7 Best Sleeping Pads (2023): For Camping, Backpacking, and Travel

What are these sleeping pads you converse of? When I used to be younger, all mountain climbing was uphill each methods and everybody slept on the bottom in sleeping luggage with solely a half-inch of skinny closed-cell foam between us and each pebble. We additionally filtered our water with our tooth and ate primarily uncooked meat and foraged ramps. Kids nowadays.

Still, I suppose there’s something to be stated for a snug sleeping pad on the finish of a protracted day on the path, and even within the campsite subsequent to your automobile. There is now an array of how to verify no peas (or pebbles) ever disturb your sleep within the outside. For years, we have testing sleeping pads of all varieties in all types of circumstances, and we’re blissful to report that in all this time we have by no means had one fail on us. That stated, there are some standouts and just a few to keep away from. 

Be certain to learn by our different out of doors guides, together with the Best Tents, Best Hiking Gear, Best Camp Stoves, and our Camp Cooking guide.

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The Best Super-Comfy Car Camping Pad

Therm-a-Rest invented the self-inflating tenting mattress. The model has stored tempo within the 50 years since, both innovating or efficiently aping each main improvement within the discipline. The MondoKing is essentially the most snug mattress within the line, the flagship for choosy automobile campers and those that are stationary within the backcountry for weeks or months at a time. This burly mat is a full 4 inches thick and weighs 4 kilos. You will not wish to lug it far, however even a large-bodied facet sleeper will not backside out. 

The StrataCore foam inside offers it an R-value of 7, so the claimed consolation is under the temperature at which vodka freezes. (In our nights of testing, WIRED has not independently verified good sleep at -20 levels Fahrenheit.) It’s additionally very, very snug. Like the Megamat under, it is 70-denier on the underside with a stretchy 50-denier high that gives the pure sag of an actual mattress. The MondoKing additionally has a pleasant agency edge, which means you by no means really feel such as you’re about to roll off. The MondoKing is healthier than numerous lodge mattresses and inflates and deflates quick sufficient that you simply would possibly simply roll it out the following time you end up on a lumpy lodge mattress. —Martin Cizmar

Other Options

  • Exped MegMat 10 for $180: This is the beefy, ultra-luxury pad that began the development of giant automobile tenting pads. And for that we thank Exped. The MegaMat stays an awesome alternative and is fairly properly equal to the MondoKing, although the MondoKing weighs much less and packs down smaller. On the opposite hand, the MegaMat has barely higher insulation and is likely to be a more sensible choice if you happen to sleep chilly.

Best for Couples and Families

We’re massive followers of REI’s in-house line, which is sturdy and works properly with out breaking the financial institution. On a latest tenting journey, each household with children underneath 10 had this mattress, together with my very own. It’s 56 inches huge and 6 inches tall, huge sufficient to suit Mom and two elementary schoolers and match inside MSR’s 6-person Habitude tent. (Dad and the canine nonetheless needed to sleep on the bottom.) 

It comes with a small stuff sack for simple transport that features a handbook air pump, however the common nozzle means you may ditch the pump and use a battery-powered one for fast and simple inflating. The welded seams stored the mattress taut and bouncy by three days and nights of youngsters leaping up and down on it. The floor is gentle sufficient to sleep together with your face pressed in opposition to it if you happen to slide out of your sleeping bag, and it’s insulated, however with an R-value of two.6. I undoubtedly wanted a quilt underneath our sleeping luggage for 40-degree nights. —Adrienne So

Other Options 

  • Kelty’s Kush Queen Airbed for $105: This PVC-free queen-sized airbed from Kelty features a pump that makes inflating a snap (be sure to cost it earlier than you go), and the 6-inch-thick pad is loads snug. It will not be an insulated air mattress just like the REI above, so it is best for hotter months, however it might double as a spare mattress at dwelling.

The Best Ultralight Sleeping Pad

When you enterprise into the backcountry, each ounce counts. In the case of sleeping pads, there’s all the time a trade-off. You need the fewest ounces with essentially the most R-value. Nemo Equipment’s Tensor-insulated sleeping pad sports activities an R-Value of 4.2 and weighs JUST 15.2 ounces. That alone is spectacular, however what I really like in regards to the Tensor is that it is thick, snug, and most necessary, dang close to silent. I hate that swish of nylon that is just about synonymous with backcountry sleeping. There is hardly any of that with the Tensor, making it properly definitely worth the cash for my part. The insulation is a reflective movie, with a baffled air chamber design, which helps preserve it quiet. The design additionally helps it roll up right into a tiny stuff sack. It’s in regards to the measurement of a 16-ounce Nalgene bottle. There’s additionally a non-mummy version for $187 if you happen to choose a bit of further area.

Other Options

  • NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad for $210: The apparent competitor to the Tensor is Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir XLite, in line with WIRED reviewer Matt Jancer. The Xlite NeoAir is likely to be gentle in weight however not on heat. He has used it on icy glaciers with no chill sneaking up on his bottom. You must blow it up manually, however the easy-twist valve makes it easy, and he has been impressed with the sturdiness over 5 years. No holes or scratches. It tends to slide round, nevertheless it’s quiet. 
  • Sea to Summit Ultralight for $110: If you’re the kind who cuts off your toothbrush deal with to avoid wasting weight, this mat is value contemplating. It has an R-value of 1.1, making it a summer-only pad. But it weighs a mere 11 ounces, packs up very small, and is $70 cheaper than the Tensor. If most of your tenting is in summer time, it will do the job. It is a bit louder than the Nemo.

The Best for Backcountry Comfort

If you’re prepared to hold just a few further ounces in alternate for some added consolation and a (theoretically) higher night time’s sleep, the NeoAir Topo is our favourite pad. At 21 ounces, it is undoubtedly on the heavy facet, nevertheless it’s additionally 3 inches thick, and we promise you do not really feel the pebbles, and even small rocks, underneath this factor. The 2.3 R-value makes it a good selection for three-season tenting or backpacking, and I discovered even the common to be loads huge sufficient. Therm-a-Rest features a breath-saving pump sack, compact stuff sack, and discipline restore equipment. 

Best Old-School Pad

I used to be kind of kidding within the intro right here, however I additionally was not. This pad was my intro to backcountry sleeping, and I stay a fan (although, technically, mine was a no-name model). The Z-Lite and its ilk weigh subsequent to nothing (10 ounces for the small), fold up sufficiently small to lash to the skin of any pack, and double as a chair, further padding on chilly nights, desk, you title it. I’m too previous to make use of only a Z-Lite anymore, however I nonetheless have one round on virtually each journey I take. Pairing it with the Nemo inflatable above offers me a variety of sleeping and sitting prospects for a complete weight of underneath 2 kilos. That means I can carry extra steak, and good backcountry meals is admittedly the important thing to every thing. 

Best 4-Season Backcountry Pad

If I have been heading out to camp within the snow, that is the pad I might carry. Exped’s Ultra 7R provides (because the title suggests) an R-value of 7 in a pad that weighs underneath 2 kilos for the huge model. And I do counsel going for the huge model. I discovered the common to be a bit on the slim facet, and the burden distinction (5 ounces) does not justify the misplaced sleeping area. I used this pad all the way down to 30 levels Fahrenheit and was very snug (in a 20-degree bag). Exped charges it to –20 levels Fahrenheit. 
Exped’s Schnozzel pump bag ($45) can also be wonderful and is important if you happen to’re tenting within the chilly, as you don’t need the moisture out of your breath inside your mat. 

Best Kids Sleeping Pad

Let’s be trustworthy—in case your child is sufficiently old to go backpacking, they’re most likely sufficiently old to be fantastic with an adult-sized sleeping pad that may age with them as they grow old. However, in a second of parental weak point, I purchased my youngsters  child-sized sleeping pads to match their Kindercone sleeping luggage, which have been helpful for a surprisingly very long time. My daughter is ending up second grade and has had hers since kindergarten.

After all, 60 inches is fairly lengthy—that’s virtually tall sufficient for me to make use of. This one has an R-value of 4.5, and my children have slept fairly heat on these for quite a few years in temperatures as little as 30 levels Fahrenheit. The separate valves for inflation and deflation make it a lot simpler for little children to not get confused and assist arrange. Weirdly, these sleeping pads are additionally a lot simpler to roll up and stuff again into their sack than my very own sleeping pad; REI could have secretly carried out me a strong there. —Adrienne So

Honorable Mentions

The following sleeping pads did not impress us like those above, however we have examined them and nonetheless like them sufficient if not one of the others strike your fancy. 

Sea to Summit Women’s UltraLight Insulated Air Sleeping Mat for $160: We debated for a while whether or not ladies want completely different sleeping pads. After some lengthy conversations with our feminine testers, we determined there simply is not a lot distinction. That stated, this can be a fantastic sleeping pad for anybody. It’s very near the Sea to Summit Ultralight above.

REI Helix Insulated Air Sleeping Pad for $160: This REI pad is corresponding to the Nemo Tensor above, nevertheless it’s noisier and heavier. It’s marginally cheaper, and there’s nothing notably dangerous about it, however we expect that you must spend the additional $20 and get the Nemo Tensor.

Pads to Avoid

Not each sleeping pad is a winner. We’ve examined and run into points with the next fashions.

Exped Flexmat Plus: What if a budget, gentle, and indestructible closed-cell foam mats like the long-lasting Z-Rest and RidgeRest have been … big? It’s a enjoyable concept, however the Exped Flexmat Plus is a noble failure. The downside with this extra-thick, 1.5-inch, closed-cell mat is that, whereas comparatively gentle, low-cost, and indestructible, the froth is difficult and spikey. And by “spikey” we imply that it is actually simply spikes that stab you when you sleep. Fans say it requires a break-in interval. After six nights on it, reviewer Martin Cizmar begged the dungeon guard for launch.

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