The Best Sleeping Pads - Backpacker

The Best Sleeping Pads

Getting a good night's sleep while on the trail is essential. You may expect to crash wherever you lay your head after a day of hiking, climbing, and outdoor adventures, but the opposite is more likely if you don't have a good sleeping pad. You toss and turn all night, exhausted but unable to get comfortable. That's because you need a sleeping pad even with the most comfortable sleeping bag. Pads offer insulation and protection against hard ground. While foam sleeping pads can be cheap, they're often too bulky or too thin for comfort. Instead, inflatable sleeping pads pack down small, weigh mere ounces, and provide superior insulation and comfort. Check out our top picks for inflatable sleeping bags; consider their inflated size, dimensions when packed, and how long it takes to inflate.
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Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad

Durable and Lightweight. This 2-inch thick pad inflates with 10 to 15 breaths to 72 by 23 inches and packs down to 8 by 3.5 inches and weighs just 14.5 ounces.

What We Liked: 

The interconnected air cells adjust as you shift throughout the night to keep you supported and warm. The supportive design also works for side-sleepers, you won’t bottom out on the pad, ensuring a good night’s sleep. Buy it here.

Most Compact 


Great for Restless Sleepers. Made with durable 75-denier polyester and featuring side rails to keep you centered, this 18.1-ounce pad packs down to just 3 by 8 inches, and inflates in 10 to 15 breaths to 2.5-inches thick and 72 by 23 inches.

What We Liked: 

The v-shaped design and side-rail air cells keep you centered on the pad, even while tossing and turning or side-sleeping. In the morning, the easy-to-use valve opens wide to deflate the pad fast and get you back on the trail. Buy it here.

Easiest Inflation

WELLAX Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad

Hit the Hay Fast. The Wellax inflates with just 5 to 10 breaths and is 2.5 inches thick and is larger than average at 78 by 24 inches. But it still only weighs 14.5 ounces and measures 10 by 3.5 inches when packed down; made from nylon.

What We Liked: 

The air cells don’t sway side to side as you move. Instead, they maintain a level surface even on the most uncomfortable uneven ground. The pad doesn’t have the traditional air-pad creaks and groans. With a TPU fabric overlay provides additional protection against punctures and tears. The coating also makes the fabric virtually silent. Buy it today.

Best for Couples

AirExpect Camping Sleeping Pad with Built-In Pump

Self Inflating Comfort. The 77 by 22 inch nylon pad inflates to 2.5 inches thick with the press of a button; snap two pads together for comfy couples camping. 

What We Liked: 

This pad includes buttons down the side for snapping together with a second pad for couples and families camping together. Because the pad comes with a built-in pillow, you can skip packing a separate one, reducing the amount of gear needed on a camping trip. It's available here. 

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