Best Camping Sleeping Pad (Buying Guide)
Long gone are the days of waking up in your tent, feeling the hard ground beneath you. The camping gear market has become saturated with thousands of products to make your backpacking trip feel like a luxury stay at the Hilton. You can now buy air conditioners and ice boxes for the summer, heaters for the winter, and many other products to make you feel pampered, and help you rest easy.
Sleeping pads are now heavy-duty enough to feel closer to a mattress! So to help you find the right option, that will help you get a truly excellent night’s sleep, we’ve compiled our top recommendations for the best camping sleeping pad on the market.
Best Camping Sleeping Pad – Overview
1. SEMOO Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad
- √SELF-INFLATING DESIGN: Self-inflating/deflating free-flow valve; 1.2 inch thickness when fully inflated with inflatable pillow; Ideal for Camping, Backpacking ,Hiking, Travel & Trekking, and...
Semoo’s self-inflating sleeping pad is a great combination of durability and affordability. At only $32.99, you might expect the materials of this pad to be lower in the market too but think again. It’s made of waterproof polyester taffeta and has a high-resilience sponge filling.
This means it’s easy to clean, won’t become damaged easily, and will protect you from the cold of the ground well enough. However, it’s only 1.2 inches thick, so if you’re looking for a camping pad for the winter, there are better options out there for you.
Another benefit of this model is the self-inflating and deflating ABS quick flow valve. This gets the job done in lightning quick time, making it easy for you to set up camp swiftly, even after a long tiring day hiking. When you first get the pad, all you have to do is massage it with the valve set to inflate, to get it fully inflated. And if you want increased firmness, the downmat can be manually inflated by blowing into the valve.
If you’re going camping in a group or couple, and want to sleep in the same tent, then this pad has you covered. They can be joined together using the easy buckles at the side, to avoid you slipping away from your sleeping partner during the night. Another great benefit of this model for backpackers is that it’s super portable: it comes with a carry bag, with a package size of 16 X 7.9 X 7.9inch and a package weight of 2.3lbs. It even has an attached camping pillow, which you can inflate yourself, saving you even more space.
- Quite cheap
- Made of waterproof polyester taffeta
- High-resilience, lightest sponge filling
- Self-inflating and deflating
- Inflatable pillow attached
- Only 1.2 inches thick
- Sometimes the valve of the pillow isn’t that reliable, it might pop off as you sleep
2. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress
- Lightweight and compact closed-cell foam camping mattress is a durable, dependable, and economical option for sleeping on the ground
Foam mattresses can make some of us quiver in fear, as we remember the foam mattresses we started out on that more resemble yoga mats. This foam backpacking mattress, however, turns the whole concept on its head. Instead of being a flat, thin piece of foam, this mattress is made of spherical shaped foam patterns on both sides, it’s a closed-cell foam pad, which lift you off of any hard spots on the floor, and massage your back as you sleep. Another benefit, especially in winter, is that the backpacking pad‘s foam is softer on the top for comfort, and denser on the bottom for extra insulation, durability, and protection from the ground.
Trusted by mountaineers and backpackers for generations, this model has stood the test of time. The classic pad features folding accordion-style folding construction, making it really easy to pack and store. Design-wise, this foam sleeping pad is almost indestructible, meaning it could last you the rest of your long camping life.
When the pad is folded up, it’s still only the height of a water bottle, making very easy to hold and transport. However, this probably isn’t the best option if you’re backpacking and hiking for a long time before you set up camp. The design can be a little clunky, and won’t fit in your backpack as well as some of the inflatable options.
- Accordion-style folding construction
- The open-cell foam pad foam is softer on the top for comfort and denser on the bottom for extra insulation
- Spherical shaped air cell foam patterns on both sides
- Classic tried and tested design
- Under $50
- Not the best option for backpacking
- Less than 1 inch thick
3. ALPS Mountaineering Outback Self-Inflating Air Mat
- Vertically-cored foam for a lighter weight and easier to roll up
This camping air mattress from Alps is the height of luxury., designed especially for the more serious of outdoors enthusiasts. This air mat is designed specifically for heavy-duty mountaineering trips and will keep you protected from the rough, hard ground as you sleep soundly in cold weather.
As we all know, air mattresses can easily break, in the fabric or the valve. Alps knows that this isn’t an option for you if you’re camping, especially in extreme conditions. That’s why they include a handy repair kit, so you can solve problems as they arise.
Another unique feature of this product is the four-inch-thick vertically cored foam, which offers you nearly unparalleled support while you sleep, considering the portability of the product. The use for this material and technique means that, with this product, you get the best of both worlds between an air mattress and a foam pad.
The durable, comfortable material is top of the market: the use of 30D elastic fabric on the top creates a super-soft feel when you’re lying on the mattress, while a 150D fabric bottom makes the mat easy to clean and extremely durable.
Rolling and storing the mat is also really easy with the vertically cored foam when it’s deflated. It’s less than 8lbs too, meaning it’s a light, compact mat for avid outdoors enthusiasts and hikers. Another benefit of the vertically cored foam is that you don’t need to worry about hand pumping or noisy electric pumps: the Outback Mat inflates itself. Alps have developed what they call a Qwikflate valve, which makes inflation quick and easy, all you do is turn it to inflate or deflate.
- Suitable for mountaineering, extremely durable
- Vertically cored foam offering you the benefits of a foam and an air mattress combined
- Inflates and deflates as the turn of a lever
- Repair kit included
- Only sleeps one
4. ZOOOBELIVES Extra Thickness Inflatable Sleeping Pad with Built-in Pump
- 4" THICK FOR MAXIMUM COMFORT in this premium self inflating sleeping pad. You get a very comfy extra thick 4 inch of air padding that protects from rough ground, hard floors, and cold conditions....
This inflatable sleeping pad from Zooobelives is an excellent option for those of you who are looking for a super comfortable, really portable, and cheap camping pad. At just over $35, this sleeping pad certainly won’t break the bank. And for that price, you get a surprisingly comfy 4 inches of waterproof padding, that’s more than enough to protect you from rough ground, hard floors, and cold conditions.
Although this option doesn’t have the same ease as some of the other pads we have reviewed, that self inflates with no extra assistance needed, this model is still very convenient. This is because it comes with a built-in air pump: all you need to do is press down hard with your foot or hand for a while and the pad will be ready to use. The other models we have reviewed that are self-inflating usually are an air bed/foam mattress hybrid. However, this is just an air pad, meaning you’ll be sleeping on four inches of a comforting, squishy, air-filled pad.
Another great benefit of this pad is that it’s extremely durable. It’s made from 75D polyester pongee fabric with extruded PVC lamination: this material is even used for military parachutes, meaning you can be sure of its strength. This, as always, is a necessary factor of any good outdoors kit. And at such a low price point, the durability of this model is refreshing.
But the main selling point for this pad is that you can fold it up to a compact 6″ x 6″ x 14”, which will easily fit in your backpack, and still have four inches of cushioned sleep. This is a perfect option for avid backpackers and thru-hikers who want a convenient sleeping mat, but don’t want to sacrifice on comfort.
- 4 inches of waterproof pad
- Comes with a built-in air pump
- Compact, packable and lightweight
- You have to inflate this air pad yourself
- It’s not the most attractive design
5. Seatopia Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad, Air Camping Mat
- Lightweight & Compact: Package size:13.39"x6.30"x6.30". Compression straps and storage bag included for easy storage and carry. Overall size: L75" x W52" x H0.8", Wide enough for Sleep comfortable all...
This air mattress by Seatopia is self-inflating: there’s no pump needed to get it sleep-ready. All you need to do is arrive at your campsite, set up the more difficult elements like your tent and tarps, and then open the non-leak air valve and the mattress is inflated automatically. You don’t want to be faffing around with your sleeping pad, trying to get it ready. This option takes care of itself. If you want to adjust the pressure of the pad or top it up, you can add air by blowing into the valve.
Another benefit of this model is that it comes with an inflatable cushion, attached to the mattress, but you do have to inflate it yourself. This could save you space and time on your camping trip, meaning you don’t have to take an extra one with you. Another unique benefit of this model is that you can buy multiple of these mats, and connect them with the split joint design. This versatile design is perfect for a family group who loves the outdoors, and you can always add more on if your group grows!
Considering the low price point of this product, the materials are very durable. It’s made of weather-resistant 190T Polyester Taffeta fabric, which is abrasion-resistant. It’s also made of 6 inches of high elastic sponge, which will support you in all the right places and keep you far enough off the ground, making this pad really comfortable to sleep on.
However, ice wouldn’t recommend it as heavy duty enough to protect you from the cold ground in winter. We would suggest this as a great option for those wanting to buy multiple, cheap mattresses, that can be flexible and used in different ways for different trips.
- Thick foam for a comfortable sleep
- 190T Polyester Taffeta fabric, which is extremely durable and abrasion-resistant
- Can use multiple of these mats, and connect them, with the split joint design
- Less durable materials
- You have to inflate the pillow manually
- It’s a bit bulkier
6. WELLAX UltraThick FlexFoam Sleeping Pad – Self-Inflating
- WELLAX COMFORT PLUS SLEEPING PAD provides the optimal Comfort and Warmth your body needs for getting a good night's rest. Make your camp mornings perfect - NO MORE Back-pain or annoying Discomfort...
This is a slightly different option of a sleeping pad, that, with it’s flat, simple design looks more like the traditional pads we started camping with. However, this pad is far from those camping pads that more closely resemble yoga mats. This mattress will hug your body shape, supporting your back as you sleep in your sleeping bag, because of the UltraFlex Memory Foam. It’s 3 inches thick, and the foam is heavy-duty enough that this mattress will protect you both from and sharp rocks or the hard ground below, or from the cold of the ground on a winter’s night.
Another great benefit of this mattress is that it’s self-inflating and deflating, leaving you with more time for the more important things in your trip: like hiking, or even chilling out in your campsite in the evenings and feeling at one with nature. This pad is also made from laminated 20D Rip-stop Nylon and a TPU Layer, used only for the strongest camping equipment, meaning it’s super durable.
Although this camping pad is a little more expensive than some of the options, at just under $80, it’s durability and convenience might make it worth the extra investment for you. We would also recommend this option to hikers and backpackers, as the sleeping pad, after deflation, can be folded up really small and stored or carried in a convenient carry bag. Consider investing in this model if you are looking for a waterproof, durable, and convenient sleeping pad, that isn’t solely a camping air pad.
- Made from plush, cushioning UltraFlex Memory Foam
- Self-inflating and deflating
- The exterior is made from laminated 20D Rip-stop Nylon and a TPU Layer, making it very durable
- More expensive
- Rectangular shape only sleeps one
7. Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad
- 2" THICK SLEEP SUPPORT! YOU WILL LOVE THIS SLEEPING PAD! Want to sleep comfortably anywhere? No need to suffer with a cheap flimsy short outdoor sleeping pad! This quality portable camping mat pad is...
We would recommend this model by Sleepingo to people going camping on their own, especially those who are hiking a long way before setting up camp, and who have a smaller budget. Although this pad only offers you 2 inches of support under your sleeping bag, which is lower than some of our other recommendations, this pad wins in terms of portability. It packs down to the size of a water bottle, so you can easily carry it in your backpack, and only weighs 14.5 oz.
This mattress is also self-inflating, saving you time for the things that really matter. This pad is also made from ripstop nylon fabric, with an impressive 20 denier thickness, used only for the strongest camping equipment. It’s designed to last a lifetime, even in the most severe conditions. You can tell that this product is durable and that Sleepingo trust in it, as they offer lifetime replacements. Seeing as the product is less than $40, you don’t really have much to lose.
This isn’t the right option for you if you’re looking to turn your outdoor adventure into a luxury experience. The two inches of pad won’t make you feel like you’re sleeping at home and isn’t the right option for people wanting to go mountaineering, or winter camping. However, for backpackers, looking for a solution for the other three-seasons, who are looking for the most comfort possible in a tiny package, this could be just the solution for you.
- Lifetime replacements
- Durable ripstop nylon fabric and stuff sack
- Less than $40
- Only weighs 14.5 oz, it’s the lightest pad, with the perfect size to weight ratio
- Packs down to the size of a water bottle
- Sleeps one
- Only two inches thick when inflated
Let’s be honest, you’re not looking for a decent camping mat if you’re going car camping. For car campers, inflatable pads or air mattresses are the best options. Our choice for the best sleeping pad is the model by Sleepingo. This self-inflating pad could be your saving grace on backpacking trips: it gives you unparalleled comfort considering it folds up to the size of a water bottle.
For those of you looking for an ultralight backpacking gear solution, that you can easily take with you on any camping trip even backcountry camping, or primitive camping, this would be our top pick for the best sleeping pad, and we would argue really is the best backpacking sleeping pad.
There are many different models and brands of camping sleeping pad, that you can find the number of options baffles you. Some other options you might want to consider include: Exped, Nemo, Big Agnes, Sea to Summit, REI, Klymit, R-value, Static v and side sleepers.
The design of camping mats have come a long way, to the point that you can now actually get a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors: an option that seemed very distant a few years ago! We hope that one of these options, from our recommendations for the best sleeping pads, will help you sleep easy under the stars!
Bonus tip: For a closer look at how comfortable self-inflating sleeping mats are, watch this useful youtube video: