Even the most durable pads can be punctured with a sharp thorn, a rock, or are a shard of glass. The most durable inflatable pads are the MegaMat Lite, Comfort Plus, Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm, and the Nemo Astro Insulated that all utilize thicker materials and even dual air chambers in the case of the Comfort Plus. INSULATION: If winter backpacking, keep the R-Values above 3. Overall, the reliable and durable design at a low cost is one that's hard to beat. This post may contain affiliate links. Here we evaluate how well each pad transforms rocks and roots into plush clouds. Thermal conductivity in pads is a complicated issue with many variables, but let's discuss the basics. Price . Tested and written by Appalachain Trail and Pacific Crest Trail thru-hikers. Punctures. If you're a summer hiker, warmth isn't nearly as important as it is for winter wanderers. The 4.2 R-value settles the XLite firmly in the three-season category, making it comfortable even for fall days in the desert when you wake up with a bit of frost on your bivy. We have used inflatable pads for 40-day backpacking trips without any durability issues and are impressed by the amount of abuse our inflatable pads handled without tearing or delaminating. These inflation sacks are better than using your breath, but it still takes some time and effort to fill the pad with air. The upside, other than speeding inflation, is that no moisture from your breath enters that pad. The lighter, the better. Some more cushy pads have large air chambers. If you own a compatible Gossamer Gear pack, the Nightlite doubles as frame support, it conveniently slides into the pack's two mini back-sleeves. It is a foam pad, so you have all the expected drawbacks and benefits -- it's thin, but light and will last forever. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol. I never saw anyone using a pump on my thru-hike though, and I would think they are relatively unnecessary. The comfort plus is quite special, as the dual inflation zones can be inflated to different pressures giving a nice pillow top with a firm under construction. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is an absolute beast that balances remarkable warmth (6.9 R-value) with a packable and lightweight design. Many were first-time campers on guided trips (they typically gave a lower comfort score), and many were seasoned backpackers (they ranked pads higher). Some people feel its like sleeping on, well... the floor. If you are going to do some winter camping, you may want to consider the REI Flash Insulated, which is wider thanks to its rectangular cut, heavier (1 lb 4oz), and a bit warmer (R-value 4.7). The closed-cell foam definitely won't pop, but it also takes up a lot of space for how little comfort it actually provides. Got feedback? You can make or break your pad by how you care for it on the trail and at home. Weight is an omnipresent factor when selecting and using outdoor equipment. Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. If you don’t like the idea of strapping your pad on the outside of your pack, I highly recommend getting a pad that packs down tiny. Just one extra thing to carry though. If all things are held constant, and one item weighs less than another, you should absolutely select the lighter item. After a trip, you should keep the pad inflated, with the valve open, to allow moisture out. Very Bulky. The included Therm-a-Rest pump bag was made from heavy material that resisted poofing up effortlessly like the Schnozzel. Store the pad inside your pack if you can. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. It weighs around 26 ounces and packs down pretty small. An important note with closed-cell pads, they do crush over time, losing valuable millimeters of loft. A score of 9/10 means that the pad was among the most comfortable competitors, not that it's going to offer the same level of comfort as your Tempur-Pedic. Several of our testers noted that after years of sleeping outside, their priorities are leaning more towards comfort than having the absolute lightest pad money can buy. While pump bags may seem gimmicky, they are incredibly useful both for keeping moisture out of your pad as well as speeding up the process. It's as close to a warm flannel sheet as you're going to get while sleeping in the remote woods. Best Ultralight Sleeping Pad for Backpacking 1. When you're thru-hiking and in the middle of nowhere, the last thing you need to do is deal with a busted sleeping pad. Make sure the pad is dry but don't place it in direct sunlight as UV light can degrade the material. It packs down to the size of a 1-liter water bottle, so you won't have any problem stuffing this one into your pack. If you camp in the heat, you probably don't want a warm pad. Ultimately, choosing a favorite between the new Therm-a-Rest pads (the XTherm and XLite) was challenging. It uses an expandable foam that you can further inflate … Its versatility is attractive for people from all walks of life. Four inches of air and … Some people find the foam pads tough to sleep on, especially a side sleeper. A small repair kit weighs a few ounces at most, and most repairs are pretty easy in the field. About six months of use versus a brand new Z Lite. They also are sized to fit comfortably inside an ultralight two-person tent. Expect to have a sweaty back when you take off your pack. Most sleeping pads are 20-inches wide, providing just enough room for a single person. If you're anything like our testers, your first sleeping pad may well be a closed-cell foam pad, and rightfully so. Older designs are bulky and don't pack down much smaller than foam pads. Advances in textile development make lightweight inflatable pads durable. While these pads have remarkably similar attributes, there are a few components worth noting. These pads either roll, collapse or fold up. Over at least three months, we use them while guiding, hiking, and exploring while on bikes, boats, and self-propelled missions. While the majority of our testers preferred horizontal baffles to those that run the length of a pad, everyone agreed the quilted Comfort Plus was the most comfortable of the pads we would be willing to pack on a backpacking trip. The extra pack space is much appreciated, especially considering some models can take up nearly half of a pack’s volume. We never punctured these pads during our testing but would never leave home without a patch kit while hiking with these pads. Because you can use it as a sleeping pad and a pack frame, the Nightlite is generally more durable than other egg-crate pads. First, cold is nothing more than the absence of heat, and heat moves energy from warmer objects to colder ones. A self-inflating foam pad should be left semi-inflated with the valve open for air circulation. Once you hit late fall or winter, you'll need to buy the insulated version. It's a pure torso length sleeping mat and a super affordable one at that. The best sleeping pad for backpacking is ultralight, super cushy and insulated while the best sleeping pad for camping is an ultra-thick air mattress. Super lightweight and compact, this sleeping pad is warm enough for three-season backpacking trips. With a standard 12oz coffee mug for scale, these pads represent the spectrum of sizes. Our comfort scores come from a host of reviewers who each used one or more of these contenders. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlite is hands down one of the best ultralight backpacking pads on the market. Usually less, if not a lot less, than $50. The Sea to Summit Ultralight is genuinely a warm weather sleeping pad. Instagram: @chrisrcage. If you sleep on the ground without a sleeping mat, the ground can conduct heat away from you up to 160 times faster than the air around you. The dimensions are a bit tight for larger individuals. If you do go for one of those big, airy pads, these can significantly help save time and lung power. I know a lot of hikers ship their pads back to the manufacturer because they are "too noisy". Keep in mind that our ratings are relative. Sure it is a few ounces heavier than others on the list, but it is a fraction of the price. If you're a side sleeper, this should be at the top of your list. … The Sea to Summit Ultralight is surprisingly comfy and super sleek. A soft-touch outer fabric plus a baffled internal structure provide stability, support, and above all, mega comfort for a good night's sleep. A plush air pad offers significantly better sleep than the shoulder crushing closed-cell pads we all started backpacking with in the 90s. Some have this button-like one-way deflation option that is super helpful when optimizing the level of desired inflation. Overall Winner: Best Sleeping Pad for Hammock Klymit Hammock V Sleeping Pad If you want a hammock sleeping pad that provides comfort from every perspective, the Klymit Hammock V is an excellent option as it is large and warm. The quest for the best sleeping pad began by delving deep into what was available in the market and what products among those were the high performers. Despite being super bulky, the foam is usually still very thin and/ or stiff. Our backpacking experts have tested over 70 of the best backpacking sleeping pads over the last decade. INFLATABLE PADS: As the name implies, inflatable pads need to be filled with air before you can sleep on them. Indestructible. 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