It’s not easy to sleep well while camping in the woods or around the fire. After a long day of hunting, fishing, or hiking, you’re whacked; that beautiful feeling of being tired thanks to doing what you love. You build a campfire, make some food, look at the stars, and now it’s time for bed.
You’d think you sleep like a baby, but unfortunately, that is often not the case. You get cold, feel the ground in your back and hip, or are just generally uncomfortable, and the next day you’re going to wake up tired and try to muster the strength to do what you love again.
This is far from ideal and having an awesome sleeping pad will help you avoid this so you can wake up fresh and excited to go catch that fish or climb that mountain.
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Backpacking Sleeping Pads
A good pad will keep you warm and comfortable in your sleeping bag through the night. It’s an essential part of enjoying your time in the outdoors. We have taken the best backpacking sleeping pads and put them in this handy review so you can find the one that makes all your sleepy dreams come true.
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Best On A Budget
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Warmest Sleeping Pad
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Lightest Sleeping Pad
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The Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad comes in a huge range of sizes and two insulation options. Here we’ll focus on the insulated option, as who wouldn’t want to be warmer, and the size choice is up to you.
The added thermal mirror gives this model a three-season rating and can be used in temperatures down to 10F while the un-insulated option can only handle 35F but is $50 cheaper.
While being warm the Nemo Tensor is also very portable with a packed size of 8×3 inches and weight of 15oz, you’ll barely notice it in your backpack. One of the biggest pros about this pad is how quickly it inflates and deflates.
The included Vortex pump sack is easy to use and maximizes efficiency to get the pad inflated faster while the Laylow micro-adjustable valve is flush to the pad to give you maximum control.
Overall this is a very comfortable, light, and easy-to-use pad that will keep you warm for most of the year. It comes in a range of sizes to suit you and is well made.
You can read our full Nemo Tensor review for more details.
The Exped SynMat HL Sleeping Pad is an ultralight backpacker’s dream. It’s so light and packs down so small, that adding it to your gear will feel like adding a feather.
Not only is it extremely light but it’s also warm and comfortable. The pad is made from 20D fabric and microfiber insulation that keeps you snug across three seasons. It’s easy to inflate with the included pump and once fully inflated is 7cm thick to ensure you’re comfortable and don’t feel the ground beneath you.
The outside of this pad is made to be soft and grippy. The coating is in a honeycomb pattern to ensure you don’t slip off in the night and the elevated side rails also help to keep you on the pad and not slide onto someone else’s.
The pad is also tapered, one reason why it packs down so small, but the tapering also lets it fit in the smallest of tents.
The Exped SynMat HL Pad comes in 3 sizes and is a great sleeping mat. The only downside is that it’s expensive and deflates a little slowly.
The Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air sleeping pad is another awesome mat to take on the trail. It weighs just 14oz and packs down to an incredible 3 x 6.5 inches, I’m not sure we’d notice if it was even in our backpack.
The extremely low weight and tiny pack size may sprout some doubts about warmth, comfort, and durability in some minds, but this is far from the case. The sleeping pad is easy to inflate and rises to 3.25 inches to keep you comfortable and off the ground no matter what sleeping position you prefer.
The outer chambers inflate half an inch higher to keep you from slipping off the pad, while the PrimaLoft Silver insulation works to reflect all your body heat and keep you toasty warm. It is rated to three seasons, if you’re sleeping on the frozen ground you’ll need to add a mat or something underneath you.
This sleeping pad is extremely durable. It’s made from rip-stop nylon with a high-tenacity yarn and a high-filament count to increase fabric tear strength by 25% while keeping the weight down. The welds are laminated with aircraft-grade tech and the antimicrobial treatment inside the pad prevents microorganism growth. Not sure you could ask for much more.
The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad is the first of the review that is also self-inflating, you simply roll it out and go to bed. No need for any pumping but this does mean it’s a bit bulky to carry and you will probably have to strap it onto your backpack.
While being a bit bulky to carry, it’s still light, weighing just 14oz. So it’s not going to weigh you down but it could get caught in a rain shower or catch branches while you trek around.
The sleeping pad is made from closed-cell foam that’s soft on the top for comfort and dense on the bottom for durability and insulation. The reflective ThermaCapture coating and heat-trapping dimples increase your overall warmth by 20% to ensure you stay warm throughout the night.
The fact that the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol doesn’t require inflating means that there’s very little that can go wrong with it, making this pad exceptionally durable and dependable. It is, however, not as comfortable as an inflatable and with an R-value of 2, can only really be used in summer.
If you’re looking for a durable, dependable summer foam pad that costs next to nothing, this is a great choice.
The Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is one of the most comfortable on the market. As you can see from the picture, the surface mimics the shape of a regular camping mattress and does a great job of keeping you comfy.
No matter how much rolling around you may do in the night, you’ll struggle to hit the ground on this sleeping pad. There are 5 sizes available, so be sure to pick the one for you to get the weight distribution right.
As well as being comfortable, it’s also durable and warm. It’s perfect for camping between late spring and early fall when most of us go camping. It is a little expensive but not to worry, this sleeping pad will be in your life for a long time.
It’s made from strong 40D nylon and has one of the best valves around. It deflates and inflates very quickly, quicker than most other inflatable sleeping pads.
It is a little heavier than other inflatables but still packs down to a small size that’s ideal for backpacking. If you can stomach the price, this one is well worth it.
The KLYMIT Static V2 Sleeping Pad has been upgraded from the original model to be a 12% lighter while still being one of the most affordable inflatable sleeping pads on the market.
This sleeping pad weighs 16.33 oz and packs down to a small size of 3×8 inches. This is still pretty light and compact when compared to higher-end sleeping pads, the only feature it lacks is insulation as it can only be used in summer.
The Static V2 is wider than most and made from thicker material. The width gives you space to roll around at night and the thicker material makes the pad quite durable too. Overall the sleeping pad is comfortable but you will hit bottom while rolling around.
Overall this is a great inflatable sleeping pad for those on a budget or who camp in summer only.
The Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad is the second non-inflatable pad in the review. Like all foam pads, it’s not as packable or comfortable as an inflatable, but if you don’t mind sleeping on a solid surface, this is a great value option.
Being a foam sleeping pad, it comes without all the issues of inflatables. There is no need to inflate, deflate, or worry about anything popping. Foam pads, in general, are far more durable and longer-lasting than inflatables, plus this one has a lifetime warranty.
This foam sleeping pad is very light but it will be a bit bulky to carry around. It’s also not the warmest pad out there (with a low R value) and should only be used in summer.
As far as foam pads go, this one is pretty comfortable and conforms to your body while you sleep. This is thanks to the Axiotomic dual-density foam used to make it. Overall it’s a great choice for summer campers who don’t want to fuss with an inflatable.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress is the warmest sleeping pad in this review. If you’re a winter camper who loves to backpack through the snow, then this is one of the best backpacking sleeping pads you’ll find.
This sleeping pad is rated for 4 seasons. It has an amazing R value of 7.1 and will keep you warm in extremely cold conditions. Their patented triangular core matrix keeps you warm no matter the weather and it was gives this pad one of the highest warmth-per-ounce ratios around.
While being exceptionally warm it’s also very portable, weighing just 15oz. It packs down to 9×4 inches too so you’ll barely notice it in your backpack. It’s also very comfortable and you won’t feel the bottom no matter how much wriggling you end up doing.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress comes with two choices of valves, a standard or a winglock valve. The winglock valves option is only $10 more and will inflate your pad 3 times faster and give you super-fast deflation. Well worth it if you plan on using it often.
As always, there is a downside, this pad is a bit noisy, is not one of those self-inflating pads, and is rather expensive. But, the price is a sign of quality and it’s worth it considering how great a product you’re getting.
Pro Tip: The Therm-a-rest Trail Scout is a more affordable option.
The second warmest sleeping pad in the review is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite, second only to its cousin, the NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress. These two pads are unsurprisingly similar and the main differences are the X-therm is warmer and can handle extreme conditions while the Xlite is lighter and is not for extreme cold.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite weighs just 12ox and packs down to an incredibly small size of just 9×4.1 inches. You’ll barely notice it in your backpack and you’ll be thrilled by how comfortable and warm it is. It’s quite rare to find a sleeping pad that ticks all the boxes of warmth, comfort, lightweight, and portability.
Like the Xtherm, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite also has a wing lock valve option to help you inflate your pad three times faster and deflate it quickly too.
The pad comes with a lifetime warranty and even though you probably won’t need it, it’s always nice to have, accidents do happen after all. This pad is a little expensive but it’s a sleeping pad for life and worth every penny.
Therm-a-Rest certainly does pull out all the stops when it comes to their sleeping pads and the Therm-a-Rest Neoair Uberlite is no different. It is the lightest sleeping pad around and makes it a top contender as one of the best backpacking sleeping pads around.
If you’re a summer camper who wants the lightest and most compact sleeping pad around, you can stop looking, you have found it. Weighing in at just 8.8oz and packing down to a very small size, this pad could live in your pocket and you might not notice it.
While being super light, it’s also comfortable but a little less durable due to the thinner materials used. It’s also a summer pad and is not rated for 3-seasons so be very aware of this.
Here’s a buying guide of the key factors to consider when buying a sleeping pad for backpacking.
The last thing you want on a hiking trip is a heavy backpack. Choosing a light pad is a great way to reduce the weight you’re carrying to make for a more comfortable and enjoyable hike. Every pad in the review is light as sleeping pads go, but there are some ultralight ones in there too, so be sure to seek them out if a light pad is a priority for you.
Every pad comes with an R-value that you’ll find in the info section under each one. The higher the number the warmer the pad. Generally speaking, values 0-2 are for summer, 2-4 for late spring to early fall, and 4-6 are suitable for freezing temperatures and below. If you’re camping on snow or in extreme cold you’ll need a pad with an R-value of 5 and over.
The sleeping pads in the review cover a large price from less than $50 to over $200. The price does not necessarily reflect the comfort of the pad but is more related to its warmth and weight. Light and warm sleeping pads are expensive while medium-weight summer sleeping pads are very affordable.
Some of the more expensive models come with a lifetime warranty, so investing a bit extra for a warm light sleeping pad that will last a lifetime is a pretty good idea if you plan to use it often.
The best on a budget backpacking sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite. This is exceptionally good value, very durable, warm, and comfortable, but it’s only really for summer camping.
The most comfortable pad is the Sea to Summit Sleeping Pad. As long as you buy the correct size for you, you’ll feel as close to sleeping on your mattress at home as a pad could. It is also warm, durable, and portable.
The warmest pad is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress. This pad will keep you warm and comfortable in extremely cold temperatures and has the highest warmth rating of any of the sleeping pads in the review.
The best allrounder is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite. It ticks every box from warmth and portability to comfort and durability. It’s the second warmest pad in the review plus it comes with a lifetime warranty.
The best ultralight sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest Neoair Uberlite. This pad weighs just 8.8oz and is perfect for ultralight enthusiasts. Due to its lightweight, it’s only suitable for summer camping.