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 the best foam sleeping pad 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 more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out The Best Sleeping Pads.

hiking gift guide
Hiking Gift Guide

 

Quick Answer - The Best Foam Sleeping Pads

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

 

Comparison Table - Best Foam Sleeping Pads

PictureNameWeightTypePacked SizeThicknessPriceRating
Big Agnes Third Degree12 ozRolling6" x 20" 0.5"$4.3
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite14 ozRolling8" x 20" 0.62" $4.1
-NEMO Switchback14.5 ozFolding20" x 5.5" x 5"0.9"$4.4
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol14 ozFolding20" x 5.5" x 5"0.75"$4.2
-ALPS Mountaineering Wilderness10 ozFolding22" x 5" x 5.75" 0.75"$4
PictureNameWeightTypePacked SizeThicknessPriceRating

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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

Big Agnes Third Degree

Specs
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20" x 0.5"
  • Thickness: 0.5"
  • Type: Rolling
  • Weight: 12 oz
  • 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

Specs
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20' x 0.62"
  • Thickness: 0.62"
  • Type: Rolling
  • Weight: 14 oz
  • Packed Size: 8" x 20"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam
  • Ridge and Valley Construction Pattern Traps Dead Air
  • Available in 3 Sizes

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.

NEMO Switchback

Specs
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20" x 0.9"
  • Thickness: 0.9"
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 14.5 oz
  • Packed Size: 20" x 5.5" x 5"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam (to prevent heat loss)
  • Thermal Reflective Film (reflects heat back to your body)
  • Available in 2 Sizes

Known for pushing the envelope in tent design, NEMO took the next step several years ago and utilized their technology to create a line of pads and sleeping bags that continue to revolutionize the outdoor experience.

The Switchback is no exception. This beefy model is almost an inch thick, and yet only weighs half an ounce more than most of the other foam pads in this roundup. This folding model utilizes a highly efficient hexagonal nesting pattern that allows for greater comfort without increasing packed size. Regardless of the season, the thermal reflective film reflects heat back to your body, preventing heat loss while you sleep.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol

Specs
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20" x 0.75"
  • Thickness: 0.75"
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 14 oz
  • Packed Size: 20" x 5.5" x 5"
Features
  • Closed-Cell Foam (to prevent heat loss)
  • Egg-Carton Pattern (increases comfort)
  • Available in 2 Sizes

Unlike the Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest Solite above, the Z Lite Sol is a folding model. The folding accordion-style design allows for a quick unpacking and packing of the pad. The egg-carton pattern design of this sleeping pad helps to increase comfort and adds an extra layer of insulation by helping to trap warm air under your sleeping bag.

The slightly reflective surface reflects your body heat, increasing warmth by approximately 20% over previous models in the line. This not only maintains any heat you generate, but assists in reflecting it back to you during the night for a more restful night’s sleep.

ALPS Mountaineering Wilderness

Specs
  • Dimensions: 22" x 71" x 0.75"
  • Thickness: 0.75"
  • Type: Folding
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • 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.

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

 

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A FOAM SLEEPING PAD

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. 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. 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.

 

 

READ MORE

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

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