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Things to Consider when Choosing the Best Sleeping Pad
Before spending your hard-earned cash on a sleeping pad, it's important to take into consideration the key factors that will help you choose the right sleeping pad for you. Here are the most important things to consider when choosing the right sleeping pad for you.
Make sure that you try them in Person
Even though we've tried these sleeping pads and done thorough research to make your work a lot easier, we still feel it's important to try each sleeping pad in person before buying them. While this may be almost impossible if you're ordering online, you can do it if you're buying from a local store. Test a few pads by lying down on them in your typical sleeping position. Take the various positions that you normally would when sleeping to find out if it's the right one for you.
Types of Sleeping Pads
Some types of sleeping pads to consider include:
They are available in a wide variety of styles and can range from lightweight to thick ones that are excellent for camping. They're designed with reflective materials to increase warmth and contain insulation. Some of these air pads have various inflation methods to ensure that you do not spend a lot of energy trying to inflate them.
These types of sleeping pads are lightweight, comfortable, and compact. Unfortunately, they tend to be more expensive even though they can be easily punctured. Again, they tend to be noisy and can be annoying not just to you but also to your tent mates.
Closed-Cell Foam Pads
These are the most basic types of sleeping pads. They are designed by filling dense foam with tiny closed air cells. These sleeping pads are generally lightweight, inexpensive and offer appropriate insulation in all weather conditions. They are, however, less comfortable than most modern sleeping pads that are made of air pads.
These types of sleeping pads combine the use of open-cell foam insulation and air. Designed with an opening valve, these types of sleeping pads can expand by automatically bringing in air.
These sleeping pads are generally lightweight, compact, and provide superb insulation. It's also easy to adjust your comfort and firmness by adjusting the amount of air therein. The only downside is that they tend to be bulkier and can be easily punctured.
Consider How You Want to Use the Sleeping Pad
Are you looking for an appropriate sleeping pad for car camping, backpacking, minimalist backpacking, and winter camping, or thru-hiking? Well, defining how you want to use the sleeping pad will help you make an informed choice. For example, if you're looking for a sleeping pad for your backpacking escapades, you may want to look for something that's ultra-lightweight, warm, and comfortable.
One of the most important things to consider when looking for the right sleeping pad is the R-value. This is how you measure its suitability to insulate your body and keep you warm throughout the night. Keep in mind that the higher R-value the warmer the pad and vice versa.
Generally, R-values ranging from 2 to 4 are usually perfect for all three seasons. Sleeping pads that have R-value ranging from 4 to 6 may be appropriate for sub-zero freezing temperatures.
Of course, you do not want to spend a fortune just to acquire a sleeping pad. On the other hand, some of the best sleeping pads will be relatively pricey but they're of great quality and generally worth the price.
Weight and Packability
When going for a backpacking trip, it's always advisable to adopt a minimalist lifestyle as much as possible. In other words, you do not want to spoil your well-planned adventure just because you have a heavy backpack that tires you out. This is exactly why the weight and packability of the sleeping pad that you choose are of great importance. Most sleeping pads are designed in such a way that they can be folded to look like a water bottle and this is a great feature for the best sleeping pads.
We have to admit that a sleeping pad will never be as comfortable as your king-sized bed in your home. This doesn't, however, mean that you can't get a sleeping pad that's comfortable and can lull you into a peaceful sleep after a long day out there. Some of the most comfortable sleeping pads are inflatable ones as they offer total comfort and superb insulation.
Size and Portability
As we've noted, backpacking is all about being minimalist. As such you need to go for a sleeping pad that is portable and can easily fit in your backpack. That's not all; the sleeping pad should be of great size to ensure a good night's sleep. It shouldn't be too narrow, too short, or too large. This will, of course, depend on your height.
We have to admit that the crinkly noise is one of the main problems with many sleeping pads on the market. These noises can be bothersome, especially for light sleepers or to your tent mates. Although all sleeping pads make some form of noise, particularly when you shift around while sleeping, some are noisier than others. With that in mind, it would make a lot of sense to choose quieter sleeping pads.
The Best Sleeping Pads
Here are the best sleeping pads currently available in the market.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Best Overall
For years now, Therm-a-Rest has been synonymous with designing and manufacturing quality backpacking sleeping pads. The NeoAir XLite is, without a doubt, the brand's leading lightweight model. It has remained a top choice for weight-conscious backpackers and there's arguably no other sleeping pad that's as light, warm, and comfy as the reliable NeoAir XLite.
The fact that you're looking for something lightweight doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice comfort. This sleeping pad is designed with a heat-reflective layer and this one of the main reasons why it remains extensively popular with minimalist backpackers. Weighing just 12 ounces and measuring 2.5 inches in length, it's easy to pack this sleeping pad down to the size of a water bottle, which means it will take up little room in your backpack.
The newest version of the NeoAir XLite is made from 30-denier ripstop nylon to make it softer and quieter than most models in the market. This sleeping pad is also dense enough to shield you from the hard ground since its width is enough to offer a good night's sleep.
For many backpackers who have used this sleeping pad, they'll agree that it's unmatched in terms of comfort, compactness, warmth, and weight. It remains a favorite for long-distance hikers thanks to its rare combination of warmth, comfort, weight, and support. It may come at a premium price but it is well worth it once you hit the trail.
- It offers exceptional warmth and comfort
- It's manufactured with a trusted brand
- It's small, lightweight, and supportive
- It's expensive
- It has an annoying sound
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite - Best for Summer Backpacking Trips
This is another superb sleeping pad from one of the most trusted brands in the industry. Made for cooler temperatures, the NeoAir UberLite is insulated to provide warmth while remaining one of the ultralight backpacking sleeping pads on the market today. This, however, doesn't mean that you can't use it in other seasons. If anything, it has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio that makes it one of the lightest 3 season air inflatable sleeping pads available.
It comes with a tapered design of 2.5 inches thick to minimize its weight without compromising on its warmth and comfort. Just like NeoAir XLite it is so packable that you can pack it down to the size of a water bottle so that you do not have any issues when packing it into your backpack. Weighing just 8.4 ounces, this sleeping pad is ridiculously light and compact without compromising on comfort.
This is arguably the quietest sleeping pad in the Therm-a-Rest's sleeping pad line. This is a sleeping pad that may tempt you to leave your closed-cell pad at home, especially when going for warmer outings but this may affect it given that its durability is still questionable. Nonetheless, this is one of the most comfortable sleeping pads out there, especially if you're going hiking during summer. This is because it is designed with the Triangular Core Matrix of two stacked layers of triangular-shaped baffles that can efficiently trap radiating heat.
If you're looking for a superb sleeping pad for your summer outings without adding too much weight to your backpack, the NeoAir UberLite could be an excellent option.
- It's extremely compact and lightweight at 8.4 ounces
- The triangular baffles make it very stable, supportive, and comfortable since it doesn't get bulged or cold spots
- It's one of the quietest sleeping pads on the market
- You can easily control the firmness of the sleeping pad by twisting its valve
- It's manufactured with a trusted brand that offers a great warranty
- It's not appropriate for sub-freezing temperatures
- It's one of the most expensive models
- It's less durable than most sleeping pads
- The valve is not as good and offers a slower deflation
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm - Best Sleeping Pad for the winter
Referred to as the Ferrari of sleeping pads, the NeoAir XTherm is a legendary winter sleeping pad that many consider the gold standard for backpackers looking for a light, rugged, and yet warm sleeping pad. We're talking about a sleeping pad that's specifically designed for winter camping and mountaineering temperatures.
In addition to being lightweight, this sleeping pad delivers the utmost warmth to make cold outdoor nights warm and comfortable. It disregards the traditional rectangular design of other mainstream sleeping pads and adopts contoured build, which is essential in making it lightweight without compromising comfort.
And because it's meant for sub-zero temperatures, this sleeping pad does an excellent job in the retention of heat. With a significantly higher R-Value, this pad offers more insulation from frigid grounds to ensure that you sleep comfortably in cold temperatures. So whenever your backpacking escapades demand that you go to the Alps-Esque Mountains, the NeoAir XTherm could be an excellent choice.
- This sleeping pad has unrivaled stability, support, and comfort thanks to its 2.5 inches thickness and baffled internal structure
- It's made from low-bulk materials that make it ultra-packable and as small as a water bottle.
- It offers unparalleled warmth-to-weight ratio thanks to its ThermaCapture technology that can excellently trap heat
- It's available in a wide range of styles and sizes to give you the flexibility of choosing something perfect for your adventure needs
- It's designed with a winglock valve to ensure easier inflation and quicker deflation
- It is durable
- The crinkling sound can be annoying to some people
- It's quite expensive
NEMO Tensor Insulated - The Quietest Sleeping Pad
The NEMO Tensor Insulated is an excellent sleeping pad that ticks all the right boxes in an incredibly overcrowded field. Available in both non-insulated and insulated versions, this sleeping pad is probably the most versatile sleeping pad you'll ever come across as you can use it in almost any condition. The pad is thick, comfy, and the quietest sleeping pad currently available in the market.
It is designed from high-quality 20-denier fabric that makes it comfortable and very efficient. That doesn't affect its weight since it can still pack up as a small water bottle to ensure that it doesn't take a huge space in your backpack. This sleeping pad is designed with thermal mirror insulation to ensure that it remains lightweight, efficient, and cozy.
One of the main downsides of getting this sleeping pad is its durability. The material is not that tough and can get easily punctured. Nonetheless, the fact that it is three inches thick makes it a huge hit with many side sleepers but can still roll up flat and look ridiculously small when deflated. We recommend this sleeping pad if you're looking for something that provides a peaceful and noiseless night.
- It's one of the quietest sleeping pads
- It's comfortable, stable, and supportive
- It is available in a wide range of sizes, styles, and colors to suit your adventure needs
- It comes with a well-designed pump sack and valve system
- It's fairly priced
- It's not very durable
- It's slightly heavier
- It's not very warm
Klymit Static V2 - Best Budget-friendly Sleeping Pad
One of the best things about the Klymit Static V2 is that it challenges the idea that a lightweight and comfortable sleeping pad must be very expensive. Thanks to its dynamic side rails and V-shaped baffles, this sleeping pad is one of the most innovative and comfortable sleeping pads on the market.
This sleeping pad is designed with some great practical features such as a durable noise limiting fabric, antimicrobial laminate, and a superb inflation valve that require just about nine breaths to inflate the sleeping pad. Better still, this is one of the greatest sleeping pads that will serve you just right when you're on a budget.
Even though it has insulation R-Value of 1.3, which seems to be quite low when compared to other pads on this list, the large ridges make it a much warmer sleeping pad. The V shapes and rails are also vital in preventing you from rolling off the pad when you're asleep. Getting up without feeling pains and aches is crucial if you want to enjoy the next day. This pad has gone against the norm by showing that you can still enjoy a warm and comfortable outdoor sleep without breaking the bank.
- It's very affordable
- It is more durable than most sleeping pads
- It is slightly wider
- It's bulkier than other pads
- The valve system is a letdown
- It's only appropriate for summer use
About THE AUTHOR
From a young age I was introduced to fishing, hiking, camping, snowboarding and more through family, friends, and scouting. After 20 years of learning and participating in these outdoor activities, I share what i've learned (and continue learning) with you.Read more about Scott Kimball