Skydiving – 10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads (2023)

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Falling asleep on a standard bed can be hard enough already, but falling asleep on the ground in the great outdoors can be nearly impossible for some. While a quality sleeping bag is at the top of most people’s packing lists when heading out into the wilderness, the real unsung hero of any outdoor adventure is the sleeping pad. While sleeping bags provide warmth, sleeping pads provide comfort. A sleeping pad is an essential piece of travel gear to add to your collection if you want to get the most out of your backpacking, camping, or hiking experiences.

To help you choose the best sleep pad for your adventures, we’ve reviewed some of the top sleeping pads on the market.

Comparison Table of the Best Backpack Sleeping Pads

Below is a list of the best sleeping pads for backpacking and camping. Click on the name to read reviews and check prices.

What to Look for in a Good Sleeping Pad

Before you go out and buy a new sleeping pad, here are a few things you should consider.

1. Durability

Sleeping pad durability is measured by denier. The higher the denier, the tougher the material. You’ll pay more money for higher  denier count, but with that comes a longer lifespan.

2. R-Value

R-Value is the pad’s ability to resist the cold. The higher the R-value the better it will insulate you from the ground. There’s not a standard R-value correlation to weather, but a good rule of thumb is 5+ for winter / cold weather camping, 2.5-5 for three-season camping, and anything lower than that for warm-weather camping. Women typically need higher R-values to be comfortable when compared to men because women traditionally have lower body mass.

3. Shape

Typically the most common shapes will be mummy and rectangular. If you’re cold-weather camping, mummy-style pads will generally be better because your body will have less space to warm up compared to a rectangular pad. However, mummy pads give you much less space to toss and turn during the night. They also tend to be more comfortable for those who sleep on their backs. If you’re a tosser and turner like me, then you may want to go for a rectangular pad. They may take up more space than mummy-style pads, but you’re likely to sleep better.

4. Size

All sleeping pads are not created equal. The first thing to consider is your height. Be sure you’re going to fit on the sleeping pad. After that, take a look at the width. Width is more important for those who tend to toss and turn in their sleep. If you typically travel with your significant other or children, instead of buying several single sleeping pads, consider searching for the best double sleeping pad. Even if you don’t travel with others, some people like folding over a double sleeping pad to make a thicker single sleeping pad. That would only be a practical option if you’re camping in one place, not if you’re backpacking.

5. Thickness / Comfort

You don’t want amazing days in the wilderness tainted by painful nights sleeping on the ground. Know the thickness of the pad you’re buying, and look into online reviews to help determine how comfortable a pad is. If you’re a side sleeper, you may be uncomfortable on certain types of pads, be sure the one you choose is thick enough that your hip and shoulder aren’t touching the ground all night.

6. Type of Pad

The main types of pads you’ll see are air pads, foam pads, and self-inflating pads. Of the three options, air pads are the lightest, thickest, and most compact, often packing down to the size of a travel water bottle. On the negative side, air pads have the greatest puncture risk. There’s zero puncture risk when it comes to foam pads, but they’re the least comfortable, have lower R-values, and don’t pack down well compared to the competition. A popular middle ground is a self-inflating pad. They offer convenience, comfort, and adequate durability.

7. Weight

Our list includes pads ranging from 10 to 40 ounces. If you’re going to be backpacking, then weight should be one of the first things you consider. Ideally, with a backpack you’ll probably want to keep the weight between 12-15 ounces but certainly not more than 20.

Best Sleeping Pad Reviews

Here are the best of the best camping sleeping pads on the market.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress

Type: Air pad
Weight: 12 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
R-value: 3.2

Offering maximum warmth for the weight and a R-value of 3.2, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is among the best cold weather sleeping pad choices on the market. Weighing in at only 16 ounces, this air mattress has been designed for use on backcountry adventures and alpine escapes. The pad traps radiant heat thanks to its reflective ThermaCapture technology and the no-slip fabric helps sleeping bags stay in place. Its triangular Core Matrix baffled construction offers increased stability and minimizes heat loss. The pad is 2.5 inches thick and can be manually inflated in less than two minutes. Therm-a-Rest produces this amazing pad in three different sizes: 20” x 47”, 20” x 72”, and 25” x 77”. This pad can pack down to the size of a one liter water bottle, which makes it one of the best compact sleeping pad options. You might be surprised how well you sleep with the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite.

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Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

Type: Air pad
Weight: 15 oz.
Thickness: 3 in.

Nemo prides itself on creating the best ultralight sleeping pad. Even though it’s only 15 ounces, it has all the features you’d want in a sleeping pad. A metalized film layer is the key to it being well insulated but not heavy. That layer is added to a PrimaLoft synthetic insulation which gives the sleeping pad a temperature rating of 15°F. The pad comes in six different sizes and can be inflated up to three inches. Thanks to the low-stretch polyester fabric, elasticity as well as pressure points coming from uneven weight distribution are eliminated. Portability and storage are made easy by the included compression strap and drawstring stuff sack. There’s a repair kit included to keep this sleeping pad going for as long as possible. For a great sleep on your next backcountry adventure, go with the Nemo Tensor Insulated.

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Sleeping Pad

Type: Air pad
Weight: 15 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
R-value: 5.7

Known as the best sleeping pad for camping, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is a four-season inflatable sleeping pad that is ideal for colder temperatures and boasts an impressive 5.7 R-value. The bag comes in two sizes, its smaller size weighs only 15 ounces and measures 72” x 20” while the larger size measures 77” x 25” and weighs 20 ounces. Among the best self-inflating sleeping pad options, it can inflate to 2.5” in less than two minutes. Radiant heat is trapped due to the reflective ThermaCapture technology and the tapered design reduces weight but won’t compromise on warmth. If you’re heading to the backcountry, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is one of the best investments you can make.

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REI Co-op Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad

REI Co-op Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad

Type: Air pad
Weight: 15 oz.
Thickness: 2 in.
R-value: 3.7

With the slogan “ultralight in your pack and comfy when you hit the sack”, the REI Co-op Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad is a fan favorite among the camping community. It comes in four different sizes that inflate to 2” and the largest size weighs only 20 ounces. The 30D ripstop polyester offers a great balance of durability and weight. The excellent warmth-to-weight ratio is made possible by a Mylar® reflective layer and proprietary dual-fiber insulation. The pad is a mummy shape which means increased ease of packing and decreased weight when compared to a rectangular pad. If you’re on the lookout for the best lightweight sleeping pad, don’t miss the REI Co-op Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad.

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Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat

Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat

Type: Air pad
Weight: 15.1 oz.
Thickness: 2 in.
R-value: 3.3

Comfort is the name of the game when it comes to the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat. It’s definitely one of the best backpacking sleeping pad choices on the market because of the Air Sprung Cells technology. This pad provides a more comfortable sleep than a traditional sleeping pad due to its design which is inspired by modern pocket sprung mattresses. Its medium resolution cell matrix provides a 2” thickness which offers support and cushion even on uneven ground. The Exkin Platinum thermal technology will reflect heat back to you like most traditional mats do, but unlike other mats, the Exkin Platinum is silent. After just one use, you’ll be in love with the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat.

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Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad

Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad

Type: Air pad
Weight: 19.6 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
R-value: 4.4

On a budget? The Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad is the best sleeping pad for the money. The 75D polyester material helps to minimize weight while still allowing resistance to abrasions, punctures, and tears. The laminate is antimicrobial so it inhibits microorganism growth that can damage the material and cause odors. It only has an R-value of 1.3, but when you’re camping in the warmer months, the V-shape design makes it comfortable no matter what position you sleep in. If you’re looking for the best sleeping pad for side sleepers, be sure to check it out. It also has side rails to keep you centered on the pad and prevent air movement. This pad weighs 18.1 ounces and packs down to 8” x 3” so it won’t take up much space in your backpack. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much you appreciate this sleeping pad on your next adventure.

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Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad

Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad

Type: Air pad
Weight: 15.9 oz.
Thickness: 3.75 in.

Variety is one thing that makes Big Agnes mats some of the best sleeping pads available. You’ll have a choice of five different pads and can choose from a mummy or rectangular shape. Regardless of what style or size you choose, your sleeping pad will be compact and ultralight. This pad is equipped with PrimaLoft insulation and has built-in heat reflective technology. The larger outer chambers will keep you comfortably in the middle of the pad while the internal construction is designed to offer maximum stability and still keep weight low. These features are particularly helpful if you’re looking for a pad to go in your camping hammock. Because of its comfort and warmth-to-weight ratio, it has our vote for the best sleeping pad for hammock camping. The Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad has a comfort level that’s nearly unbeatable so you can be confident it will be a great addition to your travel gear collection.

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Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad

Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad

Type: Closed-cell foam
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Thickness: 0.9 in.

The classic closed-cell foam sleeping pad has been redefined into the perfection that is the Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad. This design delivers greater plushness, better comfort, and more thickness than other products in this category. The hexagonal nodes and dual-density Axiotomic foam ideally combine to make one of the most supportive pads on the market. The taller nodes trap more warmth around your body because they create more space for uncompressed sleeping bag insulation. Thanks to its durability, it’s known as one of the best hiking sleeping pad choices. Its comfort and durability make it an ideal choice whether you’re hiking the Great Ocean Walk or taking advantage of the lovely day hikes while camping in Big Sur.

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Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress

Type: Closed-cell foam
Weight: 14 oz.
Thickness: 0.75 in.
R-value: 2.6

Created to be the best sleeping pad for backpacking, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is a compact and lightweight closed-cell camping foam mattress that’s dependable, durable, and economical. Therm-a-Rest designed this pad so that the top is softer for increased comfort and the bottom is more durable for extra insulation and protection from the ground. Overall warmth is increased by 20% thanks to the heat-trapping dimples and reflective ThermaCapture coating. The pads come in two different sizes – the small size measures 47” x 20” and weighs 10 ounces and the regular size measures 72” x 20” and weighs 14 ounces. Because of its folding design not only is it a great sleeping pad, but it makes a comfy seat when you’re sitting outside of your backpacking tent in front of a campfire.

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Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sl Sleeping Pad

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sl Sleeping Pad

Type: Self-inflating pad
Weight: 31 oz.
Thickness: 3 in.
R-value: 4.1

This four-season (4.1 R-value) sleeping bag will be your new favorite travel accessory. The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sl Mat lets you camp in luxury with its lush, 3” thickness. The 30D stretch knit fabric is embossed with a non-slip grip print to keep you and your sleeping bag comfortably on the pad. Its Delta Core technology maximizes comfort and thickness while reducing bulk. Keep in mind that it is on the heavier side (with the regular size weighing one pound 15 ounces and the large size weighing two pounds eight ounces), but if you’re really looking to be comfortable while camping then this is the answer. They’ve also engineered a convenient one-way inflation valve to fight against the mat reinflating when you’re trying to pack it up. Thanks to the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Sl Mat, the search is now over for the best camping sleeping pad.

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Choosing the sleeping pad that’s best for you can be complex. We hope our reviews have helped you pick out one that will keep you comfortable throughout your backcountry adventures. Choosing any of the best backpacking sleeping pads above will ensure you sleep well so you can have the best experience possible getting in touch with nature.

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