Sleeping in wildness could be a horrible experience if you don’t know how to do it comfortably. Choosing a suitable sleeping pad, as a matter of fact, is crucial for your back and your overall health.
As many outdoor hobbyists, I went through ordeals because of not knowing which sleeping pad is the best one. If you are facing the same problem, struggling with thousands of seemingly alike items, then this article is for you.
Best Lightweight Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Ultralight Self-Inflating Backpacking Pad
This is one of the most lightweight sleeping pads I have ever stumbled upon. The x-small size only weights about 9 oz while the most significant size is roughly 1 lb 8 oz.
Lots of backpackers will find this a great deal since lightweight sleeping pad mean a lighter gear and plenty of space for other items.
Plus, Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Ultralight Self-Inflating Backpacking Pad can pack down very small. You can compress it down to a size of 1-liter bottle of water.
This item doesn’t have an incredible R-value. It settles down at 2.4, which means you can’t use this pad when the weather is cold, especially in early spring or late autumn. When the temperature is not too low, with an additional sleeping bag, you can sleep quite comfortably.
As for the design, the Prolite’s outer shell is made of 70D polyester that delivers both durability and ease of use.
Unlike other lightweight air sleeping pads, the Prolite doesn’t make you feel unstable. I feel completely firm and secure sleeping on it. Therm-a-Rest also uses urethane foam for insulating, create a cushion that protects your back from the ground.
Since it is light and highly compressible, you can quickly inflate and deflate the pad. The only problem regarding the design is that the thickness is quite low. I wouldn’t recommend you to lay it down on uneven ground.
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Ultralight Self-Inflating Backpacking Pad is undoubtedly a product with great value when it comes to the price vs features. It is an excellent catch for light conscious travelers who want to reduce weight and save space for their gears.
|9 oz 12 oz 1lbs 2 oz 1 lbs 8 oz|
|20" x 36" x 1" 20" x 47" x 1" 20" x 72" x 1" 25" x 77" x 1"|
|11" x 3.3" 11" x 3.3" 11" x 4.1" 13" x 4.5"|
Sea to Summit Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat
As the name suggested, this sleeping mat is all about comfort. Sea to Summit utilizes 30D woven polyester for the shell fabric.
There are two things I particularly like about this material: it delivers comfy feeling and is extremely durable. This item also adopts what’s called the Delta Core system that guarantees relaxing night sleeps while significantly reducing the weight of the mat. Yet the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Self-Inflating is considerably bulkier than most items with the same R-value.
This sleeping mat makes up an excellent 3-season companion with an R-value of 2.7. The coring system secures the warmth along the surface, avoiding any heat loss due to frame-like gaps or the like. You can enjoy snug sleeps when camping in summer, early autumn, and late spring.
One problem with most self-inflating mattresses is that they tend to re-inflate when you roll them up. This sleeping pad will eliminate that problem by offering a multi-function valve. The valve can inflate the mattress as quickly as possible and at the same time prevent air from getting back in when you want to pack up. It’s super easy to use and can pack down very small.
Additionally, I love the silicone prints that keep your body firmly on the mat when you sleep inside a sleeping bag. The mat comes with a stuff sack and patch kit for ultimate use.
It’s safe to say that this mattress is a great choice for 3-season camping when the weather is not too cold. Though it may not be the best option for light backpacking trips, it does provide comfort and versatility as advertised.
|Weight (small/regular/large)||1lb 4oz 1lb 5oz 1lb 12oz|
|Dimensions (small/regular/large)||67" x 20" x 2” 72" x 20" x 2” 78" x 25" x 2”|
|Packed Dimensions (small/regular/large)||5.25 x 11 in 5.5 x 11 in 6 x 13 in|
Fox Outfitters Ultralight Series Self Inflating Camp Pad
To be honest, I did take a leap of faith when I first decided to buy this sleeping pad. The price they offer was a bit too friendly that made me think this one wasn’t for long-term use. Turn out, I was wrong. The Fox Outfitters Ultralight Series Self Inflating Pad is undoubtedly durable.
The core foam and shell fabric are two contributing factors to its great durability and weight. The core foam dramatically lessens the weight of this pad. As you can see, the regular-sized pad is only 1 lb 10, while the long-sized one is a bit heftier.
Fox Outfitters uses Ripstop fabric – a superior material for the shell that delivers utmost comfort. Plus, the material is scratch-resistant, which is wonderful for long-term use. Using The Fox Outfitters Ultralight Series, you don’t have to worry about putting the mat on the lumpy ground since it can withstand tough terrains without damaging.
The diamond design allows the pad to secure and contribute warmth evenly while keeping your body from sliding out. This product offers an R-value of 3.2, suitable for summer, autumn and spring trips. I would not recommend you to use this pad when the temperature drops too low in early spring or late autumn.
There is one thing I don’t like about this sleeping pad, it is not self-inflating as advertised. Yes, you do open the valve, and the air does come in, but if you want the pad to reach the proper size, you need to give it a lot of breaths.
Well, if you are looking for a budget-friendly, lightweight and versatile sleeping pad, this is the one. It is a bit heavier and requires a significant amount of physical breaths to be fully inflated, but if you don’t mind then go for this one.
|Weight (long/regular)||2lb 1 lbs 10|
|Dimensions (long/regular)||25" x 77" x 1.5" 20" x 72" x 1.5"|
|Packed Dimensions (long/regular)||12" X 7" 10" X 7"|
Most Comfort Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Lightspeed Outdoors XL Premium Self-Inflating Sleep and Camp Pad
So are you planning for your winter camping trip and looking for a good sleeping mattress? You have come to the right place. The Lightspeed Outdoors XL Super Plush FlexForm is the top-notch choice when it comes to winter car camping.
The item offers an incredibly high R-value – 9.66. With this R-value, you can sleep in total comfort even when the temperature drops low. The pad itself is 3” thick with well-insulated Lightspeed's FlexForm foam that delivers a soft and relaxing surface for your back. It uses PVC-free material to prevent any lingering plastic smells.
There are more options for the highest R-value sleeping pads for car camping and backpacking as well. Check it out in this article.
One more thing about the design that makes this product is the must-have item is the built-in pillow for a great overnight in the wildness. The mattress distributes the warmth throughout, making sure your top, as well as the bottom, is protected.
The Lightspeed Outdoors XL Super Plush FlexForm is an easy-to-use item. It is self-inflating and requires very little help from you to reach its usable size. When you want to deflate the pad, just open both valves to accelerate the process.
What I don’t like about this sleeping pad is the weight. I have put the pad in the category of car camping since it is 6 lbs – an unbelievable number for light backpacking trips.
|Dimensions||32" x 8.6" x 8.1"|
|Packed Dimensions||30" x 7.75" x 7.75"|
Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Mattress
I have to admit that if you had familiarized yourself with basic air sleeping pad, a change into Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 4D will completely change your mindset. This item can turn your sleeping experience in the wildness into enjoyment and luxury memories. Therm-a-Rest offers two sizes with incredible width and length that allow you to sleep comfortably while turning or tossing yourself freely.
This mattress offers 4 inches of thickness with a well-insulated material. You can freely customize the firmness as you wish by letting the air in or out. The two different sizes allow Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 4D to satisfy even most demanding users, from side sleepers to stomach ones. The shortcoming is quite trivial. I find it hard to deflate the mattress to the desired firmness due to the tough foam core.
Ever wonder if there are more options for side sleepers? Check out my recent article for best sleeping pads for side sleepers.
Therm-a-Rest adopts a non-slip base that secures your body within the mattress. Plus, the shell material doesn’t give off the plastic-y feeling, mainly when you lay down with your face touching the surface.
As you can see, this item offers an R-value of 11.4 – the highest rating on the list. It is safe to say that you will never have to worry about sleeping under extreme conditions. This sleeping mattress, by far, is the best product for car camping in winter.
Due to all the high R-value and design, the mattress is from 5 lbs to 6 lbs of weight. Again, this is not a good choice for light backpackers.
I do believe that Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 4D offers the best option for car camping in winter. Its well-insulated material, high R-value and design for maximum comfort are what you should consider when buying this item.
|Weight (L/XL)||5.5 lbs 6.75 lbs|
|Dimensions (L/XL)||25" x 77" x 4” 30" x 80" x 4”|
|Packed Dimensions (L/XL)||7" x 26" 7" x 31"|
Teton Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
TETON has always offered outdoor enthusiasts best-rated products. Their ComfortLite Self-Inflating Camp Pad is one classic example.
As for the design, this pad features Velcro side strips that allow users to join one or two similar items to create a double sleeping pad. If you want a double-thick mattress, you can also fix two pads on top of each other. This is a brilliant idea if you ask me.
This sleeping pad offers four different sizes, which can suit both adults and kids, men and women. The pad uses a non-slip base to secure your body and also stay put in any terrains.
TETON utilizes their ComforTech microfiber that delivers utmost comfort. Plus, the core foam traps and distributes warmth consistently throughout the pad so that you can sleep with ease.
Another good thing about this pad is that it doesn’t require much of your breath. The valve works perfectly, inflating the pad within a blink. The deflation process is also natural since the reserve valve prevents air from getting in again.
The R-value of this product is at 3.2. It means you can use the ComfortLite Self-Inflating Camp Pad in summer, early autumn and late spring.
As for the size, I don’t think Teton Sports ComfortLite Self-Inflating Camp Pad makes a brilliant choice for light backpacking trips. Even in the compact state, the packed dimensions are still somewhat bulky. I suggest using this mattress for car camping when the weight is not a real problem.
|Weight (Junior/Regular/XL/XXL)||2 lb 7 2 lb 12 oz 3 lb 6 oz 4 lb 13 oz|
|Dimensions (Junior/Regular/XL/XXL)||56" x 25" x 2.5" 72" x 25" x 2" 76" x 25" x 2.5" 78" x 30" x 3"|
|Packed Dimensions (Junior/Regular/XL/XXL)||26" x 6" x 6" 26" x 6" x 6" 26" x 6" x 6" 32" x 7" x 7"|
What size sleeping pad do I need?
When it comes to a comfortable overnight in the wild, it is essential that you choose a right sleeping pad, especially those who are light sleepers and who have back pains. To get a suitable pad, you need to take many factors into consideration including size. Many people have asked the question “what size sleeping pad do I need?”, and I will answer it in this article.
When looking at the size, take note that it often comes with two elements: length and width. As for the length, you can measure it by your height. That means depending on how tall you are you should choose the similar length. For example, if you are tall, go for the large size, which is often over 6 ft. The regular one is about 6 ft. If you want to save some extra space in your backpack, consider the small size.
The average width of the regular size mattress is about 20 inches. The bigger the size is, the larger the width becomes. If you want to move freely, choose the big pad. If not, the regular one is enough for a comfy night sleep.
How do self-inflating sleeping pads work?
Some people find the term “self-inflating” quite confusing and wonder how this kind of sleeping pad ever works. It bases on a simple method. Most self-inflating sleeping bags use PU foam as their filling. This foam is also known as open cells.
The open cells work as mini vacuums. When you compress the pad, open cells are under pressure. Once they enlarge, the pressure is released and creates the vacuuming effect. As a result, air can easily get inside the pad.
How long does it take a self-inflating sleeping pad to inflate?
If you don’t know the physics behind open cells, chances are you will waste a good 1 hour to get your self-inflating sleeping pad to inflate. So how long does it take a pad to reach its suitable size?
Typically it takes only a couple of minutes. Some items just need 2 minutes; others require more. However, you need to do a few tricks to get your sleeping pad work faster.
The rule of thumb is you should always inflate your newly bought sleeping pad with your breaths. Then let the open cells do their work for a couple of hours. After that, deflate it or let it lay flat until the second use. Now you only need to wait a couple of minutes for the sleeping pad to inflate.
It is true that you have to factor in many different elements when choosing a suitable pad. If you don’t want to turn your pleasant camping trip into a nightmare, take my advice.
You should keep in mind your preferences of size, color, and other features such as R-value or shell materials when shopping for a sleeping pad. The 6 best self-inflating sleeping pads for backpacking & car camping I reviewed are indeed the top products you can find in the market. Take a good look at them and decide which one you want.