Sleeping Pad Shopping Guide

The Standard: For years, the unquestioned king of good snoozing has been the self-inflating, foam-filled mattress. The best are comfortable, durable, warm, and easy to fill. Recently, though, variations on the old-fashioned air mattress have been making serious inroads, bringing improvements in cushion, durability, and price. For as little as half the price of a standard self-inflater, you can get an air mattress that blows up twice as thick, albeit with less insulation (usually) and lots more effort.


Closed-cell foams mats still have fans–mainly ultralighters who cut them to hip length and even use them to cushion unpadded backpacks.