Top Sleeping Pads Reviewed
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“.
Top Sleeping Pads Rankings
Last update on 2019-11-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Sleeping Pads Buying Guide 2019
How to Pick
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
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/SELF-INFLATING SLEEPING PAD
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.
CLOSED-CELL FOAM 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.
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