Find Sleeping Pads with the features you're looking for.
How Much Lighter are Lightweight Sleeping Pads?A good sleeping pad can mean the difference between a good nights sleep and one spent rolling around and counting cricket chirps. And in theory ultralight sleeping pads offer less comfort, but if you know what to look for that's not always the case.
But how much lighter are lightweight sleeping pads? According to the list of sleeping pads, quite a bit lighter. Take for instance the Big Agnes Hinman sleeping pad. It's an inflatable sleeping pad that has 1.5 inches of thickness when inflated, and weighs in at 1190 grams, or 2.6 pounds. The Klymit Inertia X Frame sleeping pad, on the other hand, is another inflatable sleeping pad that comes in at 1.5 inches thick when full of air. However, it only weighs 257 grams, or .56 pounds....
- Big Agnes Hinman - 1190 grams / 2.6 pounds
- Klymit Inertia X Frame - 257 grams / .56 pounds
The Features of Light Sleeping PadsYou'll find a few common features that manufacturers use to make lighter sleeping pads.
- Foam Sleeping Pads - A quick glance at the sleeping pads list says it all. The top 5 lightest sleeping pads are all foam, and there's only 1 full length inflatable pad (no surprise, it's the Inertia X Frame from above) that manages to crack the top 10. For lightweight backpacking, it's hard to beat a foam sleeping pad.
- Half Length Sleeping Pads - Another popular innovation amongst manufacturers of light sleeping pads is the half length sleeping pad or the three quarter length sleeping pad, or even the two thirds length sleeping pad. Something less than full length anyway. (see the Exped Sim Light sleeping pads for an example) The idea is that you use the pad under your torso and hips and possibly head, depending on what length you're using, and then use backpacks, clothes, or whatever else you've got with you to prop up and support the rest of your body.
- Lighter Fabrics - Ultralight sleeping pads often incorporate lighter, thinner fabrics in to their designs in an effort to reduce weight. With a lighter fabric, your chances of getting a puncture from a rock underneath you is going to go up. Many manufacturers use a lighter fabric on top and a slightly tougher fabric underneath to combat this, but as long as you're relatively careful in picking a camping spot, you shouldn't have to worry about this too much.
- R-Value Zones - Some of Pacific Outdoor Equipment's line of sleeping pads have a rather unique feature. The inner sleeping pad, where your torso would be if you were laying on it, has extra insulation, which ups the R-Value. Outer areas of the sleeping pad, where arms and legs would be in contact with the sleeping pad, are less insulated. Since the part of you that most needs to stay warm is the torso, this makes a lot of sense, and definitely saves on weight.
The Drawbacks of Light Sleeping PadsIt's generally true that the lighter you go with a sleeping pad, the greater your chances are that you wont get a good nights sleep on the trail. What this comes down to is knowing what kind of sleeper you are. If you toss around a lot at night, perhaps a square sleeping pad is the better choice, instead of a mummy sleeping pad. Do you need padding? Foam sleeping pads are probably out for you then, and you'll have to go to the somewhat heavier inflatable sleeping pads.
Be honest with yourself when choosing a sleeping pad, because not getting enough sleep on the trail can turn an otherwise great trip in to a miserable experience.