Buying Guide for Sleeping Pads for Camping
Why buy sleeping pads for camping?
Camping trips require a lot of gear and accessories. Apart from your shelter, food, and safety supplies, it’s important to consider your choice of sleeping surface. Cots, sleeping bags, and hammocks are all good options. The ground can be uncomfortably cold when you’re sleeping outside in a sleeping bag, even during the warmer seasons. Sleeping pads not only offer a nice cushioned sleeping surface, but they also provide crucial protection from frigid temperatures. When sleeping off the ground on a cot or hammock, whether you need a sleeping pad largely depends on the temperature and your desire for cushioning. On chilly evenings, the insulation will keep you warm, while the cushion will keep you comfy.
What should you look for in sleeping pads for camping?
- Type: There are three primary types of sleeping pads, each with advantages and disadvantages. Closed-cell foam mats are sturdy, easy to use, long-lasting, and reasonably priced, but they are not as comfortable as inflated pads. Manually inflated sleeping pads (air pads) must be inflated by blowing into a valve or using a pump. This style is good if you want a lightweight pad with ample cushioning. Self-inflating mats are easy to use, sturdy, and well-insulated. If you’re concerned about inflated pads getting punctured, there are repair kits available that can patch them up.
- Insulation (R-Value): The insulation quality of a sleeping pad is critical to a good night’s sleep. A pad’s R-value determines its ability to resist heat loss, with greater R-values indicating more insulation. You’ll see R-values ranging from less than two to five or higher.
- Weight and Packability: A lightweight sleeping pad will be easier to pack and carry while on your trek. While necessary for insulation, remember that a pad with a higher R-value will often be heavier. Closed-cell foam mats may also seem bulky, although shorter ones are lighter. Double-check the weight listing on the sleeping pad you’re considering and plan how best to transport it during your trip.
- Length: Sleeping pads are usually about 72 inches or longer. This size works well to keep the entire length of your body warm and cushioned while you’re sleeping. There are shorter pads, often about 48 inches, for those needing something more compact for their travels.
Should you have a sleeping pad when you use a hammock?
While sleeping in a hammock, a sleeping pad will improve your comfort and help you stay more stable. It will also keep you warmer by providing insulation from the chilly air that flows underneath you. Hammock-specific pads are designed to fit snugly within a hammock. Kits are also available to help adapt regular sleeping pads to be placed comfortably in a hammock.
Our Picks for the Best Sleeping Pads for Camping
Sleepingo Self-Inflatable Sleeping Pad
This sleeping pad is ultralight and compact yet provides excellent insulation and durability.
Pros: Lightweight during transport yet comfortable during use, The Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad is our top pick. This pad is ideal for keeping you comfortable with its 2-inch thick support that cushions on varied terrain. The soft, quiet nylon material is flexible and durable to stay inflated for a peaceful night’s rest. Furthermore, at just 14 ounces, this lightweight pad packs down to the size of a water bottle when it’s time to travel.
Cons: Some may find the inflate/deflate valve difficult to fill and close successfully. If the valve is not sealed correctly, air may seep out, causing the pad to deflate while in use.
Bottom Line: If you are looking for good value in a lightweight sleeping pad, this one from Sleepingo may be a great option. Its ultralight packed weight will keep you comfortable while carrying, and the 2-inch cushion and 2.1 R-value insulation will help keep you comfortable while you sleep.
REDCAMP Cot Pads for Camping
The cotton fill inside this pad will keep you cozy and warm.
Pros: While versatile for use in various settings, this soft pad is specifically intended for use with folding cots. It’s 75 inches long by 29 inches wide and has bands on the back to secure it to a folding cot. This 1.5-inch thick cotton pad has a velvet shell ideal for warmth during chilly seasons, whether used with a sleeping bag or on a folding cot. The sleeping pad weighs 3 pounds, folds up easily, and takes up little room in your bag.
Cons: At 1.5 inches thick, the cushion is not as thick and fluffy as some other pads. However, it also comes in a 3-inch thick option that may be better for those using this pad without a cot.
Bottom Line: This sleeping pad can be an excellent choice for anyone who would prefer not to deal with an inflatable product. No blowing up is necessary, and there is no risk of puncture.
Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad
V-shaped chambers on this sleeping pad offer extra support at your pressure points.
Pros: This uniquely designed sleeping pad features a V-Chamber pattern that contours to your body for support. It also includes side rails that center you on the pad and prevent air escape. At 18.7 ounces and a pack size of 3 x 8 inches, backpackers appreciate its light weight for ease of transport.
Cons: This noninsulated option wouldn’t be an ideal choice during colder months.
Bottom Line: This durable, 72 x 23 inflatable sleeping pad is great for side, back, and stomach sleepers looking for good support, durability, and a light-packed weight. If camping in cooler weather, you may want to look at Klymit’s insulated option.
Hikenture Double Sleeping Pad
Two people can camp comfortably with this double sleeping pad.
Pros: Two people camping together could use two individual sleeping pads, but a gap could cause contact with the hard ground. The Hikenture Double Sleeping Pad solves this problem since it’s a pad built for two. This double-wide sleeping pad provides a snug surface for tent or car camping. It’s comfortable and efficient, measuring 3.75 inches thick. The pad weighs 3.64 pounds, measures 79 x 47 x 3.75 inches when fully inflated, and packs down to 13.8 x 5.9 inches when not used. A built-in foot pump lets you fill it using the double-decked valve. It also includes a storage bag for convenient transport.
Cons: The material of this sleeping pad can be loud during movement. If either of the sleepers moves around a lot at night, this can make for some interrupted rest.
Bottom Line: This pad is a good choice for two campers who want to sleep without the shifting and gapping of two side-by-side sleeping pads. The more still you are, the better.
Gear Doctors Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad
Just open the valve to set up this self-inflating sleeping pad.
Pros: This sleeping pad from Gear Doctors offers an easy, self-inflated setup. It also has great insulation with an R-value of 4.3, making it ideal for camping in colder weather. It weighs 2.2 pounds and packs down to 8 x 12 inches, making it a good option for backpacking. It also features a hypoallergenic sleeping surface that measures 72 x 22 inches and is 1.5 inches thick.
Cons: The 22-inch width may be too narrow for some.
Bottom Line: This may be a good option if you want an inflatable pad that doesn’t have to be blown up or pumped. The 4.3 R-value will help keep you warm, but keep in mind that the 22-inch width may not be ideal for some.
Camping trips should be exciting adventures, but back and hip pain or cold nights from sleeping on the ground can ruin the fun. Avoid that fate by choosing one of these sleeping pads for camping so you can have comfortable, restful nights in the great outdoors.