I like to make sure I have a sleeping pad that can be rolled up and carried, and for me, weight is one of the most important issues. You want to be carrying gear that is as lightweight as possible, so you can enjoy your walk, rather than keep repeating to yourself “are we there yet”.
When you set out on a long backpacking journey, you need to always make sure you have the best gear available. You have your hiking boots or hiking shoes, your backpacking backpack, the best sleeping bag you can pay for and you need to take with you the best backpacking sleeping pad. This is a very important item when you are intending to camp, as it gives you a level of comfort that cannot be attained otherwise.
I have taken a look at some of the very best sleeping pads you can buy right now, so let’s have a look and see if I can help you find the one that is best for you.
Our Top Pick: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.
Specs and features:
- Packed size: 9″ x 4″
- 6.9 R-value
- 1 lb
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads Reviews
- 1.1 1. Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated
- 1.2 2. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Closed-Cell Foam Pad
- 1.3 3. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Women’s Backpacking Pad
- 1.4 4. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight
- 1.5 5. ALPS Lightweight Self-Inflating Air Pad
- 1.6 6. Klymit Static V Lightweight
- 1.7 7. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
- 1.8 8. Exped SynMat HL
- 1.9 9. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro
- 1.10 10. Exped Downmat UL Winter
- 1.11 11. Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX
- 1.12 12. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SL
- 1.13 13. Therm-a-Rest Prolite Ultralight Sleeping Pad
- 1.14 14. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
- 1.15 15. Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
- 1.16 16. REI Co-op Flash 3-Season
- 1.17 17. Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout
- 1.18 18. Exped DownMat XP 9
- 1.19 19. Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated
- 1.20 20. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite
- 1.21 21. REI Co-op Stratus Insulated
- 1.22 22. Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Deluxe
- 1.23 23. Nemo Flyer Regular
- 1.24 24. Nemo Tensor Insulated
- 1.25 25. Big Agnes Insulated SLX
- 1.26 26. Sea to Summit Ether Light XT
- 1.27 27. Nemo Switchback
- 2 Buying Guide for the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad
- 2.1 Packed Size
- 2.2 Weight of Pad
- 2.3 Pad Comfort
- 2.4 What is the Best Warmth Rating for a Backpacking Sleeping Pad?
- 2.5 Sleeping Pad Types
- 2.6 Length & Width
- 2.7 Pad Shape
- 2.8 Thickness of Pad
- 2.9 Sleeping Pad Durability
- 2.10 Do You Need a Sleeping Pad for Backpacking?
- 2.11 How Thick Should a Backpacking Sleeping Pad Be?
- 3 The Verdict
The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads Reviews
1. Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated
- Weight – 18.1 oz
- R Value – 4.2
- Best For – Late spring and summer, 3 seasons, cooler nights
- One of the most comfortable pads on the market
- Innovative cell design
- Compact packed size
This well-made and top-quality air pad comes from the Sea to Summit brand, which offers a variety of products of this type. It is made from 40D nylon face fabric and is air-sprung, with 331 air cells – that’s plenty for a pad of this size.
The Sea to Summit air pad is 2.5 inches thick, measures 6ft when in use, and packs to a useful 3.5 x 6 inches, which is compact enough for any walker. This Sea to Summit pad comes from a range of tried and tested backpacking sleeping pads, and while it is at the upper end of the price range, it’s a quality item – many consider it to be the best sleeping pad on the market. When you buy a great air pad you can get away with spending less on a sleeping bag or quilt.
2. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Closed-Cell Foam Pad
- Weight – 14 oz
- R Value – 2.0
- Best For – All-around good, cool nights
- A lightweight and durable closed cell foam pad
- Comfortable and easy to transport
- Specially coated for increased warmth
- Thinner and less comfortable than Nemo Switchback
The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is an impressive and sensibly priced closed-cell foam pad, which at just 14oz in weight is surprisingly light for its size.
The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol foam pad is made from closed cell foam – no air pockets in this one – it offers comfort for users and measures 72 × 20 inches when in use. Folded for carriage, the Therm-a-Rest Z measures 20 x 5 x 5.5 inches, so it can easily be strapped to a backpack.
Furthermore, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is one of those closed-cell foam pads that are designed with denser foam underneath for durability and insulation, and softer on the top for comfort.
It is also specially coated to increase temperature capture by 20%.
The Therm-a-Rest Z is one of the best closed-cell foam pads and one of the best backpacking sleeping pads overall. It comes at a very reasonable price, and is also available in a smaller size.
3. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Women’s Backpacking Pad
- Weight – 12 oz
- R Value – 5.4
- Best For – Women, suitable for cooler nights
- Light & compact women’s model
- Quick & easy inflation
- Accompanied by a repair kit
This particular Neoair Xlite model from Therm-a-Rest is designed specifically for women and is a very light – 12oz – and compact pad with all the right credentials.
Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite is an air-cell mattress and inflates in a couple of minutes offering excellent comfort, and is 2.5 inches thick when ready for use. Packed, NeoAir Xlite measures just 9 × 4 inches and is 66 inches long when in use.
Moreover, the Neoair Xlite pad comes with a repair kit and is highly recommended by satisfied users, and while not the cheapest item on this list, it wins in terms of weight and compactness.
4. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Ultralight
- Weight – 16 oz
- R Value – 4.2
- Best For – 3 season use, great for Alpine walking
- Among the most comfortable sleeping pads out there
- ThermaCapture reflective technology
- Repair kit & carry pack included
- Somewhat crinkly
This is the ultralight, men’s version of the one above, and as such has greater dimensions. It is an air-pocket mattress and will need to be inflated to use – note, these do not usually come with a pump for inflation – and in use measures 77 × 25 inches, and is 2.5 inches thick.
Packed, the Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite Ultralight air pad measures just 11 × 4.5 inches. It utilizes the brand’s ThermaCapture reflective technology to increase heat absorption and is highly efficient. With it, you also get a neat carry pack and a repair kit.
Once again, the Ultralight air pad is not among the cheapest inflatable sleeping pads out there, but if you want the best, this may as well be the one for you.
5. ALPS Lightweight Self-Inflating Air Pad
- Weight – 36 oz
- R Value – n/a
- Best For – Cooler nights and backpacking use
- Made out of abrasion-resistant fabric
- One of the best self inflating pads
- Repair kit, compression strap, and carry bag included
- Could be a bit thicker
This pad from ALPS is the regular version of their range – you can find it in a variety of different sizes – and measures 72 × 20 inches, and is 1.5 inches thick when in use. It is self-inflating – so no need to carry a pump – and is made from tough and durable fabric that should withstand the test of mountaineering or backpacking use.
Packed, it measures just 21 × 4.5 inches, and it comes with its own carry pack. The fittings are high-quality brass and it is made from lightweight and comfortable polyester with a honeycomb foam interior. All in all, a good and usable air pad, and at a sensible price.
6. Klymit Static V Lightweight
- Weight – 18.6 oz
- R Value – 1.3
- Best For – Backpacking use, perhaps not for colder nights
- Provides excellent support & comfort
- Durable construction
- Quick inflation and deflation
- Not for heavier users
This pad from Klymit – another well-known brand – features its clever V-shaped design with side rails, offering excellent comfort and support.
This inflatable pad features inner air pockets and is made from a very durable 75D polyester that is extremely light and strong. In use, it measures 72 × 23 inches and it is 2.5 inches in thickness for maximum support, and it packs into a package of just 8 × 3 inches.
It can be inflated by a person in 10 to 15 breaths thanks to its clever technology, is available in a variety of colors, and is a great choice of an air pad at the price.
7. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
- Weight – 19.6 oz
- R Value – 4.4
- Best For – 3 season use, cool nights, active sleepers
- A wide sleeping pad
- Easy to inflate and pack away
- Great for active sleepers
- Flimsy valve
This is an up-market version of the above pad, and as such is suitable for use in more arduous and challenging climates.
It’s made from 30D polyester for added insulation, can also be inflated in 15 breaths, and measures the same as that above – 72 x 23 x 2.5 inches – when in use. Packed, the pad measures just 5×8 inches, so it will be easy to tuck away and carry.
It comes with the V-shaped design and handrails that the brand is known for, has many satisfied users, and at the price is not an expensive item for a winter-friendly sleeping pad.
8. Exped SynMat HL
- Weight – 12.5 oz
- R Value – 3.3
- Best For – 3 season use, cold nights
- Made from durable, strong fabric
- Packs to an exceptionally small size
- Clever Pumpsack included
- Not the best pad for side sleepers
Exped, the brand that produces this sleeping pad, claims it is the lightest in the world for its comfort and warmth.
At 12.5oz – bear in mind I am reviewing the ‘medium’ version and there are other sizes – and with an R-value of 3.3, it may as well live up to those claims.
It’s an air mattress that comes with its own clever pumping system, so is easy to use, and it measures 72 × 20.5 inches when in use, with a thickness of 2.5 centimeters. It is made from durable, strong fabric and when packed away you will forget it is there.
Also available in 25.6-inch width and a slightly longer version, this pad is by no means cheap but is very good quality indeed.
9. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro
- Weight – 34 oz
- R Value – n/a
- Best For – 3 season use, warmest in the range
- One of the best backpacking sleeping pads of its type
- Provides the user with thickness and plushness
- Packs down to a very compact size
Another from the market-leading Therm-a-Rest brand, this one – the Trail Pro – is a quality pad that offers a wide variety of features.
It is a foam pad that includes specially designed foam interior sections for added warmth and comfort, is 2 inches in depth, and measures 20 × 72 inches. This is the regular version; you can choose a large version at 77 inches long, or an extra-wide at 25 inches.
Just like the two Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite air pads analyzed above, this pad also packs down to a very compact size and is easy to use, and at the price is certainly worth looking at if a foam pad is what you are looking for.
10. Exped Downmat UL Winter
- Weight – 24 oz
- R Value – 7.0
- Best For – 4 season use, frost and snow
- Ideal for cold-weather outdoor adventures
- Decently compact when packed
- Accompanied by a fast-action pump
This pad from the Exped range – the second from the brand I have featured – has an amazing R-Value of 7, which is by far the best here so far. It is designed for winter use and is equipped with the brand’s trademark interior air pocket technology and fast action pump.
Made from quality, durable materials and coated against slipping, it measures 77 × 25 centimeters and is around 2 centimeters thick. When packed it forms a package of 10 × 5 inches, which is suitably compact.
The outer layer is a 20D polyester for added comfort, and although this is one of the most expensive sleeping pads on the list, if you need a pad for winter use, this is it.
11. Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX
- Weight – 18 oz
- R Value – 3.2
- Best For – 3 season use, not for freezing nights
- An excellent mid-priced camping mattress
- Provides consistent comfort & stability
- Interior antimicrobial treatment
- Not for freezing nights
This one from Big Agnes, a well-known brand in the world of backpacking equipment, is a decent design with some neat touches.
The model has a quilted outer layer and air pockets inside, so it needs inflation with a pump, is designed for excellent comfort, and when in use measures 20 × 66 inches, so is suitable for women or men who are not too tall. Packed, it measures a mere 4 × 7 inches.
With many satisfied users testifying to its effectiveness, Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX is a mid-priced sleeping pad that could be a good choice for female walkers or backpackers.
12. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SL
- Retains heat & keeps the sleeper warm
- Comfortable & soft to the touch
- Multi-function valve for easy inflation/deflation
- The stuff sack is small & difficult to pack into
This self-inflating design from the Sea and Summit brand is an interesting one. It’s not the lightest by any means, but it does offer great levels of comfort and warmth, is well-made, and packs down to a small size.
A 30D stretch knit fabric covers the inner foam and air pocket technology, which is intended to provide high levels of comfort, while the inner design means that heat is retained for the best effectiveness. This Sea to Summit pad measures 6 x 20 inches when in use, and packs down to 6.5 × 11 inches, and is also available in a larger size if required.
It’s a very nice pad and one of the cheapest on the list.
13. Therm-a-Rest Prolite Ultralight Sleeping Pad
- Comfortable & durable pad for regular backpacking
- Equipped with the WingLock Valve
- Packs down very small
- Slippery surface material
Back to our old friends Therm-a-Rest, who are the market leader for a reason.
This sleeping pad is entirely typical of the brand. It’s nicely made, self-inflating, and has an expanding foam core for extra comfort and support. This one measures 72 x 20 x 1 inches when inflated, and packs down into a tiny 11 × 4.1 inches. It’s intended for summer, spring and autumn use and is also available in other sizes.
If you are looking for a suitable sleeping pad for regular backpacking, this could be the one, and it‘s not expensive given the quality.
14. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
- Its warmth-to-weight ratio is off the charts
- One of Therm-a-Rest’s most comfortable sleeping pads
- ThermaCapture technology
Our next model from Therm-a-Rest is this one. It is not the lightest at 20oz, but it is a compact sleeping pad with all the right credentials.
Therm-a-Rest Neoair XTherm is an air-cell mattress and inflates in a couple of minutes offering excellent comfort, and is 2.5 inches thick when ready for use. Packed, it measures just 9 × 4 inches, and 72 × 20 inches when in use.
It comes with a repair kit and is highly recommended by satisfied users, and while not the cheapest on this list, it wins in terms of weight and compactness.
Just like the Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite models, the XTherm is also available in other sizes, so check them out before you buy.
15. Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
- Weight – 1.2 lb
- R Value – 4.5
- Best For – Warm-weather hiking, side sleepers
- Genuinely affordable price
- Rugged construction
- Excellent packed size for a thick sleeping pad
- Not an insulated sleeping pad – not for cold-weather use
If you are someone who hikes only in warm weather, one of the best ways for you to save money (as well as weight) would be to purchase an uninsulated sleeping pad. The Air Core Ultra, made by Big Agnes, is a fantastic example.
Coming at a genuinely reasonable price, this air pad weighs 1 pound and 2 ounces and brings 5 inches of true comfort. In addition, the burly fabric of this sleeping pad is quite a bit tougher than that found on even the best ultralight air pads featured on this list.
Due to that, it’s pretty safe to say that this is one of those air pads that don’t puncture that easily.
This Big Agnes sleeping pad is actually an enhanced variant of the popular Air Core model, and, as such, sports a 2-way valve with openings for both deflation and inflation.
While its vertical baffles aren’t as comfortable as those found on Nemo and NeoAir backpacking sleeping pads, the model’s extra-thick design is a real godsend for side sleepers.
16. REI Co-op Flash 3-Season
- Weight – 1 lb
- R Value – 3.2
- Best For – 3-season use, stomach & back sleepers
- Affordable alternative with an R-value of 3.2
- Lightweight & easy to inflate/deflate
- Stuff sack included
- Prone to leaks
With the R-value of 3.2 and 1-lb weight, REI Co-op Flash 3-Season certainly isn’t among the best of the best backpacking sleeping pads. However, this is also one of the most reasonably-priced backpacking sleeping pads for backpacking out there – it undercuts the competition in price.
This air pad offers a decent level of comfort, but also a functional and easy-to-use deflation/inflation system.
Blowing it up doesn’t take more than 10 breaths, and the model deflates in a matter of seconds – both of these operations can be completed faster than in the case of many popular Therm-a-Rest air pads. And, unlike the previous iteration of this model, the Flash 3-Season sleeping pad features more durable welds.
In a lot of ways, this air pad is a more affordable alternative to the Ultralight model made by Sea to Summit, which is analyzed later in the article. Both of these backpacking sleeping pads pack down small, have a mummy shape, and feature cell-like constructions.
While it’s not as comfortable as its rival, REI’s air pad is lighter and cheaper. Its only major downside is that it’s quite prone to leaks – this is, after all, a budget-oriented sleeping pad.
17. Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout
- Weight – 1 lb 6 oz
- R Value – 3.1
- Best For – 3-season use, car camping, folks on a budget
- One of the most affordable self-inflating pads out there
- Respectable insulation capability (R value)
- Lightweight & easy to pack
- Not the most comfortable
Here we have yet another of Therm-a-Rest’s backpacking sleeping pads – the Trail Scout. This self-inflating pad is one of the company’s cheapest offerings, and it undercuts the competition by a considerable price margin without sacrificing too much in terms of quality.
In fact, Therm-a-Rest’s Trail Scout model is one of the best self-inflating pads you can get on today’s market. It features the company’s proprietary WingLock valve, a competitive pad weight (1 lb 6 oz), and a decent sleeping pad R-value (3.1) that turns it into a functional 3-season model.
For those on a budget, there’s certainly a lot to like with this self-inflating pad.
The overall level of comfort is the most obvious downside here. The 1” construction of this self-inflating pad won’t keep you far off the ground.
For that matter, side sleepers and those who value good cushioning should opt for one of the thicker backpacking sleeping pads – even REI’s budget-oriented model, which I have analyzed above, provides more support with its 2-inch-thickness.
18. Exped DownMat XP 9
- Weight – 1 lb 15.6 oz
- R Value – 7.8
- Best For – 4-season use, cold-weather expeditions
- Highest R value in the roundup
- Exceptionally warm and comfortable
- Pump sack included
- Heavy and bulky
Most of the sleeping pads analyzed in this article offer varying levels of thermal resistance (“R values”). Those looking for a higher R value will be pleased to know that Exped DownMat XP 9 is the absolute winner in this category, with an impressive sleeping pad R Value of 7.8.
The DownMat XP 9 is undoubtedly one of the most uniquely designed backpacking sleeping pads in this roundup. Besides the fact that it uses 700-fill goose down for insulation, this is also one of the thickest air mattresses – it is 3.5” thick and therefore extremely comfortable to sleep on.
This insulated sleeping pad cannot be inflated manually, but that’s not an issue as it comes accompanied by a pump sack.
The main downside of this air pad is that it lacks practicality, especially when compared to popular models such as Therm-a-Rest’s XTherm pad (No. 14 on this list).
While it has a higher R value, that sleeping pad is also not as nearly as heavy and bulky as DownMat XP 9. However, this sleeping pad is a mighty fine choice for anyone looking for an extremely warm and comfortable 4-season model.
19. Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated
- Weight – 17 oz
- R Value – 3.1
- Best For – 3-season use, car camping
- Air Sprung Cells guarantee comfort and plushness
- Exceptionally light & packable
- Very affordable
- Not a standout in terms of value
This Sea to Summit sleeping pad shares the cell-like construction of the company’s Comfort Light model (No. 1 on this list) but sports a more trimmed-down design. With an exceptionally small packed size and a pad weight of just 17 ounces, this model seems like a worthwhile investment.
Other features that turn this model into one of the best ultralight sleeping pads are the warmth it provides in 3-season conditions (with its R value being 3.1) and the 2-inch thickness that guarantees comfort for the user.
Another excellent feature is the presence of Air Sprung Cells – these can be found only in the best air mattresses and give a huge boost in all-around comfort and plushness.
Overall, this air pad strikes us as a genuinely well-made model without any major disadvantages. The only downside is that you can get thicker and warmer sleeping pads for backpacking for $20-40 more. Still, this is one of the most reliable air pads in this roundup and certainly a worthwhile addition to anyone’s camping sleep system.
20. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite
- One of the best ultralight air pads on the market
- Surprisingly comfortable for such a light sleeping pad
- Small & easy-to-pack stuff sack
- Limited insulation
Are you looking for a really light sleeping pad? Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite may be one of your best options. A member of the wildly popular NeoAir lineup, it’s the brand’s lightest air pad yet – hence its name. It is even lighter than Therm-a-Rest’s XLite model, proving that the engineers working for this company know how to do their job well.
Whether you bring this to a simple car camping trip or to a demanding backcountry expedition, it will hold up nicely. The model’s horizontal baffling is sufficiently puncture-resistant but also very comfortable to sleep on. In addition, the stuff sack that accompanies this air pad is one of the smallest on the market.
Even though it’s one of the market’s best ultralight pads, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite comes with a couple of compromises, as well. First of all, it has one of the lowest sleeping pad R values on the list – 2.
This means that it cannot be used for cold-weather hiking (or even car camping) adventures. And while I said that its horizontal baffling is sufficiently puncture-resistant, keep in mind that this is still a thin 15-denier fabric – not the best choice if you’re looking for genuinely long-lasting sleeping pads.
21. REI Co-op Stratus Insulated
- Weight – 21 oz
- R Value – 3.3
- Best For – 3-season use, car camping, folks on a budget
- Very affordable for a 3-season pad
- Super-fast deflation (but not inflation)
- Compact packed size
- Average comfort
For folks who need an affordable sleeping pad, Therm-a-Rest and Sea to Summit models are usually overkill. If you’re someone who hikes only a few times a year, the Stratus Insulated air pad made by REI may be an ideal option. It’s one of the most affordable backpacking sleeping pads and one that hits a nice combination of price, convenience, and warmth.
For $10 less than the company’s popular Flash model (No. 16 on this list), this air pad brings an easily packable and compact shape, a super-fast deflation, as well as slightly higher R value. While it’s not one of those inflatable pads that inflate very quickly, the model has a very sturdy feel and isn’t that prone to leaks.
What’s the tradeoff? Transitioning from a cheap foam sleeping pad to this one certainly brings more comfort, but the model’s basic vertical tubes aren’t as plush as the ones found on the pricier air pads.
What is more, this is one of those air pads with raised outer tubes, but here, they feel somewhat unnecessary and their presence is one of the main reasons behind the noticeable drop in comfort.
22. Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Deluxe
- Weight – 25 oz
- R Value – 4.3
- Best For – Chilly-weather camping, side sleepers
- Impressively warm and thick
- An excellent option for active & side sleepers
- Easy to inflate, pump sack included
- Not as cozy as Ether Light XT
Colorado-based Big Agnes is undoubtedly one of the world’s most renowned manufacturers of outdoor gear, including air and foam pads. As far as I’m concerned, the best sleeping pad Big Agnes has ever made is this one – Insulated Q Core SL.
Sporting an impressively thick 3.5” construction and PrimaLoft Silver insulation, the Big Agnes Q-Core Deluxe is a phenomenal sleeping pad for active and side sleepers who often hike in chilly conditions. While the pad weight isn’t as low as we’d like it to be, this model brings a comfort-focused, well-built design that you’re bound to fall in love with.
When it comes to the best backpacking sleeping pads of this type, this model’s biggest rival is Ether Light XT, which I’ll analyze later in the article. While it’s somewhat hard to say which one of these two sleeping pads sports a better warmth-to-weight ratio, Ether Light XT feels a bit more comfortable due to its plush, cell-like construction.
However, Q-Core Deluxe is certainly warmer and more durable than the Q-Core SLX pad from the same company (No. 11 on this list).
23. Nemo Flyer Regular
- Weight – 23 oz
- R Value – 3.3
- Best For – Fast-and-light hikers, car camping
- Self-inflating/air hybrid – the best of both worlds
- Decently compressible and light
- Plush, supportive cushioning
- Thin 20-denier shell fabric
As a hybrid self-inflating/air sleeping pad that takes the best from both worlds, this model is in a category of its own.
To create this unique pad, Nemo decided to take the design of a trimmed-down self-inflating pad (removing around 60% of open-cell foam from it) and then add air-filled baffles for comfort and insulation. Pretty ingenious, wouldn’t you say?
This removal of open-cell foam and the addition of air-filled baffles has resulted in a pad that is decently compressible, incredibly easy to set up, and reasonably light.
One thing I particularly like about this model is that it successfully retains the plush and supportive cushioning found on self-inflating pads – you will stay well-insulated even in the case of a leak.
Are there any disadvantages here? This model is not among the best sleeping pads on the market when it comes to durability – it is quite prone to punctures due to its thin 20-denier shell fabric.
While it’s not as affordable, comfortable, or warm as some of the other pads reviewed in this roundup, it is still a mighty fine choice for folks looking for a hybrid self-inflating/pad.
24. Nemo Tensor Insulated
- Weight – 15 oz
- R Value – 3.5
- Best For – Camping newbies, side sleepers
- Generously thick and comfortable
- Fast and easy inflation & low pad weight
- Not as noisy as many other air pads
- Thin construction
Here we have yet another pad made by Nemo – the Tensor Insulated. In my opinion, this model is a splendid addition to the sleeping pad market, since it’s comfortable, packable, and lightweight.
Providing its user with 3” of cushioning, the Nemo Tensor is more suitable for side sleepers than Therm-a-Rest’s popular XTherm and NeoAir XLite pads.
Furthermore, the flat valve of this pad and the pump sack that accompanies it are more convenient (as well as faster) to use than the WingLock valves found on many Therm-a-Rest pads. What is more, this pad is not as nearly as crinkly as the pads mentioned above – it sports a significantly “quieter” construction.
However, the men’s variant of the XLite pad easily beats Nemo Tensor in terms of durability (Tensor sports a thin 20-denier fabric). Comparing their R values shows us that the XLite is a winner in that category too (4.2 vs 3.5 on Tensor).
However, if you’re someone who values extra cushioning, you can’t really go wrong by choosing the Nemo Tensor Insulated pad to be a part of your backpacking sleep system.
25. Big Agnes Insulated SLX
- Weight – 43 oz
- R Value – 3.2
- Best For – Couples, families, active sleepers, car camping
- Great for couples and families
- An ideal choice for active sleepers
- Extremely comfortable and warm
- Bulky and not really versatile
Double sleeping pads are definitely a thing when it comes to car camping, but what about regular trekking?
The Big Agnes Insulated SLX removes the need to bring two separate sleeping pads for two people. Instead, this pad functions similarly to backpacking mattresses and is made in a way to fill out an entire tent (as its name suggests).
It is undoubtedly a phenomenal option for couples or families with kids, but also for individuals who don’t mind the extra bulk and weight as long as they enjoy maximum comfort while sleeping in the backcountry.
As mentioned above, this double sleeping pad is quite bulky and heavy – the single version weighs less than half of its weight. When it comes to the price, the single version costs around $150 (this one goes for $300) – you’re not getting a discount for opting for a double instead of the single version.
On the flip side, this larger variant is much wider – it is one of the best sleeping pads for active sleepers.
26. Sea to Summit Ether Light XT
- Weight – 17.3 oz
- R Value – 3.2
- Best For – 3-season use, side sleepers
- Super-thick – excellent isolation from the ground
- Air Sprung Cells technology
- Dual stuff/pump sack included
As far as I’m concerned, the Ether Light XT may be the best sleeping pad for side and active sleepers. This is one of those really well-cushioned pads – it is 4 inches thick while still weighing a lot less than many thinner pads on this list. Pretty impressive, wouldn’t you say?
Other notable features of this pad include the dual stuff/pump sack for quick and easy inflation, an R value that turns this pad into a suitable choice for shoulder-season trekking adventures, as well as the Air Sprung Cells that are well-padded and conform to the body shape.
All of these features combined turn this pad into one of the most luxurious options in this roundup.
However, in reality, this pad is overkill for many trekkers – it is quite thick and comes at a genuinely high price. Still, if you’re a side sleeper who wants to put as much space between yourself and the ground, this pad is undoubtedly one of the best sleeping pads for you.
27. Nemo Switchback
- Very cheap – great for those on a budget
- Quite durable for its thickness
- Reflective coating traps heat
- Not as comfy as inflatable pads
The last sleeping pad I’ll analyze in this article is yet another model from Nemo – Switchback. To put it simply, this model is a great option for folks looking for a comfortable, cushy sleeping pad. It is one of the market’s best foam pads, as it features closed-cell foam technology that is coupled with a reflective coating whose job is to trap radiant heat.
However, I decided to include Nemo Switchback on this list for two vital reasons – it doesn’t pop that easily, and it comes at a genuinely affordable price (unlike most high-quality closed cell foam pads). While this is certainly a thin and simple foam sleeping pad, it is also much more durable than many $150 air pads.
In addition, this is one of those foam pads that can be coupled with standard air pads for extra protection and comfort.
This model and Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol (No. 2 on this list) are the market’s two most popular closed-cell foam pads. When compared to Z Lite Sol and other foam pads, the Switchback foam pad is thicker and a bit more comfortable.
Buying Guide for the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad
Before I attend to my list of features, a little bit about the ‘season’ rating.
This is an indication of what the pad is designed for. 1 season indicates suitable for warm summer nights only; 2 seasons is for cooler weather, from spring through summer but not for winter; 3 seasons is suitable for cold but not frosty nights, and 4 seasons is usable in frost or snow.
When you are trying to find the best Packed Size for a backpacking sleeping pad, it is important to keep in mind that space is limited. You want your sleeping pad to pack up without taking up too much room.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining the perfect size for a backpacking sleeping pad. Each person’s body type will dictate what kind of backpack or bag they should carry around with them.
The weight and bulkiness level also factor in when choosing the right size of backpack or bag. Lastly, the purpose of purchasing a new backpack or bag should be determined before deciding on which one you need – whether it is solely for hiking trips, traveling abroad, camping trips, etcetera!
Weight of Pad
The best backpacking sleeping pads are the ones that are lightweight. The weight of a pad depends on the materials.
Lightweight materials like inflatable foam are great options, however, they do not offer the most cushioning and often have a shorter lifespan than other types of materials. Foam pads are good because they’re relatively inexpensive, but don’t last as long in extreme weather conditions.
When looking at the best weight for backpacking sleeping pads, you want to balance your preferences with what’s practical and affordable. The type of pad will also depend on what kind of hiking experience you prefer since some types may be better suited for more rugged terrain or foul weather conditions.
A good sleeping pad for backpacking is one that will keep you comfortable. The thickness of your pad determines how comfortable it is and there are many different levels to choose from.
Some people prefer the lightest weight possible, while others want a thick mattress for ultimate comfort. There are also thermoregulation pads that provide warmth against freezing temperatures and cold ground insulation.
A sleeping pad is a perfect way to make sure that you’ll be able to live out your wildest dreams when backpacking.
The above pads come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but what really matters is determining how much comfort you need before making your purchase! So if you’re looking for something truly comfortable, go with one of the thicker options.
What is the Best Warmth Rating for a Backpacking Sleeping Pad?
There are many factors that affect how warm you will be on your next backpacking trip. One of the most important considerations is what you sleep on because it directly affects how much heat your body retains.
The “R Value” determines how well insulated and insulating materials resist radiant energy transfer, or in other words, they provide protection from cold temperatures. With this knowledge in hand, it’s easy to find a pad with an R value high enough to keep you warm during any season!
Sleeping Pad Types
Sleeping pads are an integral part of backpacking. Whether you prefer air pads, self-inflating pads, or foam pads, there is a pad for everyone.
Air Pads (Inflatable pads)
These pads are usually inflated by mouth and deflated by rolling them up into the size of a small pillow. These offer more comfortable than foam pads but are also more expensive as they require inflation before use and then deflation to store them away too.
These all-inclusive mats roll out somewhat flat when unrolled from its storage pouch; just open it up on the ground and watch it inflate! It has some insulation properties but offers less cushioning than other types of sleeping pads.
Foam pads come in many different shapes depending on preference but often have a hard bottom designed for better insulation under your body weight whereas air pads can leave you cold if you’re not careful about how you sleep on your back or side with those soft tops touching the ground beneath you while asleep.
Remember a Repair Kit – if buying an air model, try and buy one with a repair kit included.
Length & Width
With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to pick the best size for your backpacking sleeping pad. There are a few different sizes available but I have found that the most popular size is 20 x 72 inches. This may not be best for taller people because they will need more length and width in order to sleep comfortably.
If you’re heading out on a long hike, you might want to consider something larger like 24 x 75 inches which offers more room inside of your tent or shelter while still retaining an easy-to-pack design.
What Size of Sleeping Pad Should I Buy?
The perfect length and width for a backpacking sleeping pad are up to you. Different sizes are available, so make sure you check what your preference is before purchasing one. Various lengths and widths are available; be aware that where I have reviewed one size I have mentioned if there are other sizes available.
If you’re looking to purchase a backpacking sleeping pad, it’s worth investigating the different shapes that are available. Up until recently, most manufacturers only produced rectangular pads.
But in recent years, some manufacturers have introduced new shapes and products that offer more options for fitting people who sleep on their stomachs or side.
One of the most common shapes for sleeping pads is a traditional rectangle. However, some manufacturers have introduced unusual shapes for effective use; these are certainly worth investigating further.
Thickness of Pad
While it may be tempting to go for a sleeping pad that’s as thick as possible, there is such a thing as too much comfort. If you start with a thicker mattress than necessary, the space left over when packed will only get smaller and more cramped. Instead, try finding one that feels good to you but also leaves enough room in your pack.
Sleeping Pad Durability
If you’re a regular walker you want a sleeping pad that will withstand the constant unpacking, use, and packing that it is intended for. I’ve concentrated on quality brands so you will find all of the ones listed very durable.
- Sleeping bag liner – for those hot summer nights
- Winter weather sleeping bags
- Backpacking pillow
- Budget sleeping Bag Under $100
- Best backpacking quilt
Do You Need a Sleeping Pad for Backpacking?
Yes, you need a sleeping pad for backpacking. The cold earth can be really uncomfortable if you’re not used to it! Sleeping pads are an important addition to your backpack as they help keep the dirt off of your body. It also provides insulation from the ground which is perfect if you don’t want to wake up with sore hips and shoulders. If you have one but haven’t taken it out of storage yet, take a look at some reviews on our site first so that you know what’s best for your needs!
How Thick Should a Backpacking Sleeping Pad Be?
A backpacking sleeping pad should be at least 1.5 inches in thickness to offer a comfortable night’s sleep on the ground, but what size you need will depend on your weight and how much insulation you want around you.
A basic rule of thumb is that if your body weight is under 130 pounds, then a 3/4-inch pad will work just fine for insulating against cold ground or rocks. For heavier backpackers over 200 pounds, thicker pads like Quarter-Inch Insulation Pad from Therm-a-Rest can provide added comfort while still being lightweight enough to pack away easily when not needed!
The sleeping pad is an item that will come down entirely to personal choice, influenced by what type of use it will be put towards, and how much you want to spend.
I am not going to recommend one of the items here, as all do the job very well but with different degrees of suitability for the conditions, so use my review as a guide, and as always, choose a sleeping pad that is the best one you can afford.
One thing – for those thinking about taking a sleeping pad on the Camino de Santiago. I did the first time I walked, there was no need for it and I only used it to have an afternoon nap under trees during the hottest parts of the day.
I love hiking. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.