Updated on December 23, 2021

Camping on the cold, hard ground again to save money? Getting some comfy zzz’s in the outdoors doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. With one of the best budget sleeping pads nestled underneath you, you’ll get some much needed rest at a fraction of the cost.

To help you in your quest for the most comfortable yet affordable sleeping pad in your budget range, we rounded up our top picks. We’ll also give you the lowdown on what to consider so you can find the best sleeping pad for your budget.

For a complete analysis of all backpacking sleeping pads, check out the buyer’s guide Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

 

Quick Answer - The Best Budget Sleeping Pads

  1. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL
  2. Nemo Switchback
  3. Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout
  4. REI Co-op Trailbreak
  5. Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
  6. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite
  7. REI Co-op AirRail Plus
  8. Sea to Summit Camp SI
  9. Coleman Self-Inflating

 

Comparison Table - Best Budget Sleeping Pads

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NameTypeWeightThicknessR ValuePriceRatingReview
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOLFoam0 lbs 14 oz0.7 in2.0$464.3Read Review
Nemo SwitchbackFoam0 lbs 14 oz0.9 in2.0$504.4Read Review
Therm-a-Rest Trail ScoutSelf-Inflating1 lbs 06 oz1.0 in3.1$554.5Read Review
REI Co-op TrailbreakSelf-Inflating2 lbs 08 oz1.7 in5.1$704.4Read Review
Big Agnes Air Core UltraAir Pad1 lbs 06 oz3.5 in4.5$1004.1Read Review
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLiteFoam0 lbs 14 oz0.6 in2.1$404.1Read Review
REI Co-op AirRail PlusSelf-inflating1 lbs 09 oz1.5 in3.3$1003.6Read Review
Sea to Summit Camp SISelf-inflating1 lbs 09 oz1.5 in4.2$704.0Read Review
Coleman Self-InflatingSelf-inflating6 lbs 00 oz2.5 inN/A$504.1Read Review
NameTypeWeightThicknessR ValuePriceRatingReview
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.

Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.

Reviews - The Best Sleeping Pads on a Budget

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL

Specs
  • Type: Foam
  • Weight: 0 lbs 14 oz
  • R Value: 2.0
  • Thickness: 0.7 in
  • Volume: 09.2 L
Features
  • Pad Thickness: 0.75 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • Engineered For Extreme Alpine Climbing, Adventure Racing, And Long-distance Backpacking

BEST BUDGET SLEEPING PAD

The Therm-a-rest Z Lite is a closed cell foam pad that exceeded our expectations in terms of comfort and is best suited for long-distance thru-hikers, climbers, and minimalists who are willing to sacrifice comfort to avoid a puncture and save some weight.    

What we like most about this pad is that it’s basically indestructible. It won’t puncture like inflatable pads, it’s waterproof, it’s very easy to use, and the price is right. It can be used on its own or it can be used in conjunction with an inflatable pad to boost the inflatable pad’s R-Value. 

What we don’t care for is the fact that is bulky and while it is more comfortable to sleep on than we had anticipated it still doesn’t come close to the comfort of the thicker inflatable pads in this category. While you could potentially fit the Z Lite inside a pack the majority of users will need to strap this to the outside of their pack, we are not a fan of strapping large items to our packs.

Nemo Switchback

Specs
  • Type: Foam
  • Weight: 0 lbs 14 oz
  • R Value: 2.0
  • Thickness: 0.9 in
  • Volume: 09.0 L
Features
  • Pad Thickness: 0.9 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • Metalized Thermal Reflective Film Reflects Heat Back To Your Body

BEST FOAM SLEEPING PAD

The Nemo switchback is Nemo’s take on the classic “Z” style folding foam pad. Nemo uses a proprietary dual density closed cell foam with a reflective layer to help boost the R-value while maintaining a smaller size. This is a good pad for thru hikers, mountaineers, climbers, and anyone who doesn’t want to risk a puncture on the trail. It can also be used as an addition to an inflatable pad for anyone winter camping. 

What we like most about this pad is that it’s essentially indestructible and that set up and pack down take seconds. We like that it folds up smaller than its competitors while maintaining a slightly better R-Value. 

What we don’t care for is that it’s still quite large and will usually need to be strapped to the outside of the pack. It also only has an R-value of 2 meaning this is really only suitable for summertime camping. It’s not uncomfortable but we wouldn’t purchase this pad for the comfort factor. 

Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout

Specs
  • Type: Self-Inflating
  • Dimensions: 72” x 20”
  • Insulated: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lbs 06 oz
  • R Value: 3.1
  • Shape: Semi Rectangular
  • Thickness: 1.0 in
  • Volume: 11.2 L
  • Inflation Type: Self-Inflating
Features
  • Fast-Acting Pump Sack Makes Inflation/Deflation Fast And Easy
  • Customize The Firmness By Adding A Few Breaths After The Self-Inflation Process
  • Packs Down Into A Small Stuff Sack To Maximize Space

The Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout is a self inflating lightweight backpacking sleeping pad. It’s a great option for beginners, scouts and budget conscious backpackers. 

What we love the most about the Trail Scout is its overall value. While it’s not the flashiest pad out there, it does do a great job at balancing weight, durability, packability and price. Compared to other budget sleeping pads, the Trail Scout is an excellent value. It inflates mostly on its own, you’ll need to give it a few extra blows to fully inflate it. 

The biggest downside of this pad is it’s thin, it’s only one inch thick. It’s certainly an upgrade from a closed foam pad but it’s nowhere near as comfortable as the thicker pads that are on this list. For a slight upgrade in comfort while still staying on a tight budget, check out the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite.

The Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout comes in three sizes: Regular, Short and Long. 

REI Co-op Trailbreak

View Women's Version
Specs
  • Type: Self-Inflating
  • Weight: 2 lbs 08 oz
  • R Value: 5.1
  • Thickness: 1.7 in
  • Volume: 13.8 L
Features
  • Stuff sack with compression straps included
  • Very affordable
  • A bit heavy and bulky
REI Co-op Trailbreak Backpacking Sleeping Pad

The REI Co-op Trailbreak is a self inflating budget sleeping pad. It’s a decent option for beginners who  don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight to save some cash. 

What we love the most about the REI Trailbreak is its price. It’s one of the best value pads on this list. If you’re just starting out and you don’t want to splurge on a high end sleeping pad but also want some more padding than you’d get from a foam pad, this could be a good middle ground. 

The biggest drawback of this pad is it is very bulky so it’s not ideal for backpacking. You’ll most likely end up strapping it onto the outside of your pack. It weighs over 2 pounds, making it one of the heavier pads on this list. If you’re just getting started with backpacking it could be a good starting pad. If you decide to upgrade, you could use the Trailbreak for car camping. If you’re budget has a bit of wiggle room, take a look at the Big Agnes Air Core Ultra, which will give you much more padding, and it’s much better suited for backpacking trips.

This pad is self inflating and it does firm up a bit on its own but you’ll still need to give it a few blows to pump it up completely. Packing it back up also takes some effort but that can be expected with self inflating pads. 

The REI Trailbreak comes in two sizes: Regular and Long. It also comes in a women’s version which also comes in a regular and long size.

Big Agnes Air Core Ultra

Specs
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1 lbs 06 oz
  • R Value: 4.5
  • Thickness: 3.5 in
  • Volume: 02.1 L
Features
  • Pad Thickness: 3.5 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • High-volume Valve Allows For Efficient And Easy Inflation
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra

The Big Agnes Air Core Ultra is a synthetically insulated sleeping pad that packs down to the size of a water bottle. 

We love that this pad has vertical baffles that are bigger on the outside than they are on the middle which cradles your body, keeping you in the center of the pad. No one likes rolling off their pad in the middle of the night. This design works pretty well even on uneven ground. If you like this feature too, it’s common among all the Big Agnes sleeping pads we’ve featured on this list. We also love the amount of padding, there’s 3.25 inches of cushion. It’s good for side sleepers because you won’t have your hip bones pushing into the ground like they might with thinner pads. The $100 price tag is also a big plus, considering what you get. 

The Air Core Ultra has a two valves, one for inflation and the other for deflation. We quite like this system for a few reasons. One is because it sits flush to the pad so it doesn’t poke out, which makes it more durable than stick valves. Also, the inflate valve has a little plunger in it so if the pump bag comes lose or if you need to take a breather, you don’t lose any air. This system also makes it super easy to adjust the firmness. The deflate valve makes pack up fast and easy, unlike some other systems that you really have to squeeze the air out.

Our biggest complaint is the stuff sack is tight which makes it tricky to repack the pad. Another downside is it is noisy. Each time I moved it sounded like I was opening a bag of chips. If you’re the kind of person that just knocks out as soon as they lay down it shouldn’t be an issue. If the noise really puts you off, check out the Big Agnes Q-Core which is made out of quieter materials. 

The Big Agnes Core Ultra comes in three sizes: regular, regular wide and petite.

If you’re looking for an even smaller and lighter pad, and don’t mind sacrificing some warmth and coin, check out the Big Agnes Q-Core SLX.

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite

Specs
  • Type: Foam
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20' x 0.62"
  • Weight: 0 lbs 14 oz
  • R Value: 2.1
  • Thickness: 0.6 in
  • Packed Size: 8" x 20"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam
  • Ridge and Valley Construction Pattern Traps Dead Air
  • Available in 3 Sizes
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite

This is another lightweight rolling option. The RidgeRest has been around for years and the brand continues to make enhancements to the product.

“Rest” assured, this pad is designed with a pattern of ridges and valleys to trap dead air. This trapped air provides extra insulation. The ridges also make this pad softer and more comfortable that closed-cell foam pads that have a smooth surface. The slightly reflective surface also assists in creating a warming effect as it helps to radiate back your own body heat that might be lost to the ground below. This pad gets bonus points for being the only one that is available in three sizes.

REI Co-op AirRail Plus

Specs
  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lbs 09 oz
  • R Value: 3.3
  • Thickness: 1.5 in
Features
  • Air Rails To Prevent Rolling Off
  • Well Insulated
  • Non-slip Surface

If you’re the type to thrash around in your sleep, you’ll appreciate the REI-Co-op Air Rails Plus. Similar to the idea of bumper bowling, this self-inflating/air hybrid sleeping pad comes equipped with inflatable air rails on the sides to keep you centered when you’re tossing and turning all night long. 

Furthering your stabilization, the top of the pad has a non-slip surface while the bottom is designed to resist wear from ground friction. With an R-value rating of 5, this is one of the warmer sleeping pads on the list.

Sea to Summit Camp SI

Specs
  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Insulation: Yes
  • Weight: 1 lbs 09 oz
  • R Value: 4.2
  • Thickness: 1.5 in
Features
  • Good Warmth Rating
  • Self-Inflating
  • Reduces Bulk

If you like what a self-inflating pad has to offer, but don’t want all the bulk, consider the Sea to Summit Camp SI. Thanks to their proprietary technology, this sleeping pad cuts down 40-percent of the volume without detracting from your comfort level. Featuring an R-value of 4, this sleeping pad can be used year-round thanks to this middle of the road warmth rating. The Sea to Summit Camp SI is great for the camper who wants more comfort than a foam pad without the additional bulk of a typical inflatable air pad.

Coleman Self-Inflating

Specs
  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Insulation: Unavailable
  • Weight: 6 lbs 00 oz
  • R Value: N/A
  • Thickness: 2.5 in
Features
  • Built-in Pillow
  • Very Thick
  • Weather-Resistant

Forgetting your pillow is not an issue with the Coleman Self-Inflating Camping Pad and Pillow. This sleeping pad has a built-in pillow so it goes where the mattress goes.

Open up the valve and the pad and pillow will automatically inflate. With the addition of a few breaths, you can tailor both pad and pillow to your ideal firm setting. Weather-resistant and lofty, this sleeping pad is ideal for car campers looking for comfort.

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING SLEEPING PADS ON A BUDGET

COST

You’re here for a reason: your minimal budget. While all these sleeping pads are excellent choices for the bargain shopper, the price will vary from your basement bargain buys around $30 to those who can spare a few more bones at $100. Depending upon your budget, this can play a major role in how you choose a sleeping pad.

 

USE

The type of camping you’re doing is an important consideration when choosing a sleeping pad. For instance, when you’re car camping, you can get away with a bulky, heavier pad if it means more comfort. On the other hand, if you’re backpacking, the size, weight, and durability of your sleeping pad will matter more. Take into consideration any limitations you’ll face with your style of camping.

 

TYPES

There are three types of sleeping pads to choose from: foam, air, and self-inflating pads. Let’s break down each type so you can decide which kind is best for you.

FOAM PADS

Closed-cell foam pads are the most affordable options on the market. They are constructed from dense foam and retain heat well due to a closed-cell design. Firm, lightweight, and durable, these pads require no additional setup other than unrolling/unfolding. The major drawback with foam pads is they aren’t as comfortable as the other options.

SELF-INFLATING

These pads tend to be the thickest, most well insulated, and most comfortable options available. They inflate at the turn of a valve and only require a few breaths to achieve the desired firmness. Their main disadvantage is that they are more bulky and heavier than the foam and air pads.

AIR PADS

These are super lightweight, comfortable, and packable. This style does require full manual inflation before use, so be prepared to be a little out of breath before bed. The downside to air pads is that they tend to run cold and are more prone to popping.

 

INSULATION

More than just a cushy pad for your tired body, sleeping pads are also meant to keep you insulated so you stay warm all night long. The amount of insulation you need, however, depends upon use. For hot summer nights, you can get away with little to no insulation, whereas you bet your bottom you’ll want to max out insulation when sleeping in the snow.

To find out how well your sleeping pad is insulated, you’ll want to check on the R-value. This will give you the precise measurement of insulation so you know if the sleeping pad will keep you warm from the snowy ground or cause you to freeze your butt off.

 

SIZE

Budget sleeping pads come in a range of sizes from short to long. You’ll want a pad that matches the length of your body. In addition, you’ll want to consider width. The average width of a sleeping pad is about 20-inches. If you’re a side sleeper or tend to toss about at night, a wider sleeping pad may suit you best.

 

INFLATION METHOD

Foam pads require no inflation whereas self-inflating and air pads do. For self-inflating pads, you simply open an air valve and then top it off with a few breaths. Air pads, on the other hand, require more work. This will mean you either blow it up with a handful of steady breaths or use a hand pump to help you out. Consider how much effort you’re willing to put into your sleep system before deciding which type of pad is right for you.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

R-VALUE

Rating for how well a pad resists heat flow on a scale of 1 (minimum) to 11(maximum). The higher the value, the warmer you’ll be.

CLOSED-CELL FOAM

Dense yet light foam with cells that are pressed together or “closed” to prevent air from entering.

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