While it’s certainly possible to create a very comfortable bed when camping by simply piling up some pine boughs, many of us prefer the much more convenient method of a good sleeping pad. There’s a lot to consider when picking out a sleeping pad, but weight is probably the most important factor. Obviously, overall comfort plays an intricate part as well. The following list will take a look at some of the top sleeping pad recommendations. Most are light enough for backpacking but they’ll work equally as well for car camping in the event that you don’t want to drag along an inflatable air mattress.
Best Overall Recommendation
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm
The NeoAir from Therm-a-Rest is the undisputed king of sleeping pads. While the price certainly reflects this (it’s around $185), the features make it worth the price. It’s extremely comfortable and durable. In fact, the construction used in the NeoAir makes it nearly puncture-proof—a comforting thought when camping in extreme conditions. It packs down extremely small and it works great in all four seasons.
Top Pick For Ultralight Backpacking
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
Another product from Therm-a-Rest, the NeoAir XLite is the go-to model if you’re looking to keep weight down in your backpack. What’s great is that the reduced size and weight in this model do not translate to a reduction in quality or, more importantly, a reduction in insulation value (R-value). As with the NeoAir Xtherm, the XLite is on the expensive side—usually around $175.
Top Pick For Comfort
Sea to Summit Comfort Plus
If you’re looking for the absolute most comfortable sleeping pad on the market, look no further than the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus. This model comes with two separate chambers that can be inflated separately, making for an insanely adjustable, and therefore comfortable, pad. It’s a little heavier than the other models but the comfort level makes the weight worth it!
Top Budget Pick
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol
Closed-cell foam usually represents the cheapest style of sleeping pad available, but if you go this route you might as well get the best darned closed-cell foam pad you can, right? The answer is the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol. Aside from the lower price (normally around $45), the Z Lite Sol also provides plenty of warmth and packs down relatively small and attaches to the side of a pack easily.