There’s nothing better than a warm summer night sleeping under the stars alongside friends. And there’s nothing worse than waking up with a tweaked back after a restless night’s sleep on rock-solid ground. Luckily, sleeping pad technology keeps on improving, allowing for maximum comfort whether you’re roughing it in the backcountry or car camping with the family. From ultra-light to plush, here are seven of our favorite sleeping pads to buy right now.
1. ALPS Mountaineering Swift Air Mat
Clocking in at just one pound, this is the ultimate lightweight sleeping pad to take backpacking. It measures 3.5” x 10” when packed down, so it won’t take up valuable real estate in your pack. Small, pillow-like air chambers provide extra support for sleeping on uneven terrain. While it doesn’t offer the same level of comfort as a bulky car camping pad, it gets the job done, and its weight and packability are second to none.
2. Thermarest MondoKing 3D Sleeping Pad
Thermarest’s backpacking and camping pads are all top of the line, but the MondoKing has the highest level of support and comfort. A foam core and four inches of stabilized loft allow for maximum warmth and comfort year round. The self-inflating pad features two one-way valves, making setup and tear down a breeze. While the pad is large, its unique construction allows it to pack down easily (read: no wrestling it back in the included stuff sack). With supple stretch-knit fabric and vertical sidewalls to maximize sleep surface, it’s almost as comfortable as sleeping in your own bed. Almost.
[From $210; thermarest.com]
3. Stoic Clutch Air Mat
Stoic’s lightest, most packable sleeping pad to date weighs under a pound, making it perfect for backpacking. To cut down on heft and volume, the pad features a mummy shape and includes a stuff sack for compact storage. The soft, stretchy fabric is treated with TPU for water resistance; a durable bottom and textured surface keep you comfy on rough forest floors; and a quick-release valve allows for easy inflation and deflation.
4. Klymit Static V
As someone who regularly sleeps on their side, this pad is a game changer for nights in the backcountry. Body-mapping chambers and a V-chamber design allows the pad to conform to the shape of your body while still maintaining lofted air pockets, helping side, back, and stomach sleepers to snooze soundly. While the pad isn’t self-inflating, the easy-to-use valve allows for a speedy setup, and it weighs just over a pound for easy toting.
5. NEMO Equipment Quasar 3D Sleeping Pad
This sleeping pad is made from bluesign-certified fabric and 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. It features 3D baffling to keep you centered, a slightly elevated head so you don’t crane your neck, and a Vortex pump sack for quick and easy inflation. It’s available in three different sizes, as well as insulated and non-insulated depending on your needs. The pad doesn’t pack down as small as some other backpacking options out there—but what it lacks in portability, it makes up for in comfort.
6. Big Agnes TwisterCane BioFoam Pad
Specifically engineered for long days and nights in the backcountry, this pad features closed-cell foam technology and two foam layers, providing a firm, cushioned barrier between you and the ground. Built with the planet in mind, the pad is made from a unique EVA foam that contains more than 60 percent sustainably grown sugarcane. While the pad is a little bulky, it’s insanely light and requires no setup—you simply lay it out and you’re good to go.
7. NRS River Bed Sleeping Pad
You’d be hard pressed to find a sleeping pad more comfortable than this. Constructed from a waterproof, PVC-free TobaTex exterior and a medium-foam density polyurethane foam interior, the pad holds up well against the elements. The material is thick and cushioned so rocks and twigs won’t poke through. The pad features a high-quality Leafield C7 valve that allows it to self-inflate when open. After a good night’s sleep, you simply open the valve and roll up the pack. While it does wonders for you back, it doesn’t pack down small, so it’s best for rafting, boating, or car camping.
[From $150; nrs.com]
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