If you are having trouble finding the right and the best backpacking sleeping pad, there are so many options in the market.
It would be best if you had a good night’s sleep. A good night’s sleep would be very crucial to keep you active and fit during the day.
If you want to enjoy your outdoor activities at the full, sleeping pads should be included when you are packing for a hike.
Sleeping pads are providing fine rest in the night for most people. Unfortunately, most sleeping pads can not provide the same comfort when it comes to side sleepers.
The best sleeping pad for side sleepers must offer the best weight distribution of a person sleeping on his side because the weight distribution is not the same compared to those people sleeping on his chest or back.
The weight of side sleepers is not evenly distributed. The pressure is concentrated on a narrow surface area that pressed the sleeping pad more firmly against the ground.
Your hip and shoulder will feel more pressure. The pressure will cause pain in these joints and restless nights. Intense pressure can cause less insulation to the sleeping pads.
List best backpacking sleeping pad reviews and best sellers
1. Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad for Camping – top Recommendation Sleeping Pad
The great thing about this sleeping pad for side sleepers is that it is very comfortable to use, and the price is affordable. The Outdoorsmanlab Ultralight sleeping pad is ultralight, weighing about 14 ounces.
If you are worried about the size, this sleeping pad packs down very small and inflates quickly for less space. Its fabric is soft, and the cell is designed as a diamond shape cell to prevent the edges from collapsing.
The fabric is made of lightweight, flexible, and abrasion-resistant Nylon with a laminated TPU coating.
You can quickly deflate the pad when you press on the one-way valve. The one-way valve can eliminate air loss while inflating. What you need is 15 breaths for inflation.
The pad is thin (only 2.2″ for optimal support, warmth, and comfort) and with its R-value of 2.2, it is suitable for a warm summer night, cold winter, fall, and spring months.
The manufacturer, Outdoorsmanlab, promised a 100% satisfaction and 30-days no question asked refund. If you find a defective product, you will get a free replacement. You can contact them and get under 24 hours response.
NeoAir XTherm made by Therm-a-Rest is a warm sleeping pad. You can use the sleeping pad on frozen ground and snow without feeling any cold sleep.
A warm ground can cause you to feel your body heat reflected at you. The sleeping pad weighs 15 ounces, and it can help you sleep well in the coldest weather.
The NeoAir XTherm is a sleeping pad side sleeper that is designed using a 70D nylon fabric on the bottom and a 30D nylon ripstop material on the top. The top fabric feels soft, and the bottom fabric feels rugged and feels more robust.
One product package, you will get a 1.8 ounces pump sack that has a plastic gasket. The plastic gasket fits over the valve to inflate the sleeping pad by pushing air into it. Twelve pumps or 22 breaths should fully inflate the pad.
Overall the sleeping pad is durable, comfortable, super warm, and packs down small.
This ALPS Mountaineering sleeping pad is easy to inflate and lightweight. You can bring this sleeping pad to camping or backpacking in the summer.
The sleeping pad for side sleepers is weighing under 21-ounces. You can quickly inflate the sleeping pad with a CPR-like air pump, and you can inflate to 3.5-inches. When you deflate the sleeping pad, it packs down to a small size.
The fabric is made from a durable ripstop fabric to use directly on the ground. The horizontal baffles on the pad can give you excellent comfort while you sleep.
Since the R-value is low, you can only use the sleeping pad during the summer months.
If you are a side sleeper, who wants to have a low volume backpacking sleeping pad that can provide good night sleep on the ground, the Big Agnes Air Core is the one you want. The price is also competitive, and it is a self-inflating thin pad.
Its rectangular shape gives the right width and length to adapt to broad body types. The sleeping pad weighs 20-ounces.
The sleeping pad for side sleepers is constructed from a double ripstop nylon face fabric to give abrasion resistance and durability while maintaining the overall lightweight. The I-beam construction on the vertical baffles offers a full thickness of three and a quarter inches.
It comes with a two-way valve system for inflation to 3.25 inches and a deflation opening. The thickness provides excellent protection from the rough edges of rocks on the surface.
The R-value is low, which makes it perfect for summer hikes only. If you can not afford luxury but want a comfortable option, this sleeping pad for a side sleeper is the one.
You can deflate and inflate this Ether Light XT sleeping pad fast and complete. You can use the included multi-function valve and a pump sack for quick and easy deflation and inflation.
This sleeping pad for side sleepers can be considered as a lightweight, quiet, and comfortable sleeping pad. It comes with 4 inches of insulated cushioning for a versatile and comfortable sleeping pad. With the R-value of 3.8, you can use the sleeping pad for 3-season.
The sleeping pad does not have baffled construction. Instead, it uses a pattern of dot welds to make hundreds of interconnected chambers or air-sprung cells.
The sleeping pad is made from thermoplastic polyurethane to keep you warm. There is also additional equipment called Thermolite that forms a barrier between the cold ground and the human body.
The Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad is a sleeping pad that has an outer surface covered in 20D fabric to withstand punctures. While the inside layer there are suspended metalized films in two layers.
Its space frame construction and undulating baffle design will provide you with comfort while sleeping side-to-side. This sleeping pad is suitable for temperatures as low as 35 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can quickly inflate and deflate the sleeping pad with the zero-profile multifunctional valve. The airflow will not leak back out.
It comes with a repair kit to handle leaks or punctures.
You do not have to worry about getting puncture because this NeoAir UberLite sleeping pad includes a patch kit if you experience a leak. This sleeping pad comes in three sizes, from large to small sizes.
The weight varies from six to twelve ounces depending on the size. This sleeping pad product has 2.5 inches of cushion.
With an R-value of 2.0, this sleeping pad is an excellent choice for summer hikes or backpacking.
This product comes with a Triangular Core Matrix or two layers of interlocking triangular baffles to decrease heat loss and provide a stable sleeping surface.
Overall, this sleeping pad is ideal for summer backpacking and super lightweight that only take up very little space in your pack.
When you wake up in the morning on a sleeping pad, you do not want to suffer from aching hips. In order to get a good night’s sleep, the sleeping pad must be comfortable, durable, light, and warm enough.
These four features can be achieved by the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad.
The thickness can give cushion for hips, and it is a standard thickness for high-end air pads. It has all four requirements: a small size pack that can be as small as a water bottle, it is stable at 2.5 inches high, and a lightweight of 12 oz.
The Therm-a-Rest itself is well known and one of the first inventors of a sleeping pad that had been doing so many testing and research to discover the best backpacking sleeping pad. The surface has firm horizontal baffles that will provide a stable sleep surface.
This Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad is the best lightweight sleeping pad to guy for hiking trips. It works for every fast and light backpacking in winter and summer.
In summer backpacking, the sleeping pad does just well in giving warm. It has a decent R-Value (3.2), good enough to withstand temperatures just above freezing. It also has been favorites to many hikers, backpackers, climbers and it still does until this day.
When winter is coming, and you have planned for a few months of winter backpacking. The issue is to face your fear of the cold and to try winter backpacking, hiking, and camping for the first time. Two months before you bought the gear and equipment needed for winter backpacking on Amazon.
You check all the lists like the backpack bag, the tent, portable solar charger, and a portable heater. You might miss an essential piece to your winter backpacking, the sleeping pad.
It is essential for a good, freezing night’s sleep. You need to keep your body warm so the sleeping pad must warm for freezing nights.
This cold temperature can be solved with the MegaMat 10. It is made by Exped, a Swiss company with a reputation for innovative design. The MegaMat 10 is just the right sleeping pad to solve the problem of sleep on a cold night.
The features had the combination of simple valves, self-inflating deluxe foam, simple valves, rugged and stylish design, and a smart carrying case. It is about adjustable firmness, oversized width, and length, four inches of height.
It is light enough for backpackers. It is even lighter than other comparable self-inflating sleeping pads. When deflated, its packed size is relatively small and should fit in a backpack easily.
Hikers, mountain climbers, and backpackers choose a low budget self-inflating sleeping pad because they are on a budget. The technology of this sleeping pad may be the best and can outperform other comparable self-inflating sleeping pads. When seeing on the label, it says to weighs 25 ounces.
You can feel the cushion of premium air provided by the Klymit Insulated Static V. The baffle design is unique with 2.5-inches of thickness. Klymit itself is an innovative company, and this line of product is affordable. It can be easily blow up to be inflated.
What to consider when purchasing a best backpacking sleeping pad.
Your choice of the best backpack sleeping pad is considered to be the fourth heaviest in the pack you are carrying. The other heavy lifting is the shelter, sleeping bag, backpack, and then the backpack sleeping pad.
The average weight of the shelter is about 2 pounds, plus the average weight of the sleeping bag is 2 pounds, the backpack is about 20 pounds and the sleeping pad is about 1 pound.
So the total weight could be about 26 pounds. So you can reduce the overall weight by choosing the right size and weight of the sleeping pad you are carrying.
If you can reduce the weight of the pack you are carrying, it would be comfortable while on a hiking trip or just a short day camp.
All outdoor sports enthusiasts especially the backpacker type, would keep those weight as light as possible when carrying all the pack. The weight would be the most important factor in the purchasing decision of outdoor gear.
But unfortunately, the most comfortable and the lightest of them all is usually the most expensive price. By all means, people buy because of the quality over price.
The weight is the key metric if you are having a dream adventure tour to the Rocky Mountains or wanted the highest performance of gear to carry. But if you just want to have fun and only a 1-day adventure without any serious purpose in mind, weight, should not be a concern then.
There might be some people who do not care about weight at all, because they just want to be comfortable, safe, secure, warm, and have a good night’s sleep.
If you are traveling to an elevated ground or rough terrain or will have many miles to cover will make the weight a very important factor. Commonly, a sleeping pad made of foam is lightweight but unfortunately, they are not comfortable.
The air core sleeping pad is the lightest of them all, they are even lighter than the self-inflating sleeping pads.
If there is a ratio between performance and weight, we analyze that the air constructed sleeping pads will score the highest of them all. As we stated before, if you are only hiking about 2 miles and then set up a base camp for more than 3 days, the weight of the sleeping pad will not be an issue.
A difference of 15 ounces can not be compared to the features provided like warmth and comfort. It is a big difference compare to hiking and trekking adventure to the Grand Canyon, the extra 15 ounces will have a big and significant effect on the carrying.
R-value or a suggested degree rating have been the two ways of determining the warmth of a pad. Do you know what’s the difference? Why does the warmth of the sleeping pad matter?
Of course, it matters. It matters to you and anyone on an adventure to wake up in the morning being ready and fresh for the day’s adventure. Throughout the night, the cold weather and ground can eliminate the body of heat.
After 8 hours of absorbing cold temperature while you were sleeping, you will wake up feeling tired and lost the essential energy for an adventure.
That is how very important and really matter the cold resistance of sleeping pad to the human body. It is a way to get a really crucial better rest for the next day. When you rest better, the adventure will play better.
The R-value of a backpacking sleeping pad will determine how good it will insulate your body from the cold ground temperature. The more value of R-value, the better insulating the body and the warmer the sleeping pad.
When you see on the label of a sleeping pad that shows the R-values between 0-2 it means that it is good for a warm-weather hiking trip.
The neutral weather sleeping pad will have the R-values between 2-4. This means it can be used on any weather (cold, cool, and warm) backpacking conditions.
And when you are seeing the label that says the R-values between 4-6, they are good for temperature below freezing or very cold. In a winter backpacking condition, you have to choose a sleeping pad with R-value 5+, because you are sleeping on the ground covered with snow.
In backpacking winter, the temperature difference between the ground covered with snow and your body can exceed 60 degrees. If you sleep on the ground covered with snow with only a 2 R-values, the cold temperature of the ground covered with snow can eliminate the body heat away from you faster than the freezing air temperature.
Preventing this heat loss process is arguably the most important purpose of your sleeping pad. The comfortable level may be determined by keeping you having a good night’s sleep and keeping you feel warm. Waking up fresh and have energy means everything and really matter.
But the sleeping pad can also force loss of heat when the cold air moves around inside the pad. To avoid this, the thickness of the sleeping pad, really means a thicker sleeping pad is warmer.
The air circulation means the more air circulation within the sleeping pad the less warmth. And last the insulation of the sleeping pad.
So once again, you’ll need a sleeping pad that gives some level of protection. On an average temperature should get a pad with an R-value between 2-4.
In a backpacking summer, the best R-values number would be 0-2. For a very cold backpacking winter, the R-values should be more than 5.
According to many expert and review sites, a thicker sleeping pad is better than a thinner sleeping pad. It does mean more comfortable than the thinner sleeping pad.
The more flat surface can also mean more comfortable for the head to lay down. If the sleeping pad is a larger surface area this could also mean more comfortable than the smaller area sleeping pad.
Comfort is relative when you are talking about sleeping on the ground. The most comfortable sleeping pad will depend on your own preferences, so the rating could be relative too.
One person who likes to sleep on the side prefers to sleep on a thick air construction sleeping pad. The self-inflating sleeping pad is more comfortable for people who like to sleep on their backs.
Back sleeping will evenly distribute a person’s weight, whereas side sleeping distributes weight around the shoulders and hips.
The packed size
The fabric thickness, the insulation amount, and the function of the sleeping pad determine the packed size. If the sleeping pad is lightly insulated or even not insulated at all, are the compact packed size?
The not insulated sleeping pad can be compressed to the size of a wine glass. While the self-inflating type and the foam sleeping pad are far than a compact size. Most air sleeping pad type can be packed down and small enough to fit inside your backpack.
And some model is small and can be gripped in one hand. Not all self-inflating sleeping pad may pack down to fit inside your backpack. Only newer designs use less foam and can pack down relatively small.
When the sleeping pad id fully inflated and unpacked the packed size will be related to the weight, the smaller the packed size commonly means less weight. Today’s hikers, campers, climbers, and backpackers have so many sleeping pads to choose from.
Many sleeping pads are bulky and heavy. Many products are lighter than the backpack and when being packed down can be smaller than a can of soda.
These are some of the types of sleeping pads considering the weight and packed size.
Usually, backpackers who chose lightweight gear will want to stay under 16 ounces (1 pound) when choosing a sleeping pad. Air sleeping pads and closed-cell foam sleeping pads are the types they choose considering the weight.
They will not want to buy a self-inflating sleeping pad because of the weight concern.
There is a closed-cell foam sleeping pad with packed sizes of 20 x 5 x 5.5 inches. A very large packed size sleeping pad but very light so this can be chosen by backpackers.
While the common packed size of an air sleeping pad is 9 x 4 inches, a very small packed size sleeping pad. It is packed down easily and will not take up much space anymore.
The ease of deflating and inflating
When you find a sleeping pad difficult to inflate, it is a drawback of an air construction pad. Many manufacturers have resolved these issues by adding valve styles to achieve ease of inflation and deflation.
The inflating task was difficult back in the old days. The self-inflating sleeping pad is heavier and bulky than the air construction sleeping pad, so it is less comfortable.
When you hear the word self-inflating sleeping pad you might think a high expectation. Actually in the real world, first you must open the sleeping pad, unroll and wait for about 10 minutes for the internal foam to expand and draw air in.
After 10 minutes, the job is not done 100%. In the 10 minutes of waiting, the sleeping pad is only about 60% inflated. So you have to finish the job of inflating the sleeping pad.
It would be useful when you are in a big camp mattress pads. For a small volume sleeping pad, it would be less useful.
The durability of the sleeping pad
The most common measure of durability in the outdoor gear world is denier (D), which measures the thickness of the fabric. The higher the denier, the tougher the material will be.
Let us be clear: denier matters and you can feel the difference. So does weight, however, so it’s important to find the right balance for your backpacking style.
Ultralight backpackers cut every possible ounce and usually know how to take care of their gear (otherwise it would be an extremely expensive hobby). The downside is that lower denier fabrics have shorter lifespans and a higher propensity to have durability issues in the backcountry.
In today’s advances in textiles, technology development makes lightweight inflatable sleeping pads durable. Even with many shaking and other hard care handles of inflatable sleeping pads, there would be no incident of tearing or torn apart.
Some reviewers stated that after using their sleeping pads for quite some time, they counter not a single durability issue. But when you see any puncture of the sleeping pad, you might consider taking with you a mini repair kit.
Because even if you have the most durable sleeping pad, it can experience to be punctured with a rock or sharp tree branch. The repair kit would come very handy and important because, with just a little puncture, the sleeping pad can become useless.
Imagine when during the middle of the night the sleeping pad got puncture suddenly and you can not use the sleeping pad at all. This could be dangerous because you have to sleep on a very cold night without the protection of a sleeping pad.
The other way to protect the sleeping pad from being punctured is by using ground cloth as the cover material under the sleeping pad. It is strong, lightweight, and durable enough to protect to bottom of the sleeping pad.
The types of sleeping pad
The types of sleeping pad types in the market are self-inflating sleeping pad, air sleeping pad, and closed-cell foam sleeping pad.
The air sleeping pad can not be compared to the other type of sleeping pad because of its compact size. It also provides thickness as well as the lightest option.
The majority of air sleeping pads are usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). In recent years some sleeping pad is made of urethane plastic or rubber versions.
The deflated sleeping pad can be rolled up or folded and carried or stored relatively easily. That is why they are the most popular choice for hiking trips and camping trips.
You can inflate the air sleeping pad orally or with an electric pump. The primary downside is that the air sleeping pad can have a greater risk to get punctured. There is no reason for not buying an air sleeping pad because you can still carry with you a repair kit patch.
The self-inflating sleeping pad is combining open-cell foam and space for the pad to expand and fill with air. With this feature, comfort, durability, and convenience can be achieved.
It more puncture resistant. The problem is, it can bring an extra pounds to the pack and can not be packed down as small as an air sleeping pad.
The closed-cell foam sleeping pad is the less comfortable, not small, just an average R-values, but they do not deflate in the middle of the night. They might not be the first option of a sleeping pad, but they are perfect for a secondary sleeping pad to bring along as a backup.
How the sleeping pad baffles are constructed.
Sleeping pad baffles bear a resemblance to baffles used on down jackets and sleeping bags, and they also utilize the same general principles for heat retention.
There are five main types of baffle construction in sleeping pads:
Dimpled Flat Surface Patterns
This baffle pattern is mostly constructed on the self-inflating sleeping pads. The surface is made to be leveled, very even, and insulating without major baffle patterns.
Horizontal Baffles Patterns
The horizontal baffles patterns are constructed mainly among air sleeping pads. The horizontal baffles are considered stable with ridges to keep the shoulders spread out and distribute the body’s weight evenly when lying down.
Vertical Baffles Patterns
The vertical baffles pattern is typically less stable. Sometimes it makes the sleeping slippery.
Quilted Baffles Patterns
This type of pattern is a newer model than the other baffles patterns. It is a combination of vertical and horizontal baffles so it feels like a small mattress. The pattern should be stable, provide enough heat, and give comfort.
The Unique Baffles Patterns
There are one baffle patterns that shape like a V. Not many brands use these unique baffles patterns.
How to take care of your sleeping pad?
You do not go on hiking trips every week or every month, at least for most of the backpackers. The planning, packing, and going only happens once to twice a year mostly.
If you own a self-inflating sleeping pad, the best way to store them is as simple as keeping them unrolled and keep the valve open. Store them behind your couch or simply under your bed.
You do not want your sleeping pad to be overly compressed and keep the natural shape of the self-inflating sleeping pad.
While the air sleeping pad care and storage are simpler. Rolled them up after removing all the air from the sleeping pad, put them in its storage bag to minimize the risk of getting punctured.
Avoiding the risk of getting punctured is way easier than patching one. The safest thing to do is to give your sleeping pad a safe haven during your hike.
The last thing to store the sleeping pad to lash them to the bottom of the pack and that is what many backpackers do.
This idea is a bad idea because most of the time when backpackers want to take off the pack is to drop them on the ground. It will be risky because the ground might have rough edges and this could damage the sleeping pad immediately.
If the bottom is not a good idea, so you might want to consider lashing the sleeping pad to the top of your pack. This option has risks too, where sharp edge tree branches can grab the sleeping pad on top while you are not looking at all.
The best option to store the sleeping pad while hiking is to put them inside your pack. Make sure it does not collide with sharp edges like ti knife or other rough edges gear that might puncture or damage the sleeping pad.
How to clean up the sleeping pad?
The dirt, the dust, or stain will not damage or harm your sleeping pad. But there are things you should do immediately.
- because you will bring your insect repellent, they contain DEET which can damage your sleeping pad fabrics very fast. When your sleeping pad is exposed to DEET or insect repellent, you must wash and rinse your sleeping pad as quickly as possible. Use biodegradable soap to wash if possible.
- when you camp around a pine tree, your sleeping pad might touch its grit and needle somehow. The two will glom onto pine tree sap and this will damage your sleeping pad. You can use alcohol in your first-aid kit to remove pine tree sap.
- after every use or once in a season, you should wash your sleeping pad to remove any contaminants like molds or body oil. These substances may lower the performance of your sleeping bag, so washing your sleeping pad is a must-do.
How to store your sleeping pad?
After washing the sleeping pad, simply just inflate the sleeping pad inside or outside and let it dry. It would not be a problem when drying inside, but when drying outside try not to expose the inflated sleeping pas to direct sunlight. The UV rays can damage and reduce the quality of the material.
There is a chance that the sleeping pad accumulates mold growth caused by the moisture inside the foam. To deal with this, after every trip you can lower the moisture level by inflating it, and then deflating it a few times. Use a hairdryer on the lowest heat to inflate and then deflate.
The sleeping pad is vulnerable to extreme temperature and moisture. Avoid places like the attic or the basement or the garage, these places can provide moisture and heat.
A good place to store the sleeping pad would be in a closet inside the house where there is no heat or moisture nearby. Or inside a room may be your bedroom where moisture and heat are not an issue.
Make sure the sleeping pad is thoroughly dry inside and out before storing them.
The benefits of a sleeping pad
There are 2 benefits when you buy a sleeping pad.
Sleeping pads for side sleepers will give you comfort.
The feature is obvious. A sleeping pad will give a cushion from any rough and uneven ground.
When you choose one type of sleeping pad, it often becomes a substitute for a bed mattress. So if you do not want to have uncomfortable eight hours of sleep every night, the sleeping pad can definitely replace the bed mattress at home.
During the cold night, you will feel the warmth.
A camper can get the right warmth they can get by sleeping on a sleeping pad in the cold of the night. And this is a very important benefit.
This is what most campers do not understand that sleeping pad is an important factor to get warm in the night. Even if a camper owns a very thick and fancy sleeping bag, when they get to sleep at night, the insulation of the bottom sleeping bag will be crushed by the weight of the camper.
When it is crushed, without a sleeping pad, it is as well as sleeping on a cold ground. A sleeping pad will keep the insulation between the cold ground and the camper.
If you have a thick sleeping pad for side sleepers, it will provide more insulation.