Even though you’re sleeping off the ground when hammock camping, an insulating pad will make overnighting outdoors more comfortable. The best sleeping pads for hammocks are lightweight, warm, and designed to stay in place while you snooze. To narrow down the options, I reached out to Mark Evans, a camp outdoors guide and consultant at Summer Camp Hub, and Diane Vukovic, founder of the Mom Goes Camping blog, to weigh in.
First, you’ll want to consider the sleeping pad’s R-value, which measures its ability to resist heat loss — higher R-values equal warmer sleeping pads. In 2020, brands began using a standard test method to measure heat loss and updated ratings are indicated with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) R-value. According to Evans, R-value is “a huge factor if you’re camping in very cold weather.” On the other hand, Vukovic explains, “When camping in low altitudes in summer, the R-value of your sleeping pad isn’t that important. It simply doesn’t get cold enough at night for you to need a pad with lots of insulation.” Keep in mind, that although some brands haven’t updated their R-values to the current ASTM ratings, the number is usually still a good indicator of the insulation you can expect.
Next, your pad’s weight is also important, especially if you’re backpacking. When you’re packing light, Evans notes, “the last thing you want is a heavy sleeping pad since this is often one of the heavier items you'll carry with you.” A sleeping pad for backpacking should weigh around 20 ounces.
The pad’s design will also affect your comfort. “The most important thing is to get a sleeping pad that is flexible and will stay in place,” says Vukovic. “Pads with wings do wonders to help you stay warmer as they prevent heat from escaping from the side.” Vukovic also recommends sleeping pads with ridges that run side-to-side and bend to fit the shape of a hammock. “Avoid sleeping pads which have ridges that run head-to-toe,” cautions Vukovic.
No matter which season you’re camping in, all of the best sleeping pads for hammocks below have been tested and recommended by avid hammock campers.
1. The Expert’s Pick: The Most Comfortable Sleeping Pads For Hammocks
- R-value: 4.4
- Weight: 35 ounces, according to the brand website
- Thickness: 3 inches
Designed specifically for hammocks, this Klymit sleeping pad has wings at the arms and hips to keep you centered and comfortable, and Vukovic calls it “fantastic.” Made from thick 20-denier (D) polyester, the air pad is tear- and puncture-resistant and has synthetic insulation chambers that help keep cold air at the bottom of the pad. The V-chamber design helps prevent the pad from slipping around and creates cushioning at pressure points. In addition, the pad has coated nonslip zones on the top and bottom to keep your pad and sleeping bag in place throughout the night. The pad inflates in about 15 to 20 breaths and will fit almost any hammock. It also comes with a stuff sack and a patch for emergency repairs. Since it’s a bit heavier than some of the other options below, this pad might be better for car camping than long thru-hikes.
One glowing review: “This pad kept me nice and warm in my hammock during 32 degree temps. I used a sleeping bag and the non-slip grips prevented the pad from sliding in the hammock and kept the sleeping bag in one place. The side wings on the pad also kept my sides and arms warm and prevented me from drifting too far to one side or the other.”
2. The Most Lightweight
- R-value: ASTM 4.2
- Weight: 12.5 ounces (regular)
- Thickness: 2.5 inches
Made from tear-resistant 30D nylon, this sleeping pad uses two layers of triangular baffles to minimize heat loss. The pad’s reflective technology also traps radiant heat and sends it back to your body, keeping you warm. The brand’s award-winning WingLock valve system speeds up inflation and deflation, and the pad includes a pump sack, stuff sack, and a repair kit. It’s also earned more than 700 five-star ratings. It even comes in three sizes: regular, regular wide, and large.
One glowing review: “I have been using this all season and I have never been disappointed. I am using it in my hammock on chilly nights and it offers great warmth and in the tent it works perfectly for my pad. I am so happy with this product. Rolling it up you have to do it just right to get the air out of it to fold it up compact to fit in the bag - it took a few tries to get it right.”
3. A Less Expensive Air Pad
- R-value: ASTM 1.3
- Weight: 18.7 ounces
- Thickness: 2.5 inches
The V-chamber design of this sleeping pad creates cushioning at pressure points and prevents heat loss, while the side rails help keep you centered. Made of durable 75D polyester fabric, the pad conforms to your body while still offering support, making it great for side sleepers. It fully inflates in just 10 to 15 breaths. The sleeping pad comes with a stuff sack and patch kit and is available in sand and green in addition to orange. Plus, it’s earned more than 3,000 five-star ratings on Amazon.
One glowing review: “Used two of these and hammocks for two months while [traveling] in Colombia. Kept me warm and supported me in any sleeping position. My band currently uses these while on tour, and it has been a life saver. Most importantly, this mat packs down decently small.”
4. The Best Pad On A Budget
- R-value: ASTM 2
- Weight: 14 ounces (regular)
- Thickness: 0.625 inches
The Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest line of sleeping pads comes recommended by Vukovic, and this foam pad is an excellent budget-friendly option. The sleeping pad has a closed-cell foam design and a supportive, textured surface that traps heat to create better insulation. The pad’s surface reflects radiant heat back to you for additional warmth. Made from durable cross-linked polyethylene, the sleeping pad offers great cushioning despite being relatively thin. It’s also fairly lightweight, and since it’s not an air pad, it doesn’t need time to be blown up and can be rolled up in seconds in the morning. However, it will need to be strapped to the outside of your pack if you’re hiking. More than 1,100 Amazon customers have given this sleeping pad a perfect five-star rating. It comes in two sizes.
One glowing review: “This has become one of my favorite additions to my hammock. I took it on summer backpacking trip to the San Juan national [forest], where Temps fell into the 40's over night. I found it provided some [additional] warmth and the weight was nothing added to my pack. It is priced right.”
5. The Best For Winter
- R-value: ASTM 6.9
- Weight: 17 ounces (regular)
- Thickness: 2.5 inches
The layer of thermal foam between alternating ridges of air and foam in this sleeping pad work to minimize heat loss, and it has the highest R-value of any sleeping pad on this list. According to the brand’s website, the pad has 30D rip HT nylon on top and 70D nylon on the bottom layer. As with the previous Therm-A-Rest pick, this model has a reflective surface to trap radiant heat. The pad also has a one-way WingLock valve system that makes inflation and deflation faster by minimizing air loss. It comes with a pump sack, stuff sack, and repair kit. Choose from three sizes.
One glowing review: “I used it on a 50 degree night in my hammock and I was fine. The second time I used it, the temperature dropped to 27 degrees. This pad was AWESOME that night. I did not feel any of the cold hard ground chilling my back. This pad really reflected my body heat as advertised.”
6. An Expert’s Pick: The Best Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
- R-value: ASTM 4.4
- Weight: 29 ounces (regular)
- Thickness: 3 inches
This self-inflating pad has earned the approval of Evans, who says, “The Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro is thicker and offers excellent comfort when camping in colder weather due to its excellent insulation properties.” The core is made from a layer of thermal foam, nestled between ridges of air and foam, creating insulation to keep you warm. The top fabric is made from 50D polyester knit and the pad will expand on its own with an open valve, but you'll top it off with a few breaths. This one-way WingLock valve system also makes inflation and deflation faster by minimizing air loss. The pad comes with a stuff sack and a repair kit. Choose from regular, regular wide, and large sizes.
One glowing review: “I slept on this pad on the ground in a tent and in a hammock and have loved it both ways. I took it backpacking. It's not the lightest or smallest, but it kept me warm. That R value is legit.”
Also Consider: A Hammock Underquilt
- Weight: 2 pounds
Designed to pair with your favorite sleeping bag, this underquilt fits snugly to the outside of most hammocks and provides heat retention that’s suitable for temperatures between 41 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The underquilt has a water-resistant ripstop nylon shell and a warm, lightweight 700-gram polyester cotton filling. It comes with elastic straps and bungee cord loops, and you can choose between brown and camo print. It’s also earned a 4.7-star overall rating after more than 700 camping enthusiasts weighed in.
One glowing review: “Went hammock camping up in Montana a few nights and this definitely was worth the money. My friends who didn’t have one got cold while I was very comfortable. It got down to about the mid 50’s with no humidity and some wind. I was comfortably warm with this, my hammock, and my 50°F sleeping bag.”
Mark Evans, a camp outdoors guide and consultant at Summer Camp Hub
Diane Vukovic, founder of Mom Goes Camping