If you are going hiking, backpacking or camping, and are planning to spend the night in your tent, then investing in a good-quality sleeping pad is necessary. This is because after hiking, your body becomes exhausted and it is essential to get some rest.
The cheapest and lightest pads are closed-cell foam pads. These pads are durable and can double as a quick seat during a brief rest on the trail or during a meal.
The alternative is an inflatable pad. Many backpackers find these to be a little more “deluxe” than a closed-cell foam pad, providing a more comfortable sleeping surface. These can be a little heavier, however, and you must stay aware of your surroundings to avoid a puncture in the pad.
However, if you don’t have a good sleeping pad, you’re going to wake up tired and won’t be able to enjoy your backpacking trip. Investing in a good one, on the other hand, will help you sleep comfortably by providing proper cushioning and insulation. If you are looking to buy one, then read on this article to choose the one which fits your needs and budget most perfectly.
So here is the list of best budget sleeping pads for backpacking that will help you sleep comfortably.
1. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb. 3.6 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
Klymit Insulated Static V Lite has a very unique design. It has a V-shaped baffle system throughout the length of the pad that creates a comfortable position throughout the night. It allows for minimal weight and materials while maximizing thermal efficiency. Also, there are air chambers between each baffle and that helps to create or trap warm air.
On the sides, there’re dynamic side rails which help to keep you on the pad all night. They help to cradle you no matter if you’re sleeping in a hammock or a typical sleeping bag. They’re very flexible and they curl up around the sides to make sure you stay on the pad.
The estimated R-value is about 4.4 with this pad which makes it good for 4-season use. Maybe not in the most extreme temperatures but some of those colder nights, this pad could perform well. The pad packs down small and it comes with its stuff sack. It also comes with a small repair kit just in case you need to do some field repairs.
Pros: Wide sleeping platform, lightweight, warm, baffles feel stable
Cons: Not a standout in any specific category.
2. NEMO Switchback
Type: Closed-cell foam
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Thickness: 0.9 in.
R-Value: Rated at 20 to 35˚F
NEMO Switchback is a closed-cell foam pad that is ideal for lightweight backpackers. It packs down into an accordion-style pattern. The pad weighs in right around 14.5 ounces for the regular size. It also comes in a small which is right around 10.5 ounces. It is also perfect for adding to another inflatable sleeping pad. So if you have a sleeping pad and you like to take out in the winter but it doesn’t have an R-value that is high enough, you can pair it easily and comfortably with a closed-cell foam pad like this one.
Keep in mind that this is not a good choice for you if you’re looking for a cushy and comfortable sleeping pad. All you get is a little less than an inch of closed-cell foam, along with a reflective coating designed to capture radiant heat.
The pad is lightweight and packs down small. You can lash it to the outside of a backpack so you don’t notice it when you don’t need it.
Pros: Durable, very affordable, doubles as a camp seat
Cons: Not recommended for sub-freezing temps (best for summer use), not as comfortable as inflatable pads
3. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.
Thickness: 2 in.
Therm-a-Rest is constantly innovating and developing new technology that has kept them at the top of the sleeping pad game for years. The Trail Pro is a tried-and-true pad and has gotten some enhancements. This pad is built for the backpackers, travelers who need a reliable, warm and comfortable pad.
You get some traditional design elements that keep the pad’s heritage. Inside, it’s lined with open-cell expanding foam just like a sponge absorbs liquid. This foam will essentially suck in air and expand or self-inflate when you open up the valve. The Trail Pro has a perimeter air baffle that is going to bring up the loft a little bit and give you some stability around the edges of the pad. This helps staying on the pad throughout the night and to keep you nestled in.
It’s a diagonally cut foam that bolsters the warmth by minimizing heat loss. The pad itself is also pressure-mapped to give you support and softness in the area where you need it most. The foam is also strategically die-cut to reduce bulk in other areas that balance out the pad’s weight and size.
It does include a stuff sack for storage and packing away. When storing for a long time, keep it unrolled with the valve open under your bed or somewhere where it can just lay flat. This helps to keep that foam in the best shape throughout the pad’s life.
Pros: Quality build, self-inflating convenience
Cons: Weight and packed size can’t compete with an air pad.
4. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL
Type: Closed-cell foam
Weight: 14 oz.
Thickness: 0.75 in.
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL is a lightweight and classic sleeping mat that couldn’t be any simpler. If you’re an ounce-counting backpacker or looking for an affordable and durable pad this one is a perfect choice. The pad is also perfect for adding to another inflatable sleeping pad.
It is a closed-cell foam mat and the great thing about this mat is that it’s not inflatable. So there is no way that you can puncture or pop it. There is a shiny silver color on top that is a thermal reflective barrier. It’s going to reflect your body’s heat to you to make it much more thermally efficient. The other stand out feature is the egg crate design. When you fold this up, the egg crate design folds down into itself and that saves a lot of space.
A pad like this has multiple uses that go beyond just sleeping on it at night. You can use it as a seat. Fold it up and create a cushiony seat! You can also use it to prop up against trees. Unlike an inflatable sleeping pad, you don’t have to worry about this being punctured. You can put it on different surfaces and not worry about it getting damaged. Use it in the truck of your car, going to the beach, on picnics, anything you can throw at it. This is a great companion.
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplement
Cons: Dimples gather dirt and moisture, breaks down over time
5. Big Agnes Air Core Ultra
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb. 4 oz.
Thickness: 3.5 in.
R-Value: Rated at 35°F
The Big Agnes Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad is an extremely light and compact pad, ideal for summer backpacking and camping trips. It provides you with a smooth and stable surface to sleep on and will help you get a sound sleep after a tiring day.
This model is very easy to inflate and deflate which means when you are ready to sleep, it will only take a few breaths to inflate, and you would be able to sleep immediately. It’s also sturdier and warmer as compared to its award-winning forerunner. Thanks to its advanced heat reflective mechanism.
Available in beautiful gold color, this sleeping pad is available in 4 different sizes. Price varies according to the size, of course. This pad is also antimicrobial so you don’t have to worry about microorganism growth inside the pad due to moist air. Those who purchased it found this pad extremely lightweight and found it easier to fold and pack.
Overall, this is a lightweight, low volume backpacking pad that will make you forget you’re sleeping on the ground.
Pros: Lightweight, very compact, easy to inflate/deflate, easy to roll up and stuff back into its carrying bag.
Cons: This pad is not self-inflating and moving around on it is a bit noisy.
6. Klymit Insulated Static V Luxe
Type: Air pad
Weight: 2 lbs. 3 oz.
Thickness: 3 in.
Klymit is known for using the minimal amount of materials to give the maximum amount of comfort in the backcountry. Static V Luxe is the wider and more comfortable luxurious type of sleeping pad. It is going to be comfortable and offers a lot of thermal efficiency throughout most seasons throughout the year. It has side rails that provide a secure sleep and keeps your body in the center of the mattress. The V-Chambered sleeping surface allows you to toss and turn freely without feeling confined. This body-mapping technology allows you to sleep on your back, your stomach, or your sides – whichever way you like. And the best part: it’s wide. The pad provides a lot of warmth while you sleep on it – thanks to its lofted synthetic insulation which gives the optimal thermal performance.
Its twist-pull valve is simple to use and you only have to blow up to 10 breaths to inflate it. You can fold the pad over twice lengthwise and roll it up. The valve allows the air to exit so you don’t get any bubbles trapped in sections that are cut off. It’s compact and can be effortlessly rolled up into a small cubicle and can be tucked in your backpack without adding any weight. The pad comes with a patch kit in case you need to make emergency repairs.
Pros: Extra-wide, great for people who tend to move about more at night, there’s less of a chance of you rolling off
Cons: Could take a while to inflate if you blow it up.
7. NEMO Astro
Weight: 1 lb. 11 oz.
Thickness: 3.5 in.
R-Value: Rated at 15 to 25°F
With a pack size so small and weight so light and a comfort level so supreme it is hard not to love the NEMO Astro insulated sleeping pad. The pad comes with stellar support provided by its lateral baffles that do not allow the pad from curling under the person’s body weight. In terms of the comfort provided by this pad, it has an oversized pillow baffle towards the end to give you extra loft which prevents your pillow from sliding away from the pad while you are asleep.
It is ultralight and doesn’t add bulk when folded, and it serves as the perfect companion when you are camping in the mountains on colder nights. Thanks to its PrimaLoft insulation that helps to keep your body warm throughout the night and allows you to wake up fresh and energized. It has a rugged ripstop top to provide extra durability even when used on rougher, mountainous surfaces or forest floors.
Customers love it because it is very compact and hardly takes up any space in their backpacks, and of course because it’s sturdy and provides a good value for money.
Pros: Excellent comfort, sturdy construction, easy valve mechanism, very quiet, packs well
Cons: The surface is a bit slippery.
8. Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus
Weight: 1 lb. 7 oz.
Thickness: 1.5 in.
This is a lightweight and warm self-inflating pad that offers a lot of comfort and convenience for colder weather adventures ski touring or just all-around backpacking. The pad especially comes in handy during winter because it provides extra warmth and keeps helps you sleep comfortably throughout the night. You wake up fresh and warm, thanks to its diagonal cut foam which offers more warmth as compared to the traditional vertical-cut form found in other sleeping pads.
Although it is especially good for winter, its 3.4 R-value makes it ideal to be used throughout the year. It is self-inflating and if you like to sleep on a firmer pad, it would just take a few more breaths into the valve. It is available in three sizes, has a limited lifetime warranty, and is accompanied with a stuff sack and an emergency repair kit.
Customers who bought it gave it five stars because of its thickness which allows a person to sleep on their sides without having to feel any pain. Also, people found it extremely lightweight and durable, thus, perfect for backpacking.
Pros: Good balance of warmth, convenience, cushion, weight, and packability. It also works great with hammocks.
Cons: The folding up isn’t great, it’s hard to get all the air out but doable after a couple of tries.
9. ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Air Pad
Weight: 2 lbs. 4 oz.
Thickness: 1.5 in.
ALPS Mountaineering is a renowned name in outdoor gear manufacturing and has been around for 25 years. Their products are famous for being performance-driven and high in quality. The ALPS Mountaineering Lightweight Series Air Pad is a self-inflating pad which is extremely lightweight and sturdy. You can quickly and effortlessly inflate and deflate it with its jet stream foam and roll it up to fit in your backpack without adding bulk or weight.
The top fabric is tough made up of abrasion-resistant Polyester ripstop fabric which makes it very comfortable to sleep on, while the inner air pad keeps your body warm at night. It comes with a free-of-cost stuff sack, repair kit, and compression straps, which earns this air pad extra points. It comes in five different sizes following your height, and prices vary accordingly.
What makes ALPS Mountaineering products stand out is that they come with a limited lifetime warranty, which shows that they are committed to making their products better and take customer services very seriously.
Pros: It’s lightweight and attaches easily to the outside of a backpack.
Cons: Slow to inflate and doesn’t inflate completely without blowing into the mat. It’s also very thin.
10. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
Type: Air pad
Weight: 12 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
This ultralight and inflatable air mattress is perfect for backpacking and mountaineering expeditions and offers maximum comfort and warmth in all seasons. It comes with the reflective ThermaCapture technology, which as the name suggests, traps radiant heat within the mat to provide warmth, while its Triangular Core Matrix prevents the loss of heat when a person is sleeping on it.
This pad is perfect for sleeping outdoors in spring, summer, and fall seasons as well because it has an R-value of 4.2 – which measures how much insulation the pad can provide.
It inflates just by blowing into the valve and the job is done effortlessly within minutes. It’s extremely lightweight and makes a perfect travel companion. The pad also doesn’t add bulk because of its tapered design and materials. The pad comes in three sizes following your height, and you will also get a repair kit and stuff sack with it.
Customers who bought this sleeping pad found it very comfortable and warm to sleep on, and recommend others to buy it too.
Pros: Lightweight and durable. We’d also recommend this to anyone who wants a lightweight inflatable sleeping pad.
Cons: Makes a bit of noise because of the reflective layers within, not very budget-friendly
11. Klymit Static V2
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
Klymit is a trusted name in sleeping pad manufacturing and most of its products are made with advanced technology. The Static V2 sleeping pad is an excellent option for you if you are looking for a pad that is versatile and can be used on all surfaces like the ground, cot or even hammocks!
On the Static V2, you’ve got V-shaped chambers that run the center of this pad. It gives it a unique and comfortable ergonomics. It also creates a bit of headrest at the top of the pad and these deep cut-aways help to save weight as well.
Available in stunning green color, this luxurious sleeping pad only weighs one pound and can be compactly stuffed in one’s backpack, thus making it ideal for backpacking that you can lay your hands on. Like other Klymit sleeping pads, this one also comes with a V-chambered design that allows your body to stay in the right posture while you sleep, and allows you to comfortably move during your sleep.
If you purchase this one, you can say goodbye to a stiffened body in the morning that substandard sleeping pads often cause. The side rails keep your body secure in the center of the pad, and the deep-weld pattern of the pad allows for expansion zones that provide thermal comfort. Easy to inflate and deflate, this one has become very popular among customers because of its design and comparatively lower price.
Pros: Packs up small, easy to air up, durable, comfortable and affordable
Cons: The R-Value is a little low.
12. Sea to Summit Comfort Light
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb. 5.9 oz.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
Sea to Summit Comfort Light is great for any backpacker and camper looking for comfort and convenience. Sea to Summit sleeping pads are some of the most unique pads on the market these days. Instead of using some of the traditional baffle systems, these pads use a really neat air-sprung cell technology.
The matrix of dot-welds seen on the mat form the revolutionary air sprung cells that work like individual coils to make the mattress bouncy, thus distributing your weight evenly on the mattress, and contouring your body perfectly. It’s like you’re sleeping on your soft master bed. You can easily inflate and deflate it – and if you’re blowing air with our mouth, you can easily do it with 10-12 full breaths, and deflate it within a few seconds.
This air pad is also very durable – thanks to its aeronautical-grade manufacturing technology. It’s anti-mold, and even when you use your breath to inflate it, the moist air will not cause any mold because of its anti-microbial TPU that remains bonded to the shell fabric permanently.
Customers who buy it love the product because it’s extremely lightweight and easily packs down to a very small size that doesn’t take a lot of space in a backpack.
Pros: Very comfortable, provides great hip support, not very noisy compared to other pads.
Cons: Could have more cushion, slick surface, expensive
13. Exped SynMat UL
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb. 0.8 oz.
Thickness: 2.8 in.
The Exped SynMat UL sleeping pad is available in a beautiful orange color, and although it belongs to the slightly pricier end of the spectrum, it’s an amazing sleeping pad. With an R-value of 3.3, it keeps the body warm during winter months. This pad is extremely comfortable and comes with an anti-slip, grip-skin coating in a honeycomb pattern. It has a tight laminate which is hydrolysis resistant.
The pad is very thick and comfortable. You can use your pad in several environments from car camping to week-long backpacking trips and this pad is great everywhere. Roots and rocks do not seem to exist when you are on your Exped. Cold granite and the wet ground will not seep through during the night.
The pad is very easy to inflate (takes about 10 breaths) and deflate, with inflate/deflate dual valve system. It is also incredibly easy to inflate to high pressure even sleeping on a slight incline. Furthermore, it takes about 2 seconds to deflate completely and fits easily in the stuff sack even rolling it up loosely. In the end, it takes up between 1/2 to 3/4 L worth of space.
It also comes with a flat-valve technology which makes it a durable and ideal choice for fans of sturdy outdoor products.
Pros: Very comfortable and lightweight, easy to inflate using the Exped air pump pillow
Cons: The intense heat can melt the glue of the baffles and can destroy the pad.
14. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture
Type: Air pad
Weight: 1 lb. 6 oz.
Thickness: 2 in.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture Lightweight Camping Air Mattress is not only a more economical than a lot of other air pads but this one keeps your body warm through its wave core design that provides double the warmth as compared to mattresses which are uninsulated.
This mattress has a compact design and can be tucked into a backpack effortlessly without having bulk. It’s very comfortable and guarantees to provide you with a good night’s sleep.
This pad offers protection from the ground e.g. damp, cold, uneven surface. Very easy to set up—you just unroll it, blow for about 10 full breaths and you have an air mattress in the wilderness.
This pad, however, is not suitable for winter months as its R-value is only 1.8, which makes it perfect for summer camping expeditions. People who purchased it love it for its lightweight body and compactness, which makes it easy to carry around.
Pros: It’s very durable since it’s made by Therm-a-Rest, materials are top-notch.
Cons: It has a low R-value, so it’s not made for the freezing temperatures.
Best Budget Sleeping Pads: Comparison Table
|Insulated Static V Lite||Air pad||1 lb. 3.6 oz.||2.5 in.||4.4|
|NEMO Switchback||Closed-cell foam||14.5 oz.||0.9 in.||Rated at 20 to 35˚F|
|Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro||Self-inflating||1 lb. 10 oz.||2 in.||4.0|
|Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL||Closed-cell foam||14 oz.||0.75 in.||2.6|
|Big Agnes Air Core Ultra||Air pad||1 lb. 4 oz.||3.5 in.||Rated at 35°F|
|Insulated Static V Luxe||Air pad||2 lbs. 3 oz.||3 in.||4.4|
|NEMO Astro||Self-inflating||1 lb. 11 oz.||3.5 in.||Rated at 15 to 25°F|
|Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus||Self-inflating||1 lb. 7 oz.||1.5 in.||3.4|
|ALPS Lightweight Series||Self-inflating||2 lbs. 4 oz.||1.5 in.||4.0|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite||Air pad||12 oz.||2.5 in.||4.2|
|Klymit Static V2||Air pad||1 lb.||2.5 in.||1.3|
|Sea to Summit Comfort Light||Air pad||1 lb. 5.9 oz.||2.5 in.||3.7|
|Exped SynMat UL||Air pad||1 lb. 0.8 oz.||2.8 in.||3.3|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture||Air pad||1 lb. 6 oz.||2 in.||1.8|
Tips to Purchase the Best Budget Sleeping Pad
While all the listed sleeping pads in this article are best in their own right, there are a few suggestions to keep in mind when purchasing a sleeping pad.
Before purchasing any sleeping pads, make sure which type are you looking for. Types include air pads, self-inflating pads, and foam pads. Each one has a different function, so make sure to decide which one will work best for you.
If you are hiking or camping frequently, look for the sleeping pad that can provide you with maximum durability. So that it will last longer and you don’t have to purchase it again and again.
Insulation and R-value
If you are looking for a sleeping pad which will keep your body warmer through greater insulation, then check the R-value of the sleeping pad. Anything more than 3 is an average R-value, and the higher it goes, the more insulated it is.
Whether you are tall or short, always check if the pad is available for your height. If you are too tall, you wouldn’t want to end up sleeping on a pad which is shorter than your body length. So look for the pad that is long enough.
If you want to buy a sleeping pad that can provide you the best posture, is anti-slip, and can allow you to sleep in any position – whether on your back, stomach, or sides, then choose a pad that can adapt to the contours of your body.