Sleeping in the woods is an amazing experience — you build a cozy campfire, kick back under the stars, and connect with Mother Nature. That said, if you don’t have a good sleeping pad, you won’t get any rest at all. It’s hard to enjoy the serene sounds of nature when a sharp stone is sticking into your back. If you’re going to get a good night’s sleep outside, you need to invest in one of the best sleeping pads for camping that you can find.
There are lots of options to choose from and the style you pick will depend on what type of camping you’re doing and what your personal preferences are. If you’re going to be hiking with gear, for example, you’ll need something lightweight. Closed-cell foam is a great choice for this, as is any air-filled pad that packs down into a small sack. If you’re driving right up to the campground, on the other hand — where all you have to do is carry your gear from your car to the tent — you can practically bring your bed from home.
The next thing to consider is how you like to sleep. Foam pads will offer extra cushioning, along with a firm, stable feeling, whereas air pads will create more of a bouncy, “floaty” feeling. Foam pads are heavier and bulkier, yet far more stable. Air pads are lighter and more compact, yet not as firm.
You'll also want to look at the pattern in the pad itself — different curves and contours offer different cushioning styles. Some are better for back sleepers while others are preferable for sleeping on your stomach or side. With all of that in mind, here is a list of the best sleeping pads for camping to help you rest like a baby during your venture outdoors.
1. An Affordable Sleeping Pad That's Ultra Durable
Made with rugged closed-cell foam, this thick and durable sleeping pad is a fantastic option for campers on a budget. Unlike its inflatable counterparts — which are filled with air and prone to punctures — this mega tough pad is built with long-lasting, cross-linked polyethylene. It's designed with a peaks-and-valleys pattern that delivers comfort in the ridges and warmth in the crevices. At half an inch in thickness, the pad will feel soft even when you're sleeping on a bed of rocks and twigs. It doesn't deflate like the stuff-sack styles — instead, just roll it up and toss it in the car. The only drawback to this type of pad is that it's slightly bulkier; however, the lightweight material (it weighs only 14 ounces total) makes it a great choice for a good backpacking sleeping pad, too.
2. A Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad That Feels Firm And Well-Cushioned
If you're one of those people who hates blowing up sleeping pads, this self-inflating pad will allow you to save your breath for campfire songs. Unlike the air pad styles, it's made with 3 inches of thick, ultra-comfy foam inside, so you'll have plenty of support and won't feel like you're bouncing on a beach ball all night long. The foam also makes it warmer than the air pad style options, providing an impressive insulation rating of 9.66. On the outside, it has stretchy FlexForm material that follows your body contours to create extra comfort while you sleep. The tradeoff is that the 3 inches of foam makes it heavier than other options, weighing in at a full 6 pounds. This isn't a big deal if you're car camping, but you wouldn't want to bring this pad on a backpacking trip.
3. An Inflatable Sleeping Pad That Feels Ultra-Light And Airy
Instead of being filled with foam, this comfy sleeping pad is designed to be filled with 100 percent air. That means, most notably, that it's significantly lighter than other sleeping pads, weighing just 1.7 pounds (about 26.5 ounces). It has a clever, V-shaped ridge pattern that allows you to sleep on your back, side, or stomach without being losing comfort when you shift positions. The integrated side rails offer security while the extra-wide design means you can roll around without sliding off. It's far less bulky than the foam-style pads, packing down into a tiny 4.5 by 8-inch sack the size of a water bottle, yet inflates easily in 10 quick breaths. When it's time to deflate the pad, you can use the easy quick-valve to let the air out in seconds.
4. A Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad For Multiple People
Whether camping with your partner or your BFF, this double sleeping pad provides plenty of space for two people to sleep comfortably in the woods. It has soft yet durable damp-proof foam with non-corrosive brass valves for easy operation, and the jet stream foam inflates quickly on its own — just open the two valves and watch it go. It will self-inflate up to 3 inches and if you want it thicker or firmer, just blow in some extra breaths. The only notable drawback is that some Amazon reviewers say it's a hassle to roll up; however, that is often true of two-person sleeping pads in general.
5. Also Great: An Air Mattress Made For Camping
If you're a sensitive sleeper and find it difficult to get quality rest sleeping on the ground, this outdoor air mattress is a fantastic alternative to traditional sleeping pads. Made specifically for camping and other rugged adventures, it features a soft design with a plush top and stable, reinforced construction. It has Double Lock valves that keep it airtight so it doesn't leak, while its Wrap 'N Roll storage system makes it easy to roll up and toss in the car. "Awesome!" said one happy Amazon reviewer. "Camped in Yosemite with hot days and brisk nights and never had to 'top it off' with air during the five day trip. Have owned many air mattresses, some over $120, but this new Coleman is the best by far." Choose from three sizes: twin, queen, and king.
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