Three best camping sleeping pads

Kailey Fralick

A camping sleeping pad does more than cushion you from the hard ground.

Camping is a fun outdoor activity, but it's less enjoyable when the ground is so hard or rocky that you can't sleep. If you run into this problem often, it might be time to invest in a camping sleeping pad. This is essentially a compact, portable mattress that you put between you and the ground for a little extra support. Some do the job better than others, so it's important to take your time and invest in a high-quality model that will last you for many years. Here's a brief guide to help you find the right camping sleeping pad for you.

Considerations when choosing camping sleeping pads

Camping sleeping pads are available in two main varieties: inflatable and foam.

Foam pads: These are lightweight and tend to be more durable than inflatable pads because you don't need to worry about puncturing them. However, they're also bulkier, so they're not ideal if space is an issue for you.

Inflatable pads: These are more compact than foam pads, and some give you the freedom to choose how much cushioning you want. However, you need to be careful not to puncture them, and even when they're intact, they may still deflate over time. If you choose an inflatable sleeping pad, you must also choose between air and self-inflating pads. Air pads must be inflated manually, but they're lighter and more affordable than self-inflating pads. Self-inflating pads save you time and energy by inflating automatically, so this might be the way to go if you don't want to manually inflate your pad every time you use it.

Camping sleeping pad features

Length: Choose a sleeping pad that is long enough to accommodate your height. Some sleeping pads are available in several lengths, so you can choose the one that suits you best.

Width: Larger campers and those who toss and turn will want to invest in a wider pad measuring between 25 and 30 inches across.

Thickness: A sleeping pad that's about two inches thick should be sufficient for most campers.

Material: A high-quality sleeping pad will have a waterproof outer shell and some interior insulation to limit the loss of body heat.

R-value: A sleeping pad's R-value tells you how much insulation the pad has. R-values range between 1 and 10, with the higher number indicating greater insulation. You might only need a pad with an R-value of 3 or 4 for summer camping, but if you plan to camp in colder months, you should choose one with a higher R-value.

Camping sleeping pad prices: Foam pad usually cost from $10 to $50, while air pads are slightly more expensive, ranging from $25 to $125. Self-inflating pads are the most expensive, starting at $75 and going as high as $300.


Q. What do I do if my inflatable sleeping pad gets a puncture?

A. Most inflatable sleeping pads include a patch kit, so you can repair any holes that occur instead of throwing out the sleeping pad. Before you leave on your camping trip, it's a wise idea to read through the included instructions and pack any supplies you might need to patch the pad if it gets punctured.

Q. How do I care for my sleeping pad?

A. After using it, you should wash it gently with soap and water and leave it out to air-dry. When it's dry, roll it up loosely and store it somewhere out of direct sunlight.

Camping sleeping pads we recommend

Best of the best: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Inflatable Air Mattress

Our take: The frequent camper or backpacker will love the convenience and comfort provided by this durable sleeping pad.

What we like: This 2.5-inch-thick sleeping pad employs ThermaCapture technology to trap radiant heat from your body and minimize heat loss. Available in three sizes and lightweight and compact enough to take on backpacking trips.

What we dislike: This sleeping pad is more expensive than some sleeping bags, so it's best suited to those who plan to camp often.

Best bang for your buck: SEMOO Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad

Our take: This lightweight, self-inflating pad offers added comfort and minimal hassle, and the price should fit easily into anyone's budget.

What we like: Self-inflating valves, so you don't need to expend energy inflating it manually. The pad is lightweight and waterproof and has an attached adjustable pillow.

What we dislike: The bag can puncture, and it might require occasional reinflating after several hours.

Choice 3: Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad

Our take: This mid-range sleeping pad is an excellent choice for backpacking trips or any situation in which space and weight are issues.

What we like: Quick to inflate and employs a V-chamber design to hug your body and limit heat loss. Weighs just 18.6 ounces, and it's backed by a lifetime warranty.

What we dislike: You can puncture it if you're not careful. Heavier campers might find it doesn't offer as much support as they'd like.

Kailey Fralick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.