Buying Guide: Sleeping Pads

Buying Guide: Sleeeping Pads

Sleeping pads serve two main purposes; warmth and comfort.  There’s nothing worse than being exhausted after hiking for hours and not being able to sleep because of the cold ground or uneven rocky surfaces. Sleeping pads are a necessity when trying to get a full nights rest in the outdoors.



The R-Value is the unit used to measure a pads insulation capability.  The higher the R-value, the better the pad will insulate you from cold surfaces.


Type of Pad


Foam Pad

• These are the most basic pads on the market.  

• They are lightweight, inexpensive and use open-cell foam as the insulator.  

• They are bulkier than other pads, making them more difficult to pack.  


Air Pad

• These pads are manually inflated (some include a pump) and use air as the main insulator.  

• They are lightweight, making them good for backpacking.  

•They are slightly more expensive than foam pads, but you can adjust their firmness.



• These pads inflate themselves by opening a valve that then acts as a vacuum to pull as much air in as you’d like.  

• They use a combination of air and open-cell foam to serve as insulators.

• Very lightweight and easy to break down and pack.




Backpacking Pads

• Backpacking pads are designed to provide the most amount of comfort with the least amount of weight.  

• These are great for minimalists who are trying to shed as much weight from their pack as possible.  

• Backpacking pads generally have a higher R-value, making them great if you plan on going into colder environments and higher elevations.  


Base Camping Pads

• Base camping pads put a little more attention towards comfort than weight, but can still be used for backpacking.  

• These pads are great if you don’t care about a little extra weight.    
Car Camping Pads

• Car camping pads focus entirely on comfort.  It’s as close as you can get to sleeping on your mattress at home.  

• These pads weigh much more than base camping or backpacking pads.

• These are mainly used when you have visitors at home and they need a place to crash.

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