7 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads (2022)

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    As a backpacker, you know there’s nothing worse than setting up camp at the end of the day only to feel every single rock and root underneath you as you’re trying to sleep. A sleeping bag will keep you warm, but it won’t cushion you from the earth underneath.

    That’s why you need a backpacking sleeping pad, and we’re here with our list of the 7 best sleeping pads to add to your camping gear.


    Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads – Winners

    Check out our quick recommendations here, or keep scrolling for detailed reviews:


    Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad Overall

    1. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite

    Quick View Information

    • Self-inflating
    • 6 ounces
    • 5” thick
    • 3 R-value

    The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite backpacking sleeping pad is our top pick for best overall because it is lightweight, self-inflates in less than 2 minutes, and provides 2.5” of padding between you and the hard ground below.

    The outside of this sleeping mat is made of 15D nylon with a tapered design that helps save room in your backpack. When inflated, the sleeping pad has a triangular core matrix that creates a stable surface while also reducing heat loss. It self-inflates in less than 2 minutes and takes up as little room as a one-liter water bottle.

    Pros

    • Self-inflating
    • Lightweight
    • Tapered design for space-saving
    • Thick 2.5” of padding

    Cons

    • Best for warm seasons

    View on Backcountry >>

    Also Available on Amazon >>


    Best Ultralight Sleeping Pad

    2. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite

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    • Self-inflating
    • 8 ounces
    • 5” thick
    • 2 R-value

    The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is similar to its UberLite cousin. The main difference between this model and the UberLite model lies in the R-value. It has a higher R-value measured at 4.2, which makes it great for all seasons. Combine this R-value with its lightweight 8-ounce design, and you’ve got the best ultralight sleeping pad.

    It measures 2.5” thick when inflated, and it has a tapered design that helps save room in your backpack when it’s folded. It folds down to the size of a one-liter water bottle. Like the UberLite, the Xlite backpacking pad comes with a pump sack that helps it inflate the sleeping pad within 2 minutes.

    Pros

    • Self-inflating
    • Lightweight
    • Tapered design for space-saving
    • Ideal for all seasons

    Cons

    • The small size is slightly narrow

    View on Backcountry >>

    Also Available on Amazon >>


    Best Sleeping Pad for Couples

    3. KLYMIT Double V Sleeping Pad

    Quick View Information

    • Self-inflating
    • 3 pounds
    • 3” thick
    • 4 R-value

    The KLYMIT Double V sleeping pad is the best sleeping pad for couples because it is thick, self-inflates, and has a 4.4 R-value to keep you warm during the winter.

    Because it’s a double sleeping pad, it weighs twice as much as a single sleeping pad. The good news is that it folds down to a 12” x 7” pack, so it doesn’t take up much more room than a single sleeping pad.

    When you are ready to inflate it, just use the stuff sack to self-inflate the sleeping pad. It will inflate in about 8 to 10 pumps from the included stuff sack. It has Klyamlite insulation that will keep you warm as you lay on the cold ground.

    It’s made of 75D polyester to withstand any rocks or roots that it may come in contact with on the ground. If the sleeping pad gets punctured, it comes with a patch kit for you to repair the pad.

    Pros

    • Self-inflating
    • 4 R-value ideal for all seasons
    • Doesn’t take up much space
    • Klyamlite insulation to keep you warm

    Cons

    • 3.3 pounds can add weight to your backpack

    View on Amazon >>


    Best Budget Sleeping Pad

    4. Valwix Sleeping Pad

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    • Self-inflating
    • 22 pounds
    • 5” thick
    • 5 R-value

    If you’re looking for an affordable sleeping pad, the Valwix self-inflating sleeping bad shouldn’t be overlooked. At just under $50, it’s a sleeping pad that offers just as many features as comparable but more expensive options.

    It’s made of 40D waterproof nylon, which is beneficial for those times you’re backpacking in wet conditions. It comes with a pump sack that will quickly inflate and deflate the sleeping pad in just two to three minutes.

    It doesn’t fold up as tightly as other models, so it will take up a little more room in your backpack and weigh a little heavier, too. It has a high R-value of 5, so it’s perfect for all seasons, including winter.

    Pros

    • Affordable
    • 5 R-value ideal for all seasons
    • Self-inflating
    • Waterproof 40D nylon

    Cons

    • Slightly heavier and takes up more space in your backpack

    View on Amazon >>


    Best Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

    5. Nemo Tensor Alpine Ultralight Mountaineering Sleeping Pad

    Quick View Information

    • Self-inflating
    • 52 pounds
    • 3” thick
    • 8 R-value

    The Nemo Tensor Alpine Ultralight Mountaineering sleeping pad is the best self-inflating sleeping pad not for how fast it self-inflates but for how comfortable, thick, and warm the pad keeps you in all weather conditions.

    For self-inflating, it comes with a Vortex sack pump that quickly inflates the sleeping pad in just a few minutes. Once inflated, the sleeping pad is designed with Spaceframe Baffles, which are low-stretch trusses that prevent loud, crunching sounds when moving. It is insulated with Tensor Alpine Insulation that keeps you warm from the cold ground.

    This insulated sleeping pad is relatively lightweight, weighing only 1.52 pounds, and it takes up as much room in your backpack as a one-liter bottle.

    Pros

    • Easy to inflate
    • Relatively lightweight
    • Comfortable, thick, and warm
    • Spaceframe Baffles design to prevent loud noises while moving

    Cons

    • Slightly heavier and takes up more space in your backpack

    View on Amazon >>


    Best Foam Sleeping Pad

    6. Willpo Memory Foam Camping Mattress

    Quick View Information

    • Foam pad
    • 7 pounds
    • 37” thick
    • 8 R-value

    If you’re looking for the most comfortable and thermal-resistant backpacking sleeping pad, then you need the Willpo Memory Foam Camping Mattress. It has the highest thermal-resistant R-value on our list, measuring at 9.8. Any R-value more than 6 means it is rated for extremely cold conditions, and this Willpo memory foam camping mattress is rated at a 9.8. If you’re planning to backpack in extremely cold conditions, you’ll want to choose this sleeping pad.

    Another reason you’ll want to choose this sleeping pad is for its comfort. Because it’s memory foam, it is extremely comfortable. You essentially shouldn’t feel any of the cold, hard ground beneath you. At the same time, because it’s memory foam, it’s also heavier than all of the other options on our list, so keep this in mind if you plan to be backpacking for long periods of time.

    Pros

    • Thick and comfortable
    • 9.8 R-value for extremely cold conditions
    • Affordable (less than $100)
    • Breathable and waterproof for warm and wet conditions

    Cons

    • Heavy and takes up room

    View on Amazon >>


    Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad for Kids

    7. Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad

    Quick View Information

    • Air pad
    • 4 ounces
    • 2” thick
    • 1 R-value

    The Sleepingo Camping Sleep Pad is a great sleeping pad for kids because it is lightweight, takes up very little space, and is 2” thick. It’s made of waterproof 20D Ripstop tear-resistant nylon, which is perfect for kids because they can often be hard on materials.

    It’s not self-inflating, so you may want to pack a small pump to put in your backpack so that you don’t have to use your breath to inflate the pad. It’s 75” long and 25” wide, which is plenty of room for a child to sleep on.

    It only has a 2.1 R-value, so it’s not recommended for cold weather. It’s best to use in summer, late spring, or early fall.

    Pros

    • Affordable
    • Waterproof and tear-resistant
    • Lightweight
    • Takes up little space when packed

    Cons

    • Is not self-inflating

    View on Amazon >>


    Backpacking Sleeping Pad Buying Guide

    With so many different options, you may not know where to begin when choosing the best sleeping pad for backpacking, so we have come up with a comprehensive buying guide that will help you understand the different features to look for when buying a backpacking sleeping pad.

    Sleeping Pad Categories

    There are three main categories that backpacking sleeping pads will fall into: air pad, self inflating pad, and foam pad.

    Air Pads

    Air pads are the most basic inflatable backpacking sleeping pads. They are inflatable but not self-inflating. An inflatable pad can be inflated using a pump or breathing air into the valve of the air pad. Because they’re not self-inflating, air pads are typically less expensive than self-inflating models.

    Air pads are the lightest category of sleeping pads since they don’t have the extra weight of the pump sack that self-inflating mats do, even though pump sacks are extremely lightweight.

    Air pads often have a lesser R-value than self-inflating mats and foam pads, so they are typically best used during warm months.

    Self-Inflating Mats

    A self-inflating camping mat comes with a pump sack that will inflate the pad on its own and requires no additional equipment to inflate. Self-inflating mats are extremely convenient because they inflate in just two to three minutes.

    They are slightly heavier than air pads, but they are still relatively lightweight. They also help save room in your backpack because you don’t have to carry an additional pump in your backpack that air pads require.

    Self-inflating mats have a slightly higher R-value than air pads and can be used in cold weather, but they likely won’t have as high of an R-value as foam pads.

    Foam Pads

    Foam pads are the heaviest category of sleeping pads, but they are also the warmest and most comfortable.

    Foam pads take up space in your backpack because they don’t deflate or fold. Instead, they are rolled up, which causes them to take up a good amount of space. They are also relatively heavy, some weighing 7 pounds or more. This can cause strain on your back as you backpack for several hours a day.

    However, foam pads are the most comfortable and have the highest R-value. If you plan to backpack during extremely cold conditions, a foam pad will be your best choice.

    Weight

    You should consider the weight of the sleeping pad because this will ultimately determine how much back pain or fatigue you experience while backpacking. Adding weight to your backpack will weigh you down and may cause you to hike slower and more strenuously.

    The heaviest sleeping pads are foam pads. If you want to avoid adding extra weight at all costs, then you should avoid choosing a foam pad for your backpacking sleeping pad.

    Self-inflating pads and air pads are the two lightest categories of sleeping pads, so if keeping your backpack light and saving space is important to you, you’ll want to choose an air pad or a self-inflating sleeping pad.

    If weight isn’t a concern and you want to stay warm and comfortable after a long day of backpacking, then you should choose a foam pad.

    Thickness and Comfort

    You’ll want to check the thickness of the sleeping pad. This will give you an idea of how comfortable and warm the sleeping pad will keep you at night.

    If you’re considering purchasing an inflatable air pad, you should look for a sleeping pad that has more than 2” of thickness. While 2” of thickness is sufficient, it can still cause you to feel rocks or roots underneath you as you sleep, which can be uncomfortable especially if you’re trying to rest for another long day of backpacking. You will want to choose an inflatable sleeping pad with 2.5” or more thickness.

    Memory foam sleep mattresses can have 2” of thickness, but the foam insulation will significantly reduce the earth you feel underneath. Just keep in mind that foam sleeping pads take up more room in your backpack and weigh more than inflatable sleeping pads.

    Sleeping Pad R-Value

    The R-value indicated on the sleeping pad is a measurement of thermal resistance that the insulation in the sleeping pad will provide.

    R-value is measured on a scale from R1 to R6. The R1 value is the least thermal-resistant value and will provide the least amount of insulation from the cold ground. Because of this, the R1 value is best for warm conditions like summer and extremely late spring and early fall.

    R-values R2 through R4 offer a little more insulation from the cold ground, making them adequate for spring, summer, and fall.

    R-values that are R5 and higher are tested and rated for extremely cold conditions. If you think you may backpack during extremely cold temperatures, you’ll want to choose a sleeping pad that has an R-value of R5 or higher.

    Packed Size

    How much room do you have to spare in your backpack for a sleeping pad? This is a question you’ll need to ask yourself before choosing a sleeping pad.

    The packed size of your sleeping pad will determine how much room the pack takes up in your backpack as well as how much room will be leftover for you to pack additional gear and equipment.

    Don’t get the packed size and weight confused with one another. You can have a lightweight sleeping pad that takes up a significant amount of room in your backpack if it doesn’t fold down or roll up tightly. Just because a sleeping pad is lightweight doesn’t mean that it’s also small when it’s packed, so you’ll need to know the dimensions of the sleeping pad when it’s folded or rolled up.

    Sleeping Pad Dimensions and Shape

    Sleeping pads often come in different sizes for you to choose from. They are typically available in single or double sleeping pads, and you can choose between short, regular, or long lengths.

    Length

    The length of the sleeping pad is measured from the top of the sleeping pad to the bottom. The length of the sleeping pad will vary depending on the size of the sleeping pad you choose.

    Short sleeping pads will typically measure around 48” long, regular sleeping pads measure around 72” long, and long sleeping pads measure around 78” long.

    At a minimum, you will want a sleeping pad that you will be able to place both your shoulders and your hips onto while you sleep. This is only recommended for warm months, where you may not need as much insulation or thermal resistance as you would during colder months.

    Not every sleeping pad manufacturer is the same, which means their sizing chart and dimensions may also not be the same as one another.

    When looking at the length of the sleeping pad, you’ll need to read the dimensions of the length to determine if it has enough length for the time of year you’re backpacking.

    Width

    The width of the sleeping pad is measured across from left to right. A sleeping pad with a standard width will measure 20 inches across. This is generally enough space for a single sleeper, but there are wider sleeping pads you can choose if you need more room.

    Extra-large or long sleeping pads will provide more width for the sleeper, typically measuring between 25 and 30 inches of width from left to right.

    Of course, if you have chosen a double sleeping pad for two people, the width can be as much as 55 inches across.

    If you don’t want to choose a double sleeping pad, you can always choose two individual regular sleeping pads to put next to one another.

    Shape

    Sleeping pads can also have different shapes. Some of them may have a wider shoulder area while the remainder of the sleeping pad tapers down and gets narrower the closer it gets to the feet of the pad. Other sleeping pads may be a standard rectangle that maintains the same width from the top of the pad to the bottom.

    If you know that you may need a little extra width around your shoulders, you may want to choose a wider sleeping pad at the chest and shoulders so that you don’t accidentally fall off of the pad.

    Durability

    How your sleeping pad will endure the elements is important because you don’t want to spend your money on gear that will only last you one trip.

    You will want to look at the material the sleeping pad is made of so that you know if it will withstand both the elements and the harsh ground that it will come in contact with.

    Most sleeping pads will be made of either polyester or nylon, but they can have very different strengths and durability.

    Ripstop nylon is resistant to tears. Often, sleeping pads will attach ripstop nylon to the outside of the sleeping pad so that you don’t inadvertently tear the sleeping pad as you move during the night. Additionally, ripstop nylon will also protect the sleeping pad from puncturing if it comes into contact with sharp rocks or roots while on the ground.

    Inflation and Deflation

    Inflatable sleeping pads can be inflated and deflated in one of two ways; either manually by adding air into the valve of the pad or by using a pump sack. There are typically two different valves located on the sleeping pad. There will be an inflate valve and a deflate valve. You will use the inflate valve to inflate the air pad, and you will use the deflate valve to deflate the air pad.

    When inflating, the self-inflating sleeping pads use a pump sack to automatically inflate the sleeping pad in just a matter of minutes.

    Inflatable sleeping pads that are not self-inflating will need to be manually inflated. You can do this by either breathing air into the sleeping pad or by using a pump. If you choose to purchase a manual inflatable sleeping pad, you may have to inflate it by breathing air into it, which may be difficult to do after a tiresome day of backpacking.

    If you choose to inflate the sleeping pad with a pump, you’ll have to add the pump to your backpack, taking up room in your sack.

    When deflating both a self-inflating sleeping pad and an air pad, you will simply undo the deflate valve to let the air out of the sleeping pad.

    Pump Sacks

    Pump sacks are exactly what they sound like. They are a sack that comes with a self-inflating sleeping pad to help you quickly and easily inflate the sleeping pad.

    Pump sacks require no electricity. They work by simply taking air that has filled the sack and transferring it to the sleeping pad through the inflate valve.

    Think about how you squeeze the last of the toothpaste out of the tube. This is how pump sacks work. They are filled with air by simply blowing into them one time. You will attach the pump sack to the inflate valve of the sleeping pad. Then, you will take the sack and begin rolling it like you would a tube of toothpaste. The air within the pump sack will transfer into the sleeping pad and begin inflating it.

    The number of times you will need to repeat this process to inflate the sleeping pad will be determined by how firm you want the sleeping pad to be. Generally, it takes about 8 to 10 pumps from the pump sack to inflate a regular-sized sleeping pad which is the equivalent of about three minutes.

    Pump sacks also double as the carrying case for self-inflating sleeping pads. When you are finished with the sleeping pad and ready to store it back in your backpack, simply roll it up and place it within the pump sack.

    Sleeping Pad Care

    Taking care of your sleeping pad is extremely important. Neglect can cause your sleeping pad to deteriorate too quickly through tears or rot.

    There are three times you’ll need to take care of your sleeping pad; while you’re backpacking, when you notice it is dirty, and when it’s not in use.

    Caring for Your Sleeping Pad While Backpacking

    Make sure you keep your sleeping pad in your backpack at all times until you’re ready to use it. Leaving your sleeping pad uncovered and, in the elements, can cause it to mildew and deteriorate.

    Clean Your Sleeping Pad if You Notice it’s Dirty

    If you’ve unrolled your sleeping pad and noticed that it’s dirty with mildew, dirt, grime, insect repellant, sunscreen, or tree sap, go ahead and clean it off immediately before you use it. We also recommend cleaning your sleeping pad at least once a year, even if there is no visible issue.

    Store Your Sleeping Pad in a Dark and Dry Place

    Overexposure to sunlight and humidity can cause your sleeping pad to deteriorate as well. Make sure your sleeping pad has dried completely before storing it. Once it has dried, roll up or fold the sleeping pad and store it in a place with no sunlight or humidity.


    Frequently Asked Questions: Best Sleeping Pads

    What is the difference between a sleeping pad and an air mattress?

    Sleeping pads are specifically designed for camping purposes. Because of this, they are extremely portable. They can often be rolled into a convenient carrying sack. Often, the carrying sack doubles as a pump sack for convenient storage.

    Because sleeping pads are designed for camping, they are generally made of durable materials that may be waterproof and tearproof.

    Air mattresses are designed for various uses, so it lacks in many of these specific features. While they are comfortable and are often designed with a built-in electric pump, they can’t be conveniently packed as well as sleeping pads can. This can be heavy and take up too much room in your backpack.

    Air mattresses are also not tearproof or waterproof. This can make them less than ideal for camping and backpacking.

    Does the sleeping pad I choose need to have an R-value of 5 or more?

    You will only want to consider a high R-value of 5 or more if you plan on backpacking in cold conditions. A sleeping pad that is R5 or higher will keep you warm in extremely cold conditions. If you don’t plan on backpacking in the extreme cold, you don’t have to choose a sleeping pad with an R-value of 5 or more.

    You can choose a sleeping bad that has an R-rating between R2 and R4. This will be sufficient for keeping you warm in spring, summer, and fall. If you plan to only backpack in the summer, you can get by choosing a sleeping pad that has an R1 rating.

    Do I need a regular-sized sleeping pad, or can I choose a short sleeping pad?

    If you think you’ll be backpacking in cold conditions at any time, we recommend choosing a regular-sized sleeping pad. This will ensure that you stay as warm as possible from the cold ground, as there will be no thermal-resistant barrier between you and the ground.

    If you plan to backpack in the summer, then a short sleeping pad will be sufficient. Plus, it can help you save a little bit of space in your backpack.

    Do I need any additional gear or accessories to use with my sleeping pad?

    It’s a good idea to keep a pump and a patch kit in your gear bag as you backpack. You never know when your sleeping pad may become torn on the trail. A patch kit will ensure that your sleeping pad stays inflated even if it becomes torn, so it’s always a good idea to keep a patch kit in your backpack at all times.

    We also recommend keeping a pump in your bag as well, especially if your sleeping pad isn’t self-inflating. A hand pump will prevent you from having to manually breathe into the sleeping pad after a long day of backpacking.


    Final Thoughts

    A sleeping pad is necessary when backpacking because it will give you comfort from the hard ground after backpacking for the day. It will also provide warmth and cushion from the cold, hard ground below.

    A great sleeping pad doesn’t have to break the bank, either. You can easily save a few bucks by purchasing a sleeping pad that doesn’t self-inflate or is a little smaller than some other options.

    Just make sure that your sleeping pad is sufficient enough for the conditions in which you are backpacking, and you’ll be good to go!

    Don’t forget to check out our review of the 8 Best Backpacking Tents of 2021.

    Samantha Bos

    Samantha is an avid outdoor enthusiast who loves exploring the great unknown. She’s traveled all across the globe to sample nature’s delights. And her travels have taken her to all corners of the world: from hiking the famous Inca Trail in Peru to ice-hiking on glaciers in Alaska. Besides hiking, Samantha likes to challenge herself with all kinds of outdoor activities. She doesn’t shy away from testing her limits. For example, navigating Grade 5 rapids whilst whitewater rafting in New Zealand, and avoiding close-encounters with bird-eating spiders and poisonous plants in the Australian rainforest. Currently based in Manhattan, New York, she’s traded in the real jungle for an urban jungle. But she tries to get out and explore nature in the surrounding Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Harriman State Park areas as often as she can. She shares her knowledge of hiking, backpacking, and outdoor activities in handy ‘Best of’ overviews. Bundling the best-value, top-rated products that will no doubt make every reader a ‘happy camper’.