Sleeping Pad R-ValuesSleeping Pad R-Values are an important measure of the insulation capabilities of a sleeping pad. The term R-value comes from the construction industry and was adopted by the hiking and backpacking industry. Determining an R-value is a complex process, and is usually done by the manufacturer.
To compare sleeping pad R-values, check out the sleeping pad list.
High Sleeping Pad R-ValuesA high sleeping pad R-value indicates that the sleeping pad has a large amount of insulation, and will give the underside of your body ample insulation. Though it may not be obvious, you actually lose large amounts of heat from the underside of your body while sleeping, so a high sleeping pad R-value is important when hiking and backpacking in the winter. Sleeping pads with high R-values are also ideal to use with backpacking quilts, which will keep your topside warm and allow your underside to be kept warm by the sleeping pad.
Here are a few sleeping pads with high R-values that would be ideal for hiking and backpacking in colder temperatures.
- Therm-A-Rest Dreamtime Mattress - The Therm-A-Rest Dreamtime mattress has one of the highest sleeping pad R-values, at 9, that you will find on the market. All that insulation is heavy, however, and the Dreamtime weighs 3 kg, or 6.6 pounds, so it's not light. If you need a sleeping pad with a high R-value, however, you cant do better than this.
- Big Agnes Two Track Pad - The Big Agnes Two Track has a lower sleeping pad R-value of only 6.5, which is still warm but not toasty. But it weighs only 1020 kilograms, or 2.25 pounds, and comes in a mummy shape, and also gets some great reviews, so it's another warm sleeping pad with a high R-value worth considering.
- Exped Downmat 9 Pad - The Exped Downmat has a very respectable sleeping pad R-value of 8, making it a very warm sleeping pad. Where it really shines, however, is in the weight department. It weighs only 1020 kilograms, or 2.25 pounds, which is less than many sleeping pads with a much lower R-value, so if you want something warm and light, definitely consider the Exped Downmat.
Low Sleeping Pad R-ValuesA low sleeping pad R-value means that the sleeping pad has little or no insulation, and will not provide very much warmth as a result. Insulation tends to weigh a lot, however, and so cutting back on insulation means your backpack will end up weighing less. Sleeping pads with low R-values are ideal for summer conditions where warmth isn't as much of a concern.
Here are a few sleeping pads with low R-values to consider.
- Gossamer Gear Thinlight Insulation Pad - The Gossamer Gear Thinlight is made from foam, and is not inflatable, like most sleeping pads. There are several benefits to foam, one of which is a low sleeping pad R-value. The thinlight R-value, for example, is just .45, which is very little insulation. For summer hiking and backpacking, however, you wont need much insulation. Another benefit of foam is weight. The Thinlight weighs just 69 grams, or 2.4 ounces, which is so light you'll hardly even realize you're carrying it.
- Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad - The Big Agnes Clearview has an sleeping pad R-value of just 1, which is very little insulation, making it ideal for the summer months. It's inflatable, and weighs only 396 grams, or 14 ounces, which makes it an ideal trade-off between weight and insulation.
- Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad - The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir is an extremely popular sleeping pad, and with good reason. It has a sleeping pad R-value of 2.5, making it ideal for a variety of warmer temperatures, but weighs only 410 grams, or 14.5 ounces, which is an impressive weight saving over other sleeping pads with lower R-values. If you're looking for an inflatable warm weather sleeping pad that can do it all, the NeoAir is the obvious choice.