Best Insulated Sleeping Pads for Backpacking

If you are in search of an ultralight and ultra-compact outdoor mat for the trail, you will want to check this selection of best insulated sleeping pads for backpacking. They will protect you in any weather conditions in a 3-season-plus use.

When you are on the trail, you cannot choose the weather, and it can change dramatically during the day. I have experienced practically all seasons in the mountains in a single day. This is why it is best to be prepared, better to carry a few ounces more than to have your trip ruined.

When you sleep on the ground, you lose at least 40 times more body heat to the ground than to the air around you. This all depends on the type of ground of course, but you get the idea. Having a quality sleeping bag may not be enough, the bag’s insulation underneath you becomes compressed and it loses its insulation properties. These are some of the most important reasons why you would want to have an insulated sleeping pad on the trail.

The insulation is usually described in terms of the R-value, but some manufacturers use the temperature rating. You can always recalculate one to another. In easy terms, the higher the R-value the warmer the pad.


My list of best insulated backpacking sleeping pads

So here is my list, the pads are ordered by weight from heavier to lighter. Note that some of the pads are built in several sizes so making a clear order by weight is a bit tricky, it depends on which size you choose. I am usually focusing on regular or medium sizes. But you will realize that all of them are truly ultralight.

 

So the pads are ordered by the weight but keep an eye on the R-value as well. These two parameters usually go together, more insulation means more weight but this may also result in a warmer pad. You will have these parameters pointed out for each of the pads in the list below.

Note that you have both inflatable and self-inflating pads here. The focus is on insulation, so you can have an open-cell foam, synthetic fibers, or down.

When you inspect the list you will realize that these are all the products from the top brands in the outdoor industry, so you know what you are buying.

I hope you will love the products I present below, I choose only the best that is on the market, those that I can fully recommend, and present them here in the site. Just a heads up that as an associate of Amazon and other sellers, I may earn some commission from qualifying purchases of products bought via links on this page, at no additional cost for you.


1. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Pad

ThermaRest NeoAir All Season Pad.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Pad.

This Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Mattress is one of the inflatable pads here in the list. Here you have their ThermaCapture technology, and the resulting R-value of 4.9 is more than you will need for 3-season outdoor use. This is a patent-pending Triangular Core Matrix design that creates over 100 insulating cells. So this pad is good even for winter tours. Now you know what the words All Season in the name mean.

It comes with a 2.3 oz Mini Pump that operates on 2 AAA batteries. But you can surely inflate it by mouth. The pad is moderately light, the regular version weighs 1.72 lb (780 g). But this weight is justified, you will want to know that it is built of a very durable fabric, you have 75 denier polyester and 70 denier nylon.

The R size is suitable for shorter users, it measures 72 x 20 x 2.5 inches (183 x 51 x 6.4 cm). Its packed size is great, the dimensions are (L x D) 11 x 5 inches (28 x 13 cm).

What I like:

  • Very warm.
  • Durable materials.
  • Good packed size.

What I dislike:

  • A bit on the heavy side, but see its R-value.


2. Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Pad

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Pad.
Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Pad.

This Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Pad is built in no less than 6 different sizes and shapes. This means that you have separate pads for men and women, and they are also in separate shapes, trimmed, rectangular, and oval. More importantly, there are also different sizes for both genders. This will save you from carrying unnecessary weight.

So imagine versatility and options to find your best fit. As you know, there are tents that are with a trimmed floor profile, so when you are with your partner or solo, you might want to go for such a trimmed pad shape. Here you have such options.

You will want to see some numbers, so here is what you have in the regular (R) rectangular pad for men. It weighs 24 oz (680 g), and its packed size is (L x D) 9 x 5 inches (23 x 13 cm).

The pad is 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick, you have foam inside, so this is a self-inflating pad. They have applied a hybrid construction and this means i) a high cell resolution dual-layer construction in the torso region of the pad, and ii) a medium-resolution single-layer construction in the head and leg regions. Apparently, this sheds the weight under the legs and head, where less insulation is needed.

In addition to this, you have the Air-Sprung Cells system. In practical terms, this means that the air cells react independently, and bouncing is reduced. They have added a reflective layer bonded to the underside of the top layer of the pad. It reflects heat back to the body. The effective R-value is 4.2. The shell is a 40D ripstop nylon.

What I like:

  • Incredibly packable.
  • Unique inner construction.
  • Variety of sizes and shapes.

What I dislike:

  • The price.


3. NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad

NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad.
NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad.

They build this NEMO Flyer Sleeping Pad in 3 different sizes. This is a great detail to know so that you can buy a pad that fits your body size and avoid carrying unnecessary weight. So here are the numbers for the three versions:

  • Weight:
    – Regular: 1 lb 7 oz (652 g)
    – Regular Wide: 1 lb 13 oz (822 g).
    – Long Wide: 1 lb 14 oz (850 g).
  • Dimensions:
    – Regular: 72 x 20 inches (183 x 51 cm).
    – Regular Wide: 72 x 25 inches (183 x 64 cm).
    – Long Wide: 76 x 25 inches (193 x 64 cm).

This is an advanced pad that can be described both as an ultralight and an ultra-compact insulated 3-season self-inflating pad. The thickness is 2 inches (5 cm). The inner structure is very specific. There are inner air channels inside the foam, they coincide with the peaks in the top and bottom profile. So the pad has both air for insulation and foam for support. They claim that such a design removes around 60% of the weight and bulk.

You have already seen the weight and see now the packed size for the three versions:

  • Packed size:
    – Regular: 10 x 6.5 inches (25 x 17 cm).
    – Regular Wide: 12 x 6.5 inches (30 x 17 cm).
    – Long Wide: 12 x 8 inches (30 x 20 cm).

The focus of this text is on insulated pads, so here you have an open-cell foam inside of the shell, and the R-value is 3.3. This should be good for any situation in a 3-season use.

They use the ASTM Standard (ASTM F3340-18) system, so this should be a reliable rating, but as usual, it is always the best way to test the pad in controlled conditions.

The bottom is with silicone areas added to provide grip and to keep the pad in place. The valve is what they call Zero-profile, multi-functional and micro-adjustable for fine-tuning and fast inflation/deflation. The pad comes with Nemo’s lifetime warranty.

What I like:

  • The weight.
  • The packed size.
  • Unique design.

What I dislike:

  • The price.


4. Exped DownMat UL Winter Sleeping Pad

Exped DownMat UL Winter Sleeping Pad.
Exped DownMat UL Winter Sleeping Pad.

So you are reading correctly, this pad is with down fill, and this is a quality 700 fill power, and it is RDS certified. As a result, the R-value of this pad is an incredible 7.1, and this is according to the ASTM F3340-18 rating, so you can use it in practically any weather conditions. The EMPA R-value is also very close, the value is 7. In terms of temperatures, this is around -27 F (- 33 C). This explains the word Winter in its name, but this is not a heater so you can use it all year round.

But see the letters UL in the name. Here, this means 1.39 pounds (630 g) for the size R with the dimensions 72 x 20 in (183 x 51 cm). The packed size is (L x D) 9 x 4 inches (23 x 11 cm). Note that they build this pad also in L size.

The fabric on the top is a 20D polyester with TPU polyether film laminate, hydrolysis resistant, Honeycomb GripSkin coated, and Oeko-Tex 100 certified. On the bottom you have a very similar 20D polyester with TPU polyether film laminate, hydrolysis resistant, Oeko-Tex 100 certified. The pad comes with an included Schnozzel Pump bag.

What I like:

  • The weight.
  • The packed size.
  • The warmth.

What I dislike:

  • The price.


5. Exped SynMat UL Sleeping Pad

Exped SynMat UL Sleeping Pad.
Exped SynMat UL Sleeping Pad.

I guess it would be best to start with the name of this pad. So the word SynMat indicates the fact that here you have synthetic insulation, and this is not foam. They use what they call Texpedloft Microfibre that is Bluesign certified. You have it 60 g/m².

The fibers are laminated to the top and to the bottom. So when you inflate the pad, the insulation pops out evenly. It expands trapping the air inside. They claim that this insulation prevents moisture and bacteria from building up in the pad.

The letters UL are about its ultralight weight. So they build it in several different sizes and see the weight and the dimensions of each of the pads:

  • Weight:
    – S: 14.6 oz (415 g).
    M: 16.8 oz (475 g).
    – MW: 19.9 oz (565 g).
    – LW: 21 oz (595 g).
  • Dimensions:
    – S: 64.1 x 20.5 x 2.8 inches (163 x 52 x 7 cm).
    – M: 72.1 x 20.5 x 2.8 inches (183 x 52 x 7 cm).
    – MW: 72.1 x 25.6 x 2.8 inches (183 x 65 x 7 cm).
    – LW: 77.6 x 25.6 x 2.8 inches (197 x 65 x 7 cm).

But see also the packed sizes and volumes:

  • Packed size:
    – S: 9.4 x 3.5 inches (24 x 9 cm).
    – M: 9.4 x 3.9 inches (24 x 10 cm).
    – MW: 10.6 x 3.9 inches (27 x 10 cm).
    – LW: 10.6 x 4.3 inches (27 x 11 cm).
  • Packed volume:
    – S: 1.5 l.
    – M: 1.7 l.
    – MW: 1.9 l.
    – LW: 2.6 l.

The R-value of this pad is 3.3 so this is enough for any weather in a 3-season use. This corresponds to the temperature as low as – 4 °C (25 °F).

Observe that this is an inflatable pad. The pad comes with the Schnozzel pump bag that doubles as a waterproof stuff sack. You can see it in the picture above. The pad’s fabric is a 20D polyester with a TPU polyether film laminate, hydrolysis resistant, Honeycomb Gripskin coated, and it is also Oeko-Tex 100 certified.

Note that they give a 2-year warranty with this pad. The pad is with an advanced Exped’s FlatValve technology. The valves are without any stiff edges, low profile, and very durable, you have two separate valves for inflation and deflation.

What I like:

  • Great valves.
  • Great packed size.
  • Ultralight pad.
  • Several sizes to choose from.

What I dislike:

  • The price.


6. Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Inflatable Sleeping Pad

Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Inflatable Sleeping Pad.
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Inflatable Sleeping Pad.

If you are not new to this, you know well that such a list cannot be without a sleeping pad of Klymit. So here you have one of their pads with its iconic V-shaped baffles. The short transverse baffles at the edges are there to cradle you in the middle. This all is a part of what they call the body mapping system. This implies that you have more padding and support in critical areas that support more weight.

Inside you have Klymit synthetic insulation which traps the body heat to keep you comfortable. This gives the pad its R-value of 4.4, so you can indeed use this pad in all seasons.

The pad is inflatable, and it weighs only 15.9 ounces (451 g) and this explains the Ultralite SL in the name. But see also its packed size which is only 7 x 4.5 inches (17.8 x 11.4 cm). It is included in my list of best compact sleeping pads for backpacking.

The dimensions when inflated are a bit modest but this is the same as what you have in other regular sizes here, it measures 72 x 20 inches (183 x 51 cm). Note also that this is a slightly tapered design so the width in the foot area is only 17 inches. The fabric is also thin 20D polyester. But no worry about durability, this pad has been tried and tested by many, and it comes with Klymit’s lifetime warranty.

What I like:

  • Great price.
  • Great R-value.
  • Body mapping technology for optimal support.
  • Warranty.

What I dislike:

  • Not very large.
  • Thin fabric.


7. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress.

This Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress is built in two sizes, and they also offer two options regarding its valve.

One of them comes with the Winglock valve that is one-way inflation or deflation, and you choose the operation by simply rotating the wings on the side of the valve. They also claim that this valve allows for 3 times faster inflation and deflation as compared to standard valves of the same size.

The regular size measures 72 x 20 inches (183 x 51 cm), and its weight is 15 ounces (425 g). Its packed size is 9 x 4 inches (23 x 10 cm). So these are simply incredible numbers but see also its R-value which is 6.9. It is included also in my list of best compact sleeping pads for backpacking.

The top fabric is a 30D ripstop nylon, and on the bottom, you have a 70D nylon. The pad is 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick. So the warmth to weight ratio of this pad is hard to match.

This great warmth is based on their proprietary reflective ThermaCapture technology that traps radiant heat within the pad, and on a Triangular Core Matrix that minimizes heat loss during sleep. There are two layers of triangle baffles that create hundreds of individual cells to retain warmth and protect from the cold.

This is an award-winning sleeping pad, and it comes with the manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.

What I like:

  • Incredible weight.
  • Very warm.
  • Extremely packable.

What I dislike:

  • Very expensive.

Final thoughts

So this was my selection of best insulated sleeping pads for backpacking, and the focus is on two main features i) insulation and ii) weight. If you are still undecided on how to choose, here are some tips that may help.

The weight

All these pads can be described as ultralight, but there are still differences from the heaviest to the lightest. If you focus on the weight in the absolute sense, then it is easy, go to the bottom of the list.

The R-value

The R-values of all the pads here are good enough for 3-season use, but some pads offer even more. It is good to find a nice balance because more insulation is usually more weight, but see also the durability of the fabric. So ask yourself if you really need a high R-value.

In any case, instead of focusing on the weight and the R-value in an absolute sense, it is usually good to check the R-value/weight ratio. This is usually described as the warmth-to-weight ratio. This is a good indicator of how warm a pad is, per kilogram of its total weight.

So, let’s see what this means.

  • For the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Pad you have R-value/weight = 6.28 (per kilogram).
  • Now take the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress, and you get 16.23 (per kilogram). So the latter is effectively much warmer. In this case, it is warmer also in an absolute sense, but this is not always so, bear this in mind; if you want a warmer pad you go for a higher R-value, no matter the weight.

The size

If you are a short person, any of the pads here will do. But this is not so for tall people. Some pads are indeed built in a variety of sizes and you can choose, but this is not so with all of them. You will want to check this.

Packed size

This is about carrying the stuff in the pack, so the packed size is worth checking. The differences may not look drastic, but as you know, there is never enough space in the pack, it is always too small.

Editor’s Choice pad

I will put forward as my choice the pad shown below. The reasons should be obvious, it is incredibly light and with a great warmth-to-weight ratio. The packed size is great and the materials are reasonably durable.

Incredible combination of features
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress.

Product Name: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress

Product Description: It is hard to find a sleeping pad that would match the warmth-to-weight ratio and packed size of this pad. This is why it is my choice pad.

Brand: Therm-a-Rest

SKU: B07YDHRTFZ

MPN: 040818132500

  • Features - 9.8/10
    9.8/10
  • Design - 9.5/10
    9.5/10
  • Quality & craftsmanship - 9.7/10
    9.7/10
9.7/10

Summary

The price of this pad is steep, but it is worth the investment.

Sending
User Review
6.32/10 (5 votes)

In this video you can see the unique valve system that this pad has:

For more stuff for the trail, please check under the category Trail Gear. Let me know if you have questions or comments, there is a comment box below. Thank you for reading.

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2 thoughts on “Best Insulated Sleeping Pads for Backpacking”

  1. Just a recommendation on the Exped down sleeping pad review…
    I have owned this one for many years (since 2013 if my memory serves me well), numerous mountains and many backpacking nights. So far no leaks:)
    One of the great features of this pad is the larger tubes on the sides that help keep me from sliding off the pad. I have used this on snow and have been very comfortable.
    One of the negative features is this is a noisy pad to sleep on when you move.
    Just thought you might mention those items in your review???
    This is definitely my go to pad and well worth the price as I am over 60 and a lighter weight pack is one of the issues I strive for:)

    Reply
    • Many thanks Ed, your first-hand experience with this pad is incredibly valuable and our readers will surely appreciate this just as we do. I wish you all the best.

      Reply

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