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Choosing a Sleeping Pad: 5 of the Best Options

Mother Nature is certainly beautiful, but she doesn’t necessarily care about a great night’s sleep. Luckily, there are plenty of options available to help hikers and campers beat the elements and rest in comfort after a long day of outdoor adventuring. Most people know the importance of choosing a high-quality sleeping bag, but some may not know the value of a sleeping pad or how to select the right one.

There are lots of options for high-quality sleeping pads available to hikers, backpackers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. Here are five to consider for a more comfortable night in the great outdoors.

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Wellax Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad

This Wellax pad is 2.5 inches of inflatable comfort. It has a 21 R-Valued Insulation rating, which means that it offers generous warmth and protection between a sleeping bag and the ground. At 78 x 24 inches, it’s bigger than many other sleeping pads, giving some added real estate for restless sleepers to move around a bit. It’s made of laminated 20D rip-stop nylon, with a waterproof, weather-resistant TPU layer. Despite its high-tech material, it’s lightweight and easy to pack–perfect for backpackers. We love that it’s virtually silent when the sleeper shifts during the night, preventing the usual creaks and squeaks that come with an inflatable mattress or pad.

A two-valve system makes it easy to inflate and deflate and stow when breaking up camp. One downside is that the pads can pop if not used on a smooth surface. Also, some buyers note that the pad can deflate if the air valve is not closed properly.

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Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad

This durable, 2-inch thick Sleepingo pad is sturdy and comfortable and folds down to the size of a water bottle. It’s ideal for backpackers and hikers that need to pack light. Weighing in at just 14.5 ounces, it adds very little weight or bulk to backpacks. When inflated, however, it is an impressive 75 x 23 inches, offering a sizeable sleeping space with room to move around.

Made of heavy-duty rip-stop nylon, it’s waterproof and designed to last. It also comes with a lifetime warranty in the event it needs to be replaced. We love its durability and portability, but caution that the pad can lose air quickly if placed on a rough surface or if the valve isn’t sealed properly.

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Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camp Pad

This extra-large, 3-inch thick Teton sleeping pad is designed with open-cell recovery foam that offers comfort and warmth from the uneven ground and cold temperatures. With a built-in rolling assister and compression straps, this oversized mat is still easy to pack and carry, despite its 82 x 83-inch size. At nine pounds, this pad is well-suited for tent and cabin campers that need a large pad with ample cushioning from the cold ground.

The Teton pad has a removable cover for quick, easy cleaning and zippered storage pockets to keep essentials close at hand. It comes with a lifetime warranty and is made of durable canvas, to last for many camping trips to come. Be careful with sharp rocks and objects since the pad doesn’t shield against them and is better suited for smooth surfaces.

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Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad

The Big Agnes Air Core Ultra sleeping pad is as lightweight as its name implies. Weighing in at just 0.16 ounces, it’s the perfect pad for hikers and backpackers without any room for bulk or weight in their packs.

The pad comes in both an insulated and uninsulated option. The insulated model is rated for 32 degrees and above, while the uninsulated model protects against temperatures of 35 degrees and higher. Made of rip-stop nylon, the Air Core is sturdy and built to withstand a variety of terrain. Users praise its portability and comfort but warn that it can lose air over time.

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Lightspeed Outdoors XL Super Plush FlexForm

The oversized, plush FlexForm is perfect for family camping trips or even overnight guests. At over 77 inches long and 30 inches wide, it offers plenty of room for sleepers to move around, while providing plenty of cushioning with its three-inch cushion.

It self-inflates and deflates quickly with dual air valves–no pump needed. Made of non-PVC materials, this sleeping pad is free from “plastic†odors and annoying crinkling. It weighs in at just six pounds and rolls up to 30 inches by 7.75 inches.

We like its high comfort (even for larger adults) and its ease in inflating, deflating and storage. But we found that the valves may leak and crack over time.

What is a sleeping pad for?

A sleeping pad is an insulated, cushioned surface that is designed to go under a sleeping bag and directly on the ground. It serves two purposes: to provide a cushion from the lumps and bumps on the ground and to provide a layer of insulation from extreme temperatures. They are made from a variety of materials, from foam sleeping pads to inflatable, mattress-type versions.

Are sleeping pads necessary?

A good night’s sleep can make or break a camping or hiking trip. While a sleeping pad might not be a necessity, it is certainly a simple way to increase comfort level and warmth when sleeping on the ground or a hard cabin floor. Sleeping pads are generally lightweight, easy to pack, and a high-quality pad will last for years to come.

Can a yoga mat work as a sleeping pad?

Yoga mats, while great for Downward Dog, make poor sleeping pads. In general, they are much thinner and less insulated than a pad and don’t offer the same level of protection from cold or wet conditions. They are also bulkier to carry in a pack and weigh more than the typical sleeping pad, making them less than ideal for backpackers.

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