When you go backpacking, a good sleeping pad is an important piece of gear that you should put a bit of thought in to selecting. In summer, a sleeping pad keeps you comfortable, and in winter a sleeping pad keeps you both comfortable and warm, something that you should not be relying entirely on your sleeping bag for. But the best backpacking sleeping pad will do all this and will do it without weighing a lot, because you have to remember that when you're backpacking, you have to carry everything you're taking with you, and you might as well be carrying a lightweight backpacking sleeping pad.
Best Backpacking Sleeping PadFeatures to look for when you are picking out your next backpacking sleeping pad.
- Shape - Sleeping pads come in a few different shapes, the two most distinctive being mummy shaped, where the sleeping pad is full width at your hips and shoulders, and tapered everywhere else, and rectangular, which is self-explanatory. Mummy shaped saves on weight, definitely, but if you're a restless sleeper, you might find it too small for you.
- R-Value - Another important feature of sleeping pads to be aware of is R-value. You can read plenty more about R-value, but basically the higher the R-value is, the warmer your sleeping pad will be. That is, the more heat it will reflect back up at your, rather than letting that heat seep in to the ground.
- Padding Type - There are also a couple of choices when it comes to the kind of padding you want, those being inflatable or foam sleeping pads. Foam is more durable, you cant really break foam, but foam also tends to be a little harder than inflatable sleeping pads.
Backpacking Sleeping Pad ReviewsA selection of a few of the very best backpacking sleeping pads on the market right now.
- Exped Downmat Sleeping Pad - First up, a backpacking sleeping pad with one of the best R-values, at 8, that you will find. If you plan on doing any winter camping, this is an ideal sleeping pad. It will also do well in the summer, though it will be heavier than most other summer sleeping pads. It's rectangular, and actually has a layer of down built in to it, which helps with adding warmth. It weighs 2.2 pounds, which is 1.02 kilograms, which is very lightweight when compared to sleeping pads with a comparable R-value.
- Therm-A-Rest NeoAir - The NeoAir is one of the best backpacking sleeping pads for summer, and certainly one of the most popular. It's inflatable, and rectangular, which might make you think that it's heavy, but it actually weighs a very lightweight 14.5 ounces, or 410 grams. It's R-value is 2.5, which is ideal for summer camping, and it won the 2009 Backpacker Magazine Editor's Choice award, so you know it's good.
- Gossamer Gear Nightlight - If your chief concern is weight, then foam is a good choice, and a sleeping pad like this one, that's only 3/4 length, is even better. You let your feet or head or a bit of both hang off, and end of saving on weight. The Nightlight weighs 12.3 ounces, or 350 grams, and is 3/4 of an inch thick, with an egg crate design for added comfort. It rolls up well, and you can stick it on the exterior of your backpack and not be worried about damaging it.