Sleeping pad

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Are you a backpacker who needs a new sleeping pad? There are a ton of options out there, and it’s often difficult to find the best sleeping pad for your needs. Take a look at our top-five list and buying guide to learn what to look for in your next sleeping pad.

What’s The Best Sleeping Pad? Top 5 Revealed

Sleeping pads

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Backpacking requires careful planning, budgeting, and space-saving. You only have room for so many things, and a sleeping pad is usually a staple.

There are a lot of sleeping pad options out there, and it can be difficult to find the best one for your needs. That’s why we compiled a list of the top five sleeping pads you can find.

We also completed a handy “buying guide” for those who want to do a bit of shopping on their own. Take a look at some of the elements you should consider while you’re looking for a sleeping pad to make sure you get the best one for you.

How We Chose Our Rankings

Before we talk about the best sleeping pad options, let’s review how we got to this point. We looked at a lot of sleeping pads throughout our review and selected our favorite to include in this list.

This section will help you get a better understanding of why we included the pads that we did. Hopefully, this transparency will allow you to make the best decision for your specific needs.

It’s also important to state that we never receive any compensation from the brands we include in our rankings. Our goal is always to provide our readers with the tools they need to make an informed decision.

Comfort

The comfort of the sleeping pad was the first thing we looked at for each option. What good is a sleeping pad if it’s as uncomfortable as the ground underneath?

You’ll have the choice between foam pads and air pads. Both have their benefits and shortcomings, but most people consider air pads to be more comfortable.

We chose the best options from both categories and included them in our rankings. You can be sure that all of the sleeping pads we selected will be some of the most comfortable you can find.

Versatility

The best sleeping pad options will usually be ones that you can use throughout the year. Backpacking in the winter can be tough, so you might want a specific sleeping pad for the coldest months.

Insulation isn’t always the best thing if you’re using a sleeping pad during the hot summer months, though. Still, it can get a bit cold in some areas during the night, and having an insulated sleeping pad is usually a good idea.

We tried to get the best of both worlds in our review. We included pads that are better for winter, summer, and year-round use. That way, you’ll be able to pick one that best fits your backpacking needs.

Weight

Weight is a massive consideration when you’re backpacking. You’ll need all of your things, a small tent, a sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad. These items can add up, and lead to a bunch of extra weight that you might not need.

Sleeping pads can be a place where you can cut some of that weight. While heavier sleeping pads can be better for the winter season, the lightest options are almost always preferable.

For that reason, we leaned on weight as a determining factor with some of our rankings. The best sleeping pad will be easy to carry without compromising on insulation.

Durability

Durability is another huge factor with sleeping pads – especially air pads. Foam pads are durable by nature, although they can compress over time. Foam pads that stood up to the pressure faired better in our rankings than those that did not.

The durability of the exterior of air pads was one of the first things we looked at. These pads need to be able to take a sharp twig or two without puncturing. It’s always helpful to have a repair kit handy, but hopefully, you won’t need to use it.

Top 5 Best Sleeping Pads

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Top 5 Best Sleeping Pads

Now, let’s take a look at the sleeping pads that ranked the highest in our opinion.

1. Therm-A-Rest NeoAir

[amazon box=”B00TSFYZAE”]

Rating: 5/5

Our top pick for the best sleeping pad is actually two: The NeoAir XLite and NeoAir XTherm from Therm-A-Rest. The former is best for all-season backpacking while the latter is designed to hold the heat in the winter.

As you can guess, the XTherm is a bit heavier than the XLite, but only by 3 oz. The pads weigh 12 and 15 oz respectively and take up minimal room in your pack.

The pad is pricey, but you will be paying for quality. As long as the pad doesn’t spring any leaks, this is one you’ll be able to use for years.

2. Big Agnes Q Core SLX Super Light Sleeping Pad

[amazon box=”B01AYPQPKY”]

Rating: 5/5

The Big Agnes Q Core SLX Super Light Sleeping Pad is another solid air pad option. This is a thicker pad and is one of the more heavily insulated sleeping pads on this list. Still, it maintains a light weight at only 14 oz and deflates to a small size to fit in your bag.

This was one of the most comfortable pads we tried, especially if you sleep on your side. Those who are interested in a lighter version that’s suitable for all seasons should check out the Big Agnes Insulated AXL.

3. Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat

[amazon box=”B00MTZP8Z6″]

Rating: 4/5

Another great inflatable option is the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat. The mat is durable, comfortable, and weighs just over 15 oz. This pad is as close as possible to a real mattress.

In fact, this was one of the biggest challenges to the NeoAir throne. It does a few things better than the NeoAir. We thought it was more comfortable, and it even inflates and deflates quicker than the NeoAir models.

The only downside to this pad was that it’s a bit thinner than some of the others we’ve seen. You can still feel the ground underneath you when you move around, which will bother some people. Still, if you want to find a cheaper alternative to the NeoAir, the Sea to Summit Ultralight might be for you.

4. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad

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Rating: 4/5

The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad is a staple in the backpacking world. This foam pad is one of the budget-friendly options that folds-up nicely and is easy to carry around with you. It can be a bit bulky, but that’s the drawback of any foam sleeping pad.

The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad is one of the most comfortable foam pads on the market. It’s also incredibly durable, and won’t compress nearly as quickly as some of the other foam pads.

What’s even more impressive is the insulation on this pad. Most people don’t think of foam pads when they’re looking for a warmer sleeping pad option, but the Z Lite Sol delivers here.

5. Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad

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Rating: 3/5

The Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad is one of the cheaper air pads you’ll find, and it doesn’t sacrifice quality to reach this goal. The pad is comfortable and durable, which are two of the biggest benefits a sleeping pad can have.

Our only problem with this one was the weight. The pad weighs almost 20 oz and is a bit bulkier than some of the others we’ve picked. It can also take a bit of time to inflate. Still, those who are on a budget and still want a comfortable air pad will be happy with the Klymit Static V.

Buying Guide

Now that we’ve given you our top five picks for the best sleeping pads, it’s time to get a bit more specific with our advice. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to sleeping pads. You’ll need to think about your budget, plans, sleeping style, and more before you pick the best sleeping pad for you.

In this section, we’ll give you some food for thought on the topic. Take a look at what you should think about before buying a new sleeping pad.

Foam Vs. Air

Sleeping pads

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Most of the sleeping pads you’ll encounter will be either foam pads or air pads. Both options are light, easy to carry, and comfortable. You’ll have to pick the best option for you based on your desired uses and preferences.

Foam pads are almost always going to be cheaper, and they’re far easier to set up. You can use a rolled-up pad as a buffer between you and your backpack as well – or even something to lean up against if you need a break.

The obvious downside of foam pads is their size. These pads are going to be a bit bulky and can be a hassle if you need the extra space. Foam pads will also compress after several uses, so you’re going to need a replacement if you want to sleep comfortably.

Air bads are more costly but often more comfortable. Durable pads will last longer than a foam pad will, but it’s always a risk when you bring an air pad with you on a long trip.

Although the best sleeping pad options will have a thick exterior, punctures happen. If you puncture the pad during your trip, you won’t have a sleeping pad until you get back home. Air pads also take a bit of time to blow up, so you’ll have to do a bit more work before going to bed at night.

Noise Considerations

Noise

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We saw some users complaining about the noise level of their sleeping pads when we were compiling our reviews. Noise can be a problem for those who toss and turn at night – especially when they wake up easily.

Although air pads and foam pads are both prone to squeaks, you can expect these to tamper-off after you use them two or three times. This is more of an “out of the box” problem, so don’t let reports of noisy pads influence your decision too heavily.

Considerations for Air Pads

Air pads

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We covered two of the biggest negatives of air pads above: blowing them up and the possibility of and their possibility to break.

There are a couple of items you can buy to mitigate this risk, however. The first is a repair kit. You should always remember to pack one of these if you plan on sleeping on an air pad. Sometimes, you won’t even notice a puncture until you wake up on the ground. The air may leak over time and sneak out of the hole.

Most of the air pads we included have a repair kit, but it won’t hurt to pick up a spare. That way, you can fix the pad if anything breaks through.

Additionally, it’s often helpful to invest in a pump sack. You fill these with air, hook them to your pad’s inflation nozzle, press down, and let the sack do the rest.

When you’re not using it, you can store a sleeping bag inside to make sure it stays dry. These sacks are incredibly useful, and we recommend buying one if you choose an air pad over a foam pad.

Budget

Budget

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Sleeping pads range in price considerably. You can buy the cheapest pads for around $20 or $30, but the more experienced backpackers will likely look for one over $100.

You’ll have to think about how much use you’ll get out of a pad before you buy. Are you going on your first backpacking trip? You can probably settle for a cheaper option and upgrade it later. Do you want this pad to last a long time? Spring for a more expensive option.

Sleeping Style

Sleeping pads are a lot like mattresses. The best mattress for one sleeper might not be the best for someone who sleeps in a different position.

We included a mix of side-sleeping pads and back-sleeping pads on our list. There are some that are better for stomach sleepers, but it’s not always practical to sleep this way when you’re in a small tent.

The way you sleep will determine the size and thickness of the sleeping pad you should buy. Thick pads are better for side sleepers, and thin pads work better for those who sleep on their back.

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