10 Best Sleeping Pads Reviewed & Compared

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For even the toughest athlete or adventure lover, getting a good night’s sleep when in the backcountry is a hard feat. From bumpy rocks and uneven dirt, to cooler weather, braving out a night in the wildness requires more than just a sleeping bag. A good sleeping pad can help bring comfort, stability and warmth when camping out under the stars. And the best ones have the consumer sleeping like a baby.

When sleeping outdoors, there is good chance that the next day is filled with activities like climbing or walking long distances that requires lots of energy. Which is why having enough sleep—and to actually sleep well —is crucial. Since being well rested is important, picking out the best sleeping pad to help facilitate this is a must.

The best sleeping pads should be light enough to carry in a backpack, comfortable enough to get that at home in bed feel, and warm enough not to be woken up by the shivers.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Ultralight
  • Price: See Here
Sea to Summit
  • Sea to Summit
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Easy to Inflate
  • Price: See Here
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX
  • Big Agnes Q-Core SLX
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Provides Warmth
  • Price: See Here

 

10 Best Sleeping Pads

 

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite

Three words best describe this sleeping pad: comfortable, cozy, and packable. It is lightweight, at just 12 ounces, which makes it light (and super compressible) enough for taking hiking, camping or backpacking when carrying heavy loads. It is nice and warm thanks to its ThermaCapture technology that traps in heat, but isn’t too stifling, making it ideal for most seasons. It is thick enough at 2.5 inches thick to not feel the ground, while not being bulky. Plus it’s durable, made to last for multiple adventures.
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Comfort

Even though this is a lightweight option, comfort isn’t sacrificed one bit. It has horizontal baffling that provides stability, with a smooth surface with softer fabrics that are still durable. At 2.5 inches thick, it pillowy without being overly thick, providing just enough cushion.

Warmth

This sleeping pad has a R-value of 3.2, and is recommended to use as low as 20 degree F. The company claims that is has more warmth per ounce than other three-season options. However, realistically this means there is some warmth provided but not enough for extreme colder weather. In that case use a foam pad and layer up to ward off the cold. Still, it performs well in the mild to warm seasons since it includes the company’s patent-pending ThermaCapture technology that traps in heat. Instead of synthetic insulation, it has the company’s Triangular Core Matrix construction that makes it more durable while keep the weight down. Put simply, it is warm for its weight.

Usability

To inflate (and deflate) there is an easy-to-use valve. It takes about 15 breathes to blow up, which is relatively low. Of course deflating is much easier.

Packability

This is one of the lightest sleeping pads on the market at just 12 oz heavy. And it packed down great to be the size of a 1-liter bottle to be placed in a backpack when it’s time to hit the road.
Pros
  • Ultralight weight for those looking for fast packing and light loads
  • Warm enough even in cold weather (when paired with a foam pad)
  • Compact and easy to pack
Cons
  • Can be bouncy when filled to the max
  • Not wide enough
  • Noises
  • Pricey

Sea to Summit

With this Sea to Summit pad, consumers will forget they are sleeping outdoors. This option is all about the comfort, having a real mattress feel. It has the company Air Sprung Cells that are small dimples on the pad’s surface that functions like the springs on a mattress. It is super easy to inflate and deflate, and adjust the amount of air to be less firm. While it’s geared more for summer adventures, it features Thermolite with Exkin Platinum insulation that makes it cozy in milder conditions. This is a super comfortable sleeping pad that is easy to pack and light to carry.
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Comfort

The word “ultralight” might scare some consumers off, thinking comfort isn’t a main feature here, but nothing could be further from the truth in this case. It is incredible comfortable, giving the NeoAir XLite a run for it’s money. It is 2-inch thick, and features an unique design. Instead of using horizontal or vertical baffles, the Sea to Summit Ultralight has circular “Air Sprung” cells. As a result, there is limited bouncing, proving a stable and comfortable mattress-like feel.

Warmth

This Ultralight comes in either uninsulated or insulated options. The insulated version has a R-value of 3.3, whereas the alternative only has a 0.7 ratings. Insulated is definitely the way to go, and it won’t be too warm for summer backpacking. It features Exkin Platinum fabric and Thermolite insulation to prevent heat loss and retain body heat. Warmth really isn’t its strong suit, but when using in mild to moderate spring and warm summer weather, it’s all features outweighs this factor.

Usability

This sleeping pad has an integrated Airstream pump at the base of its stuff sack that makes it extremely easy to inflate, with just about 15 breaths. If the consumer inflates too much, they can simple press the middle of the valve to adjust the amount of air.

Packability

Weighing 12.5 oz, this is an ultralight option that is easy to carry. It does come with a stuff sack, and folds up to be smaller than a liter. This makes it one of the best when it comes to how portable and easy to pack it is.
Pros
  • Lightweight, easy to pack
  • Super comfortable with unique construction
  • Easy to inflate and adjust air
Cons
  • Bottoms out a little when sitting up
  • Not warm enough for cooler weather

Big Agnes Q-Core SLX

At 4.25 inches thick, this sleeping pad provides more than enough cushion and comfort when time to set up camp in the backcountry. It features beams to create support and stability, which help to keep the consumer centered while sleeping. It is a three seasons option, meaning consumers can use this up to 15 degree weather and still be relatively warm. It’s easy to inflate and deflate, is lightweight and has a packable design.
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Comfort

This is the option for Big Agnes to check out for those who don’t want to skimp out on comfort. Made from ripstop fabric, it has a quilted surface that is pillowy, resembling and having the feel of a home mattress. These quilted baffles also help to remove pressure points from rocks, leaves and other debris. Keep in mind that the quilted surface isn’t smooth, so the small hills might be uncomfortable for some. It’s best to deflate it slightly to increase the comfort in this case. Still, it is 4.25 inches thick, which is a nice amount of padding.

Warmth

This is a sleeping pad that can be used for three seasons, and up to 15 degree F. To keep it nice and cozy, it is equipped with heat reflective technology to retain body heat, and WRM HL synthetic insulation. The company doesn’t specify it’s R-value, but expect some heat loss in those low temperatures. However, in not freezing temperatures, it does keep the body warm. Just have that super warm sleeping bag and tent ready for colder fall treks.

Usability

This sleeping bag has a high volume valve that makes inflating as efficient as possible. However, the consumer still needs to inflate themselves, which takes anywhere between 30 and 45 breaths. There are two different valves for inflating and deflating.

Packability

Weighing 16 oz, this is a lightweight option that is ideal for taking in a backpack. It is also lighter more easily packed that some other of the Big Agnes’ sleeping pads. It goes down to 4 x 7.5 inches, and comes with a stuff sack. It is great for hikers, climbers, and longer travels with lots of gear.
Pros
  • Performs well in comfort, weight and portability
  • Provides enough warmth
  • Easy to inflate
  • Not noisy
  • Thicker design that previous models
  • Packs down nicely
Cons
  • Outer edges keep the consumer in the middle, so this might not be as comfortable for some
  • Not as durable despite improved tear strength

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm

The NeoAir Thermm has all the pros of the XLite, but with one added bonus— it’s warmer. It designed for those who hate being cold at night, or for those winter trips when the temp drops. It reflects body heat, with a R-value of 5.7. Along with being warm enough for wintry conditions, it’s still lightweight, not bulky and easy to pack.
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Comfort

This is thickness of 2.5 inches, this is a thin and lightweight option. But that doesn’t mean comfort is left out in the dark. It still has enough thickness to be nicely off the ground. It’s fabric is textured, but is non-slip and smooth. It is much more comfortable than other lightweight options, and might very well end up being a go-to for many campers and travelers based on its level of comfort.

Warmth

With a R-value of 5.7, the NeoAir Therm is one of the warmest choices on the market. This makes it ideal even for winter, making it a four season sleeping pad. It retains heat well while being light and not bulky like many might assume. It does this by using its ThermaCapture (patent-pending) application that consist of layers with warmth targets, as well as its Triangular Core Matrix construction. This tech consists of hundred different cells that restrict air from flowing inside to keep things nice and warm. With its great warmth-to-weight ratio, this pad is all about keep the consumer toasty, and is it’s main selling point.

Usability

This pad has a twist valve that takes about 25-35 breaths to fill it firmly. This isn’t that much, but a little bit than other options. In comparison, it inflates much slower than other Therm-a-Rest options like NeoAir XLite MAX SV, and other company’s products like OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad and the Klymit Insulated Static V.

Packability

At 15 oz, this really is a lightweight option. What makes it so impressive is how light it is for how warm it is. The two generally don’t go hand-in-hand, especially for a four season option. When filed up, it isn’t bulky and roughly rolls up to the the size of a 1-liter water bottle. It’s light and compact enough to toss into a bag.
Pros
  • Extremely warm, great for four seasons
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight, great for backpacking and longer adventures without weighing the consumer down
Cons
  • Pricey
  • A bit narrow
  • Noisy

Klymit Insulated Static V

This is a four season camping pad that will keep the consumer warm even in the winter, with a R Value of a high 4.4. It’s “V” design limits air movement, thus heat loss. It has side rails to center the consumer, inflates in just 10 breaths and is made to last, durable against abrasion and tears.
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Comfort

Even side or belly sleepers will be comfortable on the Static V. It has a specially developed design with body mapping tech that helps provide support. It has side rails that further give a more secure fit onto the pad, centering the consumer and reducing the amount of air moving around as they shift their weight while asleep. The pattern on the sleeping pad also helps to make it super lofty, meaning lots of cushion and comfort.

Warmth

This option has a R-value of 4.4, making it nice and warm for those chilly nights, ideal for those cold sleepers who like to be bundled up nice and cozy. Like it’s name suggests, this sleeping bag is designed with V chamber that are filled with the company’s Klymalit synthetic insulation that enhances thermal performance by slowing the transfer or air within the pad.


Usability

This pad is equipped with a twist to pull valve with a secure seal that takes about 10 or less breaths to inflate. Of course deflating is even easier, and super quick.

Packability

Considering its amount of insulation and overall thickness, this option is surprisingly lightweight and compressible. It comes with a storage bag that makes it portable when rolled up.
Pros
  • As a microbial finish to prevent germs, bacteria and odor
  • Lightweight and compressible
  • Super warm
  • Expansion zones for full loft
  • Durable
Cons
  • Side rails can feel constricting for some
  • Some slow leaks

OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight

This option is much affordable that the others, but will still protect the back from feeling like its on a bed of dirt and rocks. It’s level of comfort is comparable to the Thermarest ProLite. It has isolated air cells that limit air flow to reduce heat loss, making it warm as well. It packs down smaller than a water bottle, and is easy to inflate and deflate. This is a great “bang for your buck” option.
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Comfort

This pad has interconnected diamond shaped air cells that self adjust to the consumer’s body so that they are laying comfortably. It is thinner than other options, but still provide enough cushioning to not feel like the consumer is on the dirt or ground.

Warmth

This option has a R-value of just 1.3, making it one of the least warm options on this list. The consumer is basically trading the lightweight feature for the amount of warmth. It is warm enough to use in up to 40 degree F weather, just don’t use them option for cold nights below that.

Usability

This sleeping pad is very easy to inflate, taking just 10 to 15 breaths to do so. The valve is located near the head so that the amount of air can be adjusted. It deflates even faster to be able to quickly pack up and start the next day’s adventure.

Packability

This is one of the most packable sleeping pads, weighing just 16 oz. It can pack down super small to be 8”x3”x3” making it great for putting in a backpack.
Pros
  • Ultra lightweight
  • Weather-proof
  • Very packable
  • Easy to inflate
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Made with 20D nylon with TPU layer
Cons
  • Thin
  • Can bottom out or “sink in”

Therm-a-Rest Neoair Venture

This is a good option for a mid-range price that won’t break the bank. The Neoair Venture features patent-pending wave core construction to provide twice the warmth compared to uninsulated air mattresses. It is 2 inches thick, giving enough loft to use as tent pad. It isn’t as lightweight as other options, but still packable. Best of all is it’s a durable option, perfect for those who enjoy camping often.
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Comfort

The pad thickness is only 2 inches, which is slightly less than others on this list. However, it is enough to not feel like the consumer is on the hard ground. The fabric is also soft, and it has a rectangular shape that is great for using inside a tent. It has horizontal baffles that help provide stability for a comfortable sleep.

Warmth

The NeoAir Venture has the company’s patent-pending WaveCore technology that consist of over one hundred insulating cells that provide double the warmth when compared to uninsulated options—all without the extra weight and bulk. It has a R-Value of 1.8, which is very low compared to options like its very own NeoAir XTherm or Big Agnes Insulated Double Z. However, this is still enough warmth for 35 degree F weather, although it’s not the best for winter weather.

Usability

This sleeping pad is easy to get up and running thanks to its valve that requires just a twist. The consumer must inflate it themselves, so it does require some work compared to automatic options. With that said, expect 30 breaths to do the job.

Packability

This pad is lighter than some options like the NEMO Tensor Insulated, but not the lightest on the market. It weighs just over 1 lbs, making it lightweight and portable. This is a great option for hiking or backpacking.
Pros
  • Extremely durable thanks to its 75D polyester
  • Comfortable
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Slightly noisy
  • Not as thick as others

NEMO Tensor Insulated

This sleeping pad offers 3 inches of cushioning, while being the lightest option made by NEMO at just over a pound. It is firm, and has ample insulation. It’s design also makes it comfortable for side sleepers. It packs down to be the size of a water bottle, and doesn’t made noise when moving around.
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Comfort

The Tensor Insulated sleeping pad has a rectangular shape with 3 inches of cushioning. While this is enough thickness, consumer’s will also get a comfortable night’s sleep thanks to its lateral baffles with a bubble-shape design. It provides a close to mattress feel for when camping.

Warmth

NEMO doesn’t provide the exact R-Value of this sleeping pad. Instead, it claims it keeps consumers warn as low as 15 degree F temperatures. Realistically, this is extremely cold and chances are sleeping on the floor outdoors will stile rough. With that said, this is a synthetic insulated option that has PrimeLoft that provides warmth comparable to down. It uses a thermal mirror that reflects heat, so it is a good option for chillier nights.

Usability

This sleeping pad does take a bit longer to inflate and deflate than other options on the list. It does so with an air valve that has a small piece piece that esquires the consumer to manual blow up. While this sounds tedious, it does inflate with just a few breathes.

Packability

This option comes with a stuff sack, and rolls nicely into among the size of a large water bottle. This makes it extremely portable since it will pack nicely in just about any bag or backpack.
Pros
  • Rectangular shape makes it roomy
  • Thick and mattress-like cushion
  • Less noisy than Big Agnes Insulated Double Z
Cons
  • Fabric is a bit thin so be careful not to puncture

Big Agnes Insulated Double Z

This option has a great warmth to comfort ratio, and is known for its features that includes an anti-microbial treatment, and integrated heat reflective technology. It is super comfortable, with air evenly being dispersed, and overall is a durable option
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Comfort

Lightweight, but still at 4 inches thick, this pad delivers on the comfort front. Not only is it super thick, but it also features a stabilizer construction that distributes the consumer’s weight evenly. This calls for a smooth surface with no pressure points that makes it comfy to sleep on opposed to feeling like some body parts are “sinking in.” It is extremely comfortable to sleep in any position with this one. It is also wide, giving plenty of room to turn over and side sleep.

Warmth

This sleeping pad has a R-Value of 4.5, which isn’t the warmest on the market, but it does do a great job at providing warmth. It is equipped with Primaloft Silver synthetic insulation, with an internal polyurethane coating. This makes it warm even down to 30 degree F weather, but also light which aids in its packabiltiy.

Usability

This option as a 2-piece valve, with a 1-way inflation that doesn’t loose air. It also does the job by itself. Without the consumer having to inflate, they can focus on setting up camp. It also deflates in just 4 breaths, great for a quick pack up.

Packability

This option comes in regular, regular wide and long wide, with the regular weighing 1 lb 5 oz. This is light enough to take when traveling or backpacking. It also comes with a stuff sack that makes it portable.
Pros
  • Thick cushioning with lots of warmth
  • Durable
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
Cons
  • Noisy

Exped Megamat 10

This is a great option for those going right from the car to the campground. It is much heavier and bulkier than the other options on this list. However, it is very comfortable, making it feel as close to sleeping on a mattress at home the outside possible. It is the most warm on this list, with a R value of 9.5. It self inflates with a mini pump, and has a stuff sack for when it’s time to pack up.
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Comfort

Think of this sleeping pad as a portable bed. It is thick and cushiony, with 3.9 inches of loft. This makes it one of the thickest options on this list. As a result, the Megamat 10 is more like a air mattress than a thin and flimsy base pad. This means more back support, making the consumer forget they are sleeping on the ground. The fabric itself is also soft, so there is no nylon or rubber-like feel it.

Warmth

With a R-Value of 9.5, this is also on elf warmest options on this list. It is made with an open-cell polyurethane foam to provide impressively toasty insulation. It also was welded seams to it is made airtight.

Usability

This sleeping pad inflates and deflates with its 2 wide, FlatValved. It has a built-in flap to prevent air from escaping when blowing it up. IT also comes with a mini pump. It’s suggested that the consumer inflate the pad itself for about 10 minutes, then use their foot and the minpump to get to their deserved loft. The best part is that it doesn’t even need to be inflated to the max to be super comfortable on the body.

Packability

This is a great option for camping, particularly in cases when the gear is packed in the car or RV. While it scored better in comfort then other models on this list, it falls way behind in portability. It weighs over 5 lbs, making it a hefty option that makes it a horrible choice for backpacking. It can toll up an comes with a Smart Pack Sack with a carrying handle that can be hoisted around the shoulder.
Pros
  • Feels like a memory foam mattress
  • Thick, wide and comfortable
  • Easy to inflate
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky

 

The Criteria Used For Our Evaluation

Those who don’t camp often might assume that a sleeping bag has enough comfort and protection from the cooler night’s air to make it through the night—especially if they are in a tent. But just think about how uncomfortable sleeping on the floor is. And since sleeping pads are designed not to be heavy, it is an important piece gear to bring along with when looking for some quality Z’s.

While vital, being comfortable when sleeping on the ground isn’t enough to make an option the best. In order to determine what classifies a sleeping pad as the best we used a set criteria that is explained below.

Comfort: Using a sleeping pad means that the consumer will most likely be sleeping on the ground. How thick is this option? Many options have about 3-inches of loft. This is just enough cushion to be comfortable on the ground without being overly thick and bulky. There are options that are thicker, thus more comfort. But comfort also has to do with if the surface is smooth or bumpy with ridges. How long is the pad, and how wide? Will the feet hang off it, and can the arms comfortably rest on the sides?

Warmth: Is this option insulated? Does it feature other heat retaining properties? What is its R-Value? Is it a three or four season option? If it can be used in the winter, what temperature will it keep the consumer cold until?

Portability: This is a huge factor because the whole purpose of the sleeping pads is to be taking with on trips like camping or backpacking. That’s why weight is key for those stuffing it in their backpack.

Value: Some sleeping pads can cost a premium price. How durable is this options? Is it made with materials like ripstop fabric to prevent abrasions ad tears? Is it made to last more than one adventure? Does its other features make it a worthy enough buy?

Other Important Things To Consider

When discussing the best sleeping pads, keep in mind that a specific option might not be the best for that consumer. Consumers need to choose an option that best suits their needs.

Location

For example, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is the best for its overall performance when it comes to important features and functionality. But it might not be enough padding for those camping right out of their truck or really looking for that pillowy cushion.

Think about where the sleeping pad is being used. Will it be placed in a large tent? Does it need to fit more than one person? Is the consumer backpacking and carrying it on them, or do they have a car camper and is pulling into the camping site?

R-value

Sleeping pads are rated based on how much warmth and insulation it has. This is measured by it’s “R-value.” The R-value refers to the material’s thermal resistance, its capacity to resist heat. The higher the R-value, the warmer and more insulated it is. Always look at the sleeping pad’s R-value before purchasing to see if it will meet the consumer’s needs.

Noise

Expect to hear some noises coming from underneath the consumer as they sleep. No it isn’t critters joining the slumber party. The “crinkly” sound is caused by the sleeping pad. Even the best pads tend to make a crinkly noise. Others are less loud than others. This is just something that comes with the territory with these products. The good news is the amount of noise decreases with use.

Types

There are a few different types of sleeping pads that include: air pads, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam pads. The main difference here is that air pads require the consumer to inflate it themselves. This includes using their own breath, which can take a few minutes. Self-inflating sleeping pads, well inflate themselves. This makes them easy to use and adjust. Closed-cell foam pads tend to be the most durable, but less comfortable.

 

FAQ

Q: What is the best way to clean my sleeping pad?

A: Hand wash with water and an all-purpose cleaner or mild soap will clean the pad. Use a hose or bath, and do no put in the washing machine.

Q: What do I do if water gets inside my mattress?

A: Immediately open the value and hang the pad upside down to release all the water. Leave out to dry, but this can take up to three day.

Q: Can I replace the valve on my sleeping pad?

A: Some companies do offer a replacement kit to repair the valve like the Therm-a-Rest Valve Kit. Contact the company to see its policy.

Q: What size sleeping pad do I need?

A: The sleeping bad needs to fit the shoulders (width) and at least the hips (length). Most will want it to be as long as their feet. Make sure to check the width of the pad since some run narrow.

Q: Which is the best sleeping pad for backpacking?

A: Backpackers want a lightweight options that is easy to pack and store in their bag. With gear already stored, make sure it weighs a pound or lighter in order to move fast without too much added weight.

Q: How do I inflate the sleeping pad?

A: This varies among models. Many either require the consumer to breathe into the valve mouthpiece for about 3 minutes until filled, or some have automatic inflation.

Sources

  1. Rei, How to Choose Sleeping Pads, Outdoors Website,
  2. Outdoor Gear Exchange, How to Choose a Sleeping Pad, Outdoors Website,
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