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The 10 Best Sleeping Pads for Camping of 2021

When it comes to camping comfort, sleeping pads don’t get the hype they deserve. Your sleeping pad is literally the only thing keeping you and your sleeping bag off the cold, hard ground. But there are a whole bunch of different pads out there, all with different features and ratings, and every brand wants to tell you that theirs is the best. That can make shopping for your next pad a real hassle.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best sleeping pads on the market right now. What makes a sleeping pad the “best”? Well, that depends on what you’re using it for. Every pad has a different combination of attributes that skew its performance to favor different conditions. So the real question is “what’s the best sleeping pad for you?” To help you figure that out, we’ve put together this list of our top six sleeping pads, along with descriptions and tables to help you understand how they differ from each other. From their “R” rating (a gauge of how well they insulate you from the ground), to their materials, to their price, we’ve got all the information you need to help you find the best sleeping pad for your adventures. For more information, visit our guide on how to choose a sleeping pad.


Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX

Best 2021 sleeping pads
 
 

While there’s a bunch of awesome technology out there that companies are using to make more heavily insulated pads, a whole lot of campers are just looking for something simple and affordable. That’s why Big Agnes came up with the Air Core Ultra.

Say hello to the new and improved Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX Sleeping Pad. The lengthy name may be stressful to say, but we promise that stress will fade after a good night’s sleep on this bad boy. Its lightweight will help shave ounces off your pack, and a PrimaLoft Silver Insulation layer reflects your body heat back to keep you nice and warm as temperatures drop overnight. This sleeping pad comes in two lengths – long and regular. So if you need a little extra space to stretch out, the Q Core SLX will keep your feet from hanging off the end. Extra features include quiet materials, an antimicrobial inside padded, adjustable valves, a pad inflation sack, repair patches, and a quilted top for extra comfort. Long story short, this sleeping pad has it all.

 
R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
 3.2 PrimaLoft® Silver10 oz $149.95-$169.95

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Sea to Summit Comfort Light - Women’s

Best 2020 Sleeping Pads
 

The Sea to Summit Comfort Light pad is designed to be a do-it-all pad for women looking for something for all but the coldest nights of the year. That’s why Sea to Summit gives it a “3.5+” season rating. That means it’s plenty warm enough for most winter camping, along with all of summer, spring, and fall.

Sea to Summit achieves a high R 3.9 rating with the Comfort Light by using a combination of Thermolite fiber insulation, and inflatable air cells. This means that when deflated, the Comfort Light doesn’t pack up as small and light as some other, less insulated pads, but it also does a much better job of keeping you from losing all your body heat into the ground. Plus, it’s lightweight, making it great for backpacking.

If you’re just planning on camping during the warm summer months, the Comfort Light might be a bit of overkill, and you could go with a lighter, less insulated pad. But for ladies who just want to keep it simple, with one pad that works well all year round, the Comfort Light is the best choice.

 
R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
3.9 Thermolite555g $179

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Nemo Tensor

Best 2020 sleeping pads

Nemo’s Tensor pad is designed to provide a thick, comfortable sleeping pad at a very low weight. It’s about three inches thick when inflated, making for one of the cushiest pads on this list, but is also one of the lightest at only 480 grams.

Nemo has also gone out of their way to make sure that the Tensor is quiet. Some sleeping pads crinkle loudly if you move around at all while sleeping, keeping your tent mates up and ruining the experience of sleeping outside. The Sensor uses a suspended film construction that keeps it silent no matter how much you toss and turn. This makes it one of the best lightweight sleeping pads for backpacking.

Nemo doesn’t list an R value for the Sensor, instead they say it’s best used when camping in 25° to 35° F temperatures. That makes it a three-season pad in warmer climates. It’s definitely biased toward summer use, so for anyone looking for a pad that’s light on their back, but still really comfortable, the Tensor is a great choice.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
NA 25 to 35 degrees min. Air480g $139

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Therm-a-Rest Basecamp

Best 2020 sleeping pads

Lightweight inflatable pads are great when you’re trying to keep your pack as light as possible. But if your top priority is comfort and durability, nothing will ever beat a good foam self-inflating pad. That’s why Therm-a-Rest designed the Basecamp.

The Basecamp puts comfort and warmth as its top priorities. It’s got a very high R value of 6, warm enough for even the coldest winter nights, and its thick foam construction smooths out the rockiest ground. What’s the point of going camping if you’re too tired from an uncomfortable night’s sleep to actually enjoy nature? This is one of the most comfortable sleeping pads, and one of the best sleeping pads for side sleepers, hands down.

That said, the Basecamp still packs down small enough to be a very viable option for multi-day backpacking trips, for those who value comfort and warmth in the backcountry.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
6 Foam1530g $179

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EXPED SynMat HL

Best 2021 sleeping pads

The EXPED SynMat HL Sleeping Pad is designed for long-haul adventures. Fast, lightweight, and minimal inflation effort makes it the perfect companion to stuff in your pack if you’re into the backcountry. Its tapered design makes it ideal for any solo traveler. Sticking a bit closer to home? Next to skin comfort and anti-slip GripSkin keeps you comfy on warmer nights when want to ditch the sleeping bag and opt for a simple blanket. One reviewer noted they consistently got their pad to pack down to less than the size of a Nalgene, aka more room for snacks. Who doesn’t want more room for snacks?

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
 3.3 60 g/m² Texpedloft Microfibre12.9-15.7 oz $169-189

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Exped Deep Sleep

Best 2020 sleeping pads

Exped’s Deep Sleep is their most comfortable self-inflating pad. It’s nearly three inches thick, with specially engineered foam that provides a huge amount of insulation, and plenty of padding when sleeping on uneven ground.

The Exped seems similar to the Therm-a-Rest Basecamp, but it offers even more insulation while being slightly bigger and heavier. So while either is a great choice, campers staying closer to the car may appreciate the Deep Sleep, while those hiking further to their campsite might value the packability of the Basecamp. If you’ve had problems with feeling cold, or not being comfortable while camping, the Deep Sleep is a great choice to help you get a great night’s rest.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
8.5 PU Foam1616g $149

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite

Best 2021 sleeping pads

The Therm-a-Rest has been making some of the best sleeping pads around for a long time, and the NeoAir XLite is a tried and true favorite from outdoor enthusiasts around the nation. This backpacking-ready pad has an R-value of 4.2, accompanied by ThermaCapture Radiant Heat Technology that captures body heat and reflects it back to you as a Triangular Core Matrix construction minimizes overall heat loss, bringing your body amplified warmth without the extra weight. WingLock valves allow the pad to inflate three times faster than your average joe pad.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
4.2ThermaCapture12 oz $189.95

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EXPED MegaMat Lite 12

Best 2021 sleeping pads

If you thought the EXPED SynMat HL’s construction was lovely, then you’ll fall even harder for the EXPED MegaMat Lite 12. Building of the ultra-comfortable MegaMat lineup, this pad ads some more portability for those that want to travel lighter. This sleeping pad is specifically designed for backpacking trips, multi-day bike excursions, or that rafting trip you’ve been daydreaming about all winter.

An R-value of 5.3 means this pad will keep you warm on the coldest of nights. Bonus points for the 80L Pumpbag that doubles as a waterproof packsack for your sleeping bag, clothes, and other essentials. This pad is practically begging to go on an adventure in the rain. If you’re willing to pay for quality, don’t pass the EXPED MegaMat up.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
5.3 PU Foam42 oz - 48.9 oz $219-$249

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Sea to Summit Camp Rectangular Self Inflating

Best 2021 sleeping pads

This pad is an ideal setup for the comfy car camper that prioritizes a good night’s sleep over a lightweight setup, it's also one of the cheapest sleeping pads on our list. Sophisticated pressure mapping used in the Delta Core V Technology guarantees you’ll be supported in all the right places. Shoulders, hips, and feet get extra targeted warmth too. The Pillow Lock system made up of hook-and-loop patches allows you to secure your Sea to Summit pillow to your pad, without the fear of losing it while tossing around in your sleep. The laminate coating extends the life of the pad, so it can go on adventures for years to come. Reliable, warm, supportive, what more could you want on a weekend trip away? For just $89.95, we say it’s totally with it.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
4Delta Core-V Technology Foam1180-1115 g $89.95

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Nemo Quasar 3D Insulated Wide

Best 2021 sleeping pads

A slightly elevated head baffle and body-mapped baffling are what make the Nemo Quasar 3D Insulated Wide sleeping pad stand out from the crowd. The Laylow valve allows for stiffness customization, almost like you’re bringing a mattress on the road that can adjust to any terrain. Add in PrimaLoft Insulation and this pad will keep you comfy no matter where you rest your head. Save your breath and let the Vortex Pump Sack do all the inflation work. All you have to do is worry about the quality of your fire and that sweet meal you’re going to eat after you’re done making camp.

R RatingInsulation TypeWeight Original Price
3.3PrimaLoft® 100% PCR33-36 oz$169.95-$189.95

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