Updated on December 22, 2021

Aside from choosing the right shelter to protect you from the elements, your sleep system may be the most underrated piece of gear for hitting the trail. And, it all begins from the ground up. Selecting one of the best foam sleeping pads can insulate you from the cold ground and provide padding from roots, rocks, and the ground itself.

Never fear. Here at The Adventure Junkies, we pride ourselves on helping you find the best gear for your next adventure. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best foam sleeping pads on the market so you can rest easy.

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

 

Quick Answer - The Best Foam Sleeping Pads

  1. Nemo Switchback
  2. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL
  3. Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite
  4. ALPS Mountaineering Wilderness
  5. Big Agnes Third Degree

 

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Foam Sleeping Pad

 

 

Comparison Table - Best Foam Sleeping Pads

For the best experience turn your device horizontally
NameWeightR ValueThicknessPriceRatingReview
Nemo Switchback0 lbs 14 oz2.00.9 in$504.4Read Review
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL0 lbs 14 oz2.00.7 in$464.3Read Review
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite0 lbs 14 oz2.10.6 in$404.1Read Review
ALPS Mountaineering Wilderness0 lbs 10 ozN/A0.7 in$354.0Read Review
Big Agnes Third Degree0 lbs 12 oz1.50.5 in$404.3Read Review
NameWeightR ValueThicknessPriceRatingReview
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 Foam Sleeping Pads

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 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.

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.

ALPS Mountaineering Wilderness

Specs
  • Type: Folding
  • Dimensions: 22" x 71" x 0.75"
  • Weight: 0 lbs 10 oz
  • R Value: N/A
  • Thickness: 0.7 in
  • Packed Size: 22" x 5" x 5.75"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam (to prevent heat loss)
  • Accordion Folding Design
  • Available in One Size

Like other models in this roundup, this ALPS Mountaineering pad folds just like an accordion. The folding style is ideal for easy packing and unpacking and provides a foolproof option for newbies and veterans alike.

The nitty gritty on this pad is that it’s a no-frills closed cell foam pad that is great for backcountry pursuits, car camping, or providing a pad option for that extra guest. The egg-crate construction allows for a nesting effect when folded to provide a more compact option for packing and storage. And while it only comes in one size, according to the manufacturer’s claimed weight, it’s the lightest of the group.

Big Agnes Third Degree

Specs
  • Type: Rolling
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20" x 0.5"
  • Weight: 0 lbs 12 oz
  • R Value: 1.5
  • Thickness: 0.5 in
  • Packed Size: 6" x 20"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam (to prevent heat loss)
  • Die-Cut Section in Top Layer (helps trap warm air)
  • Available in 2 Sizes

The Third Degree pad is a rolling version in the sea of folding foam pads in this roundup. It’s lightweight and easily deploys for use in your tent or as a padded seat around the campfire. The die-cut sections on the top surface help trap warm air, thus providing more insulation. On the flip side, cushioned tread pattern helps provide stability on the tent floor and extra cushioning for a better night’s sleep.

The beauty of foam pads is that they can usually be cut to size. This one is no exception. However, this Big Agnes model is also available in two size options, which allows you to choose the appropriate length for your height.

 

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite sleeping pad

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING THE BEST FOAM SLEEPING PADS

BENEFITS

Closed-cell foam pads are the most durable, lightest, and cheapest options on the market. They are also easily cleaned.

 

COST

Closed-cell foam pads are the cheapest options on the market.

 

COMFORT

While not as comfortable as other options on the market, closed-cell foam pads have evolved over the years to maximize comfort while maintaining an ultra-lightweight design.

 

DURABILITY

This is by far the most durable sleeping pad on the market. Unlike self-inflating and air mattress options, the closed-cell foam pads will never fail in the field. They will survive years of abuse on the trail. Even stored, they will always be ready to be called back into service at a moment’s notice.

 

SEASONALITY

These pads are great for 4-season use. Regardless of the temperature, they perform the same and will protect you from the cold ground. In extreme conditions, a closed-cell foam pad is often used underneath a more comfortable option to provide further protection from the cold ground.

 

MULTIFUNCTIONAL

While your primary reason for purchasing a foam pad is probably for sleeping purposes, they are also ideal for sitting on around camp. Therefore, they can provide protection while cooking by allowing you to sit on the pad versus wet or cold ground. A foam pad cut to a square shape or folded in half can also be utilized during longer breaks on the trail to provide a dry sitting option or at the climbing crag to switch from approach shoes to climbing shoes so you don’t have to get your feet dirty or your butt wet.

 

 

FEATURES EXPLAINED

PACKED SIZE

Whether rolled or folded, closed-cell foam pads don’t pack down small. Other options on the market will likely pack down smaller and some may even weigh less. Additionally, foam pads are often easier to attach to the outside of your pack due to their bulkier size.

THERMAL REFLECTIVE FILM

Some foam sleeping pads are covered in a thin reflective film that can provide the benefit of helping to reflect back some of your body heat. This can be advantageous on cold nights.

ACCORDION VS ROLLING

Which is better? It comes down to personal preference and other features involved. Rolling models will produce a round product while the folding options will provide a more straight line option.

SIZE OPTIONS

Some of the models in this roundup have multiple sizes available. We based our review on the regular size and most were approximately the same size. Depending on your height, you can look at other options. Some options provide products for taller people. If you’re looking to cut weight even further, some models allow for cutting to size.

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