the difference between a good night’s sleep or waking up feeling tired and grumpy. In most cases, spending a little bit more will ensure you receive a good balance between warmth, durability, and increased comfort.

Other Considerations for a Sleeping Pad

Pad Sleeves

Some of the sleeping pads come with integrated sleeves that keep the pad in place. This stops your sleeping-bag and you from slipping off while you are sleeping. It is important to check on the width of the sleeve before buying the pad.

Hand Pumps

If you prefer not to blow up your sleeping pad, look for the pads that come with integrated hand pumps or buy one of the bag-style hand pumps which roll up and only weigh a few ounces (sold separately).

Repair Kit

If you are taking your air pad into a wilderness area, be sure to bring along a repair kit. Rocks, cacti, and sticks can easily puncture an air pad, so check on the sleeping area when you are planning where to set up camp. If the pad does start leaking, and you cannot fix it, you are going to have a miserable night.

Tips on How to Care for Your Sleeping Pad

You can ensure your sleeping pad serves you well in the way you take care of it while at home and out on a trail.

On The Trail

When you are out on a trail, it is important to protect the pad from tears and punctures. Keep the sleeping pad inside your backpack when you can. If you do not have enough space, make sure the pad is placed under your backpack. If the pad is stored inside your backpack, make sure it is not in contact with sharp objects such as a pocket knife, or trekking poles.

When using the sleeping pad, look for an area that is free from roots or rocks. When you choose your campsite look for a smooth and flat ground. You should also shake your pad off to remove any dirt or soil when you pack it away. If you spill anything on it, make sure to wipe up the spill immediately.

At Home

Clean the surfaces of the sleeping pad once you are home to remove soil, sap, insect repellent, or any other material that could damage the materials. The pad should also be dry and avoid allowing the pad to sit in direct sunlight. UV rays could break the materials down. It is also important to keep the inside of your inflatable pad dry by using a hairdryer on the lowest setting, holding it close to the valve that where you inflate the pad.

Once the sleeping pad is ready and clean to go back into storage, make sure you keep it in a cool and dry place. Avoid areas when the temperatures are extreme such as a garage or attic. You should also store inflatable pads hanging up. If you have to compact the pad, rather stuff it inside a sack rather than folding it. Folding the pad can weakened materials across the folds. A closed-cell foam pad is easy to fold and store under a bed or in a closet. Self-inflating foam pads need to be semi-inflated making sure the valve stays open to achieve air circulation.

References

Best Sleeping Pads ( Top 3 Picks )

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Last update on 2021-09-28 / Rating by Author / Affiliate links, Images, Descriptions & Price from Amazon Product Advertising API

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