Camping and backpacking are great fun but come with their own set of challenges like making sure you bring enough of the right kind of food, making sure your camping lantern is up to the task and making sure you’re prepared for inclement weather. What most campers don’t give a lot of thought to however is the importance of getting a good night’s sleep. They assume their sleeping bag will take care of that but the fact is that without a first-class sleeping pad under the bag you’re in for long nights of tossing and turning. Below we’re going to review the 10 best sleeping pads out there in order to help you make sure you find the perfect one for your next outdoor odyssey.
The Best Sleeping Pads
We’re going to start this review guide with a sleeping pad that takes a slightly different approach to pad design. The Klymit Static V uses an innovative V-chamber design that is intended to address a couple of fairly common issues with outdoor sleeping pads, both of which have to do with the body squeezing the air out from under you when you lay down. When this happens you lose the insulating quality of the air as well as the comfort it’s intended to provide. The V-chamber design keeps far more air under you where it belongs which results in a much more comfortable night’s sleep.
The V-chamber design of the Klymit Static V sleeping pad has what the company calls “Body Mapping Technology”. That’s just a fancy way of saying that the number and shape of the air chambers make sure there’s plenty of camping air mattress between your bag and the ground. The “side rails” built into the design also gently nudge you toward the center of the pad so you won’t wake up and find your bag laying directly on the tent floor. The push valve is wide enough to allow for fast, complete deflation of the pad and as an added bonus there’s the antimicrobial laminate. All in all the Klymit Static V camping mat is an outstanding value.
- Weight1 pounds
The TNH Outdoors Premium sleeping pad is no doubt one of the most comfortable on the market. What it’s not is a backpacking sleeping pad. It’s just too big when rolled up and at about 2.5 pounds it’s too heavy for some. That said, if you love roadside campgrounds you’ll be hard pressed to find a better sleeping pad than this. It’s also great to have in the camper or RV to add an extra degree of comfort to your sleeping arrangements. The TNH Outdoors Premium camping mattress might be the closest thing out there to having an actual mattress in the tent with you.
This is a sleeping pad aimed at casual outdoor enthusiasts who want to get a good night’s sleep. As we said it’s a bit too bulky to be carried by some serious mountaineers but for everyone else, it will seem like a little bit of heaven when they lay down on it at the end of a long day. This is one of the better sleeping pads when it comes to self-inflation, meaning that at most you may have to finish the job with a bit of your own breath. But only to find the ideal firmness. The company also offers one of the best warranties around and their customer service is good to excellent. Ideal for roadside campgrounds, beach camping and light backpacking. Combine it with a camping pillow from our list and you are sure to rest on your outdoor adventure.
- BrandTNH Outdoors
- Weight2.2 pounds
Therm-a-Rest has long been an industry leader in the field of outdoor sleeping comfort and their Z Lite Sol Mattress sleeping pad is yet another feather in their company cap. It features an innovative design with layers of foam of varying densities that ensure you’re comfortable while never in direct contact with the ground. It’s a warm sleeping pad as well thanks to the ThermaCapture coating applied to the exterior which allows it to more effectively capture and retain radiant heat. With an R-value of 2.6 and an affordable price the Z Lite earns its place on this list.
The fact that it folds up so nice and tight and weighs almost nothing makes this an ideal sleeping pad for those intent on venturing deep into the heart of nature. The clever distribution of the foam core elements and the ThermaCapture coating means that whether you sleep like a rock or rock and roll in your sleep you’ll be warm and comfy. There has been a lot of digital ink spilled over what a great supplemental sleeping pad this is (and it is) but we think that distracts from the fact that it stands tall on its own as one of the 10 best backpacking sleeping pads out there. If your next adventure is taking you into the wilderness you owe it to yourself to have the Therma-Rest Z Lite sleeping pad in your backpacking backpack.
- Weight14.4 ounces
You want an ultra-lite, ultra-compact sleeping pad for your next journey into the wilderness? Look no further because OutdoorsmanLab have exactly the sleeping pad you’re after. At a scant 14.5 oz this sleeping pad is 40% lighter than other lightweight pads. But that’s not all. It’s also made with durable, tear-resistant 20D ripstop nylon and features TPU lamination which means it’s not just tear resistant, it’s also waterproof. This is the one sleeping pad on this list that qualifies as ‘extreme’ gear while also being extremely comfortable and affordable.
The OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight sleeping pad is not only incredibly durable and light but it rolls up small enough to fit easily in your backpack. The air cell construction also helps distribute heat and comfort more equitably than other inflatable sleeping pads. While it’s undoubtedly one of the best extreme sleeping pads on the market you can also use it in the RV or camper, on the camping hammock under you or on your favorite recliner. With an R-value of 1.3 and quick, effective inflation and deflation the OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight sleeping pad provides the comfort you want with no muss or fuss.
- BrandOutdoorsman Lab
- Weight14.7 ounces
So far we’ve seen sleeping pads designed for roadside camping, extreme mountaineering and everything in between. But now we’re going to look at the Milliard Tri-Folding Mattress which is a sleeping pad that makes no bones about the fact that it’s designed as a kind of auxiliary mattress you can use when guests need to sleep over or you just want to replace the mattress in your RV. Some may try to use it under their wearable sleeping bag in the campsite but they do so at their own peril since it’s neither waterproof nor does it have a tear resistant shell.
We state it above but it bears repeating so there’s no mistake; this is not an outdoor sleeping pad. What it is is a first class emergency mattress for your home or a great mattress for your RV or mobile home. It features lots of premium 3lb foam that won’t lose its shape, it’s warm and it’s large enough for just about anyone at 75 x 25 inches. The anti-slip bottom means the sleeping pad will stay where you put it, which is often an issue with larger pads like this. The Tri-Fold is ventilated which helps regulate temperature within the foam so heat buildup will never be a problem. If our choice for backup guest mattress came down to an inflatable sleeping mat or the Tri-fold we’d pick the Tri-fold every time.
- Weight10.95 pounds
The Freeland Camping Self-Inflating sleeping pad is not only one of the best looking sleeping pads available it’s also has something we’d like to see in every inflatable camping mat; a generously sized inflatable pillow. Although the thickness of the pad is a fairly standard 1.5 inches when inflated it actually feels much thicker. And while it’s a bit heavier than most backpackers would find ideal we’d wager that many would feel carrying the extra pound or so would be worth it for what they gain in comfort.
The large inflatable pillow on the Freeland Camping Self-Inflating sleeping pad is practically worth the price of admission all by itself. There are however, many other reasons to make this your go-to sleeping pad including the inch and a half of high-quality open-cell foam and those dual non-leaking air valves that make self-inflation a quick and painless process. Any hunters, climbers or trekkers not bothered by the 3+ pounds of weight will be glad they brought it into the wild with them. A perfect mat for your camping tent. The icing on the cake is its affordability.
- Weight3.3 Ibs
The TETON Sports Camp Pad has a throwback look to it. But don’t let that fool you. There’s nothing throwback about the versatility and comfort of this sleeping pad. The Sports Camp Pad is built for comfort and convenience from the built-in compression straps to the pillow pocket to the clip it has at each corner that allows you to secure the pad to just about any sort of cot. There’s 2.5 inches of open-cell foam to cradle you and a slew of other amenities designed to make sleep in the outdoors as comfortable as it is indoors.
The TETON Sports Camp Pad is a recreational sleeping pad that hits all the right notes as far as being comfortable and versatile. It’s not made to be dragged up K2 but it’s perfect for outdoor holidays with the family, hunting trips, weekends at the shore or out in the yard to catch some rays on that perfect summer afternoon. The pillow pocket is large enough to accommodate a regular sized pillow or you can roll up your sweater and slide it into the pocket to create a less comfortable but perfectly useable elevated headrest. While this is one of the most expensive camping pads out there you’ll likely conclude it’s worth the stretch.
- BrandTeton Sports
- Weight5.7 pounds
The first thing that may get your attention about the KingCamp Deluxe Self-Inflating camping roll mat is that it’s made in China. The second thing is that for a Chinese product it’s not cheap. What we have here then is the iPhone of sleeping pads in that it’s made in China to keep labor costs down but the company doesn’t spare any expense in materials or workmanship. The resulting sleeping pad while heavy (just over 6 pounds) is nonetheless incredibly comfortable, easy to inflate and deflate and fully waterproof.
We’ve heard people disparage this product as being a Chinese “knock-off”. But if it’s a knock-off it’s the best kind of knock-off in that the manufacturers have obviously done their homework and incorporated their knowledge into the pad itself. The shell is tear and puncture resistant 150D polyester. The air valves are composed of solid brass that won’t rust and the compression straps are always a welcome addition to this kind of recreational sleeping pad. Just don’t approach this product with the idea you’re going to save beaucoup bucks because it’s made in China.
- Weight6 Ibs
The structure of the Lightspeed Outdoor Self-Inflating Camp Pad keeps the air in the center where it’s needed for comfort and warmth and tops up the comfort with a built-in pillow. It inflates quickly and effectively by itself or you can rush things along a bit by manually inflating it. The air valve is corrosion proof brass and the whole thing has an R-value of 8.6, outstanding for a simple sleeping pad. At 3.8 pounds it’s a bit heavier than most serious, weight conscious backpackers would like to see but it’s not so heavy as to preclude it from your list of must-have outdoor kit.
This is one of the most comfortable camp sleeping pads we tested. It provides excellent support when you’re lying on your side. It also has an outstanding R-value so even if the ground beneath your tent is frozen solid you don’t have to worry about your body heat being drained away, which of course means you’ll sleep better for longer. The company is calling this a “lightweight” camping mat but honestly, at 3.8 pounds it’s not. However, it still has plenty of deep woods potential for outdoor types that are in good condition and won’t be bothered by an extra pound or two. It also packs down nice and has the coveted built-in pillow we’d like to see on more sleeping pads. Our handy guide to the best double sleeping bags features more great products like this.
- BrandLightspeed Outdoors
- Weight3.8 pounds
The final entry on our list is the KOOLSEN Self-Inflating sleeping pad. It too features one of those great built-in pillows along with 1.5 inches of open-cell foam that keeps the cold effectively at bay while ensuring your comfort in any position. With a no-slip backing and soft, supple surface this KOOLSEN sleeping pad will be appreciated by novices and experienced outdoor types alike. If you like you can inflate the pad yourself or simple open the values and within 2 minutes it will fully and effectively self-inflate.
The KOOLSEN Self-Inflating sleeping pad has everything a recreational outdoor lover could want in a sleeping pad and most everything serious mountaineers would want, with the one exception being the 3.8 pounds that the pad weighs. It has a nice tough exterior shell that’s also soft to the touch, a large comfortable pillow you can detach and move to your heart’s content and it integrates with many of the company’s other outdoor sleeping products. In spite of some photos that seem to show the carrying sack being the size of a bag of potatoes the pad actually rolls up nice and tidy and can easily be slung to the bottom of your backpack.
- Weight3.8 pounds
Sleeping Pad Buyers Guide
Factors To Consider When Buying A Sleeping Pad
There are a number of things to consider if you’re in the market for a sleeping pad and the best one for you will be determined by how you respond to these considerations.
Inflatable Vs Foam - The 2 main types of camping mattress today are inflatable pads and foam pads. Each has their merits and will appeal to different types of outdoor enthusiasts. Because they rely strictly on air to provide loft and insulation inflatable sleeping pads break down smaller and are typically quite a bit lighter than foam sleeping pads. Those things – carry size and weight – are important to serious mountaineers but not so important to casual campers. Those folks who stay in your typical family friendly campsites. For them foam sleeping pads provide a high degree of comfort and practicality and are a common sense choice.
Thickness - The higher you’re lifted off the ground the more comfortable you’re going to be. Again, however, added thickness will often mean added weight, whether you have a foam or inflatable sleeping mat. Thicker pads also take longer to self-inflate – or manually inflate for that matter – and won’t self-inflate all that well when you’re high in the mountains where the air is thinner. So, as a general rule hard core mountaineers will want a thinner, lighter inflatable sleeping mat that can be easily inflated and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. While those in the beach campground have the luxury of having a sleeping pad that’s as thick as they want it to be and which can be either foam or inflatable.
Insulation - This is something that comes into play if you’re heading into the mountains for a week of elk hunting or you’re one of those outdoor types that loves cold weather camping. If you mainly confine your outdoor activities to public campgrounds during warm weather the R-value of your camping mat won’t be such a big deal. For those cold weather fans you’ll want the highest R-value you can find as this will be essential to making sure you have the best night’s sleep possible even when the mercury plummets.
Size When Fully Deployed - Most sleeping pads today will accommodate people up to 6 feet tall and perhaps an inch or two larger. Beware though because there are a growing number of ¾ length pads on the market and you don’t want to find out when you unroll the sleeping pad for camping in the tent that your legs are going to be hanging off the end.
5 Tips To Help Get A Great Night’s Sleep When Camping
Here are 5 tips to getting a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors.
Get the right sleeping pad - In 2017 when there are so many outstanding sleeping pads on the market there’s no excuse for heading into the wild without one. Make sure you use the above information to pick the right camping mattress for your adventure and you’ll be well on your way to a great night’s sleep.
Make sure the tent is level - There are few things worse than constantly rolling or sliding toward one side of the tent because you pitched it on uneven ground. Take a little while longer and find a spot that has enough level ground to at least accommodate your bag and sleeping pad. You’ll be glad you did.
Make sure you have a temperature-appropriate bag - Winter camping with a summer bag will be a miserable experience no matter how comfy the sleeping pad might be. Likewise if you’re using an extreme bag in the summer you’re going to sweat your way through the night.
Use a ground cloth - A lot of novice backpackers neglect to bring a waterproof ground cloth into the woods with them to lay under the tent. Huge mistake. The ground cloth will help reduce heat loss when the ground is cold and prevent your camping mat and bag from soaking up moisture if the ground is wet.
Make sure you wear yourself out - One of the best ways to ensure a good night’s sleep in the wild is to push yourself during the day (instead of sitting around in that comfy camping chair) so that when you lay down you fall out as quickly as possible. You don’t have to over-exert yourself but being active hiking, swimming or canoeing will pay off when you lay down.
Sleeping pads are indispensable pieces of outdoor kit that have developed over the years to the point where they can now provide astonishing levels of comfort regardless of the weather. If you use the information provided above you should be able to find the best sleeping mat for your next adventure.
We hope you found these sleeping pad reviews helpful and don’t forget to stop back on a regular basis for more insightful product reviews and guides from Gearhungry.