- NEMOSwitchback Sleeping Pad$49.95
- REI Co-opTrailbreak Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad$69.95
- REI Co-opCamp Bed Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad$99.95 - $119.00
- Mountain Summit GearSelf-Inflating 2.5 Camp Pad - Large$74.73 Compared to$95.00You save 21%
- NEMOTensor Insulated Sleeping Pad$159.95 - $189.95
- NEMOQuasar 3D Insulated Air Sleeping Pad$149.95 - $189.95
- REI Co-opTrailbreak Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad - Women's$69.95
- Therm-a-RestTrail Scout Sleeping Pad$44.95 - $69.95
- NEMORoamer Sleeping Pad - Double$399.95
- REI Co-opCamp Dreamer Double Self-Inflating Deluxe Bed$279.00
- ExpedMegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad$199.00 - $229.00
- Therm-a-RestNeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad$149.95 - $229.95
- REI Co-opKindercamp Sleeping Pad - Kids'$49.95
- Big AgnesInsulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad - Long Wide$124.73 Compared to$249.95You save 50%
- Sea to SummitCamp Plus SI Sleeping Pad$89.95 - $99.95
- Therm-a-RestZ-Lite Sol Sleeping Pad$45.95
- Therm-a-RestTrail Pro Sleeping Pad$129.95 - $149.95
- NEMOFlyer Sleeping Pad$119.95 - $139.95
- Big AgnesInsulated Q-Core Deluxe Sleeping Pad$159.95 - $239.95
- KeltyMistral SI Sleeping Pad$35.95
- Sea to SummitEther Light XT Insulated Air Sleeping Pad$179.95 - $199.95
- Therm-a-RestBaseCamp Sleeping Pad$79.95 - $129.95
- NEMORoamer Sleeping Pad - XL Wide$249.95
- Therm-a-RestLuxuryMap Sleeping Pad$129.95 - $159.95
- Therm-a-RestProLite Plus Sleeping Pad$94.95 - $124.95
- Sea to SummitComfort Light Insulated Air Sleeping Pad$169.95 - $199.95
- Mountain Summit GearSelf-Inflating 3.5 Camp Pad - Extra Large$94.73 Compared to$125.00You save 24%
- Therm-a-RestNeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad$159.95 - $229.95
- Sea to SummitUltralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad - Women's$139.95 - $159.95
- Sea to SummitComfort Plus SI Sleeping Pad - Women's$139.95 - $159.95
Understandably, a lot of us focus on cushioning in a sleeping pad. In the outdoors, though, a pad's ability to help you sleep warm is perhaps even more important.
Air pads: These inflatable mattresses with insulation inside pack small and weigh little relative to their size. Relying solely on air inflation is good and bad: It allows you to fine-tune firmness but also leads to the pad softening when temps drop. Punctures are also a minor concern, as is a rustling noise when you move on around on some air pads.
Self-inflating foam pads: These have open-cell foam insulation that provides warmth and padding; a few breaths of airlet you finalize inflation and pad firmness. Relative to their size, they are heavier and bulkier than air pads.
Patch kit: An essential accessory to pack for both air pads and self-inflating foam pads.
Closed-cell foam pads: The original backpacking pad is still revered by ultra thrifty hikers who prize ultralight, ultradurable gear. The tradeoff? You get minimal warmth and cushioning.
Backpacking and Camping Considerations
If you're carrying the pad on your back, then reducing weight and packed size is important.That's why many backpackers choose air pads. Self-inflating foam pads offer comparable warmth and comfort, though, and offer more affordable options for budget-minded backpackers.
For camping, comfort counts most, so the type of pad, its weight and packed size are less important.You're free to choose a pad that's as thick and roomy as you want—as long as the inflated pad fits inside your tent (and the price fits within your budget).
R-value measures a pad's resistance to heat flowing through it (hence the "R"). A higher R-value indicates a warmer pad.
Sleep System: Your Sleeping Pad and Bag Work Together
Many variables affect warmth, including factors like humidity, tent design and what you wear. Your sleeping pad's R-value and your sleeping bag's temperature rating, though, are the two biggest determinants of how warm you will be.
Below are rough guidelines that correlate sleeping pad R-values, nighttime low temperatures and sleeping bag temperature ratings:
Pad R-value below 2.0: Warm weather (50°F low); pair with a 30°F bag
Pad R-value 2.0 to 3.9: Cool weather (32°F low); pair with a 20°F bag
Pad R-value 4.0 to 5.4: Cold weather (20°F low); pair with a 15°F bag
Pad R-value above 5.4: Extreme cold weather (0°F low); pair with a 0°F bag
Individual metabolisms vary, so you might need to get a warmer or cooler pad/bag combo. When in doubt, go warmer. For more details about temperature ratings, sleep systems and selecting a bag, read How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Backpacking and How to Choose a Sleeping Bag for Camping.