If you quickly want to find out which is the best sleeping pad for backpacking, I’d recommend the Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable Sleeping Pad.
Many hikers struggle with getting good sleep in the wilderness, even when their bodies are completely exhausted.
That’s one of the reasons why packing a top-notch sleeping pad is so important. Sleeping pads provide the comfort your body needs for getting a good night’s rest.
In this article, we will be breaking down the best sleeping pads for backpacking in accordance with its feature sets and price.
Top 5 Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking
The TETON Outfitter camp pad is filled with open-cell foam, that acts as an additional layer of insulation from the cold or uneven ground.
It weighs 6 pounds and is easy to carry to the campsite thanks to the convenient carry handle that comes with it. Packup is also quite easy, as there are compression buckles and roll-up straps to make it quicker.
They also have a good packed size. It has a removable cover that can be slipped off for easy cleaning, instead of having to clean the sleeping pad itself.
It has a zippered pocket on one of the sides, which can be useful for storing essential stuff like keys, mobile phone, etc. There’s a pocket for pillows as well, and the TETON pillows fit them best. Linking it below.
The sleeping pad for side sleepers also has tie-down loops attached to its 4 ends, that can be used to fasten them to the cot, to make sure they don’t shift. They come in multiple sizes, that you can choose from. They fit perfectly on the cots, as well as on the grounds.
All these attributions make this the best camping sleeping pad for side sleepers.
- Soft & comfortable
- Best suited for car camping
- Tie-down loops for staying at one place
- Handy zippered pockets
- Compression buckles for easy roll-up
- Comes in a variety of sizes to choose from
- The r-value of 5.5
- Holds moisture
- Does not come with a carrying bag
The Klymit Static Sleeping Pad is an air pad and weighs just 1 pound making it perfect for backpackers.
It comes with a V chamber design in its body that ensures the comfort of the sleeping pad by making sure the air is spread evenly in the baffles. However, it can be an issue while deflating the pad. Some users have felt that they had to roll it up tightly from the rear end to make sure there’s no air left in them.
It has a twist-pull valve and the manufacturers claim that it can be set with as few as 10 breaths! It’s made of high-quality Polyester material (75D) that is abrasion and tear/puncture resistant. The Polyester also makes the pad lightweight & durable.
It has an R-value of 1.3 that’s best suited for spring & summers. It’s a great pick considering the weight-to-warmth-to-comfort ratio it provides.
- Easy to inflate
- Lightweight & Portable
- Ideal for Backpacking
- V-shaped design for comfort & support
- Included stuff sack & repair kit
- Affordable pricing
- Exceptional packed size
- Deflating can be a little tedious
The Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad is a heavy-duty product that’s a dream for backpackers. It is a 4 season sleeping pad designed to withstand cold & harsh weathers. It weighs only 1 pound and provides the maximum warmth for that weight.
The manufacturers claim that it inflates easily in less than two minutes by blowing into the valve, for quick setup in a bivy or a tent. And when done, it packs into the size of a 1-liter water bottle that can be easily carried.
It comes with an R-value of 5.7 equipped with the Thermacapture technology to trap heat within, and the triangular baffle design ensures the pad doesn’t have uneven spots. It minimizes heat loss as well.
There’s one scope of improvement though, that some users have mentioned. It’s the noise that comes out of the sleeping pad when you change positions on it.
Overall, it’s one of the best backpacking sleeping pad for side sleepers that you’re going to take to winter expeditions to keep you warm and comfortable. A solid investment, as reported by many customers.
- Four Season Sleeping pad
- Comfortable, snug, and warm
- Excellent weight-to-warmth ratio
- Traps heat and minimizes heat loss
- Well packed volume
- The R-value of 5.7
- Lightweight & Durable
- Big Inflation kit
The Outdoorsman Inflatable Sleeping pad is a fully functional solution at an optimum price. It’s ultralight and weighs only 1.1 pounds, and also packs as compact as a packed umbrella, making it easy to fit in a backpack and carry around.
Outdoorsman claim that the pad can be easily inflated with 10-15 breaths, and can be deflated within seconds. This sleeping pad can be paired up with any of your other outdoor gear such as sleeping bags, tents, hammocks, etc.
It has an R-value of 2.2, and is designed with interconnected diamond-shaped air cells that self adjust to the body, and ensure maximum comfort and warmth. It’s made of Ripstop Nylon that makes it flexible, compact, and abrasion-resistant.
However, there might be some drawbacks to the sleeping pad. The width of the sleeping pad may not be appropriate for bigger people, and some users also have found the pad to be thin. Though the makers claim that it’s a 4 season sleeping pad, it might not actually withstand severe weathers.
But it’s no doubt a fully functional, and at an affordable cost making it the best inflatable sleeping pad.
- Best buck for the price
- Inflates & Deflates fast
- Lightweight – weighs only 1.1 pounds
- Comes with compression sack
- Packs up small
- Well sealed inflation port
- Comfortable & Durable
- Thin & Less insulated
- Less wide
This is an ultralight foam mattress perfect for backpacking. It’s made of closed-cell foam that provides it with the comfort and warmth when placed on the ground.
It’s compact and easily packable, thanks to the folding accordion-style construction. It has a ThermaCapture coating that captures heat smarter, and thus increase the warmth by 20%.
The sleeping pad is made of lighter stuff at the top for comfort and of denser foam at the bottom for safety and protection. It also acts as extra insulation and makes it durable. It has an R-value of 2.6 and is a perfect 3 season sleeping pad.
Wherever you are headed, you can trust this to be the best sleeping pad for side sleepers. It is warm and keeps you comfortable and safe.
- Lightweight and warm
- The R-value of 2.6
- Made of closed-cell foam for comfort
- Perfect for 3 seasons – Spring, Fall, and Summer
- Traps heat effectively
- Not very well insulated for cold weathers
- Thin & not very fashionable
Considerations for buying the Best Sleeping Pad for Side Sleepers
It’s important to remember that what’s “best” for us, might not necessarily be best for you. We work very hard to detail the strengths and weaknesses of every item we review with the ultimate goal of putting the decision making power in your hands. In the end, there’s rarely one clear “best” choice, but hopefully, we can help you find equipment that will work well for you.
Good sleeping pads come in a wide range of prices. You can get a cheap foam pad for around $20 or purchase a top-tier air pad for closer to $200.
The bottom line is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a good pad. That said, many backpackers (we included) are willing to spend a bit more for a high-quality pad they plan on putting to good use.
Your sleeping pad will be one of the four heaviest items in your pack (shelter, backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad). So this is a great place to save weight. The lighter your backpack, the more comfortable your hiking trips will be.
All of the pads we recommend are the best backpacking sleeping pad for side sleepers, light enough to take on a thru-hike, or a casual weekend trek.
Your sleeping pad will help keep you warm at night when the temperature drops. The R-value of a sleeping pad measures how well it will insulate your body from the cold ground. The higher the R-value, the warmer the pad will be.
In general, sleeping pads with R-values of 0-2 will only be good for warm-weather trips. R-values of 2-4 are good for most 3-season backpacking conditions. R-values of 4-6 are good when the temperature drops around or below freezing.
You’ll likely want a sleeping pad (or combine foam and air pad) with 5+ R-value if you’re winter backpacking and you’ll be sleeping on snow. It’s also important to note that, just like with sleeping bags, this is not an exact science. If you’re a cold sleeper, you’ll want a pad with a higher R-value.
Air Pads vs Foam Pads
The two main types of sleeping pads are air pads and foam pads. Both types can be very light and comfortable.
Foam pads are more affordable, quicker to set up, and can be used for multiple purposes – like extra support for a frameless backpack or a seat around camp. The main downsides with foam pads are that they’re bulkier to pack and they compress over time, so they’ll need to be replaced every so often.
Air pads are more expensive, but most backpackers find them to be much more comfortable than foam pads. The main downside with air pads is that they can puncture in the field, so you’ll always want to bring a repair kit.
One of the most common complaints among first-time air pad users is the crinkly or squeaky noises they make. This can be especially bothersome to light sleepers who tend to shift around throughout the night.
Some pads make slightly less noise than others, but none of them will be quiet like your mattress at home. Pad noises do tend to die down over time, so don’t worry too much when it’s straight out of the box.
If you decide to take an air pad into the wilderness, make sure to pack a small repair kit. Sharp objects (rocks, sticks, cacti, etc.) can puncture air pads, so always look over your sleeping area before setting up camp. If your pad springs a leak and you don’t have a way to fix it, you’re going to be one unhappy camper.
Almost all the air pads listed below come with a repair kit, but we always pack tenacious tape just in case.
Your hips and shoulders are the biggest pressure points for sleeping pads, so it’s important to use a pad that will give you comfort in those areas. Ultralight backpackers sometimes use short, torso-length pads and let their legs hang off the end to save weight.
Most casual backpackers (and even most thru-hikers nowadays) prefer the comfort of full-length pads that cushion their heels and keep their feet warm.
Choosing the right width for your sleeping pad is a critically important decision that will largely depend on your sleeping style. Side sleepers are often fine with standard width pads, and back sleepers tend to prefer a bit more width to keep their arms from sliding off, but the final decision really comes down to personal preference.
Almost all the pads we list below come in a wide size option. Some manufacturers make wide pads with regular lengths, but many only offer a size that is both wide and long. The additional weight of a wide/regular pad compared to a wide/long pad is usually only an ounce or two.
Most backpackers choose mummy sleeping pads, which save weight by cutting out rarely used corner sections of the mattress. Some sleepers get better rest on fully rectangular pads, so if that’s you, the extra couple of ounces will be well worth it. Mummy sleeping pads are the best sleeping pads for side sleepers, in our experience.
The most common rectangular pad users are back sleepers that like to spread their legs apart while sleeping.
Sometimes thicker pads are more comfortable, but that’s not always the case. You’ll want a pad thick enough to adjust its firmness without bottoming out, but not so thick it feels like a pool float.
The structure is important in a sleeping pad, and every pad we recommend below is thick enough to be very comfortable while keeping its shape.
Having a highly packable sleeping pad is a nice benefit, and most air pads pack down very small these days. If you choose a bulky sleeping pad, you may have to strap it to the outside of your bag.
That’s not a big deal for foam pad users, but leaving an air pad exposed to punctures on the outside of your pack is a recipe for disaster. All the air pads we recommend are highly packable and will easily stow inside your backpack.
How to fix a Leaking pad
Here’s a short video that we found that you might find useful!
If you need a comfortable and feature-packed sleeping pad for backpacking, at a reasonable cost, our pick for the best sleeping pad for side sleepers is the Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable Sleeping Pad. It’s perfect for camping and has a good R-value of 5.5 that can be quite useful for 4 seasons.
For backpacking, our choice would be the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress. It’s ultralight, performs in 4 seasons, and highly durable. It is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies for retaining heat and keeping you warm on cold nights.