Great sleep in the backcountry can be surprisingly tough to come by. You’d think after a long day of hiking; most bikepackers would be tired enough to pass out face first in their rehydrated mashed potatoes. But that’s not always the case.
A good night’s sleep on a backpacking trip used to be a rarity, but today’s sleeping pads are much improved over their predecessors. Comfort is better than ever with advanced baffling and cell designs, weight and packed size continue to drop, and you can get all the insulation and warmth you need for cold weather.
Types Of Camping Mattress
Camping mattresses suitable for cycle touring and bikepacking are split into three categories:
Closed Cell Foam
These essential backpacking pads are made of dense foam filled with tiny closed air cells. They’re usually rolled up or folded in a Z formation. Pros: They’re lightweight, inexpensive, durable, and offer consistent insulation in all conditions. You don’t need to worry about punctures or leaks.
A self-inflating mat is a compressible foam layer inside an airtight envelope of fabric with a sealable valve. When you open the valve, the foam expands sucks air into the mat, and after a couple of minutes, the mat will be semi-firm
Air pads come in a wide variety of styles, from lightweight ones ideal for backpacking up to extra-thick ones that are great for glamping. Most air pads now contain insulation and/or reflective materials to increase warmth. Many air pads feature alternative inflation methods so you can save your breath.
Best Sleeping Pad for Bikepacking
This article will be looking at some of the best options out there for sleeping pads. But they are not just any sleeping pad; they need to be ultralight! The lighter, the better, especially when we are considering bikepacking. One of the essential gear attributes is that it is lightweight and packs down relatively small in storage area or volume.
Packing a top-notch sleeping pad will help you take your backcountry sleep game to the next level, and it’s critical for comfort and warmth. We’ve researched and tested dozens of sleeping pads over hundreds of nights to narrow this list down to the best of the best.
Therm-a-Rest Neoair Uberlite Sleeping Pad
The NeoAir UberLite is the most miniature, lightest insulated sleeping pad ever. Crazy-light fabric and internal reflective film shave grams. It inflates to 6.4cm of sleeping comfort but packs down small enough to delight the ultralight crowd.
UberLite looks like other Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir sleeping pads, but it’s made with lighter fabric and has less insulation to save weight and therefore is not intended for use in cooler seasons. You can extend its temperature range by using it in combination with cell foam pads from Gossamer Gear or Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol to increase its insulation in colder weather and take advantage of its comfort while sleeping.
The main question to ask yourself with this pad is: how often do you backpack in sub-freezing temps? If the answer is rarely, this might be the perfect pad for you.
- Ultralight 15-denier high-tenacity nylon.
- WingLock valve with 1-way airflow inflates three times faster than conventional valves and is simple to use even with gloves.
- To deflate, twist the wing valve to open.
- The Triangle core matrix is stable and has a heat-trapping reflective film.
- Air-only pads have no insulation that can be compromised by moisture, often added when inflating them by mouth.
- Quietest NeoAir model
- Pump sack included
- Not good for sub-freezing temps
- Less durable than some pads
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
Sleep is as essential as any other piece of equipment you need to achieve goals in the wild. With Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir XLite Air Mattress, you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to keep moving forward. Even better, you won’t be adding weight or bulk to your overall kit to get that critical downtime.
The unrivaled Triangular Core Matrix offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any air sleeping pad construction. The construction gives the 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick pad superior stability, boasting the most inches of weld for maximum camp comfort.
- Patent-pending reflective layer returns heat to your body and creates air pockets that conserve warmth, all without the bulk and weight of down and synthetic fills
- New softer fabrics bring better next-to-skin comfort and boost durability with no added weight
- The ultra-packable design offers less weight and bulk than a 1-liter water bottle
- Advanced materials and a tapered design have an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
- 5-in. thickness, soft-touch fabrics, and baffled internal structure provide unrivaled comfort, stability, and support
- Exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio
- Packs down small
- Pump sack included
- Trusted brand with a great warranty
- Crinkle sound annoying to some
Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad
Offering quieter, more supportive sleep at a tiny packed size, the Tensor ultralight sleeping pad stands apart as the ultimate backcountry adventurer’s best friend.
Updated with a zero-profile, micro-adjustable valve and included Vortex pump sack, NEMO’s lightest sleeping pad uses premium 20D fabrics to shave grams without sacrificing plush comfort.
Spaceframe baffles offer unparalleled stability, weight distribution, and a quieter sleeping experience using low-stretch die-cut trusses to eliminate springiness and keep your elbows and hips from poking through to the ground.
- Three inches of stable, cushioned loft.
- New, included Vortex pump sack provides easy and fast inflation, saves breath at elevation, and minimizes moisture entering the pad.
- New Laylow zero-profile, the multi-functional, micro-adjustable valve, is flush to the pad and offers customized control over your inflation.
- Spaceframe baffles offer unparalleled stability and weight distribution.
- Premium 20D fabrics offer a soft luxury feel and shave grams for minimal packed size and weight.
- Insulated models leverage two layers of suspended Thermal Mirror metalized film for lighter and quieter insulation compared to the competition.
- Remarkably quiet sleep as compared with other sleeping pads due to suspended film construction. No loud crinkly noise when shifting in the night.
- It comes in a wide range of sizes for exacting bag and tent pairing.
- The packaging is made from recycled materials and is 100% recyclable.
- Quiet for an inflatable pad
- Many size or shape options
- Good valve system
- Well-designed pump sack included
- Slightly heavier or bulkier
Klymit Static V2 Sleeping Pad
This sleeping pad is design for rugged activities, and the materials are made of 75-denier polyester for durability and extended use. Very easy to use. Push the valve allows for quick inflation and deflation.
Lightweight and perfect for bikepacking and backpacking adventures. Lightweight with a compact size of 3″ x 8, easy to attach anywhere on your bikepacking bike. Comfortable to sleep even on your side, stomach, and back.
The Klymit Static V and Static V2 are the best budget air pads on the market. They’re built with thicker materials than most lightweight pads and are also slightly wider than the standard pad size.
The V-shaped air tubes on this pad are comfortable, but the large spaces between air chambers mean you may bottom out while shifting around. The Static V & V2’s biggest downside is their low R-value, which makes them best for summer trips only.
- An even lighter version of Klymit’s best backpacking sleeping pad
- A body-mapped top keeps your sleeping bag atop the pad all night
- Valve inflates in ten to fifteen breathes
- Stuff sack and patch kit included
- Very affordable
- Slightly wider and more durable than standard pads
- Low R-value – summer use only
- Can bottom out when shifting around
Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat Sleeping Pad with Inflation Pump Sack
If you are looking for a lightweight sleeping pad, but you will not compromise on comfort, durability, insulation, or ease of use, look no further. The Air Sprung Cell design delivers stability and support, while the lamination and weld quality set new standards for reliability.
Thermolite and Exkin Platinum insulation deliver performance tested according to the ASTM standard to give an R-Value of 3.1, perfect for late spring through early fall camping.
Air Sprung Cells are the core technology used in Sea to Summit Air Mats are the reason you will sleep more comfortably on a Sea to Summit mat than on a conventional air pad.
Inspired by the hundreds of springs found in a modern pocket sprung mattress, the hundreds of small interconnected chambers perfectly support your weight and conform to your body contours.
- NEW Air Sprung Cells provide unrivaled comfort and support
- Multi-Function Valve integrates inflation and deflation plus pressure adjustment into one low-profile design
- Extruded TPU Laminationprevents delamination of fabric layers
- Integrated Sea to Summit Airstream Pump sack and repair patches included
- Lightweight warmth
- Comfortable and thick
- Good valve system – quick inflation or deflation
- Pump sack included
Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SLX Sleeping Pad
The Q-Core SLX Insulated pad combines the comforts from home with a lightweight and durable design for sleeping far away from civilization. Made from a TPU laminated nylon ripstop fabric, this pad stands up to the abuse from moving camp night after night on various surfaces. Primaloft Silver insulation and a heat-reflective technology increase your warmth, while a quilted top and I-Beam construction offer a cozy night’s sleep.
It differentiates itself from other pads because its oversized side rails help keep users centered in the middle of the pad. Also, at 3.5 inches thick, the SLX is among the thickest pads on this list. All current model Big Agnes pads come with an inflation sack, but if saving every ounce is crucial to you, then the upgraded Pumphouse Ultra might be worth the extra money
- Light, insulated sleeping pad designed for three-season backpacking
- Primaloft Silver insulation offers lightweight warmth
- Heat-reflective technology bounces your body heat back to you
- Laminated ripstop packs small and provides increased durability
- High-volume valve allows efficient inflation and fast deflation
- I-Beam construction reduces weight without disrupting stability
- It comes with a stuff sack and pad inflation sack for quick inflation
- Quick deflation
- Side rails keep you centered on the pad
- Pump sack included
- Narrower profile than other pads
Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Ultralight Self-Inflating Backpacking Pad
This sleeping pad is the best solution for a good comfortable sleep. You can use it in summer, winter, and any season—one of the best insulated and self-inflating sleeping pads. With the R-value of 2.4, it will keep you warm and insulated throughout the night.
Although this pad is quite expensive, it is worth it. Very comfortable and lightweight. If you’re a side sleeper, then this one is for you.
The lightweight and warm self-inflating pad offer a lot of comfort and convenience for colder weather adventures like bikepacking, ski touring, mountaineering, or just all-around backpacking.
For journeying into the backcountry with self-inflating support, This ProLite Plus is a camp favorite. The 1.5-inch (3.8 cm) pad boasts a 3.2 R-value for added warmth in the backcountry.
The diagonal-cut foam creates a lighter mattress without sacrificing warmth. Premium materials and foam provide legendary Therm-a-Rest comfort and support.
The versatile self-inflating pad features the high-performance WingLock valve, which has three-times the airflow rate of the classic valve thanks to a larger opening and one-way inflation.
- Perfect for three-season camping or backpacking, the ProLite Plus self-inflating sleeping pad offers dependable, lightweight comfort
- It’s equipped with a dependable and rugged WingLock valve; the pad inflates three times faster than a standard valve and features lightning-fast deflation
- This camping mattress with expanding self-inflating foam delivers convenience and comfort and is an ultra-compact expedition sleeping solution
- Easy to inflate
- Best quality
- Super light and easy to pack
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Reflective Foam Camping Ground Pad
A very nice ultralight foam pad that is used under your sleeping bag. The materials are made of a closed-cell foam pad that can handle any weight and one of the best sleeping pads for big guys. This sleeping pad is softer on the top for maximum comfort and insulation. If you’re conscious of the weight, then this is for you engineered for mountaineers, hikers, and backpackers.
The aluminized surface reflects body heat that increases temperature for warm and also a comfortable sleep. Very durable withstand use in many years to come. Easy to pack and unpack, just unfold it and also compatible for hammock camping.
- Ideal sleeping pad for everything from alpine climbing to first time backpacking
- The lightweight counterpart to the RidgeRest Solar mattress
- Aluminized surface boosts warmth, reflecting heat to your body
- A 10% increase in warmth versus the original RidgeRest
- Virtually indestructible and light enough to carry anywhere
- Soft peaks and heat-trapping valleys provide exceptional comfort
- It is fairly light and comfortable
- Very thick and doesn’t half reflect the heat
- Very durable
Paria Outdoor Products Recharge Sleeping Pad
You just finished a long day of hiking, found the perfect campsite with an epic view, and are ready to settle in for the night. Nothing could be more perfect than cinching up your sleeping bag or quilt on a nice comfortable sleeping pad.
That’s why this ReCharge sleeping pad was designed with comfort in mind. Narrower vertical baffles that run across the body create a smooth sleeping surface, while the non-slip finish of the diamond rip-stop will keep you from sliding off the pad.
The ReCharge UL is an answer for backpackers and thru-hikers. Featuring a tapered 72 x 20-inch sleeping surface, 2.5 inches of thickness, and weighing only 20 ounces, it provides an incredible comfort-to-weight ratio.
Its maker laminated high-loft synthetic microfiber insulation to the interior of each pad to minimize air movement and maximize warmth. As a result, the ReCharge UL achieves an estimated R-value of 3.5.
- Size:72 x 20 inches, tapered design to minimize weight
- Thickness:5 inches
- Estimated R-value:5
- Weight:20 ounces
- Packed size:7 inches long by 4 inches in diameter
- Material:40 Denier TPU diamond rip-stop nylon
- Insulation: Laminated 90g/m2 synthetic microfiber
- Rolls up to a decent size and takes minimal effort to inflate
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Sleeping Pad
The Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra is a comfortable, well-made mattress that has several unique features. Those features and price make it a good choice for the value-conscious backpacker looking for a high-quality and reasonably light mattress that will give them many seasons of use.
This lightweight mattress packs up small to suit 3-season camping and backpacking. Its stabilizing construction keeps you from rolling onto the cold ground. Equipped with a high-volume valve for quick inflation, you can use the inflation sack to save your breath for the trial. Rolling up to not much larger than a Nalgene, this pad delivers excellent warmth for its size.
- Shell is lightweight doubled ripstop nylon that has great tear resistance.
- Laminated with aviation-grade TPU for durability and has an internal polyurethane coating.
- High-loft THERMOLITE synthetic insulation provides warmth with minimal weight and bulk.
- Built-in reflective material helps retain heat.
- Internal antimicrobial treatment prevents microorganism growth inside the pad.
- Lengthwise baffled construction with large outer chambers provides a stable surface and keeps you in the center of the pad.
- I-beam construction eliminates welded seams to reduce cold spots.
- A high-volume one-way valve allows for quick inflation and deflation, with a micro air-pressure adjust button.
- The simple and effective valve design
- Acceptable weight for the price
- Super easy to deflate and get back into a compact size
- Quality construction
- The bright orange color would be great as a signal device in an emergency
- Eco packaging—simple cardboard box
- Insulation feature is of limited benefit
- Lack of an R rating to use in comparison to other Manufactures insulated mattress designs
Factors to Consider Before Buying Best Sleeping Pad for Bikepacking
Here are factors you might have to look for before you make a decision to go for a specific sleeping pad
As with any back or bikepacking product, weight is a very important consideration. If you’re the type of backpacker who prioritizes speed and distance, you’ll want to look for a low-weight sleeping pad. That may mean sacrificing a little bit of thickness and, therefore, comfort because, in general, the heavier the sleeping pad, the more comfort it provides.
Dimensions, Shape, and Thickness
Sleeping pad dimensions are important to consider, especially if you are taller or larger than average, since the dimensions may affect your level of comfort. Instead of one size fits all, many sleeping pads come in regular and long wide sizes. Be sure to read the exact dimensions for each.
If you’re primarily a warm-weather bikepacker, you don’t need to worry too much about sleeping pad insulation, but if you plan to use your pad on cooler nights (and remember-cooler nights do happen even in summer, depending on where you are!), then you’ll want to look into pad insulation.
An important spec to know is the pad’s r-value. R-values run 1-5 with low R-values indicating low insulation (warm weather sleeping pads) and high R-values indicating greater insulation (cool to cold weather sleeping pads).
Sleeping Pad Inflation
Some pads have both a high-volume inflation valve and a deflation valve, which can speed airflow in or out. Some new pads have larger “neck” openings that allow fast inflation with fewer breaths. Pads with separate inflation chambers or layers can give you peace of mind; if one layer fails, the other will still give you some cushioning.
When choosing your pad’s length, it’s not always about how tall (or short) you are. Sure, that’s the basic rule of thumb. If you’re tall, consider a size large, which in our case means a pad that measures about 6 feet 5 inches in length. Our size Regular, for reference, is 6 feet.
Do you need a sleeping pad? Well, As you can see, sleeping pads are almost always necessary. Sleeping pads not only provide a cushioned sleeping surface to keep you comfortable, but they also provide critical insulation from cold ground temperatures.
Our choice is a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad because it’s comfortable and warm without sacrificing much in the realm of price and packed size. Made from a mix of foam and air baffles, it offers an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. We gave it a couple of breaths to top it off and were immediately pleased with the comfort and insulation. We hope our article was of help to you.