About Sleeping Pads

No piece of outdoor gear can be as divisive as the sleeping pad.

Some old school ultralight backpackers look down their noses at sleeping pads, crawl in their old, crusty sleeping bags and wake up the next morning tired and sore after a terrible night’s sleep.

Sleeping pads can be an absolute game changer and a lifesaver on the trail.  They’re ultra lightweight, small enough to fit into most modern sleeping bags and provide added comfort and warmth from the cold, hard ground.

While some campers like to get cozy on a nice air bed, many backpackers don’t have space for such a luxury.

The backcountry is unforgiving for so many reasons.  Why not stack all the odds in your favor of getting a good night’s sleep. Especially if your navigating your way through more challenging terrain, a sleeping pad can help ensure that you get enough sleep so you wake up the next day refreshed and ready to conquer the trail.

Nowadays sleeping pads come in a number of different sizes and models that offer features like self-inflation, air pads, open-cell foam pads, and closed-cell foam pads.

We’ve included a list of our favorites below, along with a buying guide.

For more information and tips on how to find the best sleeping pad for your adventure, be sure to check out “Best Air Mattresses and Sleeping Pads For Camping“.



Best Sleeping Pads 2020

    Weight 14.5 ozs
    Packed Dimensions 8" x 3" x 3"
    Assembled Dimensions 73" x 21.6" x 2.2
    Current Price $32.99

    The Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad is perfect for backpackers and campers who love traveling light.

    With a generous length of 70 inches and weighing just 14.5 ounces, and its easy-inflate valve makes this is the perfect camping mattress for adventurers of all levels – beginners who don’t want equipment with a learning curve, and more experienced campers and backpackers who want reliability and quality.q

    • Packs down to the size of a water bottle
    • Durable Nylon
    • Fast inflation
    • Exclusive patented design
    • Inflatable pillow must be purchased separately

    Read our full review of the Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad

  1. Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Mattress
  2. Editors Rating:
    (5 / 5)
    Weight 3
    Current Price Price not available

    The Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Mattress is a super comfy self-inflating mat that you might find so comfortable you start using it at home on a nightly basis. With an R-value of 5, you’ll find the mat will keep you very well protected from the cold, hard ground.

    • Comes in 3 different sizes (R/L/XL),
    • Great for 4 season camping
    • R-Value of 5
    • Plenty of room when laid out
    • 3 pounds
    • Even packed fully down can still take up extra space

    Read our full review of the Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Mattress

  3. Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap Mattress
  4. Editors Rating:
    (4.9 / 5)
    Weight 3.25
    Current Price Price not available

    The Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap Mattress adds a touch of luxury for any backpacker looking for a great night’s sleep in the backcountry. The Luxurymap is a self-inflating sleeping pad with an R-value of 6.8 and raises to 3 inches high to keep you well insulated from the cold, hard ground thanks to the interior foam.

    • Durable/quiet outer materials
    • Self-inflating
    • R-Value of 6.8
    • Specialty body-mapping foam
    • Too big for lightweight backpacking

    Read our full review of the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap Mattress

    Weight 2
    Current Price Price not available

    The Fox Outfitters Comfort Series Self Inflating Camp Pad is an awesome self-inflating pad that will both comfort and convenience to any camper looking for a decent night’s sleep on the trail. The pad itself offers good size at 72 inches long and 20 inches wide (for the regular) so most average size campers can easily fit.

    • 2 sizes available
    • R-Value of 5
    • Long and big mat
    • Too big to pack for long distance lightweight backpacking

    Read our full review of the Fox Outfitters Comfort Series Self Inflating Camp Pad

  5. Sleeping Pad by Legit Camping
  6. Editors Rating:
    (4.7 / 5)
    Weight .9 lbs
    Assembled Dimensions 75"L X 22"W X 2"H
    Current Price Price not available

    The Sleeping Pad Camping Mat by Legit Camping is a very comfortable air pad that anyone capable of blowing out 10 large breaths can use. The pad itself measures 75 inches in length so it can easily fit most average to taller campers.

    • Packs down to the size of a small jug
    • Can fit a 6-foot person
    • Made from tough materials
    • Great for ultralight backpacking
    • R-rating of only 1.3 and not insulated

    Read our full review of the Sleeping Pad by Legit Camping

Sleeping Pads Buying Guide

Everything you need to know before purchasing Sleeping Pads

Below are some things to keep in mind when selecting a sleeping pad.

Type Of Pad

Sleeping pads come in several different styles including air pads, open-cell foam pads, and closed-cell foam pads

Air Pad

A good air pad is ideal for backpackers who want to keep their packed weight down.

They can come in lightweight styles and can pack down to the size of a liter jug to fit seamlessly in your pack.

It’s usually required to inflate these pads by mouth but there are smaller pump options and some are even made with the pump built into the pad.

The downside is they are more at risk of popping than foam pads.


Open-cell foam pads usually go by the name of “self-inflating” pads as that is one of their best features.

No blowing or lugging a pump around, just open the main valve and the pad is ready in seconds.

Aside from being self-inflating, open-cell pads offer more width and insulation than a regular foam pad.

Although not as packable as an air pad, they still break down to fit inside your pack and offer better insulation than a closed-cell foam pad.

However, they’re not as insulated as an air pad.


Many backpackers opt for the closed-cell foam pads because they are lightweight and offer great insulation.

As opposed to air pads they don’t pop.

The downside to closed-cell pads is their inability to be fully broken down.

They can only be rolled or folded up and kept on the outside of your pack.

A cool feature is their ability to be used in other, non-sleep situations like as a comfortable seat pad while camping.

Sleeping Pad Size

Most standard pads are around 6 feet long and 20 inches wide.

There are pads that run longer for taller campers.

Preferred width can vary between campers.

Typically you want a wider pad for a bigger person, or even if you just move around a lot in your sleep.

Just keep in mind that the bigger the pad, the heavier its going to be and the more you have to lug around.

Some campers will opt for the smaller pads as not all of their body needs the insulation like on warmer nights.


The R-Value of a sleeping pad measures the pad’s ability to insulate you from the cold ground.

The numbers run between 1.0 and 9.5 with the higher number correlating to better insulation.

That’s not to say that you always have to have the highest rated sleeping pad.

For instance, in the summer you only really need a pad with a score between 3 and 4.

Here its good to know if you are a cold or hot sleeper.

If you get cold easier then you may want to go with a higher rated pad.

Some pads are made specifically for women and prioritize higher R-value in specific areas of the pad over others.