The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads: A Camping Guide

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If you’re a lover of the great outdoors and often find yourself sleeping on the uncomfortable hard ground, then you’ll know why it’s essential to invest in the best sleeping pad for backpacking.

best sleeping pad for camping

Ideally, you want something that’s going to support your neck and spine, while providing at least a modicum of comfort.

It goes without saying that any backpacker will appreciate lightweight and easy-to-carry sleeping equipment that’s nicely insulated too.


Here’s a sneak peek at the results:

Apriller Waterproof PadTNH Outdoors PadKlymit Insulated Static PadFox Outfitters Airlite Pad
best sleeping pad for campingbest backpacking sleeping padbest sleeping pad for campingbest backpacking sleeping pad
2.15 lbs2.4 lbs25 oz1.5 lbs
Self-Inflating PadSelf-Inflating PadAir PadAir Pad
2 years warrantyLifetime warrantyLifetime warrantyUnknown warranty
>> Check Price on Amazon>> Check Price on Amazon>> Check Price on Amazon>> Check Price on Amazon

Here’s our guide to the best sleeping pads for backpacking — and how they measure up against each other.

What’s the Point of Sleeping Pads?

The best sleeping pads are the perfect compromise between a night on the cold, hard ground and lumping around a luxury air mattress on your back all day.

Neither of these options are ideal — you’re setting yourself up for a rough night’s sleep (not to mention a bad back!) if you’re using just a sleeping bag, while air mattresses are simply too heavy and cumbersome to be practical for most backpackers.

But if you are interested in the best air mattresses on the market now, check out our 2016-2017 Air Mattress Guide.

Sleeping pads offer the best alternative to these two options, providing comfort and insulation while being lightweight and easy to transport.

What to Look for in the Best Sleeping Pad for Camping

Prices vary but, as with anything in this life, you generally get what you pay for when it comes to sleeping pads.

That’s not to say that they’re particularly expensive, just that products made in the best way of the best materials are inevitably more expensive than thin, mass produced garbage.

However much you pay, you should be looking out for the following characteristics:

  • Lightweight
  • Insulating
  • Portable
  • Durable
  • Comfortable

The Different Types of Sleeping Pads

There are three different types of sleeping pad: the air pad, the self-inflating pad and the closed-cell foam pad.

Here’s a good video on how to choose which pad is best for you:

The Air Pad

These are probably the most common sleeping pads for backpacking that you’re likely to come across.

You need to inflate them — easy to do with a small pump or even with your own breath — but they can be transported very compactly and lightly, making them pretty ideal for hikers and backpackers.

Once inflated, they provide soft comfort from the ground, as well as some much needed insulation.

There are a few negatives to air pads — they can easily lose inflation over the course of the night (it’s not unusual to wake up flat on the ground) and can be punctured. If they are punctured or ripped, you’ll need to patch them up before using them again.

The Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

Self-inflating sleeping pads are becoming increasingly trendy with the backpacking crowd as they offer everything an air pad does with extra durability.

These bad boys are some of the best sleeping pads for camping as they do exactly what it says on the tin: self-inflate.

There’s usually a valve in the corner of the pad which automatically inflates it as soon as you turn it. It automatically deflates when you turn it the other way, meaning you can easily fold it up and transport it to your next destination.

As well as being comfortable, they never lose inflation overnight and can’t be punctured or ripped (at least, not when we’ve tried to!).

What you gain in durability, however, you lose in economy: self-inflating pads are usually at the pricier end of the spectrum. They’re also marginally heavier than air pads (although not enough to be problematic).

The Closed Cell Foam Pad

Not quite as popular as self-inflating pads, closed cell foam pads are great for short-term camping breaks where you’re happy to compromise on comfort.

These foam pads offer a high degree of insulation despite not being inflated off the ground, and they can be rolled up very compactly.

They’re super durable and can be attached to your backpack on the outside without any worry of damage or disrepair. As they don’t rely on any air, there’s no way for them to lose inflation over night or be punctured.

Of course, because there’s no air inflation with closed cell foam pads, they’re generally less comfortable than air or self-inflating mattresses. Not only are you sleeping closer to the ground, but the ridges of the mat can be a little uncomfortable on your back.

Some people like them, however, because they can be rolled into makeshift camp chairs — good for some late night s’mores making!

The Best Sleeping Pad for Backpacking Reviews

Apriller Waterproof Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

best sleeping pad for backpacking

Soft and comfortable, the Apriller Waterproof Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad has been designed to mould to your body for the ultimate in comfort — no easy feat for a backpacking sleeping pad!

Not only is it lightweight, but it also comes with compression straps for easy transport and compact storage.

We particularly like how easy it is to inflate without the use of a pump, as well as the spliced ‘snapping button’ design to attach it to further pads for a really family camping experience. Furthermore, it comes with a 2-year warranty.

Pros

  • Waterproof skin for enhanced comfort and warmth
  • Made of high quality, resilient foam
  • Ergonomic design that moulds to the shape of your body
  • Quick and easy to inflate
  • Can be spliced from left to right to accommodate more people
  • Compression straps for easy transportation
  • 2-year warranty

Cons

  • It only inflates up to 80% — if you prefer a firmer pad, you’ll need to manually inflate the remaining 20% yourself. Not a dealbreaker, but a little inconvenient
best sleeping pads for camping

TNH Outdoors Self Inflating Sleeping Pad

best sleeping pad for camping

Strength and durability aren’t a problem for this luxurious two-inch thick sleeping pad thanks to its 75D polyester outer shell. A twist on the strong plastic valve and a little roll is all it takes to inflate most of this outdoor mattress.

Regarded as one of the best backpacking sleeping pads on the market, our favourite feature is the thick foam padding.

As an added bonus, TNH Outdoors are well known for being a forward thinking company built on sustainable business practices — ideal for an outdoors adventure company.

Pros

  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Very lightweight — just 2.4 lbs
  • Compact
  • 2 inches thick so you won’t feel the ground beneath you
  • Puncture resistant
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Made with high quality polyester and heated seam welding
  • Low price considering the quality level

Cons

  • It’s a little narrow
best sleeping pads for camping

Klymit Insulated Static Sleeping Pad

best backpacking sleeping pad

At just a 25-ounce packed weight, this Klymit pad is perhaps the best sleeping pad for backpacking on the market right now. It features a revolutionary v-chamber design and synthetic insulation to minimise heat loss and the movement of air — even if you toss and turn!

It also comes with side rails to ensure your body stays firmly on the pad throughout the night, and includes a stuff pack and patch kit. We found that we could fully inflate it in around 15 breaths — you don’t have to exhaust yourself before you get to lie down!

Pros

  • Surprisingly comfortable and warm considering its light weight
  • Easy to set up and pack back up again
  • Very durable even in bad weather and with lots of wear
  • Equipped with own bag and repair kit
  • Incredibly light at just 25-oz packed
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • No overnight loss of inflation

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Air valve feels a little flimsy (although seems to hold up well)
best sleeping pads for camping

Fox Outfitters Airlite Sleeping Pad

best sleeping pad for backpacking

Phew — no manual blowing needed here! You can forget about having to add some breath to your air pad with this Airlite as it comes with its own integrated foam foot pump. Ideal for when you just want to lay down and get some kip.

The tubular design of the sleeping pad makes it easy to pack up and provides you with a supportive sleep experience. The level of inflation can be easily adjusted while the dual brass valves are robust and durable, promising to maintain your desired level of inflation throughout the night.

Pros

  • Ultra compact and reasonably lightweight
  • The ‘air tube system’ provides extra support for hips, back, legs and shoulders
  • Adjustable inflation levels
  • Keeps warm and comfortable
  • Quick and effortless deflation with integrated foot pump
  • Tear resistant material

Cons

  • The Regular size is quite narrow — upgrade to the Long if you prefer some extra room
best sleeping pads for camping

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic

best sleeping pad for camping

Here’s one of the closed cell foam pads we were discussing earlier — the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic.

If you’re looking for the best sleeping pad for camping that’s virtually indestructible, then this could be the one for you. Featuring supportive peaks and heat-trapping values, this pad will provide you with insulation and support while camping. It’s also light enough to carry anywhere and for hours on end – but it does lack the comfort of some of the other entries on our list.

Pros

  • Well insulated thanks to heat-trapping ridges in the design
  • Very light and easily portable
  • Incredibly durable and suitable for all conditions
  • Low cost
  • Reasonably comfortable considering it’s not an air mattress pad
  • Will never suffer loss of inflation over night
  • Doesn’t trap moisture

Cons

  • Not as comfortable as a traditional air or self-inflating sleeping pad
  • Doesn’t roll up quite as tight as we’d like
best sleeping pads for camping

Conclusion

Without a doubt, these sleeping pads are all a huge improvement to camping with just a sleeping bag. They all offer a fantastic level of insulation and — aside from the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic — are all surprisingly comfortable.

If we had to pick one as the best sleeping pad for backpacking, it would have to be the unparalleled Klymit Insulated Static Sleeping Pad. Ready for a night outdoors?

What’s your pick for the best sleeping pad for camping?


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