Not only does a sleeping pad add a layer of heavenly comfort between you and a patch of rocky soil, it prevents precious body heat from escaping through the ground.

Below, we review the best sleeping pads in 2020. Our winner is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad. It beats the competition in nearly every category as being the lightest, most insulating, and compressible sleeping pad on the market this year. 

The Top Sleeping Pads Reviewed

Best Overall Sleeping Pad:

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad is 2020’s best sleeping pad. Whether you’re gearing up for an epic coastal thru-hike or just looking for a few weekends of frontcountry camping this summer, the UberLite is an excellent choice. It’s recommended for three-season use, but can even handle mild winter climates, as well.

Because it doesn’t use the same reflective materials as other NeoAir models (such as the Xtherm and Xlite), the UberLite doesn’t suffer from that ‘potato chip’ rustling sound, making it a very quiet pad. 

The UberLite offers a spectacular warmth-to-weight ratio. It has an R-value of 2.0 and weighs between 6 oz (size small) and 12 oz (size large). The face fabric is an abrasion-resistant 15D nylon and, when inflated, has a 2.5” thickness.

Price: 254.99$

Pros

  • Warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Easy set-up
  • Durable
  • Quiet
  • Price 

Cons

  • Not suitable for winter

Best Runner-Up Sleeping Pad:

Best Budget Sleeping Pad:

Gear junkies routinely watch their income disappear into equipment black holes. But you don’t need a small fortune to comfortably enjoy the great outdoors. Big Agnes is an industry leader in durable, quality products.

The Air Core Ultra Pad is perfect for those seeking the best possible sleeping pad at the lowest possible price. With an R-value of 1.4, it’s actually slightly warmer than the UltraLight Mat. And, at just 18 oz, it has a slightly higher warmth-to-weight ratio. 

That said, it’s not nearly as compressible, partially due to its thicker (though admittedly comfortable) 3.25” thickness. A slightly raised outer rim of 3.5” keeps you from rolling off in the dead of the night. Includes an inflation pad, upcycled from leftover material.

Price: 178.99$

Pros

  • Price
  • Comfortable
  • Thoughtful design
  • Warmth-to-weight ratio

Cons

  • Not super warm
  • Packs large

Best Sleeping Pad for Couples:

The ridiculously warm Exped Megamat Duo 10 is ideal for couples. It’s specifically designed to fit most standard two-person tents, while offering the comfort of an actual mattress with its 4” (10 cm) thickness.

With an R-value as high as 9.5, you can rely on the Megamat Duo 10 for most cold weather situations. Of course, this comes at the cost of increased weight and volume. This is the ultimate two-person sleeping pad for car camping, but there are better options for trail couples. 

Price: 479.99$

Pros

  • Exceptionally warm
  • Comfortable
  • Fits two-person tent
  • Perfect for car camping

Cons

  • Price
  • Bad for backpacking

Best Sleeping Pad for Women:

The women’s Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad boasts an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. With an R-value of 3.2, it’s slightly warmer than the men’s. Of course, with such a high R-value, it is on the heavier side at 1 lbs 9 oz

The Trail Lite has a comfortable thickness of 1.5” and is self-inflating, which saves you time and effort. The WingLock Valve helps keep air in during the night and makes deflation easier when breaking camp in the morning.

Price: 99.99$

Pros

  • Very warm
  • Comfortable
  • Highly compressible
  • Self-inflating
  • Price

Cons

  • Heavy

Best Sleeping Pad for Backpacking:

A true backpacking odyssey demands epic gear. With an R-value of 3.7, a packed weight of 20 oz, and a durable 40D face fabric, the Sea-to-Summit Comfort Light Insulated Mat fires on all fronts. 

The Comfort Light contains divided air chambers that individually absorb pressure without redistributing it throughout the pad. This means that it’ll conform to your body better than traditional baffle systems.

Price: 229.99$

Pros

  • Warm
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Compressible

Cons

  • Weight
  • Price

Best Weight-to-Comfort Sleeping Pad:

The NeoAir Topo Luxe takes the classic and beloved NeoAir and makes it even better. With an opulent 4” thickness and a 3.7 R-Value, it remains remarkably packable. When compressed, it’s only slightly larger than a 1L Nalgene bottle. It features a TwinLock Valve, which utilizes separate one-way valves for inflation and deflation. The outer is a highly durable 50D polyester. 

As you’d expect with this level of decadent comfort, it is on the heavier side. But, at 1 lbs 7 oz, it’s not as heavy as you might’ve guessed. If you’re looking for an exceptionally comfy pad that offers excellent support, consider the NeoAir Topo Luxe.

Price: 244.99$

Pros

  • Lavishly comfortable
  • Packable
  • Warm
  • Compressible

Cons

  • Weight

Best Wide-Size Sleeping Pad:

Large people and the restless will both appreciate Sea to Summit’s 
Comfort Plus XT Insulated Mat. The dual-layered support offers added comfort even when camping on uneven or rough surfaces. The 40D nylon fabric offers lightweight durability.

While the Comfort Plus XT is ideal for car camping or frontcountry camping, it can be packed down small enough to be transported in your backpack. With a packed weight of 34.5 oz, however, you might opt for something lighter on extended trips. An integrated foot pump makes for easy inflation and prevents moisture from entering the pad.

Price: 309.99$

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Spacious
  • Warm
  • Durable

Cons

  • Weight
  • Compressibility

Best Sleeping Pad for Winter Camping:

The Exped Synmat HL Winter MW Sleeping Mat is a highly durable and insulated pad, with a 20D polyester outer and 5.0 R-value. At 545 g, this is certainly not ultralight, but is considerably light for its cold climate functionality. It’s an excellent option for winter camping, mountaineering, and alpinism.

The Schnozzel Pumpbag makes it easy to inflate the mat quickly while preventing humidity from your breath affecting the insulation. The pump bag also doubles as an ultralightweight stuff sack for easy packability.

Price: 249.99$

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Spacious
  • Warm
  • Durable

Cons

  • Weight
  • Compressibility

What to look for when buying a sleeping pad

In your search for the perfect wilderness mattress, consider the following: 

Comfort

When we think of comfort two things come to mind: softness and support. You want a sleeping pad that feels as if it was designed for you. If you want to feel like you’re on a cloud, a thick, inflatable pad is a good choice. For those seeking something more rigid, a closed-cell foam pad offers a firmer feel. 

Insulation

R-value is a measure of a barrier’s absolute thermal resistance. In other words, how effectively does a layer resist heat flow or, conversely, how well does a layer trap heat. The higher the R-value, the greater the resistance to heat loss. In 2018, ASTM International set a new standard for lab testing R-values which has become consistent across brands.

There is no precise rule for which R-value is best; it all depends on your own temperature regulation, gender, and body mass. If you already own a sleeping pad, check its R-value and ask yourself if you’d prefer something warmer.

Size

When purchasing a sleeping pad in-person, it’s common to test it out before buying it. But when it comes to shopping online, many of us simply read reviews to see which offers the most comfort for the least weight. Unfortunately, we often forget about size. 

Always check the dimensions of a sleeping pad and compare them to your own physical measurements. You want something slightly longer and wider than you to account for displacement.

Finding the right dimensions isn’t just important for tall folks; you don’t want to end up with a pad that’s unnecessarily long either, adding useless weight and volume to your pack.

Weight

The average sleeping pad can range from less than a pound to more than four. While weight isn’t a necessary consideration for car campers or front-country campers, hikers should opt for something light.

For winter sleeping pads, give priority to R-value before narrowing in on a lightweight option.

Packability

Most sleeping pads come with their own stuff sack, which not only protects the pad from tears and deformations, but allows for maximum compression. Depending on things like R-value and the material construction of the pad, packability will vary. 

For most, a good rule of thumb is to choose a pad that is roughly the size of a 1L Nalgene. For ultralighters, something the size of a Coke can is ideal, but will inevitably have a lower R-value. As for car campers, just make sure it fits in your trunk!

FAQs for Sleeping Pads

Do you need a sleeping pad for camping?

Even cowboy campers and ultralighters rely on their sleeping pads for a good night’s rest. A sleeping pad is as necessary as a sleeping bag.

Does a camping sleeping pad have to be your height?

Roughing it in the woods is quite distinct from suffering in the woods. Given the spartan nature of camping, you’re going to want to maximize your comfort with the items you have. That’s why having gear that meets your needs is essential—especially since it’s a small investment.

Of course, ultralighters may disagree. A Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite cut to torso-length is common among them; however, their emptied-out backpack usually substitutes as the second half of their pad. 

Not having a long enough pad means precious heat will escape; having too long a pad means unnecessary ounces. Like Goldilocks and the three bears, best advice is to stick with the bed that’s just right.  

Does the sleeping pad go inside the sleeping bag?

Because of its size, your sleeping bag likely won’t accommodate you plus a sleeping pad. If you’re tempted to try it, remember that putting a layer between the ground and your pad can reduce its R-value.

For the frustrated tossers and turners out there: If you want to keep your bag fastened to your pad, purchase some adjustable straps that can be sewn to the outside of your sleeping bag. When you’re ready to hunker down, simply buckle them around the sleeping pad et voilà. Or, check out the Big Agnes System, an innovative way to attach a sleeping bag to a sleeping pad using an integrated sleeve.

Can a sleeping pad be too warm?

Just like a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad can be too warm. That said, it won’t cause the same discomfort that a sleeping bag will. The bigger issue with a too-toasty pad is that you’re paying extra for a feature you won’t use and adding more weight to your pack.

Conclusion

Remember that your sleeping pad is just as important as your sleeping bag when it comes to keeping warm. For its lightweight design, warmth, and packability, we recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite, a highly versatile three-season pad. 

Next, check out the top sleeping bags in 2020 and the best tents!