10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads of 2020 – Tested & Reviewed
Looking to upgrade your backpacking gear with a sleeping pad? Then look no further than our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad overview! Our experts have rounded up our top 10 buys on Amazon, ensuring you can enjoy a good night’s sleep – even on hard and though undergrounds.
In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:
And here’s an overview of the best backpacking sleeping pads on the market today:
These backpacking sleeping pads tick all the important boxes: lightweight, easy-to-use, packable and portable, comfy, insulating, and excellent value-for-money. We’ve included something for every type of backpacker, budget, and season. Whether you’re looking for an ultralight summer sleeping pad with minimum insulation yet maximum comfort, or a 4-season sleeping pad that keeps you warm and comfy even in cold weather conditions: there’s a match for every preference.
We’ve ensured to include a great mix of R-values: one of the most important buying factors to consider when shopping for a sleeping pad. The R-value of a product refers to the thermal resistance of a sleeping pad. Or, in other words: how well a sleeping pad can insulate against the cold. The higher the R-value, the more insulating a pad is. For summer conditions, a sleeping pad with an R-value of 1.0 may already be sufficient, but for 3-season usage, you’ll need an R-value of at least 2.0 or higher.
Every product in our Best Backpacking Sleeping Overview is worthy of your time, money, and attention – and has its unique appeal. From non-inflatable foam sleeping pads to fancy high-end inflatables: there’s a comfy fit for any hiker, backpacker, and outdoor enthusiasts.
These are our favorite Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads:
- Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress
- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
- Klymit Inertia X Frame Ultralight Backpacking Pad
- Klymit Static V Backpacking Sleeping Pad
- Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad
- Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad
- Nemo Switchback Ultralight Foam Sleeping Pad
- Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad
- Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad
- Sea to Summit Ultralight Pad with Inflation Pump Sack
Discover more about each product in our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad Overview below, and upgrade your gear with one of these ultralight, great-value designs:
Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad – Overview
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress
The 72 x 20-inch foam sleeping pad features a compact accordion-style shape and can be folded to a manageable 20 x 5 x 5.5 inches bundle. Though it’s not the lightest or smallest in packing dimensions, it’s still more than packable enough for backpacking trips.
The Z Lite Sol backpacking pad features Therm-a-Rest’s special ThermaCapture™ coating. This reflective coating helps capture radiant heat, which in turn increases the pad’s overall warmth and insulation by nearly 15%. Besides maximum warmth retention, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol foam sleeping pad is also big on durability. The design has a high-quality, virtually indestructible closed-cell foam pads construction. The pad’s proprietary foams that are softer on the top and denser at the bottom: keeping you comfy, yet also offering the needed durability and tear-resistance when placed on tough undergrounds.
When it comes to ultralight foam sleeping pads with a premium quality standard, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress is a top-contender.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is an ultralight and comfy sleeping pad with an outstanding warmth-to-weight ratio. The sleeping pad only weighs 12 oz, yet has an R-value of 4.2: all the warmth, without the bulk. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is also very packable, measuring just 9 x 4.1 inches when packed in its included stuff sack.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite features a tapered silhouette, which is ideal for mummy-shaped sleeping bags. The inflatable pad has a 2.5-inch thickness when filled, which makes it extra-comfortable and adds to its stability and durability. Besides its impressive 4.2 R-value, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is also equipped with additional insulation perks. These include reflective ThermaCapture™ technology: a construction technique that helps traps radiant heat and minimizes heat loss.
WingLock valve for quick inflation
Additional premium features of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad include an innovative WingLock valve, which enables the pad to inflate up to three times faster than regular sleeping pads, thanks to its larger opening and one-way inflation. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite also includes a breath-saving pump sack, compact stuff sack, and field repair kit.
Granted, it may be one of the more expensive options on this Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad Overview, but when you want superior warmth without the bulk: the NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad is pretty much as good as it gets.
Klymit Inertia X Frame Ultralight Backpacking Pad
Great for summer camping
The Klymit Inertia X Frame Ultralight Backpacking Pad has a streamlined silhouette that only supports the areas of your body where you need it most and eliminates padding where you don’t. Do note that this design is aimed at back sleepers, as the structure doesn’t support you in the right places when you use it for side sleeping. Also, the minimalistic design affects the R-value, which for the Inertia X Frame by Klymit is only 1.0. This makes the ultralight pad mostly a summertime camping choice, as it lacks some of the insulation (literally!) to keep you warm in cold weather conditions.
That said if you’re looking for an ultralight backpacking sleeping pad that takes up minimum weight, and space (only 3 x 6 inches) in your pack: this could be your lightweight match!
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad
The Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad has an R-value of 1.3 and is easy to inflate fully in about 10-15 breaths. Once inflated, the V-chamber design limits air movement, keeping every inch of the pad lofted. The V-chamber design also prevents heat loss and offers better support and stability during the night.
A fair-weather favorite
The Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad weighs approximately 18.7 oz and can be compressed down to a compact 3 x 8-inch bundle. Affordable, comfy, easy-to-use, and easy-to-pack: this streamlined air mattress is a firm favorite amongst backpackers. The style is rated highly in Amazon customer reviews, and is rated as an excellent value-for-money choice for backcountry adventures.
Do note that its 1.3 R-value makes it less suitable for 3-season camping, and more adept to summertime and/or warmer weather conditions. That said, you can always pair it with a cold-weather sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner to increase its thermal resistance; though we’d probably advise you to upgrade to a higher R-value pad instead.
Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad
The Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad is made of 20-denier ripstop nylon fabric and measures 2 inches in thickness when self-inflated. The design is not the most cushioning but does offer enough loft for a good night’s sleep. For backpackers that want first-class comfort, this may not reign supreme. However, for those consumers that have economy pricing and affordability as key priorities, this budget-friendly style could be a great fit.
A budget-friendly alternative
Or, to summarize: the Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad is cheap and cheerful. For under $50, you can’t expect a self-inflating sleeping pad to tick all the boxes, but you can be sure that this style by Sleepingo ticks all the most important boxes. It’s got a decent R-value of 2.1, it’s relatively lightweight, and it can be compressed down to the size of a water bottle. Plus, with a limited lifetime guarantee by the manufacturer, this pad is even covered against manufacturing defects – making it a risk-free and budget-friendly choice in self-inflatable camp mattresses.
Nemo Tensor Insulated Ultralight Sleeping Pad
The Nemo Tensor Insulated Ultralight Sleeping Pad is a premium choice that’s the perfect blend between comfort and packable dimensions. The inflatable pad offers 3 luxurious inches of cushioned loft, keeping you insulated from cold undergrounds. The thick pad also has low stretch fabric trusses which provide plenty of support for your posture. The lightweight pad is suited to both back sleepers and side sleepers.
The Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad by Nemo has an R-value of 3.5: more than adequate for 3-season usage. The rectangular shape design can be packed down to an 8 x 3-inch bundle and weighs 18 oz including accessories. These accessories include a handy Vortex pump sack. This pump sack provides fast inflation and minimizes moisture entering the pad, saving you breaths and effort.
The Nemo Tensor Insulated Ultralight Sleeping Pad is rated as the most technical pad in Nemo’s lineup and is made of first-class fabrics. The insulated model features 2 layers of suspended Thermal Mirror film, which is a lighter and quieter choice in insulation. This means that even when you have a restless night, this construction prevents loud crunching noises – letting your other backpacking buddies enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Lifetime warranty by Nemo
Also good to know: the Insulated Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad by Nemo comes with a lifetime warranty. Nemo is so confident you’ll love the comfort of this pad, it covers the products with a lifetime warranty against any defects in workmanship and/or materials. Serving as a testimony of the durability of the sleeping pad, and making this a risk-free investment to your backpacking sleeping comfort.
If you want a premium loft, easy inflation, an excellent 3.5 R-value for three-season usage, outstanding durability, and don’t mind compromising on a pad that is just a few ounces heavier than its competition, the Tresor could be the key to your camping gear needs!
Nemo Switchback Ultralight Foam Sleeping Pad
The Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad has an R-value of 2.0 and weighs 14.5 oz when packed. The pad has a folding panel design, which allows for easy setup and packing, folding the mattresses to a 20.0 x 5.0 x 5.5 inches bundle. Do note that its 2.0 R-value isn’t the most insulating, meaning that for cold weather conditions you will need to pair it with a thermal sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner. However, for fair weather conditions in spring/summertime, the Switchback should have more than sufficient insulating properties.
Axiotomic dual-density foam
The Nemo Switchback Ultralight Foam Sleeping Pad is big on comfort. The design is made of Axiotomic™ dual-density foam: a material optimized for well-balanced compression and abrasion resistance. The style’s hexagonal nesting pattern features more space for taller, wider nodules – enhancing the plushness of the pad. Don’t just take it from us: this foam sleeping pad is highly-praised in Amazon reviews for its comfy appeal.
Another reason we rate the Nemo Switchback Ultralight Foam Sleeping Pad as one of the best backpacking sleeping pads is its value-for-money. Though packed with premium perks and high-end construction techniques, the pad is still affordable, and very reasonably priced for the quality you get. Granted, it’s not the cheapest foam pad on the market, but it is one of the best-value when you consider all its merits.
You can also buy with confidence thanks to Nemo’s lifetime warranty, which covers your purchase against any manufacturing or material defects. Giving you the peace of mind that the foam pad will live up to and exceed expectations.
Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad
Maximum support and stability, insulation, and comfort? The high-quality Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad ticks all the boxes. This inflatable pad features an offset I-Beams design, creating multi-directional support to keep you insulated and stable at night. Also, the pad boasts a quilted top layer, which provides a pillowy, cushioned sleeping surface: super comfy! Plus, you can enjoy all these perks at a minimal packing weight of just 16 oz, more than lightweight enough for backcountry adventures, thru-hikers, and long-distance backpacking trips.
The Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad is a very durable and tough choice, more than capable of handling challenging terrains and undergrounds. The inflatable pad is made of double rip-stop nylon, which has over 25% more abrasion-resistance/tear-resistance than regular nylon fabric. The silhouette is easy to inflate/deflate using a high-volume valve.
Great for three-season camping
When it comes to insulation, the Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad boasts an R-value of 3.2: great for three-season usage. The pad is equipped with WRM HL™ Insulation: a durable and high-loft synthetic insulation that provides excellent warmth with minimal weight and bulk. When packed, the Q Core SLX by Big Agnes can be compressed down to a 4 x 7.5-inch bundle, stuff sack included.
Another perk of the design is that antimicrobial treatment inside the pad prevents microorganism growth: keeping your pad free from mold or bacteria. The Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad also includes a repair kit. However, with its double ripstop nylon shell, we doubt you’ll ever need it!
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad
The Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad is made of cross-linked, closed-cell polyethylene foam. The silhouette features supportive peaks and heat-trapping valleys in the padding, enhancing its insulation and heat-retaining properties. The design has an R-value of 2.0: suitable for three-season usage, though you may want to consider pairing it with a cold-weather sleeping bag on chillier nights.
An indestructible classic
The RidgeRest Classic is a great choice for those wanting basic comfort on a budget. If you’re looking for a functional foam mattress that can handle any challenging underground with ease: the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Foam Camping Sleeping Pad could be the classic choice for you! Yes, you will have to compromise a bit on comfort, loft, and cushioning – but you get a whole lot of durability in return.
This best-selling foam mattress by Therm-a-Rest weighs 19 oz and can be rolled into a 20 x 8-inch bundle. The product is made in the USA and comes with Therm-a-Rest’s Limited Lifetime Warranty, which covers the pad against any manufacturing defects.
Cheap yet cheerful: the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic proves that sometimes there’s nothing wrong with going back to basics!
Sea to Summit Ultralight Pad with Inflation Pump Sack
Another trusted brand in outdoor gear is Sea to Summit, which also offers a popular line-up of sleeping pads. The best-selling model in the Sea to Summit collection is the Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Mat, a lightweight inflatable pad with an R-value of 3.1. The Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Mat weighs 16.9 oz and can be packed down to a neat 4 x 9-inch bundle.
Though the inflatable mattress is only 2 inches thick, it’s surprisingly lofty thanks to its Air Sprung Cell™ construction. The Air Sprung Cell™ technology means the silhouette is equipped with 181 individual air-filled pockets, which deliver optimal stability and comfort. This special Air Sprung Cell™ construction also prevents internal air movement, which helps prevent heat-loss and maximizes the insulating properties of the pad. Additionally, the Sea to Summit Ultralight Pad won’t be noisy when you move around in your sleep, as both the reflective insulation and outer laminate material are very quiet.
Another perk is that Sea to Summit pad’s multi-function valve and pump are integrated into the stuff sack, enabling effortless inflation and deflation, and easy fine-tuning of the mattress its loftiness. We also like that the camping pad’s TPU lamination exterior features an anti-microbial treatment, which prevents delamination/mold issues caused by moist air trapped inside the sleeping mat.
Includes a repair kit and spare valve insert
The Sea to Summit Ultralight Pad with Inflation Pump Sack is a mid-budget favorite for 3-season use, as its 3.1 R-value rating makes it more than insulating enough for spring, summer, and autumn – providing you live in a relatively mild climate. This style offers excellent value-for-money and even includes a repair kit containing six self-adhesive patches for repairing punctures in the field, and a spare silicone one-way valve insert. Whether you’re a car camping enthusiast, or looking for a lightweight backpacking sleeping pad: the comfy and high-quality Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Mat has got you – and your sleeping needs – covered!
Tip: Cold sleepers or those planning to camp in wintery conditions can also upgrade to the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus camping mat, which has an R-Value of 4.0 which is enough insulation against cold ground and chilly conditions – all four seasons of the year.
So, which of the 10 products in our overview rates as ‘the best pad’ for backpacking? Well, that completely depends on where and when you plan to use the sleeping pad, and how much you’re willing to spend. For example, backpackers that only camp in the summer season won’t need a super insulating pad. For summertime conditions, an R-value of 1.0 – as found in the ultralight Klymit Inertia X Frame Backpacking Pad – could already offer sufficient insulation. That said, for thru-hikers that plan to hike in more challenging cold weather conditions, a pad with a higher R-value, such as the 3.5 of the Nemo Tensor Insulated Pad, is a must.
Determine the R-Value you need
So, firstly decide that type of R-value (thermal resistance/insulation) you need. For three-season usage, look for a pad with a minimal R-value rating of 2.0: as this ensures it will keep you protected from the cold ground. The higher the R-value, the more insulating/warm a sleeping pad is.
Foam versus inflatable
Secondly, decide whether you want a foam sleeping pad or an inflatable sleeping pad. Both have their pros and cons. Foam pads are cheaper and durable, whilst inflatable pads tend to be bigger on comfort and support – plus can be compressed down to smaller dimensions. Both get the job done, so don’t worry: there’s no bad choice.
Budget versus high-end
Thirdly, consider how much you’re willing to spend on a sleeping pad for backpacking. The best ultralight inflatable pads by well-known outdoor brands can easily cost over $100, but fortunately, there are also more budget-friendly options available – such as the Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad. Though this style compromises slightly on durability, it’s also a fraction of the cost of high-end models like the Big Agnes Q Core SLX Ultralight Sleeping Pad – so it could be worth the compromise if the price is a top priority for you.
Finding your best match
Once you’ve decided on R-value, type of pad, and budget – simply use our comprehensive overview to narrow down your options and pick one of the remaining models. We’ve ensured each product in this Best Sleeping Pad Overview scores top-marks on Amazon and other review sites, ensuring that our top picks live up to their promise of keeping you comfy and supported all night long.
Each style in this Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad Overview is already a winner, all you need to do is determine which of these top picks is the best choice for you!
Picking a winner from the line-up is very subjective, as each pad has its pros and cons. It’s not that fair to compare the performance of a high-end $150 sleeping mattress to that of a basic foam mat that only costs $30. That said, we can pick a winner that we think offers maximum bang for your buck. We’re not saying it’s by definition ‘the best’, as it does compromise a bit on comfort and durability, however, when it comes to ‘the best value’, it’s hard to beat the Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad.
The Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad is a budget-friendly alternative to high-end inflatable pads and costs only a fraction of the Therm-a-Rest, Nemo, and Sea-to-Summit models. The pad itself has an R-value of 2.1: which is suitable for three-season usage, though mostly recommended for fair weather camping. However, if you pair it with a cold-weather sleeping bag, we reckon it’s insulating enough for spring, summer, and autumn trips in moderate climates. Besides being super affordable, the style is also lightweight and compact. It only weighs 14.5 ounces, which makes it one of the lightest models in this overview, and packs down to a neat 8 x 3.5-inch bundle: about the size of a water bottle.
Cheap, cheerful, and comfortable: for backpacking on a budget, it’s hard to beat the outstanding value of the Sleepingo Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Pad.
Tip: Want to take your backpacking sleeping pad winter camping? Then pair it with a cold-weather sleeping bag, cold weather tent, and additional sleeping bag liner, which can instantly transform a three-season sleeping pad to a 4-season champ – allowing you to use the pad year-round!