Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

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Backpacking Sleeping Pad Buyers Guide

There is no doubt that having the best backpacking sleeping pad is essential since it rewards you with a peaceful sleep while providing ultimate insulation. Using a sleeping pad may sound like a child's play, but when it comes to buying it, you may feel overwhelmed as there are hundreds of options available to choose from.

From the material to type, and durability, you have to consider a plethora of things that comprise the best sleeping pad. With this backpacking sleeping pads buyer's guide, you will get the complete information about the factors you need to look for before buying a pad.

When it is a matter of your sleep, you should never compromise with the quality.

Benefits of having a good backpacking sleeping pad

You will experience a myriad of benefits with a sleeping pad, so buying one is essential. Below we have explained the perks of choosing a sleeping pad following this buyer's guide.


With a reliable sleeping pad, you can expect the utmost comfort required for a peaceful sleep. The terrains can be uneven and uncomfortable, and a sleeping pad will save your night. These pads have deep cushioning that offers optimal comfort, so you don't have to wake up the entire night trying to sleep by changing sleeping positions.


Backpacking pads are lightweight as compared to regular ones, so you don't have to carry more weight. Also, most of the pads are inflatable so that you can toss them in your backpack for added ease.


Sleeping pads act as a barrier between the ground and the sleeper. When you are sleeping on a pad, it will protect you from the cold ground, thus keeping the warmth intact.

Easy to carry

Carrying a backpacking sleeping pad around with you is easy since it is packable and compact. You get a lot of options, including inflatable pads that fold easily, so your trip will be more fun and hassle-free.

Why is this buyer's guide important for you before buying a sleeping pad?

Buying a sleeping pad isn't easy at all, as you have to make a lot of considerations. This buyer's guide is right from the expert desk that includes everything you need to know about sleeping pads.

We have discussed everything in this guide from the pad’s size to its material and type. So checking this guide is essential for you before you make a buying decision. We have also listed the pros and cons you will experience with different types of sleeping pads so that you can know the positive and negative points.

Factors to consider before buying backpacking sleeping pads

Making a list of these factors will help you compare different sleeping pads. You can quickly distinguish the best pad from the list so that it will save you a lot of time.

Types of backpacking sleeping pads

You will find three types when searching for a sleeping pad. Every type has some pros and cons, which we have discussed below.

Closed-cell foam pads

Closed-cell foam pads are among the highest-selling sleeping pads backpackers love to buy. These are highly comfortable, durable, and you don't have to indulge in the hassles of inflating and deflating. Furthermore, the insulation is impressive, so you will love sleeping on this pad during winters.


You will find a closed-cell foam pad at an affordable rate since these are not exorbitant. If you are buying your first ever pad, then go for these pads as these are durable, and you don't have to worry about punctures and damages.

The air cells packed closely support your weight evenly, and the pad will not get crushed after using it regularly. You can use the pad around the camp as it doesn't pop like inflatable pads. The insulation is also excellent, and the pad will keep your body warmer.


Some closed-cell pads can be heavy, so taking them with you can be a struggle. Self-inflating and air pads are lighter as compared to these pads.

Air pads

Air pads are available in various options with different styles and weights, so they are ideal for backpacking. These pads don't contain foam and solely rely on the air filled inside them to support your body.

You can even consider an air pad as an alternative to closed-cell sleeping pads if you need more comfort. You can easily fill the pad with air, and it is ready to accommodate you.


The foremost reason to choose air pads is weight. These are extremely light in weight, and you can pack them in your bag after deflating. Furthermore, the level of comfort these pads offer is excellent when compared to the weight.

You can quickly inflate the pad during the night, and it is ready to deflate so you can pack it in your bag on the go.


Air pads are prone to damages, as a small hole can let the entire air leak from the pad, making it unusable. You cannot use it around the camp as the pad requires extra care as compared to closed-cell pads.

You have to spend more money to buy an air pad, so these can turn out to be expensive since the pad requires extra care. Lastly, it may take more time to inflate and deflate the pad if you have a bigger one.

Self-inflation pads

These backpacking sleeping pads have a combination of air and open-cell foam insulation. All you have to do is open the valve, and the air will fill inside the pad automatically, and you will see it getting ready and taking shape.

Backpackers and hikers love self-inflation pads since they are easy to use, and you have to spend time inflating and deflating just like air pads. The pad will not inflate fully, and you have to make some efforts to get it ready for sleep.


You will find a range of pads available under the self-inflation pads category. Also, these pads are available in thick and thin options so that you can buy one depending on your requirements. The pads are durable and don’t get punctured easily.

The pads are famous for their ultimate insulation, so you should get one of these if you need a pad with extra insulation.


Self-inflation pads can be heavy as compared to other types. You will find some lightweight options, but the bigger counterparts will be heavy as the pads are durable and contain foam.

You will face some difficulties while packing the pad in your backpack. The bulkiness of these pads will make it a challenging task you will ever encounter with air pads.

Sleeping pad size

Choosing the pad of the right size is important to get good sleep. While selecting the size, you have to consider different things such as the length, width, and thickness.


Start with checking the length of the pad so it can accommodate your complete body. Generally, sleeping pads are 6 feet or 72 inches in size, which is the standard size. If you are taller than 6 feet, then look for pads with around 77 or 80 inches.

Sleeping pads for women should be shorter since they don't need a 6 feet large pad. If you are a lady, then go for sleeping pads that are around 66 inches. You can also consider smaller pads if you are short or need it for your kid.


The regular width of sleeping pads is 20 inches, as it is enough for a solo backpacker to sleep. But in some cases, you will find these pads uncomfortable as there is no space available on either side, so adjusting your elbow or arm can be a challenge.

You can even consider wide pads that have 25 inches thickness for added comfort. Some backpackers choose extra-wide pads that are around 30 inches wide and are bulky as well.


If you need a comfortable sleeping pad, don't overlook the thickness. When it comes to thickness, air pads and self-inflation pads are good as closed-cell pads are relatively thin. Below we have a quick guide to help you select the ideal thickness when choosing a sleeping pad.

1 inch or less

You will find closed-cell pads in this range as they are thin. These pads are lightweight and highly portable. If you are not concerned about comfort, then these pads can be your choice.

1.5 inches

It is the common thickness among most sleeping pads. These pads may look closer to the ground, but you will get decent body support. If you sleep on your side, then don't go with these pads as your side body can crush it while touching the ground, which can be uncomfortable.

2.5 inches

It is the new standard considered by most self-inflating and air pad manufacturers. The thickness keeps you away from touching the ground so you will get a comfortable sleep. These pads aren't too bouncy, and you will enjoy the comfort offered by them.

3 inches

3-inch pads are the thickest of all, and you will feel like sleeping on a cushion. Usually, air pads fall under this category, and you can inflate them for more thickness. However, these pads can be bouncy, and inflating and deflating them will take more time.


The weight of the pad is vital as getting an heavy pad will make it hard for you to walk with the weight. You should go with closed-cell pads as they are the lightest of all. Some air pads are also lightweight after deflating, so you can choose them as well.

Depending on your requirements, choose the weight that suits you. If you are a woman, then look for lightweight and short pads so that you don't have a hard time carrying them.


Backpacking sleeping pads come in a range of different shapes such as oval, rectangular, mummy, and much more. Rectangular pads are the most comfortable as you get more space to sleep. On the other hand, mummy pads are lightweight due to the curved corners, and these are easy to pack.

Size when packed

Check the size of the pad when it's packed to ensure that it fits in your backpack. Some pads can be bulky after you pack them, so carrying them will be a real hassle for you. Air pads are the easiest to pack as they become compact on deflation.

You will find self-inflation pads a bit hard when packing as these can be bulky. Closed-cell pads are also easy to pack as these are thin and lightweight.

Easy to set up

An ideal backpacking sleeping pad should be easy to set up so that you don't have to spend the entire net getting it ready. Closed-cell pads need no setup, and you can sleep on it on the go. Air pads will take more time because you have to inflate the pad before sleeping.

Self-inflation pads also take more time to get ready. You can choose self-illation pads if you don’t want any hassles of inflating the pad.


Considering a noise-free sleeping pad becomes even more essential when you are traveling with a group. Changing sides while sleeping can result in awkward noises that can disturb the other people sleeping in the tent.

Usually, air pads make these noises as they are thick, and the tightness of the material results in noises. The best way to find a noise-free pad is by checking customer reviews as no manufacturer will tell you that the pads they sell produce squeaky sounds.


R-value is the standard measure used to describe the insulation offered by a backpacking sleeping pad. Higher R-value means the pad will keep you warm in freezing cold temperatures. The r-value can be something around 1-10, with 1 being the low insulation and ten the highest insulation rating.

Below we have explained which r-value rating you should choose depending on your requirements.

1-1.5 R-value pads

These sleeping pads are suitable for summers when you don’t need warmth. However, using these pads in winters can be dangerous.

2- 2.5 R-value pads

If you need a pad with moderate insulation, then these should be your choice. Closed-cell pads have 2- 2.5 R-value as these are thin and less insulated.

3- 3.5 R-value pads

Backpacking sleeping pads with this insulating rating are good for winters. However, you cannot use them in excessive cold temperatures since the pads aren’t much insulated.

4- 5 R-value pads

If you are looking for a three-season pad, then go for 4-5 R-value. These pads are good for moderate winters when the cold is bearable.

Five or above R-value pads

Sleeping pads with R-value 5 or above are best for winters. The higher the R-value, the more the insulation will be. However, pads with higher R-value can cost you more money, so be ready to pay more if you need extra insulation.


There are many factors that influence the comfort of a sleeping pad, such as length, thickness, width, and the r-value. To get the most comfortable sleeping pad, you should create a list of all these factors. A comfortable pad will accommodate you easily while offering enough warmth to help you sleep quickly.

Check the pad's length and width, so you don't fall off from it while sleeping.

Additional accessories to buy with backpacking sleeping pad

So you have decided which sleeping pad to buy? Excellent! Now have a look at some accessories you should add to your cart before checkout.

Hand pump

A hand pump will help you inflate the air pad quickly. Walking on your favorite trail can be exhausting, so you don't have to exhaust yourself more by inflating the pad with your mouth. Get a hand pump and pack it in your backpack to inflate the sleeping pad in minutes.

Pad sleeves

Pad sleeves will prevent the sleeping pad from sliding off, so you don't have to wake up at night to adjust the pad's position. Check if the pad you are planning to but has sleeves attached to it, or you can buy the sleeves separately.

Patch kits

Having a patch kit handy will save you from the hassles! If you have an air pad, there are chances that it can be damaged due to pointed or sharp objects. With a patch kit, you can repair the pad on the go.

FAQs: Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

Q: How to repair a sleeping pad?

A: To repair the sleeping pad, you need a patch kit handy. Follow the below-mentioned steps to learn about how to patch a sleeping pad.

Step 1: Locate the leak.

Start with locating the leak so that you can find out whether there is one leak or more. If you find it hard to locate the leak, submerge the pad into the water and look for bubbles.

Step 2: Highlight the leak.

Now highlight the leak so that you don't have to search it again. Keep your finger on the leak or ask your friend to help you out in the meantime, prepare the patch with the glue.

Step 3: Deflate the pad.

You cannot patch an inflated pad to deflate it and then try to patch it. Make sure to keep an eye on the leak as you can have a hard time finding the leak again.

Step 4: Clean the surface and patch it.

Now clean the pad with a cloth and apply adhesive on it. Let the adhesive dry a bit before pasting the patch on it. After applying the patch, rub it thoroughly and let it dry. You can even try inflating the pad to check if the patch really works or not.

Q: Can I use a yoga mat in place of a sleeping pad?

A: No, you should never make this mistake as it can cost you sleepless nights due to pain in the entire body. Backpacking sleeping pads are specially designed to support the body, which is not the case with a yoga mat. So follow this buyer's guide and buy a sleeping mat.

Q: How to prevent the sleeping [ad from sliding?

A: To prevent the sleeping pad from sliding, you can use the sleeves. The sleeves attach to the sleeping bag, and you don't have to worry about skidding down while sleeping.

Q: Can I use a sleeping pad in my car?

A: It depends on the size of the pad. If you have a compact pad that fits your car, you can use it to sleep in your car.

Q: Why are there loops on my sleeping pad?

A: The loops on your sleeping pad are useful for attaching sleeves. If you don't want the pad to move from its place, then use the loops to attach the pad with the sleeping bag.

Q: Can i clean my sleeping pad?

A: Yes, you can clean your sleeping pad. Just take a cloth and wipe away the dust and dirt. Furthermore, you can even wash a pad if needed.

Q: Are there any women-specific sleeping pads available?

A: You will find some women-specific sleeping pads in the market as these are short and lightweight. However, sleeping pads can be used by any gender, and you can even make a choice by checking the size chart and other such details.


With this backpacking sleeping buyer's guide, you can buy the best sleeping pad that's highly comfortable and lightweight. We have covered almost everything in this guide you should know before buying the pad. Make a list of pads you liked and then compare them based on these factors.

Checking the FAQ section will also help as you can learn about various things you will experience after buying a sleeping pad. Always go for high-selling and branded options, so you get the assurance of buying something that's durable and comfortable.

Make sure to select the pad according to the R-value as it impacts the pad's insulation, which is necessary for colder areas / - © Copyright 2020