Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

25 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
280 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Shopping guide for best backpacking sleeping pads

Last Updated November 2019

As a backpacker, you’re used to roughing it. That doesn’t mean that you have to suffer through an uncomfortable night’s sleep. With advances in materials and technology, the quality of backpacking sleeping pads is better than ever. Today’s backpacking sleeping pads are designed with comfort and warmth in mind. They’re compact, easy to use, and are designed to fit neatly inside your backpack and work in almost any environment.

Backpacking equipment is different from a lot of other consumer products in that it must be designed for survival, rather than simple convenience. That’s why it’s important that your backpacking sleeping pad has all of the features that you may need when out in the wilderness. From advances in inflating technique to specialized durable materials, backpacking sleeping pads offer a host of features that were not available even a decade ago.

If you’re a backpacker who wants to make sure you always have the best possible gear, then keep reading our shopping guide, which has all the information you’ll need to make an informed choice. When you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.

A properly packed backpacking sleeping pad should hardly take up any space in your backpack.

Key considerations

Choosing a backpacking sleeping pad should take some time. Sleep is one of the most important commodities during a backpacking adventure. If you don’t have enough, then you won’t be able to make good decisions. As such, you’ll want to choose a sleeping pad that is going to be best for your personal sleeping habits. Take all of the following information into account when choosing which backpacking sleeping pad to purchase.

Fit

As the name would imply, backpacking sleeping pads are intended to fit easily into a backpack. That means that they need to be compact. Take into account the size and dimensions of your personal backpack when choosing a backpacking sleeping pad. If you choose one that you like, but it won’t fit into your backpack, then you will have wasted your time. Make sure it’s a good fit with all of your other gear. The size of the pad unfurled is not necessarily a good indicator of its size when packed away. Review the dimensions of the packed pad to determine if it’s a good fit for your backpack.

Inflatable vs. foam

  • Inflatable: The vast majority of backpacking sleeping pads are inflatable. Some of these are self-inflating, while others require some level of effort to inflate. When deciding which type of sleeping pad you want, think about the following: although inflatable sleeping pads may offer you more comfort foam, they are also at risk for leaks. This means that although you may have purchased the most comfortable backpacking sleeping pad on the market, it could be the least comfortable if it somehow gets a large hole out in the wilderness.

  • Foam: Foam mattresses, on the other hand, have the advantage of being more durable, although they often offer less comfort than the more common inflatable versions. Foam pads also tend to be bulkier, which makes them more difficult to pack into a compact space.

Dimensions

Consider the dimensions of a backpacking sleeping pad before purchasing. Think about the potential places that you may choose to use your sleeping pad. If you plan to visit spots with extremely limited square footage for sleeping, then you’ll want to get a sleeping pad that doesn’t have too large of a footprint.

Conversely, if you are a large person who needs a large pad to be comfortable, you’ll want to explore options that offer more sleeping area and wider dimensions. Some of the largest backpacking sleeping pads can even approach the size of an individual twin mattress.

Sleeping environment

Most backpackers tend to enjoy the same types of environments on their adventures. If you frequent high-altitude wooded environments, you will have different needs than someone who often camps in low-elevation drylands. Think about the types of places you plan to use your backpacking sleeping pad, which will help you assess important factors such as heat control and durability.

CAUTION

Never go camping in dangerous areas that are specified as illegal for camping. The rules are there for a reason.

Features

Self-inflating design

Some of the currently available backpacking sleeping pads can self-inflate. They generally come wrapped in a small bag, but once opened, they self-inflate to full capacity. The advantage to this feature is that you don’t need to carry a heavy battery-powered air pump in your backpack, and you don’t have to use your own precious breath in the wilderness to blow up your sleeping surface. In order to put them away, you squeeze a release valve to deflate the pad while you roll it back up to put away into the original bag.

Attached pillow

If you don’t want the hassle of carrying a separate camping pillow with you, consider a backpacking sleeping pad that comes with an attached pillow. Generally, these pillows will be small and will contract to a small enough size that it can be packed along with the sleeping pad. If you’re tired of using a wadded up T-shirt for a pillow in the wilderness, pick one of these models.

Compression straps

Deflating a backpacking sleeping pad can be one of the more frustrating parts of the morning. A sleeping pad that includes compression straps makes the deflating process quicker and easier. Simply pull the straps and they will squeeze all of the air out of the mattress faster than you can say “Tom Brady.” These straps are also useful for keeping your backpacking sleeping pad rolled up when packed away in your backpack.

Backpacking sleeping pads prices

Inexpensive: When it comes to backpacking sleeping pads, $10 to $30 is the lowest you can go. While this range does not contain a lot of choices, you can still find a few solid options.

Mid-range: The vast majority of backpacking sleeping pads can be found in the $30 to $75 range. Almost any style can be found in this category, and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something that will work for you.

Expensive: For $75 to $200, the backpacking sleeping pads are top shelf. Most of them will be more durable than the rest and offer an ultra-lightweight design, which makes them conveniently portable.

EXPERT TIP

Never stand or walk on your sleeping pad. It will likely put too much pressure in one spot and can cause a tear.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Take care not to tighten compression straps too tight, as it can put too much stress on the sleeping pad and cause damage.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Always clear your sleeping area of sharp objects before setting up your backpacking sleeping pad, both for comfort and for the protection of your pad.

  • Never go camping alone without letting someone know where you will be headed and when to expect you back.

  • Make sure to properly inflate your backpacking sleeping pad before using it. Failure to do so might cause you to aggravate an injury during sleep.

  • Fully deflate your backpacking sleeping pad before putting it away. If you don’t, it will likely not fit properly into your backpack for hiking.

  • Put all food away before resting for the night. Exposed food can attract dangerous animals while camping.

Other products we considered

With so many well-made backpacking sleeping pads available on the market, it was difficult to only pick the top five. That’s why we recommend you consider one of the following options as well. The ThermaRest RidgeRest Camping Pad will give you a solid night’s sleep for a great price. In the mid-range price category, we think you’ll be impressed by the Sleepingo Camping Sleep Pad. It has a comfy two-inch sleep thickness, which is larger than the standard of one to one and a half inches. Finally, on the expensive end of the spectrum, we liked the SVNA Inflatable Camping Pad. The tear-proof nylon and TPU material will have you sleeping comfortably for years to come.

Make sure your area is clear of insects and other small animals before settling in for the night.

FAQ

Q. Doesn’t a regular sleeping bag provide the same comfort as a sleeping pad?

A. No. A sleeping bag’s primary function is to keep you warm. A sleeping pad, on the other hand, is intended to keep you comfortable while sleeping on the ground.

Q. Do I have to throw out an inflatable sleeping pad if it gets a hole?

A. No. Most inflatable sleeping pads come equipped with repair kits. If your sleeping pad gets a tear, simply use the repair kit and it should be as good as new.

Q. Is it possible to damage my backpacking sleeping pad if I overinflate it?

A. Yes. As with any inflatable product, if you are not careful and you overinflate it, then it can cause a hole or other damage.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adam
    Adam
    Writer
  • Alvina
    Alvina
    Photographer
  • Amos
    Amos
    Director of Photography
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Branson
    Branson
    Videographer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Vukan
    Vukan
    Post Production Editor

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