Algonquin & Beyond

The Sleeping Pad Comparison Table below is the ultimate tool for comparing sleeping pads for camping and hiking. The table includes key specs from companies that use the new ASTM rating. If you’re just beginning your search for a sleeping pad, I’d recommend starting by reading the Sleeping Pad Buying Guide.

Sleeping Pad Buying Guide

Ok, let’s get this one out of the way first! Unfortunately, there isn’t one easy answer. It will depend on your priority specs and your budget. If you’re looking for the absolute lightest sleeping pad that packs down as small as possible, it’s hard to beat the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLite. If you need something with a great R-Value to weight ratio, the NEMO Tensor Extreme Conditions or the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT will be at the top of the list. Maybe you’re ok sacrificing a few oz in weight for something that’s more comfortable, in which case the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated offers great all-around value while being considered one of the most comfortable sleeping pads on the market. Personally, I own the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated. I find it strikes the perfect balance of warmth, weight, size, and comfort, all at a relatively affordable price point.

The R-Value of a sleeping pad measures its thermal resistance, or its ability to insulate. Simply put, the R-Value represents the warmth of the sleeping pad. A higher R-Value means the sleeping pad does a better job of preventing heat from transferring between the person’s body and the ground below, meaning better insulation and warmth. 

For camping and hiking, the R-Value is arguably the most important specification to consider. In colder conditions, a higher R-Value sleeping pad will be necessary to prevent heat loss and to provide a more comfortable sleep throughout the night. As a rule of thumb:

R-Value 1 to 3 = Summer sleeping pads. These pads have minimal insulation and are only appropriate for warm-weather conditions or indoor use.

R-Value 3 to 5 = 3-season sleeping pads. These are the best all-around sleeping pads that are appropriate for hiking and backpacking in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Most sleeping pads in this category will have the term “insulated” in their name.

R-Value 5+ = Winter sleeping pads. A high R-Value rating is necessary for the winter season when extreme cold conditions can be life-threatening if you don’t pack the appropriate gear.

It’s worth mentioning that R-Values stack. For example, you can use a closed cell foam (CCF) sleeping pad with an R-Value of 1.5 along with an air-inflating sleeping pad with an R-Value of 3, for a total R-Value of 4.5.

It’s also important to mention that you won’t become overheated if you use a high R-Value sleeping pad in warmer conditions. However, the high R-Value air-inflating sleeping pads are very expensive, so it’s recommended to buy a sleeping pad with an R-Value appropriate for the pads intended use. Personally, I don’t do any winter camping, and my Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated, with an R-Value of 3.5, provides enough warmth (when paired with my sleeping bag) even in below-freezing temperatures.

R-Values were originally determined with non-standardized testing among manufacturers. This created inconsistencies and unreliable metrics.

According to one of the leading sleeping pad brands, Therm-A-Rest, “To fix that problem, in 2016, Therm-a-Rest, along with a group of other sleeping pad manufacturers, began developing a standard methodology for rating the insulative properties of sleeping pads that would become known as the ASTM F3340-18 standard. This standard allows campers to look at two or more sleeping pads and directly compare the R-value of each.”

So, the definition of R-Value itself is still the same, but the ASTM method represents a new, standardized way of measuring the R-Value for a sleeping pad. When you’re looking to purchase a new sleeping pad, you’ll want to find one that uses the new ASTM method.

One brand that’s specifically worth highlighting is Klymit. The sleeping pads from Klymit have a very unique shape and design, which has brought into question the advertised R-Value. When using the new ASTM method, the R-Value for some of their sleeping pads became significantly lower. The ASTM ratings are not consistently labelled on the Klymit website and product packaging (along with third-party websites), so it’s worth doing some extra research regarding the R-Value of Klymit sleeping pads.

The new ASTM method of testing R-Value is not a legal standard. Leading companies will choose to use this new method, but it’s not a requirement. The brands listed in the Sleeping Pad Comparison Table below are brands that use the new ASTM standard for testing R-Value. 

Let’s start with the length. The standard length of sleeping pads is 72″ (183cm). That length is suitable for most people, however if you need something longer, most companies offer a “Long” version of their popular sleeping pad models, which are usually 77″ (196cm) to 79″ (201cm). Some “Short” sleeping pad models meant for children do exist as well, though they are less common.

Next, let’s talk about the width. The standard width for sleeping pads is 20″ (51cm), with most popular sleeping pad models coming in a “Wide” version at 25″ (64cm). The wide versions are almost always more comfortable and will provide a better night sleep, so the only reason to consider a more narrow model is if you’re trying to save space/weight, or if for some reason you actually prefer a narrow model.

Last, let’s look at sleeping pad thickness, or height. The thickness of a sleeping pad is directly correlated with its overall comfort, with a thicker pad being more comfortable. A thicker pad provides more room for air/insulation within the pad, while also doing a better job of preventing your body from making contact with the ground while moving around.

If you’re trying to pack ultralight, you may want a sleeping pad that has a smaller overall footprint. A smaller sleeping pad means less material used, and less material used means less weight and a smaller pack size. But if you want the most comfortable night sleep, you’ll want to consider a wider and thicker sleeping pad.

In the “Table Legend” in the section below, you’ll see a handful of different shapes for sleeping pads. By far the most common are Rectangle and Mummy. A Rectangle sleeping pad is just as the name sounds… rectangular. It has a larger overall footprint and gives you more room to move around without slipping off the pad. A Mummy sleeping pad, on the other hand, conforms to the shape of your body. It’s meant to help minimize the overall size and weight of the sleeping pad, while still providing enough space for you to comfortable sleep. There are complementary shapes like Double or Triple that can go along with both Rectangle and Mummy, which are extra-wide to accommodate two people sleeping on one pad. There are also more unique shapes like Tapered and Tapered Double, but those are less common. Lastly, for uniquely shaped pads that don’t fit in any of the aforementioned categories, there’s a Custom category. To keep it simple, you should be looking at Rectangle and Mummy and see which shape appeals to you more. Personally, I like Rectangle pads the best.

The weight of your sleeping pad is one of the most important specs to consider, along with its R-Value. The desired weight of your sleeping pad will depend on how you’re using the pad. Many people that purchase sleeping pads are using them for backpacking, where you may want the absolute lightest sleeping pad on the market. For canoe trips, you have a bit more leniency with what you can pack, so something slightly heavier may be preferred to save some money, especially considering heavier pads often provide more comfort. For car camping, you’ll rarely be limited by weight, so you may not care about getting a lightweight pad and you may prefer something thicker, heavier, and with more cushioning.

Backpackers are by far the most weight-conscious when it comes to sleeping pads. Anything less than 454g (16oz) would be considered extremely light, and will be mostly marketed towards backpackers. Anything between 454g (16oz) to 907g (32oz) would be considered acceptable for most people, and can be much cheaper than ultralight options. Anything above 907g (32oz) is in the luxury comfort category, mainly marketed towards people that are car camping and don’t need to prioritize a lightweight sleeping pad.

Everything covered in the Sleeping Pad Table below would be considered objective criteria. They are the technical specifications of the sleeping pad. In this section, let’s talk about some of the main subjective criteria that people consider when purchasing a sleeping pad, like comfort, noise, baffle type, and inflation method. 

Comfort is directly correlated with thicker and wider pads, so if you’re looking for the best night sleep, consider something wider and thicker. Noise can be technically measured, but it’s not a spec offered by manufacturers so it becomes slightly subjective. Some sleeping pads are known for having a potato-chip-bag crunch while moving around on the material (most infamously Therm-A-Rest, though newer models have addressed the issue), while other pads are quieter to the touch. If you toss and turn throughout the night, you’ll want to find a pad on the quieter side. Baffle type is the shape of the ridges and grooves within the pad; you’ll find horizontal baffles, vertical baffles, egg-carton shaped baffles, and some more unique options. Baffle type largely comes down to personal preference.

Last, let’s talk about inflation method. Some sleeping pads like the popular Klymit Static V use mouth-inflation (you breathe into the valve) while many other sleeping pads come with a lightweight bag to pump air into the sleeping pad. Some pads will also have a small button on the valve to fine-tune the air (eg. if you over-inflate, you can let out some air). A good sleeping pad will also have a valve that opens wide to deflate the pad quickly.

Everything mentioned above is related to air inflated sleeping pads. There are also self-inflating and closed cell foam sleeping pads (see the section below).

There are three main categories of inflation methods for sleeping pads. I’m grouping self-inflating and air-inflating into one category “air inflation” because they both rely, at least partially, on air to inflate the pad.

Closed Cell Foam (CCF): These sleeping pads are made from dense foam material that are completely sealed off, making them resistant to moisture absorption. They do not use any air to inflate. They may be able to compress slightly, but for the most part, what you see is what you get. These pads are reliable, durable, affordable, and offer good warmth. But they come with one major sacrifice, which is their size. If you need something compact, you’re probably not in the market for a CCF sleeping pad.

Air Inflation: These sleeping pads are usually subcategorized into self-inflating and air-inflating. As the name implies, self-inflating sleeping pads inflate on their own when the valve is open. They are a cross between CCF and air-inflating pads when it comes to size and weight. They usually have thicker outer material and rely on less air to fill the pad. While most sleeping pads in this category will self-inflate mostly on their own, you may need to top it off with some manual breath/pump inflation.

Lastly, there’s air-inflating sleeping pads, which make up the majority of the sleeping pad market. These are the expensive, lightweight sleeping pads you see in all camping and outdoors stores. By using very thin material and relying on lots of air to inflate the pad, they save a ton of space and weight. However, they are less reliable and will be more prone to leaks and punctures. But that’s a necessary risk you’ll need to take if you want something small and lightweight.

Air-inflated pads are the lightest and pack down the smallest, but this is only possible because they rely on air for inflation, and the material of the pad itself is very thin. Unfortunately, this means air-inflated sleeping pads are more prone to leaks and punctures. Air-inflated sleeping pads are also the most expensive, so you’ll want to take care good of your sleeping pad to prevent leaks and punctures as best as possible.

Sometimes there are manufacturing defects. This is inevitable. It’s possible that your pad arrives with a tiny leak, in which case you’ll want to send it back for a replacement. But assuming you get a non-defective pad (which will be the case probably 99.9% of the time), there are a few simple steps you can take to prevent damaging the material.

First, always inflate and deflate your sleeping pad inside of your tent. You may be tight on space inside your tent, but if you only inflate and deflate your pad inside of the tent, there won’t be any rocks, roots, sticks, or twigs around that can damage the sleeping pad. Similarly, when the sleeping pad is inflated, never bring it outside of the tent.

If you can afford some extra weight and space, you can bring a thin groundsheet to go beneath the sleeping pad, and/or a thin top-sheet to go in between the sleeping pad and your sleeping bag. Having these extra layers helps reduce friction on the material of the pad, while also reducing movement-related noise to provide a more comfortable sleep. If you camp with a four-legged dog friend, having these extra layers also provides a surface for their feet to ‘slip’ on instead of making contact directly with the pad. You should also consider where the pad is located inside of the tent to reduce you and/or your dog from stepping on it any more than is necessary. 

If your sleeping pad has an issue that needs repairing, it’s most likely an air-inflated sleeping pad, so that’s what this section will focus on. The most common damage to sleeping pads are in the form of leaks and punctures. Sometimes this can be due to a manufacturing defect, in which case you can send it back for replacement. Some manufacturers may also have a flexible warranty policy, and will replace the pad even for human-related damage. 

But let’s say you’re out in the field and you need to repair your sleeping pad immediately. Most sleeping pads will come with an emergency repair kit, consisting of small patches of material and adhesive glue. This repair kit will fix small leaks and/or punctures quite well. In a worst-case scenario, you can also resort to duct tape, but this wouldn’t be a recommended first choice. 

Sometimes you’ll be able to find the leak or puncture easily, but sometimes they can be needle thin and you’ll want to use the soapy water method. If you’re able, you can submerge the pad underneath soapy water, but if submerging isn’t an option, you can also spray or sponge the soapy water directly onto the pad. Small bubbles should start to appear where the leak is located. If you use the soapy water method, you’ll want to mark the placement of the leak and then make sure the sleeping pad is completely dry before performing the repair!

Before Using The Table...

Search: The search function will search the entire table. For example, if you search “big agnes 4.3” it will show you all Big Agnes sleeping pads with an R-Value of 4.3. The search function is case specific but not case sensitive.

Sort: Each column can be sorted in ascending or descending order.

Filter: Filter criteria stack as each additional filter is added. The “Min” or “Max” can be used together, or individually. If “Filter Brand” is used before “Filter Model”, only the respective Models will appear based on the Brands selected.

Search, Sort, and Filter can be used together simultaneously.

Shape
R = Rectangle
RD = Rectangle Double
RT = Rectangle Triple
M = Mummy
MD = Mummy Double
T = Tapered
TD = Tapered Double
C = Custom

Type
CCF = Closed Cell Foam
SI = Self Inflating
AI = Air Inflation

Pump (Included)
Y = Yes
N = No

i) Information and pricing was taken from each company website (February 2024). Errors or discrepancies may be possible. For up-to-date information, visit each company website. If you notice any errors, please let me know.
ii) Some Imperial and Metric numbers are calculated from standard conversions; this may cause minor discrepancies.
iii) I have no affiliation with any of the companies included in the table.
iv) Some companies include “minimum weight” or “trail weight” in their specs. When possible, I used “total weight”.
v) Remember that specs alone don’t tell the full story. There are many other factors to consider (baffle type, comfort, etc.)
vi) The companies chosen for the table are the ones that use the new ASTM rating method.

Sleeping Pad Comparison Table

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