Updated on March 5, 2021

You might think that a decent night’s sleep while hiking is a luxury. But by choosing one of the best backpacking sleeping pads available on the market today, getting your well-deserved rest is no longer an issue. Modern sleeping pads are light to carry and provide you with a soft, insulated surface to use when sleeping under the stars.

Picking the right sleeping pad for you is vital for your nighttime comfort on the trail. But understanding the difference between air, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam sleeping pads as well as all the other pad-specific features can be challenging. That’s why we compiled a list of the ten best backpacking sleeping pads, so you can spend less time counting sheep and more time exploring trails with a well-rested pep in your step!

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

Budget Sleeping Pads | Double Sleeping Pads 

Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers | Foam Sleeping Pads 

Ultralight Sleeping Pads | Self Inflating Sleeping Pads


Quick Answer - The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

  1. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI
  2. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL
  3. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
  4. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
  5. Sea to Summit Ether Light XT
  6. Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated
  7. NEMO Switchback
  8. Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite
  9. Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
  10. Nemo Tensor


Comparison Table - Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking

PictureNameTypeWeightR ValuePriceRating
SEA TO SUMMIT COMFORT PLUS SISea to Summit Comfort Plus SISelf-Inflating1 lb. 15 oz.4.1$$5.0
ThermaRest Z Lite SOLTherm-a-Rest Z Lite SOLClosed-Cell Foam14 oz2.6$4.3
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLiteTherm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLiteAir Pad8.8 oz2.3$$$4.4
ThermaRest NeoAir XThermTherm-a-Rest NeoAir XThermAir Pad1 lb. 4 oz.5.7$$4.4
Sea to Summit Ether Light XTSea to Summit Ether Light XTAir pad1 lb 1.3 oz3.2$$$4.5
Sea to Summit Ultralight InsulatedSea to Summit Ultralight InsulatedAir Pad1 lb. 0.9 oz.3.3$$4.3
NEMO SwitchbackClosed-Cell Foam14.5 ozUnavailable$4.3
Therm-a-Rest Trail LiteTherm-a-Rest Trail LiteSelf-Inflating2 lbs. 5 oz.3.4$4.5
Big Agnes Air Core UltraBig Agnes Air Core UltraAir Pad1 lb. 6 oz.Unavailable$4.1
Nemo TensorAir Pad1 lb. 5 oz.3.5$$4.2
PictureNameTypeWeightR ValuePriceRating
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 - Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI

  • Type: Self-Inflating
  • Weight: 1 lb. 15 oz.
  • R Value: 4.1
  • Pad Thickness: 3 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Semi-rectangular
  • Pad Is Wider At The Hip And Narrower At The Shoulder For Efficient Warmth Without Excess Bulk


This open-cell foam sleeping pad is designed with a warmth-efficient shape – wider at the hips, and slightly narrower at the shoulders. With a thickness of 3 inches and an R-value of 4.1, this is a sleeping pad worthy of serious outdoor adventures, even in colder climates. 

The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI is designed for convenience and, as it says, comfort. A low-profile valve ensures fast deflation of the sleeping pad, so you can pack up in no time. Another convenient feature, the non-slip print, will keep you from rolling off onto the cold ground at night. And for even more comfort, it has a soft knit fabric on top for a cozy and relaxing feel.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL

  • Type: Closed-Cell Foam
  • Weight: 14 oz
  • R Value: 2.6
  • Pad Thickness: 0.75 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • Engineered For Extreme Alpine Climbing, Adventure Racing, And Long-distance Backpacking
ThermaRest Z Lite SOL


The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad can be summed up in a single word: “extra.” It is extra light, extra thin, extra packable, and extra durable. To start, it weighs less than a pound, or 14 ounces to be exact. It’s only 0.75 inches thick, making it extremely portable, yet still comfortable for sleeping. The pad’s accordion design helps it lay flat for easy packing. 

An aluminized surface and an egg-carton pattern unite to reflect your body heat and provide a decent level of insulation. Because it’s R-value is just 2.6, the Z Lite Sol is considered a warm-weather pad. Additionally, the closed-cell foam used in the construction of this pad bears years of use, making it worthwhile as a summertime mountain sleeping pad. The Z Lite Sol was created for alpine climbers and long-distance thru-hikers, meaning that weight and durability are optimized. If you’re looking for a no-frills, ultralight weight and ultra durable pad at the low end of the cost spectrum, then the Z Lite Sol is the pick for you!

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite

  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 8.8 oz
  • R Value: 2.3
  • Pad thickness: 2.5 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Mummy
  • hrinks down to the size of a large water bottle for a minimal impact on your pack space
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite


Weighing in at 8.8 ounces, this is THE most lightweight and packable backpacking sleeping pad on the market. Like other sleeping pads in the brand’s NeoAir line-up, the UberLite boasts 2.5 inches of thickness when inflated and feature comfortable, uniform horizontal baffles of equal height.

What we love most about the UberLite is that it’s much quieter and less crinkly at night than other pads in the NeoAir line-up, including the XLite and XTherm alternatives.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
  • R Value: 5.7
  • Pad Thickness: 2.5 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Semi-rectangular
  • Patent-pending Reflective Layer Returns Heat Back To Your Body
ThermaRest NeoAir XTherm


With an R-value of 5.7, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad is the second warmest one on this list. Contrary to what you’d expect, it is also very light, weighing an impressive 15 ounces. Usually, warm sleeping pads and bags are also relatively heavy, but not in this case. The lightweight of this toasty pad is made possible by an innovative, patent-pending layer that doesn’t add any weight but works to reflect your body heat and store it in air pockets for ultimate warmth.

As for packing, you can compress this pad to the volume of a 1-liter water bottle. Thus, it will not take up much of your backpack’s precious space. The XTherm has a tapered design that further optimizes warmth and weight. Of course, the price you have to pay is more than most other pads on this list, but you do get your money’s worth.

Sea to Summit Ether Light XT

  • Type: Air pad
  • Weight: 1 lb 1.3 oz
  • R Value: 3.2
  • Pad Thickness: 4 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Mummy
  • Air Sprung Cells provide a plush sleeping experience
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT


With four inches of thickness and a moderate amount of insulation, the Ether Light XT will keep you dedicated side sleepers comfy through the night. The Ether Light XT is designed for comfort thanks to well padded air sprung cells. With an R-Value of 3.2, it’s also suitable for all but the coldest of conditions. A dual pump and stuff sack comes included with your purchase.

What we like most about the Ether Light XT is the unique Pillow Lock system that allows you to actually attach a pillow to the pad — eliminating the all-too common occurrence of backpacking pillows slipping out from under your head at night.

Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated

  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1 lb. 0.9 oz.
  • R Value: 3.3
  • Pad Thickness: 2 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Semi-rectangular
  • Reflective Fabric And Thermolite Insulation Combine To Prevent Heat Loss
Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated


This sleeping pad is the second Sea to Summit selection on this list, and it’s here because it’s another great option from a well-renowned company. The UltraLight Insulated Air sleeping pad is less heavy-duty than the Comfort Plus listed above, but it is more portable. Weighing just above a pound, it belongs in a backpack. And with an R-value of 3.3, 3-season camping with this pad is not only possible but comfortable. For convenience, a special valve allows you to effortlessly inflate, deflate, and adjust pressure however you want.

In case you accidentally puncture the pad, it comes with an on-the-go repair kit with six patches and a one-way valve insert. Wear and tear are no longer an obstacle to the success of your adventure. Interestingly, the UltraLight sleeping pad also takes care of microscopic danger, as it has an anti-microbial coating against mold, excellent if you are exploring humid environments.

NEMO Switchback

  • Type: Closed-Cell Foam
  • Weight: 14.5 oz
  • R Value: Unavailable
  • Pad Thickness: 0.9 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • Metalized Thermal Reflective Film Reflects Heat Back To Your Body


With an efficient hexagonal pattern, the affordable NEMO Switchback sleeping pad is a durable and packable choice. Its unique design allows for wider and taller nodes (the raised areas on the surface of the pad), meaning that you get a plushier feel without compromising size. For even more warmth, this sleeping pad has a metalized film that reflects your heat to your body. The NEMO Switchback is made up of dual-density foam that is resistant to abrasions and a tough lower layer, making it super durable and long-lasting. 

If you want to pack light, you can use this pad on its own. It weighs 14 ounces and, with a thickness of only 0.9 inches, it’s super portable. You can also layer it with another pad for extra insulation during extra cold weather trips. And if the environment matters to you as much as your outdoor experiences, you’ll love the fact that the Switchback is fully recyclable.

Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite

  • Type: Self-Inflating
  • Weight: 2 lbs. 5 oz.
  • R Value: 3.4
  • Pad Thickness: 1.5 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Semi-rectangular
  • Rolls Up Small For Easy Packing
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite


If you’re in search of an excellent all-around sleeping pad, then the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite is worth your consideration. It’s made with plush open-cell foam and is warm enough to be listed as a 3-season pad. However, because of this, it is thicker and heavier than average ultralight pads. The pad is 1.5 inches thick and weighs 1 pound and 10 ounces, making it suitable for backpacking as long as you’re not trying to go ultralight. 

One of the best features of this sleeping pad is that it is self-inflatable. You must admit, stopping for the night after a long hike and not having to inflate your sleeping pad with your breath is pretty awesome. Besides that, this pad has a semi-rectangular shape, which ensures gap-free pairing with other pads so you and your partner can be cozy and comfortable side-by-side all night long.

Big Agnes Air Core Ultra

  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
  • R Value: Unavailable
  • Pad Thickness: 3.5 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • High-volume Valve Allows For Efficient And Easy Inflation
Big Agnes Air Core Ultra


Are you looking for the utmost comfort during warm-weather camping? Then turn your attention to the Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad. Its minimalistic construction cuts weight without diminishing comfort. This updated sleeping pad is more lightweight and easier to use than its award-winning namesake. The ease of use is due in part to a high-volume valve that makes inflation and deflation incredibly fast and easy.

It only weighs 1 pound and 4 ounces, making it very packable without adding excessive weight to your pack. The cradle-like qualities come from the raised outer edges that keep you snug in the middle of the pad. Furthermore, you can feel safe while sleeping on this pad, as it has an antimicrobial coating that prevents bacteria and mold from sharing the comfort with you.

Nemo Tensor

  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1 lb. 5 oz.
  • R Value: 3.5
  • Pad Thickness: 3 in
  • Sleeping Pad Shape: Rectangular
  • Metalized Film Provides Extra Insulation, Resisting Cold From The Ground


If you are looking for a lightweight sleeping pad with lots of updates and ergonomic features, then the NEMO Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad might be a good choice. Within its thoughtful design, there is a point-deflection system that makes up a stable surface and prevents your elbows, hips, and knees from sinking in and touching the cold ground. The Tensor is also very warm, using 2-layer metalized film to effectively reflect your heat to battle temperatures as low as 10°F. Weighing in at only one and a half pounds with a negligible packed size, this pad is ideal for ultralight backpackers looking to shed weight and increase comfort and warmth on the trail.





Sleeping pads come in three different categories: air pads, self-inflating pads, and closed-cell foam pads.


Air pads are mattresses that you inflate with your breath or a portable pump. The advantage of air pads is that they are lightweight and soft, however, they are more prone to puncturing or ripping.


Self-inflating pads are sturdier and more durable than air pads. As the name suggests, they inflate automatically when the valve is opened, saving time and energy at the end of a long hike. Self-inflating pads tend to be bulkier and heavier than air pads due to a layer of foam which is added inside the pad for extra insulation.

Closed-Cell Foam

Closed-cell foam pads are basic camping pads built with one single layer of dense, patterned foam, usually folding like an accordion. Closed-cell foam pads are affordable, lightweight, and virtually unbreakable, but not as comfortable other types of sleeping pads.



The R-value of a sleeping pad indicates the level of insulation of a sleeping pad. The R-value ranges from 1 (ideal for camping in warm weather) to 11 (maximum insulation for cold-weather trips). While closed-cell foam pads offer little or no insulation, most other backpacking pads on this list are fine for three-season use with an R-value of 3 or above.



Sleeping pads can be short, regular or long.

Short pads measure between 47 and 48 inches in length, and are lighter and easier to pack. They do not fit the whole body however, providing insulation only for for your back and head. Legs don’t require as much insulation as other body parts, so a short sleeping pad is worth considering if you are hiking in warmer months or trying to cut down on weight. Regular and long pads are normally 72 and 78 inches in length, respectively, and are more suitable to colder climates as they will protect the entire body.



Sleeping pads can be rectangular, semi-rectangular or mummy shaped. The first two shapes offer the most moving space and are recommended for campers who tend to shift position often during the night. Mummy-shaped sleeping pads are narrower around the legs but are also lighter to carry and occupy less space in your backpack.



Manufacturers usually indicate how many breaths are needed to inflate an air pad. Backpacking air pads normally inflate with less than 8 breaths, but some models are built with a built-in hand pump that can come in handy at the end of a long day of hiking.

As you can probably guess, self-inflating pads inflate automatically once the valve is opened. The process takes about 10 minutes. Self-inflating pads should be stored hanging and semi-inflated with the valve open. Here’s more information on how to store and care for a sleeping pad





The raised bumps that look make closed-cell foam pads look like an egg crate that offer warmth and comfort.


The measurement that indicates the level of insulation of a sleeping pad, ranging from 1 (minimal insulation) to 11 (maximum insulation).


A dense and durable type of foam, used to build basic sleeping pads. Closed-cell foam is extremely lightweight and moisture resistant.


A sleeping pad that can be inflated by breathing into it or with a pump.


A sleeping pad that automatically inflates when the valve is open. The inflating process usually takes about 10 minutes.



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