Stay Warm when Camping – Take a Sleeping Pad!

Whether you are hiking, camping or off on a longer expedition, a good nights sleep can make all the difference before a new day.

Getting in some quality Zzzzs refreshes your mind and body and sets you up for an awesome day on the trail.

When you're on the trail, energy is everything! Enter backpacking sleeping pads, your one guaranteed comfort enhancer in the great outdoors! 

As someone who has roughed it camping out in freezing temperatures and tropical jungles, I can honestly tell you - I would rather have a sleeping pad than a tent. The cold and the mosquitoes I can handle, sleeping on the bare ground with a root in your back? That's another story.

If you are planning on camping regularly, you should definitely pick up a decent backpacking sleeping pad before you hit the road. There's a lot of different options out there to fit every travel style and budget, let me introduce you to some of the best sleeping pads of 2018...

Quick Answer: The 8 Best Sleeping Pads of 2018

Sleeping pad pin

I update this post pretty regularly as we are constantly testing new gear so as well as the six best sleeping pads above, there's a few other sleeping pads included as honourable mentions in this review roundup...

If you’re new to exploring and camping outdoors, you might be worried about how cozy your sleeping bag is going to be. It's important to remember here that a sleeping bag with a camping pad can create a level of warmth, insulation, and comfort that simply wouldn’t be possible with a sleeping bag alone. 

The good news is, it’s the year 2018 and there are plenty of options for great camping sleeping pads. In fact, there are so many options that you may need some help narrowing down the best sleeping pads for you to use.

I spend several months every year camping out in the woods or mountains, most recently in Pakistan, and I've used quite a few different sleeping pads over the years. There's a few different factors you need to consider when choosing the best sleeping pad for your travel style... 

Sleeping Pads: What Factors Should You Consider?

Looking at all the options for sleeping pads on the interwebs can be a bit mind-boggling. Every adventure you go on is different. Some may be long, so you need a sturdy and durable sleeping pad. Some may be short, and cold - so you need to focus on warmth. At the end of the day, you’re also going to be tired. So a pad that inflates quickly can come in handy. As a primer, here are some of the factors I look at when I feel the need to buy a new sleeping pad.

Sleeping Pad Dimensions

You need to understand how well you’ll fit onto your sleeping pad based on its dimensions compared to your own dimensions. If you’re tall, make sure your entire body will fit on your pad. If you're short or petite, you'll be able to get away with a smaller sleeping pad which will save on weight. 

Inflating Your Sleeping Pad

The two options when it comes to inflating your sleeping pads are automatic and manual. The best self-inflating air mattress uses an air valve to suck in air and expand to create a comfortable airbed. Sleeping pads that inflate manually usually use an air pump or need to be blown into to expand. I recommend buying a pad with an integrated pump to make inflating your pad quick and easy. 

Sleeping Pad Durability 

This is an essential factor, especially if you are setting off on a long trip. Sleeping pads are what keep you warm and insulated whilst trying to sleep so if you plan on taking your sleeping pad out on a long, cold, adventure then you you can’t afford to compromise on durability for price. On a long hike, make sure to pick up something that you know will last and with the appropriate R-value - which is how sleeping pad manufacturers measure the insulating capabilities of a mattress.

backpacking Scotland camping

If you plan to camp, you NEED a sleeping pad...

Why Sleeping Pads are Important

Sleeping pads are an essential part of any serious camper or hikers arsenal. A high quality sleeping pad will keep you warm, improve your night's sleep and help your muscles relax after a hard day on the trail. 

If you sleep on the bare ground without a sleeping pad, even if you're young and hardy, your muscles will start to ache after the second night - this is NOT a good feeling and is one that I myself was familiar with in my younger years of broke backpacking... 

Over the last ten years of hiking, camping and backpacking, I've tested out over a dozen sleeping pads. We often are asked by different outdoor brands if we'll test out there sleeping pads too so I update this post regularly whenever we find a new sleeping pad that makes the cut and offers great value.

In this post, we're going to look in-depth at ten high quality sleeping pads but since I know you may not have time to properly analyse ten sleeping pads, I've broken this down for you further in the table below which shows my top 5 picks for the best sleeping pads of 2018...

For those of you who want to get real deep, grab a coffee and strap in. I'm going to cover ten of the absolute best sleeping pads around so that you can choose the perfect sleeping pad for your travel style.

I hike, camp and backpack a lot. In my humble opinion, these are the best sleeping pads on the market...

The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads of 2018

#1  The Absolute Best Sleeping Pad of 2018
Thermarest NeoAir XTherm

Dimensions when unfurled: 77 x 22 x 2.5 inches

Dimensions when packed: 4 x 9 inches

Weight: 15 ounces

R Value: 5.7

The Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm was designed with winter backpacking in mind and is the best sleeping pad on the market right now. The NeoAir Xtherm is lightweight, easily packable and warm like a tropical island... For reals, this bad-ass sleeping pad will keep you toasty warm.

The NeoAir Xtherm ditches the mainstream rectangular shape for a contoured build. This makes it overall more weight-effective, without compromising comfort and it's a seriously comfortable, seriously lightweight sleeping pad - as an all rounder, the Xtherm is clearly the best sleeping pad on the market but it ain't cheap and there are some better value options out there.

The Xtherm does a terrific job of retaining heat. Pretty much all of the mainstream gear testers have showered the Xtherm with rewards for the duration of it's life. Overall, reviewers have given the Xtherm a 4.7 star rating and we put together our own in-depth Xtherm review here.

Pros

  • Highest R value to weight ratio 
  • Warmest option on market
  • Super light

Cons

  • Noisey
  • Expensive

 #2  Best Value Sleeping Pad
Klymit Static V2

Dimensions when unfurled: 72 x 23 x 2.5 inches

Dimensions when packed: 3 x 8 inches

Weight: 16.33 ounces

R Value: 1.3

When it comes to getting bang for your buck, Kylmit makes the best value sleeping pads. The Kylmit Static V2 offers incredible value with an included stuff sack, patch kit and a lifetime warranty. This is a sleeping pad made with backpackers in mind and it's extremely lightweight yet very comfortable. Even for a 6 foot, 180 pound dude, this backpacking pad will keep you toasty warm.

It only takes 10-15 breaths (my average was 11) to fill up this backpacking pad and crucially the Static V2 doesn't leak air, like a lot of other sleeping mats I've tested over the years.

I sleep on my side and often find that I wake up with sore shoulders when camping out, the Static V2 is a perfect sleeping pad for side sleepers and I found it very comfortable to sleep on, unlike the X Frame

Pros

  • Ten to fifteen breaths to fully inflate
  • Great value
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Stuff sack, dry air pump and patch kit included

Cons

  • Air gauge takes time to familiarize with 

3# Lightest Sleeping Pad for Hikers
Kylmit X Frame Ultralight Pad

 

Dimensions when unfurled: 72 x 18 x 1.5 Inches

Dimensions when packed: 3 x 6 inches

Weight: 9.7 ounces

R Value: 1

Kylmit sleeping pads come in a whole range of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes on account of them pioneering new, porous, designs which at first look uncomfortable but are actually super chill to sleep on.

Klymit sleeping pads are the most compact sleeping pads on the market with this model, the X frame,  folding down to the size of a soda can!

If you are an ultralight backpacker or hiker, you definitely want a Kylmit sleeping pad for your next adventure and this is my top pick as the best ultralight hiking sleeping pad of 2018. The X Frame comes with a lifetime guarantee and is the lightest, most compact full-length backpacking pad ever developed, weighing just 9.1 oz with a pack size that is smaller than a soda can.

The body-mapped design provides support at key pressure points and despite its somewhat odd appearance it really is very comfortable. This sleeping mat has been designed to remove excess material that you don't actually need and that's how and why it can pack down so small.

If you are a side sleeper, the X Frame may not be the best sleeping pad for you - I found I woke up with a sore shoulder after being passed out on my side for a few hours!  Pro tip though: Put the X Frame INSIDE your sleeping bag and it's much more comfortable and you are less likely to roll off it in your sleep.

If you're a truly crazy ultralight hiker and you want to cut even more weight and space, you could go for the three quarter length Klymit X Lite instead but personally, I prefer the original X Frame.

Pros

  • Three to five breaths to fully inflate
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Stuff sack, dry air pump and patch kit included

Cons

  • It's comfortable, but not as insulating as a full-body sleeping pad without holes!

#4 Lightest Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
Thermarest ProLite

thermarest ultralight sleeping pads

 

Dimensions when unfurled: 72 x 20 x 1 Inches

Dimensions when packed: 4.1 x 11 inches

Weight: 1.06 pounds

R Value: 2.4

This ultralight Thermarest mattress is, as far as self-inflating sleeping pads go, the smallest sleeping pad on the market. Unrivalled in terms of convenience, the Pro Lite comes in a range of four sizes (XS, S, Regular, Large) and each size is a different price meaning you can save some money if you need a small sleeping pad. 

If you're looking for a lightweight air bed, the die cut foam of the Pro Lite makes it easy to pack and carry from camp to camp. It is the best self-inflating air mattress around but it doesn't offer the same kind of R value as the XTherm or Static V2. For a casual backpacker, the Prolite is a good choice but if you plan on spending a lot of time in the woods then I would recommend choosing a sleeping pad with a higher R value.  

Pros

  • Ultralight
  • Compact when packed
  • Best self-inflating air mattress for the money; requires minimal inflating effort

Cons

  • Might not be thick enough to provide solid back support, especially for someone with chronic back problems

#5 Best Sleeping Pad for Tall People
Big Agnes Insulated Double Z (wide long)

big agnes double z sleeping pads air mattress

 

Dimensions when unfurled: 78 x 25 x 4 Inches

Dimensions when packed: 6 x 10 inches

Weight: 1 pound, 13 ounces

R Value: 4.5

OK, first things first, this sleeping pad comes in several different sizes and the best size for a tall or larger adventurer is the wide long size.  If you are car camping and don't have to carry your gear very far then this is a great choice as one of the best camping sleeping pads. It's not ideal for backpacking though as it's heavier than other pads on the market.

This is a fairly heavy sleeping pad but it is super comfortable and 4 inches thick... If you have chronic back problems or a bigger person, this is a sleeping pad which can provide you with some next level comfort.

The most awesome thing about this air mattress is the 'internal stabiliser' that makes sure your weight is distributed evenly while you snooze. I personally have not tested this sleeping pad but this is the one that my brother uses on his adventures and he's a tall dude, well over 6ft - he raves about the Big Agnes Double Z and is adamant that it is the best sleeping pad for tall guys. 

Pros

  • Thicker than most self-inflating sleeping pads at 4"
  • Patch kit included

Cons

  • Tends to gradually lose air overnight

#6 Most Comfortable Self Inflating Sleeping Pad

Teton Sports ComfortLite

Dimensions when unfurled: 78 x 25 x 4 Inches

Dimensions when packed: 25 x 6 inches

Weight: 2 pounds, 12 ounces

R Value: 4.4

If you're car camping and don't mind the added weight, the Teton Comfortlite makes an awesome addition to your camping setup as it is seriously comfortable and inflates fast and easily on it's own. 

I tried out this sleeping pad in 2017 whilst driving a rickshaw across India and I was fairly impressed but that was whilst I was able to strap it to the roof and I didn't have to carry it around.

For the price, it offers good value but it's not my number one pick on account of the bulkiness and weight. It comes with a stuff sack which is handy and is self inflating, like some of the higher end Thermarest sleeping pads. For the price, it ain't bad as a camping sleeping pad but it isn't my number one choice for a sleeping pad to take backpacking.

Pros

  • Self-inflating, does not require a pump or even your breath (unlike most sleeping pads)
  • Stuff sack included

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as other options
  • Sup bulky when packed

#7 Best Double Sleeping Pad

Klymit Double V

Dimensions when unfurled: 74 x 47 x 3 Inches

Dimensions when packed: 12 x 7 inches

Weight: 52 ounces

R Value: 1.6

If this sleeping pad looks familiar it's because this is a double sleeping pad version of the Klymit V2 - Our top pick for the best value sleeping pad of 2018.

This double sleeping pad is perfect for a couples camping setup and can be comfortably rolled around on and bounced on. The clever body mapping technology means this is the perfect sleeping pad setup for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, back sleepers - sleep however you want, the Klymit Double V can handle it and keep you toasty warm and comfortable...

Weighing in at just 52 ounces, this is lighter than any comfortable setup you could put together using two single sleeping pads. However, you do pay for it with a lack of flexibility so this is probably only a solid buy if you plan on doing a lot of couples camping - if you don't then you may find that two single sleeping pads offers more versatility.

Like all Klymit sleeping pads, a lifetime warranty is included. 

Pros

  • Pumps up in just 8-10 pumps from the included pump
  • Stuff sack included
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Not as versatile as buying two backpacking sleeping pads

#8  Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad of 2017

Thermarest NeoAir Xlite

Dimensions when unfurled: 72 x 20 x 2.5 inches

Dimensions when packed: 8.5 x 4 inches

Weight: 12 ounces

R Value: 3.2

The Thermarest Neo Air series took the gold for best sleeping pads in 2017. The NeoAir XLite inflates quickly, offers great warmth and comfort and is a solid choice if you want to pick up the top Thermarest sleeping pad from last year.

I traveled extensively with the Thermarest Neo Air myself in 2017 but I have now upgraded and I travel with the, significantly better, XTherm.

Pros

  • Easy to pack and deflate
  • Provides uncompromising warmth and insulation
  • Best sleeping pad of 2017

Cons

  • Tends to be a little noisy
  • Heavier than most newer sleeping pads in this range

Honourable Mention 

Thermarest Ridge Rest Solar Sleeping Pad

Dimensions when unfurled: 77 x 25 x 1.5 inches

Dimensions when packed: 20 x 8.6 inches

Weight: 1 pound, 10 ounces

R Value: 3.5

 The Thermarest Ridge Rest Solar Sleeping Pad deserves an honourable mention thanks to it's innovate new technology that reflects heat back to the user. This is a crazy good value sleeping pad and although it isn't as comfortable as traditional inflatable sleeping pads, it's my top pick for none inflatable sleeping pads, it will keep you warm even if you are sleeping on snow.

This very cool sleeping pad reflects your heat radiation back towards you using a patent pending tech which helps keep you significantly warmer than if you were on a traditional foam camping mat.

It's one of the lightest none-inflatable mats around but it doesn't fold up quite as small as I would like, that's probably the main disadvantage of this sleeping pad.

Pros

  • Affordable and good value
  • Much better insulation than most backpacking sleeping pads in this price range

Cons

  • In extreme conditions, will not perform as well as an inflatable sleeping pad
  • Bulkier than most inflating sleeping pads for hiking

Honourable Mention 

NEMO Vector 20 One Size


Dimensions when unfurled: 72 x 20 x 3 inches

Dimensions when packed: 8 x 5 inches

Weight: 1 pound, 4 ounces

R Value: 3.5

The Nemo Vector is a great option if you are looking to save on space and cut down some weight. The pad comes with an integrated foot pump that can also act as a pillow, so you can spare your breath and leave your pump behind at home. The extra valves make it faster to deflate and compress, and it packs up real compact - into the size of a water bottle! 

Pros

  • Integrated foot pump makes inflation easier
  • Thermal mirroring film reflects radiant heat

Cons

  • Maybe a bit narrow for the average body type
  • Not ideal for extremely cold temps

So what is the best sleeping pad to take backpacking?

Let's take a look at the comparison table for the best five sleeping pads again...

After all my intense comparison, experimentation, and perusal, I've come to the conclusion that I can't pick just one sleeping pad to rule them all.

In terms of absolute comfort, durability and ease of use - there's no doubt that the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm performs brilliantly. It is in my opinion, the best sleeping pad of 2018.

It's light, comfortable and has the highest R value of any sleeping pad on the market. If you have the budget and if you are looking for a fantastic all-rounder sleeping pad to take backpacking, camping or hiking then go for the NeoAir.

But wait, Thermarest doesn't get to take all the glory.  The underdog here is a sleeping pad brand that changed the game.

In my opinion, Kylmit are kicking ass right now and producing some truly incredible value sleeping pads.

My top pick for the best value sleeping pad of 2018 is the Klymit Static V2.

The Klymit Static V2 is my top pick for best value sleeping pad (photo credit MyOutDoorsLife)


But this is a backpacking site... And we all know that when you are backpacking, weight and size are crucial. This brings me back to one of my favourite sleeping pads of all time.

With an innovative frame that is surprisingly comfortable, lightweight and positioned at an extremely reasonable price of $70, ladies and gentleman: The Klymit Inertia X Frame.

What makes the Klymit Inertia X Frame awesome are three main factors...

  • First, this is so comfortable compared to other camping sleeping pads that you hardly realise you're sleeping on just a frame.
  • Second, the X Frame when collapsed is lighter and more compact than any other sleeping pad in this price range.
  • Third, the cost factor is perfect when you weigh the benefits.


Also, the X Frame may just make the perfect pool float! If you are an ultralight backpacker looking for a hiking sleeping pad, I can't recommend the Klymit Xframe enough - it's epic.

So to recap; the best sleeping pad out there is the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm closely followed by the Klymit Static V2 or the XFrame if weight is the most important factor to you.

If you are on a real budget then heck; take a foam sleeping pad instead. Just do NOT get the cheapest one you can find; it'll fall apart within a few weeks. This cheaper version of the Thermarest Solar Pad is a good bet.

Now that the results are in, I hope you find it easier to choose the best sleeping pad for your travel style 🙂

The next time you're heading off into the wilderness or looking for the perfect gift for backpackers, pick up a sleeping pad - I guarantee you'll find yourself redefining what it means to be a 'happy camper' on your adventure!

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8 of the comfiest, warmest and lightest sleeping pads to help you rest like a boss no matter where your adventures take you.

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