How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Pads

Backpacking Sleeping Pads

How to Choose Backpacking Sleeping Pads

Buying a sleeping pad for camping or backpacking is a part of the planning stage. Getting good sleep before a day full of adventures is what any hiker or camper would want the most. Sleep is required to energize your body, and falling asleep isn’t the easiest task for many people. Resting after a day of tiring activities will need a comfy mattress to slump into. But you cannot always carry heavy items with you when you go backpacking all by yourself. Choosing a sleeping pad for backpacking shouldn’t be a hasty process with getting one for the sake of it. You know how important sleep is during those days of continuous activities. With several options available, you could be quite confused about what to buy. Let us look at a list of the different types of sleeping pads and the criteria to follow to select the right one.

What is the Purpose?

the Purpose

You need to have an idea about the factors that make a sleeping pad more beneficial than the normal sleeping bags. Cushion and insulation are the two functions of a sleeping pad. Both these features ensure you good sleep, but it comes at a cost that could be pretty high; so, you wouldn’t want to make the wrong choice here.

Types of Sleeping Pads

The air pads, as the name implies, are air-filled cushy mattresses. Since they are lightweight, compact, and comfortable, most backpackers prefer the air pads. It could take you a couple of minutes to blow air into the pads; having a pump can make the job easier. Insulation features are also provided in the air pads to increase warmth. But since all these come with a delicate touch, the air pads are likely to get punctured. Since it is lightweight and compact, the cost is also slightly higher.

Foam pads are filled with dense foam that contains tiny closed air cells. When you don’t want to face the issue of getting punctured, the foam pad is an excellent choice since it is lightweight, cheaper, and durable. The downsides of foam pads are that they are less comfortable and are bulky.

Self-inflating pads will get inflated automatically by opening up the valve. These pads offer comfort and good insulation, but they can get punctured like the air pads. Also, they cost more than foam pads and are heavier than air pads.


When using a sleeping pad, the factor that you need check first is its insulation, which is denoted using R. Higher the value of R, better will be the insulation properties. Special pads for women are also available since they tend to sleep colder at nights. Look out for sleeping pads with an R-value in the range 1-6, and get one that is reasonable for your use.

Points to Consider

When selecting a sleeping pad, you need to check through a few points to make sure that you are making the right choice.

  • The location you are visiting
  • The features you need most:
  • Warmth- sleeping pads with higher R-value
  • Lightweight and size- air pad
  • Lower price- foam pad
  • Comfort- self-inflating pads
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