If the pad is a little too firm., you can easily let out a little air until you hit that comfort spot. Even though it is more comfortable than the Sol, it still is not as plush as the inflatable pads. Super convenient after an exhausting day pushing long miles. Value can mean many different things to different people. While these self-inflating pads have their cult following among hardcore wilderness Luddites, the new sleeping pad technologies are certainly getting lighter, warmer, and even more comfortable, making these self-inflating pads a bit less attractive. MSRP: $44.95. It only takes a tiny hole to render a pad completely useless, and this can be a potentially dangerous scenario in colder temperatures. The Synmat is slightly more expensive than others on the list, but a few benefits justify this extra cost. We do not do sponsored or paid posts. The Therm-a-Rest pads we tested were incredibly expensive but are indeed quite good value as they offer durable construction and some mind-blowingly good performance. At 72-inches long, the Switchback may be too short for someone very tall. A soft-touch outer fabric plus a baffled internal structure provide stability, support, and above all, mega comfort for a good night's sleep. The Gossamer Gear Nightlite is a sleeping pad for the serious ultralight crowd. Consider checking out the wider option if you're over 6 feet tall — with shoulders to match. If you don’t have the extra space, then place the pad under the brain. Affiliate disclosure: We aim to provide honest information to our readers. Tested and written by Appalachain Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. Similar to the Sea to Summit Ultralight, the Static V is not great for cold weather. Material on GearLab is copyrighted. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission through affiliate links. Best Car Camping Mattresses & Sleeping Pads. You can make or break your pad by how you care for it on the trail and at home. It has won all sorts of awards a few years ago and has become one of the best selling pads on the market. Because you can use it as a sleeping pad and a pack frame, the Nightlite is generally more durable than other egg-crate pads. Handy if you do get a hole. We take the time to sleep in each one, with various shaped people — women, men, children, and all in between. The newest update of this pad did gain some extra warmth, a cool new valve system, and unfortunately, a few ounces. We have used inflatable pads for 40-day backpacking trips without any durability issues and are impressed by the amount of abuse our inflatable pads handled without tearing or delaminating. While moisture accumulation in pads is not a major deal, it is something to keep an eye on. Mine has lasted several years without a puncture. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite is hands down one of the best ultralight backpacking pads on the market. Otherwise, the oval shape works just dandy and can save a little weight and space. These pads are an excellent choice for those getting into backpacking because they are lightweight and super affordable. Noisy (maybe). In terms of its size, this is the widest sleeping pad… If you're seeking high value, outstanding durability, and reliability on the trail, this is an excellent choice. While this pad is our favorite, there are budget options that will get the job done at a fraction of its enormous price tag. Exped SynMat HL. It is a foam pad, so you have all the expected drawbacks and benefits -- it's thin, but light and will last forever. Be sure to wipe it down if you spill something on it. INFLATABLE PADS: As the name implies, inflatable pads need to be filled with air before you can sleep on them. This design not only provides a great night's sleep, but it also adds durability that is often lacking in other mats. In this review, we've included ease of inflation in our metrics. You can inflate the pad by opening the stuff sack so it fills with air, then folding it closed and pushing the trapped air through the valve and into the pad. With a standard 12oz coffee mug for scale, these pads represent the spectrum of sizes. For more of our top backpacking gear recommendations, check out the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads. Sleeping directly on exposed ground will drain away your precious body heat - like the inverse of a reptile bathing on a hot rock. If you want the creme de la creme, be ready to shell out a few extra clams. Side sleepers preferred a wider pad with minimal collapse around the edges, while back sleepers could sleep better on a narrow pad. I find these to be unnecessary entirely. Anything below a 3 should only be used in warmer weather. Thick material and overly large inflation valves are usually the biggest factor in adding unnecessary weight to your pad. You usually strap the pad to the outside of your pack, so you have to cover it when it rains. With an incredible warmth to weight ratio and a lot of innovative design features, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is an ultralight sleeping pad that is certainly to become a go-to option for … These pads have been tested around the world. Maybe this is due to life's natural course of trending towards feeling like the tin man needing oil, but it is undeniable. This is great if you like a huge amount of cushion. With a vast array of different sleeping pads on the market, you can expect to pay anything from $ REDCAMP XL Cot Pads for Camping, Soft Comfortable Cotton Thick Sleeping Cot Mattress…. No other pad on the market offers this amount of warmth and comfort while maintaining versatile features. When you're thru-hiking and in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you need to do is deal with a busted sleeping pad. The Z Lite's most significant advantage is that it is puncture-proof. Its versatility is attractive for people from all walks of life. The new gen Therm-a-rest pads aren't perfect but dang they're getting close. A guide to the best ultralight backpacking sleeping pads and mats. The Switchback is a few bucks more expensive but does have a smaller packed size and offers a hint more comfort on hard ground. Sure it is a few ounces heavier than others on the list, but it is a fraction of the price. You'll be warm and comfortable in the summer months. The Winglock isn't perfect, but it is a massive upgrade to these pads, allowing air in and out exponentially faster and easier than in the past. If car camping is your dig, be sure to look at the Nemo Astro Insulated which offers exceptional warmth, but it a bit too large and bulky for backcountry carry. Price . Know some of the lightest pads on the market have low R values though. Once your pad is clean and ready for storage, you'll want to store the pad at ambient temperatures while avoiding the extreme temperatures you'd see in an attic or garage. If your terrain is rocky, rooty, or filled with other sharp objects, then a closed-cell foam pad is a better choice as it can't be punctured. It's composed of a simple, lightweight closed-cell foam pad. One of the wider pads, especially at the feet, Compresses after many uses, losing insulating ability. The Static V2 has one of the lowest R-values of any pad we tested, making it unsuitable for temps below freezing unless you have a burly sleeping bag. For three-season use, it's hard to ignore the price, comfort, and durability of this pad. Find that sweet spot between weight, convenience, and comfort. Without a pump, your lungs will be manually filling up that large chamber. A rectangular and super cushy inflatable sleeping pad, the Big Agnes Q-Core SLX is like sleeping on air in the backcountry. This review is brought to you by the sleeping pad testing dream team - aka OutdoorGearLab Senior Review Editors Andy Wellman, Matt Bento and Brian Martin. I love relaxing on foam pads by the fire and not worrying if an ember might fly out and pop it. If so, you can choose an inflatable pad and enjoy the comfort of sleeping on air. It's as close to a warm flannel sheet as you're going to get while sleeping in the remote woods. The extra pack space is much appreciated, especially considering some models can take up nearly half of a pack’s volume. While there are many high performers, there are also many that have specific niches that shouldn't be missed. With the difficulty of inflation being one of the main drawbacks of air construction mats, manufacturers have developed an array of valve styles to help alleviate this issue. Another selling point of the Exped Synmat is its five-year warranty. The downside of self-inflating pads is that they are less comfortable, bulkier, and heavier than air construction pads. Super lightweight and compact, this sleeping pad is warm enough for three-season backpacking trips. For those who want to go ultralight and fast, give some serious time and consideration to both the Switchback and Z Lite as they can be cut down to shave off more weight and will virtually never completely fall apart. This is a sleeping pad made with backpackers in mind and it’s extremely lightweight yet very comfortable. Packed sleeping pads (left: inflatable ; right: foam). The quest for the best sleeping pad began by delving deep into what was available in the market and what products among those were the high performers. Rating . The 11 Best Hiking … Because it is torso length, it packs very quickly in a pack. The inflatable pad should be stored hanging up. This is a huge advantage compared to foam pads - you can store an inflatable pad in a tiny corner of your pack without hardly even noticing. We assess critical metrics like comfort, packed size, weight, warmth, ease of inflation, and durability. The Exped Synmat Hyperlite takes the top spot among the best backpacking sleeping pads thanks to its innovative insulated baffles and small pack size. Flat surfaces are more comfortable for your head than bumpy surfaces. They are significantly narrower than the more comfortable and heavy offerings on the market but retain the necessary features to get a good night's sleep. Some people feel its like sleeping on, well... the floor. If you seek lavish comfort, this is the pad to buy, but it comes at the cost of packability and weight. Some pads are like small air mattresses - prioritizing elevated comfort over all else. While most other contenders can pop the inflatable design, you don't have to worry about thrashing this highly durable contender around on the ground. That's value. It’s just too big when rolled up and at about … The Sea to Summit Ultralight is praised far and wide for its quality workmanship. Some ultralight backpacks are designed to have a foam pad slide into their back panel and act as a pack frame. The poles of a pack can add several ounces to your load which can make utilizing a foam pad all the more awesome. Foam pads have been traditionally viewed as a lighter option than inflatable. Notably, these pads … The self-inflating pads are easier to use -- just open the valve and they inflate on their own. They tend to be heavier and bulkier than their manual counterparts. Remember, a thicker pad will be slightly heavier and will require significantly more breaths to fill it with air. It’s incredibly light, blows up in under two minutes, has … Then let me introduce you to the Camp Dreamer. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is an absolute beast that balances remarkable warmth (6.9 R-value) with a packable and lightweight design. Keep an eye out for updated ASTM R-values as many previous models have differing claimed values that have now shifted with this new standard. Some people strap their pads to the bottom of their pack, but that is not an ideal location. The thick padding makes propping up on your elbows possible for a bit of pre-sleep reading without the associated pain you may have previously experienced. Because you are using your breath to inflate them, they also can mold on the inside. If you must compact it, stuff it into a sack and do not fold it. It inflates to a cushy 2.5-inches and boasts of a 6.9 r-value, making it suitable for three-season use and beyond. These bigger bumps provide additional airspace to trap warm air. Our goal in this review is to take an in-depth look at the pros/cons of what is available on the market today. The most durable pads tested were the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL and Nemo Switchback because they are made of foam and are virtually indestructible in comparison with inflatable pads. These three come to the campsite with heavy climbing backgrounds - a pursuit where you learn to appreciate a restorative night's sleep outdoors. Check on Amazon. There are many high-value options in this review, but we'd like to point out a few that won't break the bank but will provide a great deal. Gear testing is a hard rock life. They either will self-inflate on their own when you unroll them or you will have to blow air into them manually using good ‘ole lung power. Thermal conductivity in pads is a complicated issue with many variables, but let's discuss the basics. If you don’t like the idea of strapping your pad on the outside of your pack, I highly recommend getting a pad that packs down tiny. The Nemo Tensor employs a similarly effective design. Just grab a hairdryer on low and hold it near the inflate valve. The Tensor is the lightest air mattress under the Nemo brand. The XLite certainly isn't as warm as the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus but it is significantly lighter and can still see you through a cold night or two with your life intact. Camping sleeping pads vary in price depending on the type, size, thickness, and degree of insulation offered. Inflation Valve. A higher R-value will keep you warmer and act as a barrier between you and the cold ground. Before we jump into the different considerations for choosing your mat, here are the 11 best ultralight backpacking sleeping pads available on the market today. It packs down to the size of a 1-liter water bottle, so you won't have any problem stuffing this one into your pack. If you store your pad at the top of the pack, be careful not to snag it on a tree branch or scrape it against a rock. Unfortunately, there are always tradeoffs when using ultralight equipment, be it durability, warmth, or size of the pad's footprint. It's a favorite for those that like to use it outside of the tent as a small bum pad. The only real downside of its weight relative to our highest rated warm sleeping pads. These pads either roll, collapse or fold up. You also should try to dry the inside of an inflatable pad if you use your breath to fill it with air. Durability is top-notch as the Switchback is constructed with abrasion-resistant foam. Older designs are bulky and don't pack down much smaller than foam pads. A plush air pad offers significantly better sleep than the shoulder crushing closed-cell pads we all started backpacking with in the 90s. That said, we always recommend traveling with a mini repair kit. What differentiates the two sleeping pads is the depth of their egg crates. While these pads have remarkably similar attributes, there are a few components worth noting. However, as mentioned above, getting that large mass of air into the pad's chamber can be a huge lung-exhausting chore and leave you lightheaded. It is a closed-cell foam pad made with an egg-crate mold, so make sure you know what you are getting. Over at least three months, we use them while guiding, hiking, and exploring while on bikes, boats, and self-propelled missions. While some pump bags can be frustrating, the introduction of the Exped Schnozzel pump sack was a pleasant surprise. This means you will need to repair it, wait for the manufacturer to replace it, or buy a completely new one. The best backpacking sleeping pads now have lots of cushion for camping, but we usually recommend two: a sleeping pad for backpacking and an ultra-cush pad for camping. Inflation. COMPACTNESS: When packed, it should not be bigger than a 1 liter water bottle. Best Pad Cold Sleepers: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad is our pick for hikers that sleep cold or for average hikers in very cold conditions — see more. Here we evaluate how well each pad transforms rocks and roots into plush clouds. We never punctured these pads during our testing but would never leave home without a patch kit while hiking with these pads. I personally prefer to have my foot elevated on a cushy padded surface that resembles a bed as much as possible. Specifically, your pad should prevent the cold earth from reaching your body. Of them all, the Klymit Static V2, one of our award winners, offers excellent comfort and warmth at a lower price. 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bags, 41 Backpacking Food Ideas from the Appalachian Trail, Ultralight Backpacking Gear List | 8.5 lb Base Weight (Full Comfort), 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Tents in 2020, 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bags for 2020. Sixteen ounces give you an R-value of 4.2 — a packed size roughly equal to a liter bottle and a lot of plush comfort to boot. There are many choices when deciding on a sleeping pad, which is why our hiking team picked out 10 of the best self-inflating sleeping pads to help you make the decision that will make or break your overnight trip. Best for Whom? If you sleep on the ground without a sleeping mat, the ground can conduct heat away from you up to 160 times faster than the air around you. Either way, adding one of these pads to your system will give you the versatility to take either pad alone or a combination to combat the cold. I never saw anyone using a pump on my thru-hike though, and I would think they are relatively unnecessary. 1. You won't be sliding around on this pad, and its wider design makes it optimal for those with wide shoulders. For its price point, it can't be beaten. The best sleeping pad for backpacking is ultralight, super cushy and insulated while the best sleeping pad for camping is an ultra-thick air mattress. Backpacking Sleeping Pad Reviews #1 Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress Review This is an adaptation to the classic Ridge-Rest mattress pad by Therm-a-Rest (a Cascade Designs company). Not only is the fabric thick and durable, but the valve system is located on the end cap of the sleeping pad. Skip straight to the reviews. Our backpacking experts have tested over 70 of the best backpacking sleeping pads over the last decade. Surprisingly, the Static V2 is much wider than most pads we tested, which makes the low weight and price that much more impressive. While we didn't have any self-inflating models in our pad update this go-around, they are still on the market and fill a niche for those who want a super comfortable sleep without all the fiddling. GearLab is reader-supported. If you're cold when camping, upgrading the R-value of your sleeping pad is recommended but often comes at the expense of added weight and bulk. All the while, we paid attention to how well the pads performed in key areas that we identified ahead of time as most important in the function of a sleeping pad — things like weight and packed size, durability, and warmth, in addition to comfort. Most sleeping pads are 20-inches wide, providing just enough room for a single person. Sleeping pads come in a variety of styles, sizes and weights, so you’ll want to spend some time shopping for the right one. It is constructed from high-quality 20-denier fabric to create a load of durable comfort... and it will still pack up as small as your water bottle. The REI Flash 3-Season pad comes with dual-fiber insulation and a reflective layer efficiently welded through the interior for increased stability and comfort. The weight of the pads tested ranges from 8.8 ounces, like the Therm-a-rest Uberlite, to over 44 ounces, the Exped Megamat Lite 12. Its dual-density density design is firm on the ground layer and pillowy soft on top. Find which type of pad—air, self-inflating or closed-cell foam—is best for your next overnight trip with advice from the gear experts at Backpacker. Durability is critical when you are choosing a pad. Because they are foam, they are nearly indestructible. There is a longer 72 -inch version available, but the shorter one is lighter and significantly more packable. Author: William M. Rochfort, Jr. Its top-shelf comfort is revolutionary in the camping game. Despite being super bulky, the foam is usually still very thin and/ or stiff. If you need something warmer, consider going with the insulated version. You'll also want to shake off the pad to remove dirt before packing it away. In general, the lower the price, the lighter and less warm the pads tend to be. If you are going to do some winter camping, you may want to consider the REI Flash Insulated, which is wider thanks to its rectangular cut, heavier (1 lb 4oz), and a bit warmer (R-value 4.7). For a closed-cell foam camping sleeping pad, you’ll usually pay between $10 and $50. Value can mean many different things to different people. Overall Winner: Best Sleeping Pad for Hammock Klymit Hammock V Sleeping Pad If you want a hammock sleeping pad that provides comfort from every perspective, the Klymit Hammock V is an excellent option as it is large and warm. They are often called "closed-cell pads" because they are made of closed air cells. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol. In general, weight of the pad depends on the model and manufacturer. Four inches of air and … Check the warmth score of a lightweight pad before purchasing it to make sure it will meet your needs. Dimensions when packed: 3 x 8 inches 3. Weight Thickness R-Value Side Sleeping Price; Exped MegaMat Lite 12: Overall Best for Both Backpacking & Car Camping: 0.33 lbs: 4.7 inches: 5.2: Best Choice: Check on Amazon: Big Agnes Air Core Ultra: Best for 3 season campers: 1.31 lbs: 4.5 inches: 4.5: Best … The far right, Exped Synmat 9, was extremely comfortable for long periods and ultra warm but has a large packed size. It also is covered in a grip-skin external layer to prevent the pad from slipping and sliding around the tent at night. Expect to have a sweaty back when you take off your pack. Bonus, you don't have to worry about any internal bacterial growth due to it being treated with an antimicrobial compound on the inside. It has the highest R/weight performance of … Just like the Z Lite Sol, the Nemo Switchback is a closed-cell foam pad. Details . They are very lightweight and long-lasting. About six months of use versus a brand new Z Lite. There are now two competitive closed-cell pads that get our stamp of approval; the old reliable Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol and the newer Nemo Switchback. Cheap. Unlike other pads that are narrow and constrictive, the Synmat is 25-inches wide, providing ample room to move on the mat and not fall off. Additionally, most pads do come with patch kits. While it scores low in the metrics, it's one of the most reliable pad options out there, as it's made of foam and won't pop in the backcountry. We aren't just looking at the price of a sleeping pad — we're looking at how well it performs across a range of metrics and if the price is justified by this performance. If you are looking for a bit more warmth without adding too much weight, take a look at the lightweight Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad or the insulated Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. Pump Sack. The Best Sleeping Pad for Backpacking Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. Rectangular or oval. An important note with closed-cell pads, they do crush over time, losing valuable millimeters of loft. We spent nights with teeth chattering to dust, so hopefully, you won't have to. Finding a balance between price, durability, warmth, comfort, and weight can certainly be a tricky process. The pad … Just like the Uberlite, the Xtherm has Therm-A-Rest's new WingLock valve and pump sack that makes inflation a breeze. The Therm-a-Rest Uberlite is an excellent choice for ultralight backpacking in the warmer months, weighing in at 8.8 ounces, but it's not warm enough for winter camping and feels shockingly fragile; use with caution! The Ultralight pad from Sea to Summit ships with a multi-function valve that is unparalleled. Andy has been testing and writing for OutdoorGearLab for over five years and climbing for over 20. The Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Sleeping Pad is yet another self-inflatable sleeping pad. Unlike other valves that are all or none, the multi-function valve allows you to adjust the pressure even when you are on the mat. It's a pure torso length sleeping mat and a super affordable one at that. Another super low-priced (and high value) option is the classic Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol. Make sure the pad is dry but don't place it in direct sunlight as UV light can degrade the material. How can we improve GearLab? 10 Best backpacking Sleeping Pads of 2020. It comes with a repair kit, stuff sack, and compression straps. You could spend anywhere from $10 to $300 for one. For side and stomach sleepers, this can be crucial. Repeatedly folding it along the same crease lines can weaken the material along the folds. Advances in textile development make lightweight inflatable pads durable. Our comfort scores come from a host of reviewers who each used one or more of these contenders. I vote for a medium amount of air - enough to get you off the ground, but not too much where you feel like you are rolling around on a cloud. You will still need to be careful about where you place your pad though. Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad of 2020. Take care of your pad, and it will take care of you. While the pump sack is definitely the way to go, filling the old fashioned way isn't too bad. Therefore, most hikers have them tied down outside of their pack - on top or flopping around underneath the bottom. Related: 14 Best Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Bags. Most backpackers find sleeping on an inflatable pad to be substantially more comfortable than a foam pad. The NeoAir XTherm Ultralight is, in our opinion, the best sleeping pad they have ever made and the best backpacking sleeping pad on the market today. Sleeping pads are an essential part of your sleep system. If you're anything like our testers, your first sleeping pad may well be a closed-cell foam pad, and rightfully so. Also, the high 2.6 R-value can be stacked with other pads, making even those with a lower R-value suitable for cold climates. Overall, the reliable and durable design at a low cost is one that's hard to beat. Keep in mind that most of the options under 17 ounces are usually pretty narrow and achieve part of their weight savings by reducing the sleeping area. These inflation sacks are better than using your breath, but it still takes some time and effort to fill the pad with air. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite ($185) Snooze better than ever before with our favorite sleeping pads of the year. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite is hands down one of the best ultralight backpacking pads on the market. The Z Lite Sol from Therm-A-Rest had the corner on the market until Nemo came in with a worthy competitor, the Switchback. It's not one we'd recommend for those that love to save on the ounces. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite … When you realize how hard on your body they can be, you don't have to chuck it, just save it for an extra layer of warmth during winter camping. If you're a side sleeper, this should be at the top of your list. A full-length pad, the NeoAir XTherm, is perfect for those who prefer to sleep on their backs or their sides. If you store the pad inside your pack, keep it away from trekking poles or pocket knives that could damage it. He has climbed extensively worldwide and has also run a publishing company that put out bouldering guides to the Southwest. Second, we lose heat via three mechanisms: conduction, convection, and radiation. First, cold is nothing more than the absence of heat, and heat moves energy from warmer objects to colder ones. It's a personal favorite and my go-to mat. WEIGHT: Your pad should weigh around 1 lb (or less). The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL has been on the market since our gear testers can remember, and for good reason. $39.95. It also puts moisture inside the pad which can mold over time. The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus is the only pad in our review to utilize two separate air chambers. Very Bulky. They also are sized to fit comfortably inside an ultralight two-person tent. However, just like most new gear, it only needs a lil’ tender lovin' to break in. A lighter option than inflatable should keep the R-values above 3 more of top! And XTherm ( and Uberlite ) easy in the heat, you ’ ll you! We went without a pump sack was a pleasant surprise offers reliability in the ultralight pad from Sea to comfort. 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