If you’ve camped before, you know how hard it can be to get a good night’s sleep. This happens for two main reasons.
First, the terrain is most likely rough and bumpy, which makes using a sleeping bag much more difficult. But then you have another issue. On colder nights, even if you have a comfortable air mattress it can be quite chilly due to lack of insulation.
Either way, you end up spending dreadful nights and getting little sleep.
That’s what sleeping pads are for. The best backpacking sleeping pad serves two main purposes: it creates a welcoming surface for you to lie on, and provides insulation to keep you warm during the night.
Most of the sleeping pads we’ll be looking at are quite portable too, so you’ll have no problem taking them with you on your next backpacking trip.
The Quick Answer
If we had to pick a single sleeping pad from this list, it would have to be the ChillaX Air Sleeping Pad. It is simply the best backpacking sleeping pad overall.Its air cells are extremely comfortable to sleep on, it is the best all-around, and it has good thickness such that you won’t feel the ground below you. It provides one of the best levels of insulation from any sleeping pad on this list, with an R-value of 2.1.
Our Sleeping Pad Comparison
To help you decide which one is the best backpacking sleeping pad for you, we’ve crunched the facts and figures down into this comparison table.
Backpacking Sleeping Pad Reviews
The previous table gives you a nice overview, but it might not be enough for you to decide which one is the best backpacking sleeping pad. For that reason, let’s get into the more in-depth reviews.
1. Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad (Best for Side Sleepers)
This list gets off to a good start thanks to the quality of the Klymit Static V. The first thing that stands out is the incredibly small packed size of this pad: when rolled up, it is a small cylinder of only 8 by 3 inches! This is the smallest packed size in our list of best backpacking sleeping pad.
The tiny packed size, combined with the weight of 1.13 pounds, makes it one of best backpacking sleeping pads with respect to portability. The light weight is thanks to the 75D polyester fabric, which also makes it resistant to tear and abrasion. And if you do manage to tear it, the included patch kit has you covered.
This pad is called Static V due to its characteristic design. It V-shaped air cushions running from top to bottom with the aim of delivering superior support, and this is exactly what it does.
The cushioning is comfortable to lie on, especially if you sleep on your side. The only downside is the R-value of 1.3, which means the insulation could’ve been better.
Klymit claims you can inflate this pad with just 10 to 15 deep breaths, which is quite accurate, although some people might need about 20. Deflating and packing up the Static V is also simple, taking only a couple of minutes at most. This process is demonstrated in the video below.
Besides the standard Green color, it also comes in some pretty cool-looking ones like King’s Desert Shadow and Realtree Xtra! You’ll have to spend a bit more, though.
Who It’s Best For
The Klymit Static V is definitely one of the best backpacking sleeping pads for those who like to travel light. Its cushioning system favors those who like to sleep on their side, so go for it if you are one of these people.
The narrow design and low insulation mean it is not the most comfortable pad for all situations.
2. ChillaX Air Sleeping Pad (Best for Stomach Sleepers)
After taking a look at this sleeping pad, we found that it is one of the best backpacking sleeping pads, not only for stomach sleepers but for all kinds of sleepers, thanks to its incredible level of comfort.
First things first, this pad consists of a combination of 20D Nylon and TPU layer, giving it tear-resistant and waterproof capabilities, as well as quietness when you are rolling around during the night.
These materials also make the ChillaX Air Sleeping Pad an incredibly lightweight sleeping pad. It weighs only 0.9 pounds and measures just 10 by 3.5 inches when packed.
But don’t be fooled by its weight, for this ChillaX provides plenty of cushioning with its “air-cell” design. Stomach sleepers will be happy with this pad, but truth be told, it is comfortable to sleep on in any position.
You’ll have no trouble inflating this pad, probably taking you a maximum of 10 deep breaths to fully inflate. Deflating is also really easy, thanks to the separate deflate valve.
With a tested R-value of 2.1, the ChillaX will keep you warm during the night, making it effectively a 3-season pad. This is definitely one of the best backpacking sleeping pads all around.
Who It’s Best For?
The ChillaX Air Sleeping Pad does not get many things wrong, making it one of the best backpacking sleeping pads for many situations. It is portable, lightweight, comfortable, and provides good insulation. Stomach sleepers will love the air cells.
3. OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad
We’re now looking at the best backpacking sleeping pad as far as camping is concerned. And a lot of this is due to its portability. At 0.9 pounds and a packed size of 8 by 3.5 inches, this is the easiest pad to carry in your backpack.
Like the ChillaX, the OutdoorsmanLab pad is also made of 20D nylon combined with TPU. However, while this gives it excellent tear-resistance, it can make a lot of noise when you roll around, unlike the ChillaX.
The air cell design is also comfortable, but the thickness of the air cells could be greater to improve support. The design is only 2.2 inches thick, so when you move around during the night you can actually feel the ground below you. An R-value of 1.3 means it is also not suited for colder conditions.
One of the good things about this pad is that the inflating valve has a shut-off mechanism that prevents air from escaping. So as you are inflating it, which should take close to 10 breaths, you won’t have to worry about keeping the air in.
Who It’s Best For
The OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad is definitely for those who want the most compact and lightweight sleeping pad at an affordable price. If comfort and insulation are your priorities, this isn’t the best backpacking sleeping pad for you.
- Inflating valve shut-off mechanism
- Pad makes some noise when you move around
4. X-Lounger Sleeping Pad (Best for Hammocks)
Let’s take a look at the X-Lounger, which follows the same approach as the previous two sleeping pads with nylon and TPU construction and air cell support. Like its competitors, this pad is also lightweight, weighing only 1.13 pounds. The folded size is 9 x 7 x 1 inches.
Unfortunately, the X-Lounger Sleeping Pad also makes some noise when you move around in it. We couldn’t find the R-value, which is regrettable, but with only 2 inches in thickness, it wouldn’t provide as much insulation as the other models. However, it is precisely the slim design that makes it appropriate for hammock use.
Since it is on the thin side, it is easy to slide into your hammock and somewhat flexible to boot, allowing it to take the hammock’s curved shape easily.
This pad also has a couple of nice features compared to other models. First of all, it includes an inflatable pillow. This isn’t the best pillow you can get, but it certainly is comfortable and great to use with your hammock.
Furthermore, this X-Lounger has buckles on its sides that allow you to attach it to similar pads. This is really convenient if you need more room or if you want to sleep next to someone.
Who It’s Best For
The X-Lounger is the best backpacking sleeping pad for use with a hammock, no doubt about that. But the low thickness and lack of insulation means you should search for other pads if you’re looking for a more versatile option.
- Can be attached to other sleeping pads
- Makes some noise when you move around
5. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Foam Sleeping Pad (Best for Mountaineering)
The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is different from the other sleeping pads we’ve seen so far. It is not inflatable and more like a foldable piece of hard foam instead. The appropriate name for it is closed-cell foam design. One advantage of this design is that it cannot be punctured or leak air.
This is the best backpacking sleeping pad for cold weather and mountaineering because the foam material gives it a large R-value of 2.6. And while it may not be as comfortable or provide as much support as its inflatable cousins, the Z Lite Sol can be used together with one of them.
If you feel your inflatable sleeping pad does not provide much insulation or you want to protect it from rough terrain, just slip the Z Lite Sol underneath it and you’re good to go.
The Z Lite Sol is incredibly lightweight at only 0.88 pounds. However, it’s not that simple to carry it with you because the folded size is 20x5x5.5 inches. Your best bet is probably to tie it up to your backpack.
The only thing that prevents this from being the best backpacking sleeping pad overall is that it is not as comfortable as an inflatable pad if used as a standalone sleeping surface, although it certainly provides enough insulation.
Who It’s Best For
If you’re planning on camping in cold weather, this sleeping pad is a must-have. But the Z Lite Sol is so versatile that we can recommend it to all campers.
Even if you prefer an inflatable sleeping pad, it won’t hurt to have this foam pad as a first insulation layer.
Buying Guide: What to Look for in Your Backpacking Sleeping Pad
If you want to find your own sleeping pad, then these are the features you should look out for if you want to make the best possible decision.
The two main types of sleeping pads are foam pads and air pads.
Foam pads, or closed-cell foam pads, are the simplest pads available. They are basically a layer of hard foam between you and the ground. The advantages are good insulation, simple setup, relatively affordable, and non-leak.
You can also use them together with an air pad as the first layer of protection. The problem is that even when folded they are quite bulky, and not as comfortable as air pads.
Air pads are the most comfortable pads available but don’t offer as much, although the materials have evolved quite a bit in recent years. They are lightweight and compact, making them the best backpacking sleeping pads.
However, they are vulnerable to leaks and can make quite a bit of noise when you move around during sleep.
If you’ll be using the pad as your main sleeping surface, you want to make sure it covers as much of your body as possible. Its length should be enough to support your feet, although some campers don’t mind having their feet off the pad.
Also, pay attention to the width of the sleeping pad. Depending on the position you sleep in, make sure it supports all the main points in your body, including, for example, your shoulders.
Portability should be a priority if you’re going to be doing a lot of hiking and backpacking, meaning you’ll be carrying your sleeping pad for a long time. If that is the case, you should probably go for an air pad.
As we’ve seen in our search for the best backpacking sleeping pad, there are plenty of compact and lightweight options nowadays to meet your needs.
Comfort is one of the main reasons you’re getting a sleeping pad. If you’re going for comfort, you should probably go with an air pad.
Also, pay attention to the pad’s thickness. A thicker pad means there are fewer chances of you feeling the ground below you, along with any uncomfortable rocks, pebbles, pine cones, etc.
Warmth should be a priority if you’re camping during the colder months. In this case, the most valuable indicator you can have is the R-value of your sleeping pad.
R-values higher than 2.5 are enough for slightly cold nights, but experts recommend a minimum R-value of 3.4 if you’re camping in freezing weather.
Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad FAQ
Do I really need a sleeping pad?
Obviously, this comes down to personal preference. You can do well without a sleeping pad in certain conditions. However, if you are a regular camper, we’re going to say that you do need a sleeping pad to have a comfortable night’s sleep.
A sleeping pad provides protection, warmth, and comfort that you won’t get with just a sleeping bag. It eliminates the discomfort of lying in rough terrain, along with any rocks, grass blades, and other irregularities. If you’re camping in cold conditions, you really do need a sleeping pad.
What is the R-value of a sleeping pad?
The R-value of a sleeping pad measures its capability to insulate you from the cold ground. Higher R-values mean higher levels of insulation.
If you plan on using multiple sleeping pads, you can determine their combined R-value by adding their individual R-values.
How do you store a sleeping pad?
Foam pads don’t require much maintenance. However, you should take some precautions to make sure your air pads last you a long time.
First off, during a hike, it is best to store your sleeping pad inside a bag to prevent it from being scratched. This is easier than having to patch a leak later on.
Now, let’s talk about cleaning your pad. There’s nothing wrong with dirt and dust, but some things should be cleaned right away if they come in contact with the pad.
These include insect repellent and pine sap. Insect repellent may directly harm the pad’s materials, while the sap may attract some undesired objects that can scratch the pad surface.
When you get home, clean your pad and let it air dry. Don’t leave it under direct sunlight, because UV rays may degrade the pad’s fabric. If possible, store the sleeping pad in a place with regular room temperature and low moisture levels.
With the advice we’ve given you, we hope you’ll be able to find the best backpacking sleeping pad for your needs, if you haven’t already. Happy camping!
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