Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads TechnoBuffalo 2020
Sleeping pads lift your body up and off the ground, protecting it against the elements and rocky ground cover. After a hard day on the trails, the added cushioning of a sleeping pad supports your joints so that you can catch a restful night of sleep. Not all pads are created equal. I've put them to the test, and these are my top picks this year.
- When every ounce matters: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
- A lightweight foam pad: ALPS Mountaineering 375
- Hammock-friendly: ECOTEK Hybern8
- Superior cushioning: Wellax Ultralight Air
- Rugged: Klymit Static V
- Reflective warm and cushioning: Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite
- For kids: Coleman Youth Self-Inflating Camp Pad
- Best insulated pad: Paria Outdoor Products Recharge Ultralight
Long days in the backwoods require a serious sleeping pad, and that's why I've carried the NeoAir Xlite for years. The ultralight sleep system weighs in at 12 ounces and has a warmth rating that meets all conditions for three seasons. A reflective coating traps radiant heat and the no-slip materials ensure you don't slide off the pad while you rest. My favorite feature, though, is the size. It's 2.5 inches thick but packs down to the size of a one-liter bottle. This super pack-friendly sleeping pad comes with a stuff sack and repair kit and is the best of the best.
The lightest sleeping pads are foam. They roll up tight and slip under the floating lid or in the bottom straps of your backpack. Foam pads don't usually offer as much cushioning as inflatable varieties, but this model from ALPS Mountaineering may be the exception. Adding just nine ounces of weight, this affordable option is thick enough to put some warmth between you and the hard ground and is the best bang for your buck.
The Ecoek Hybern8 takes the work out inflating your sleeping pad, something no long-distance hiker wants to do after a long day. In less than ten breaths, the Hybern8 inflates, giving you 2.5 inches of loft. You get 3 season warmth and cushiness from this pad, and its versatile design also fits inside a hammock. This sleeping pad folds down to the size of a one-liter bottle and weighs just 18 ounces, so it sits right in your pack. The Hybern8 is waterproof and tough enough to go on all your adventures.
The Wellax Ultralight Air checks in at 14.5 ounces and compresses in its own sack to fit snugly in your pack. The exterior is tear-resistant and waterproof, and best of all, it's silent — no more squeaky noises when you or your tentmate turn over. Just a few breaths fill this pad up, and it deflates quickly too. And the best feature: innovate cell design that includes 300 air-sprung cells for the ultimate in cushioning. If you love the outdoors but still want to sleep like a king, this is the one to get.
I pack the Klymit Static V pad for rough terrain because it stands up to sticks, stones, and sleeping right on the ground. With a 75D polyester exterior, it never punctures or tears, and is abrasion-resistant. The comfort level is off the hook too. Whether you're a stomach, back or side sleeper, the Static V supports your body in a V-shaped design that cradles you and prevents the tossing and turning that can come with sleeping in the outback.
The cross-linked polyethylene in the Therm-a-Rest SOLite keeps this sleeping pad lightweight yet durable so that you can strap it below your pack without worry. The ThermaCapture surface reflects radiant heat from your body and locks it in, so you stay warm and dry all night long. This 3 season sleeping pad comes in small, regular, and large sizes, and adds only 13 ounces to your pack weight. When you need a lightweight foam pad that will keep you warm on chilly nights, don't pass up the SOLite.
Adult-size pads are too big for kids to manage while hiking and too long to be useful. The Coleman Youth is a self-inflating camp pad with hook and loop elastic straps that attach to any size pack. The outer shell is made of puncture-resistant polyester, and there's ample padding to protect kids against bumpy terrain and wet, cold ground. The Coleman pad inflates and deflates quickly, and on its own, so you can concentrate on enjoying your time in Mother Nature.
When temperatures drop, you want something that will provide a buffer between you and the cold outside. The Recharge pad from Paria Outdoor Products locks body heat in with high-loft-synthetic microfiber insulation to keep you warm even when temps dip below freezing. Comfort is not sacrificed in favor of warmth with the Recharge, either. You'll get several inches of thick, soft padding that rivals the comfort of your own bed. When you're ready to get back on the trail, this sleeping pad packs down small in an included cinch sack and fits right in your pack.
From one backpacker to another
If you're thru-hiking or logging some long weekend miles, you want the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite. This sleeping pad outshines every other pad on the market today thanks to its packability and weight. You'll add only 12 ounces to your pack while getting 2.5 inches of comfort. The NeoAir Xlite inflates in under two minutes and provides ample warmth and cushioning to give you a great night of rest.
Geared toward thru-hikers and minimalist backpackers, the sleeping pad from ALPS Mountaineering adds a thin layer of cushion and warmth between you and the ground. This is a dense closed-cell foam pad that weighs only 9 ounces and works well as part of your 3 season gear.
If you're a cold-weather camper, you want the Recharge from Paria Outdoor Products. This spacious pad is a true 3 season model that locks heat in when temps dip below freezing.
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