Sleeping pads can make or break your night of sleep. Get a crappy one and you’ll wake up even more tired than you were before going to sleep. Get a good one and you will feel like you slept on your on bed at home. But, how do you know what’s the best sleeping pad for you?

That’s why we’re here. One of our goals here at The Adventure Junkies is to make your life easier when it comes to choosing outdoor gear. As you know, we like keeping things simple. So think about what type of hiking trip you plan to use the pad for and your budget. Then check out the models that fit those needs. 

For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out the Best Sleeping Bags

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Quick Answer - The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

  1. ThermaRest NeoAir Xtherm
  2. ThermaRest NeoAir Xlite
  3. ThermaRest Zlite SOL
  4. Sea to Summit Ultralight
  5. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
  6. REI Air Rail 1.5
  7. Big Agnes Q-Core SL
  8. Thermarest NeoAir Venture

 

Comparison Table - Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking

PictureNameTypeWeightR ValuePriceRating
ThermaRest NeoAir XthermAir Pad0.93 lbs5.7$$$4.7
ThermaRest NeoAir XliteAir Pad0.75 lbs3.2$$$4.5
ThermaRest Zlite SOLClosed-Cell Foam0.87 lbs2.6$4.5
Sea to Summit UltralightAir Pad0.78 lbs0.7$$4.8
Klymit Insulated Static V LiteAir Pad1.22 lbs4.4$$4.4
REI Air Rail 1.5Self-Inflating1.62 lbs4.2$$4.5
Big Agnes Q-Core SLAir Pad1.21 lbs4.2$$4.5
Thermarest NeoAir VentureAir Pad1.31 lbs1.8$4.4
PictureNameTypeWeightR ValuePriceRating

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Reviews - Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

ThermaRest NeoAir Xtherm

Specs
  • R Value: 5.7
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 0.93 lbs
Features
  • Air Construction
  • Baffled Insulation
  • 2.5 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: ALPINE EXPEDITIONS 

PROS: Compressible, Excellent Warmth for Weight Ratio

CONS: Expensive

ThermaRest NeoAir Xlite

Specs
  • R Value: 3.2
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 0.75 lbs
Features
  • Air Construction
  • Baffled Insulation
  • 2.5 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: WARM WEATHER BACKPACKING TRIPS 

PROS: Lightweight, Compressible, Comfortable

CONS: Expensive

ThermaRest Zlite SOL

Specs
  • R Value: 2.6
  • Type: Closed-Cell Foam
  • Weight: 0.87 lbs
Features
  • Closed Cell Foam
  • 0.75 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: WEEKEND BACKPACKING TRIPS

PROS: Lightweight, Warm

CONS: Bulky, Dimples collect dirt

Sea to Summit Ultralight

Specs
  • R Value: 0.7
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 0.78 lbs
Features
  • Air construction
  • AirSprung cells
  • 2 inch thickness

BEST FOR: SUMMER ADVENTURES

PROS: Lightweight, Compressible, Very stable

CONS: Not very warm, Dimples get dirty

Klymit Insulated Static V Lite

Specs
  • R Value: 4.4
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1.22 lbs
Features
  • Air Construction
  • Synthetic Insulation
  • 2 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: GENERAL HIKING AND CAMPING

PROS: Warm, Affordable, Lightweight

CONS: Noisy, Limited Durability

REI Air Rail 1.5

Specs
  • R Value: 4.2
  • Type: Self-Inflating
  • Weight: 1.62 lbs
Features
  • Self-inflating
  • Foam Insulation
  • 1.5 inch thickness

BEST FOR: ACTIVE SLEEPERS

PROS: Wide, Comfortable, Supportive

CONS: Heavy, Bulky

Big Agnes Q-Core SL

Specs
  • R Value: 4.2
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1.21 lbs
Features
  • Air Construction
  • Synthetic Insulation
  • 3.5 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: EASY SLEEPERS

PROS: Compact, Comfortable, Relatively light

CONS: Uneven Surface, Bumpy side rails

Thermarest NeoAir Venture

Specs
  • R Value: 1.8
  • Type: Air Pad
  • Weight: 1.31 lbs
Features
  • Air Construction
  • Baffled Insulation
  • 2.25 inch Thickness

BEST FOR: COMFORT-SEEKERS

PROS: Value, Comfort, Durability

CONS: Bulky, Not Warm, Heavy

 

LEARN HOW TO CHOOSE HIKING GEAR FOR YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST BACKPACKING SLEEPING PADS

TYPE OF PAD

Depending on how you plan to use the mat and the weather conditions you’ll face, there are 3 options to choose from. 

 

AIR PAD

An air pad is manually inflated and uses air for cushioning. Some of the best models use insulation materials to increase warmth. These mats are the most comfortable ones for backpacking. However they are heavier and not very durable, they can be punctured or ripped easily.

 

SELF-INFLATING PAD

A self-inflating pad uses a combination of open-cell foam insulation and air for cushioning. All you have to do is open the valve and the air fills automatically. They are comfy and pack small but they are the most expensive option.

 

CLOSED CELL FOAM PAD

A closed cell foam pad is the cheapest, lightest and most durable option. The downside is they’re not as comfy as the other types and tend to be bulky. 

 

R VALUE

The R value measures the sleeping pad’s ability to resist heat flow. So, the higher the R value the better it will insulate you from the cold ground.

You need to consider what climate you’ll be camping in most of the time. For cold weather camping, look for a pad with an R value over 5. In the summer months, you can get away with a pad with a lower R value. For very cold weather, put a closed foam pad under your sleeping mat for extra insulation.

 

WEIGHT

Like it happens with any piece of outdoor gear you put on your backpack, you need to consider weight.

If you’re planning an ultra-light hiking trip, foam pads are the lightest but they take a lot of room. Some of the best air pad models have reduced their weight a lot, making them the best choice for these kinds of adventures.

 

LENGTH AND WIDTH

Manufacturers make pads in a few different sizes, which determines its weight and price tag. 

At a minimum, your shoulders and hips need to fit on a pad. Shorter people can save weight by carrying a short sized pad. Some tall people prefer to carry a short pad and then use clothes to cushion the legs.

If you have a small tent, be sure to take the dimensions into consideration when choosing a sleeping pad

 

PACKED SIZE 

How much room your pad will take up in your pack is worth considering. Generally, warmer pads are thicker and take up more space. This isn’t always the case, there are plenty of mats that pack small, but tend to be more expensive than their bulkier counterparts. These are a great option if you’re looking for the best backpacking sleeping pad on the market.

 

WOMEN’S VERSION

Some sleeping pads come in a women’s version. These pads typically are a bit shorter and offer more insulation in the hips and feet.

 

 

READ MORE

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

Backpacking Sleeping Bags | Budget Backpacking Sleeping Bags

Double Sleeping Pads | Backpacking Canister Stoves

Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers | One Man Tents for Backpacking

Summer Sleeping Bags

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