Sleeping pads are an essential part of your camping sleep system. They provide comfort, protection, and most importantly warmth for nights spent in the outdoors. Although they can be used wherever you may rest, sleeping pads are designed to cater to different activities. For instance, camping pads are thick and well-padded while backpacking pads are packable and very light. Selecting the right pad for you means balancing warmth, comfort, and weight. Like sleeping bags, pads keep you warm by creating a layer of dead air between you and the cold ground. To describe how well a pad keeps your body heat from seeping into the ground, each sleeping pad is given a rating called an R-value. The higher this number the warmer the pad will keep you through the night.
Below is the list of top sleeping pads that will keep you warm in cold weather.
1. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
Weight: 15 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 20 in.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
With an incredible warmth to weight ratio and a lot of innovative design features, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is an ultralight sleeping pad that is certainly to become a go-to option for those cold weather backpackers and campers. This pad is constructed with a 30D nylon ripstop top and a 70D nylon ripstop bottom. You’ve also got reinforcements on the bottom of the pad where you may experience some more wear.
A lot of the technology in the pad comes into the middle of the inside where you’re going to get your insulation. There’re multiple layers of ThermaCapture technology. It’s a large reflective material that’s going to help to trap heat and reflect it back to where it came. There’s also a triangle core matrix so when this pad lays flat, that material lays nice and flat as well and when it is inflated you get a triangular channel system all the way throughout the pad.
The R-value of this sleeping pad is just about 7.2 and it’s certainly capable of being a 4-season sleeping pad. The small horizontal baffles provide a very stable and even sleeping surface for the back, side, and stomach sleepers. The pad does come in two sizes. It comes in a regular and a large. I do have the large because the regular is slightly smaller for me. The weights will be a little different the regular is around 16 ounces the large is around 1 pound 4 ounces so keep that in mind when looking into the pad.
Pros: Small packed size, superior warmth, lightweight
Cons: The material is crunchy and crinkly. It does make some noise but after using this pad for around a year, I’ve never been woken up by that noise.
2. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated
Weight: 1 lb. 11.6 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 21.5 in.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
This pad is warm with an R-value of 5.0 and weighs around 1 pound 12 ounces but that varies with size so refer to the specs for your specific pad. Why is this pad so neat? Well, one of the great features that I found with this thing is the double-layered design. With inflatable pads, the risk normally associated with that is; what if my pad gets a whole? You assume you’d end up flat on the ground without insulation in the middle of the night. Many of us may have been there but with the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat, you shouldn’t have to worry about that anymore.
This pad has a dual-layer design that ensures redundancy. If you end up with a puncture in one layer the other layer remains fully functional. You won’t have to worry about waking up on the ground on the rocks and you can easily patch that puncture the next morning with the included repair kit. That’s huge.
Along with that, you get a lot more with this pad it’s insulated with Thermolite synthetic insulation so it has a very warm build. There is also an Exkin Platinum fabric layered on the inside, which is a highly reflective and very light material. This will reflect radiant heat back toward your body and will block the cold air from sneaking through. Inside the pad, Sea to Summit has used an innovative lamination process. They used liquid TPU, which bonds more consistently and almost eliminates delamination issues. That TPU also doesn’t stretch and it has an antimicrobial treatment so it won’t break down if you inflate this thing by mouth.
The design of the pad is unique as well. The Air Sprung Cells create an extremely stable surface and they adapt to terrain much better than your traditional high volume baffles. You can roll around without getting bucked off your pad and the weight evenly distributes. There are multifunction valves on each layer of the pad to easily inflate and deflate. There’s a one-way gasket on the inflate valve that lets you push air in without having it rush right back out. Also, you can tailor the firmness of your pad simply by pressing on that little valve once it’s inflated.
Pros: Dual air chambers are redundant, super warm, quiet, supportive, and comfortable
Cons: Heavy and expensive
3. Exped MegaMat Lite 12
Weight: 2 lbs. 8.4 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 25.6 in.
Thickness: 4.7 in.
Exped has taken its famous MegaMat Base Camping Pad and trimmed down the weight and bulk to bring you similar comfort in a lighter package. There are a lot of cool things to talk about with this pad. First off, the pad packs down small compared to the traditional MegaMat. It packs down incredibly small and is very lightweight. Exped wanted to bring out a pad that grants maximum comfort for base camping and can still be taken on backpacking, paddling, or bike packing adventures. While not being ultralight by any means, it’s going to give you way more comfort than many other pads on the market.
The pad has a brushed top fabric that feels comfortable if you’re going skin to the pad. It also has a bit of stretch so it feels a lot like your bed at home and gives just a bit. It’s full of insulation, which gives it an R-value of 5.3. This pad will certainly be capable of cold-weather trips. The insulation is 200-gram synthetic microfiber insulation so it even performs well in damp conditions. The base of the pad is a bit thicker than the top side so you’ll have reinforced material on the bottom for a bit more reassurance.
The pads inflatable but that shouldn’t cause any concern. Exped includes a massive schnozzle pump bag with this pad to help you inflate this thing in somewhere around 2 minutes. The flat valve on the pump bag connects directly to the inflate valve on the pad. There’s a gasket that prevents air from escaping as you inflate. A few full pump bags will inflate the pad quickly. I like to stop inflating my pad a bit before it’s full to give it a little bit of a softer feel. With the 12cm of the loft, you’ll still be well off the ground even if the pad isn’t fully inflated. When it’s time to pack up, there’s an oversized deflate valve that you can pop open to dump air more quickly than traditional sleeping pads. Another cool thing about that schnozzle pump bag is that it is waterproof and ultralight. You can double up with this thing as a stuff sack or a storage sack for clothing or other items.
Pros: Great for tall people, comfortable, warm and toasty
Cons: A little heavy for backpacking.
4. Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated
Weight: 13.9 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 21.5 in.
Thickness: 2 in.
Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat is super compact and lightweight for the comfort and the R-value it provides. It’s easy to inflate with the included pump sack and you can fine-tune the air pressure with the innovative valve. The first thing I noticed about this pad was the egg crate looking pattern. These are Sea to Summit’s Air Sprung Cells. They’re small interconnected chambers that perfectly support your weight. Pads that have large tubular baffles tend to push the air from one baffle to another and you need to have a lot of loft to avoid your hips and shoulders from hitting the ground when sleeping on your side. But the small Air Sprung Cells in this pad equalize when you lay on them. They conform to your body contours so those main contact points stay up off of the hard ground.
This is a two-inch thick mattress but it feels much thicker than that when I lay on it. The overall weight is kept down because less material is needed to achieve the same amount of comfort. The face fabric is a 40D ripstop nylon and the TPU lamination process used to construct this pad is top-notch. The ultralight insulated mat is insulated with synthetic Thermolite, which traps in body heat to keep you warmer at night. There’s also a layer of Exkin Platinum fabric, which prevents radiant heat loss.
A pump sack is used to make inflation easy especially at high altitudes when huffing and puffing can leave you lightheaded. You simply attach the nozzle to the valve, blow a puff of air into the bag, trap that air and push it into the mat. For me, it took just four breaths to fully inflate. From there, you can fine-tune the air pressure by burping air out through the valve. This innovative valve has two layers. The top one is a one-way valve for easy inflation so air doesn’t rush back out in between pumps. When it’s time to pack it away, the bottom part of the valve opens wide for fast deflation. The pump sack also doubles as a stuff sack so you can store the sleeping mat inside of it or you can open it up and store clothing or other gear that you need to keep dry.
Pros: Perfect for backpacking and provides a warm comfortable night’s sleep.
Cons: Not as plush as other designs, dimples get dirty
5. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite
Weight: 1 lb. 0.9 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 21.5 in.
Thickness: 2.5 in.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite is a comfortable pad given its weight and thickness. It’s pretty surprising how much warmth you get out of the materials without actually having insulation inside. This pad is made with a 30D nylon fabric it is a softer nylon fabric. It’s pretty durable, lightweight, and packs down to smaller than a standard 1-liter water bottle. On the inside, they’re using their ThermaCapture layer so, in the middle of the pad, there is a reflective material that’s going to bounce heat from your body. There’s also a matrix on the inside that kind of creates an accordion-style shape or a Z shape.
Because of those lightweight materials and the ultralight construction, some people may notice a crunchy sound to the sleeping pad. While it is a little crunchy, it’s still soft and very comfortable to sleep on and I’ve spent nights on this pad. Despite the fact that it has a little bit of crunch to it, with the two and a half inches of thickness and the overall comfort, it’s never woken me up during a long night’s sleep. You can adjust the firmness as well with the easy valve at the top. It’s easy to inflate or deflate this pad. You can blow it up manually but it is recommended to use a pump or a pump sack. Those items are sold separately but they’re convenient and they save you a lot of huffing and puffing to blow up the pad.
Pros: Warm for the weight, packs down small, comfortable, and versatile
Cons: A little noisy, expensive
6. Exped SynMat UL
Weight: 1 lb.
Dimensions: 72 x 20.5 in.
Thickness: 2.8 in.
The Exped SynMat UL keeps getting better. With the lightweight construction, included a pump bag for easy inflation, a flat valve technology, baffled air channels, and synthetic insulation, this pad is a perfect option for backpacking in chilly temperatures. It’s easy to use and with all of the different technologies, it’s easy to see why this is a fan favorite for all-around backpacking. The synthetic insulation inside the air channels achieves an R-value of 3.1. While it’s not meant for the coldest of temperatures, it’s going to do well pretty much all year round. In a pinch, you can pair it with a closed-cell phone mat to have a higher R-value but this is going to get you through most of the year.
The synthetic insulation isn’t just loose inside the air channels. It is laminated to the top and to the bottom of the baffles so that when you inflate the pad, it puffs up that insulation so you get the maximum thermal efficiency from the cold ground. When it’s fully inflated, you get about 2.8 inches of thickness and that’s great for a side sleeper. Your shoulders and your hips aren’t digging into the ground so it keeps you afloat. While you can inflate this by mouth, Exped includes a lightweight nozzle pump bag. Instead of having to huff and puff to blow up the sleeping pad users use this come bag to inflate it. This bag is waterproof so you can use this as a stuff sack. You can pack your sleeping bag down in there to compress it. Also, you aren’t introducing the moist air from your breasts when you use this stuff sack.
The long vertical air beams are stable and you’ll find that the two beams on the outer edges are slightly thicker than on the center of the pad. That coupled with the anti-slip grip skin coating on the top. It ensures that you stay situated in the center of your pad. This comes in handy if you find yourself camping on a slightly uneven surface that grip skin coating will keep the fabrics of your sleeping bags kind of stuck to the pad. You’ll be cradled on the inside of the pad and you won’t find yourself slowly slipping off of that pad throughout the night.
Pros: Packs down super small, lightweight, comfortable
Cons: Less durable and less warm
7. NEMO Flyer
Weight: 1 lb. 7 oz.
Dimensions: 72 x 21 in.
Thickness: 2 in.
It’s a self-inflating sleeping pad that offers the thickness of an air pad with the plush comfort and insulation of a foam pad. This hybrid design offers the best of both options at a weight that will please 3-season backpackers. When it’s fully inflated, you can see the distinctive peaks and valleys. If I were to cut this open, you’d see channels through the foam. This is an innovative technology that removes 60% of the foam material but increases the thickness of the pad tremendously, saving weight and bulk while providing a plush sleeping surface. It is 2 inches thick and rolls down into a small stuff sack. With an R-value of 3.3, it’s perfect for 3-season use.
Nemo’s Zero-profile, multi-functional and micro-adjustable valve allows for fast inflation the ability to make micro-adjustments while you’re lying on it, and super-fast deflation when it’s time to pack up. The fabric is soft to the touch and durable. I like the use of silicone printed on the bottom to keep the pad in place on your tent floor. This is perfect for folks headed into the backcountry in chilly weather and need a reliable foam pad but want the weight savings of an air pad at the same time. If that sounds like you, pick one up and try it for yourself. You get the best of both worlds with the innovative Nemo Flyer.
Pros: Easy to use, compact, super comfy
Cons: Doesn’t fully inflate at first and it’s difficult to add more air.
Best Cold Weather Sleeping Pads: Comparison Table
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm||15 oz.||7.2||72 x 20 in.||2.5 in.|
|Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated||1 lb. 11.6 oz.||5||72 x 21.5 in.||2.5 in.|
|Exped MegaMat Lite 12||2 lbs. 8.4 oz.||5.3||72 x 25.6 in.||4.7 in.|
|Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated||13.9 oz.||3.1||72 x 21.5 in.||2 in.|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite||1 lb. 0.9 oz.||4.2||72 x 21.5 in.||2.5 in.|
|Exped SynMat UL||1 lb.||3.1||72 x 20.5 in.||2.8 in.|
|NEMO Flyer||1 lb. 7 oz.||3.3||72 x 21 in.||2 in.|
How to Choose a Sleeping Pad for Cold Weather?
There are three kinds of sleeping pads; air pads, self-inflating, pads, and closed cell foam pads.
- Air Pads: come in many different sizes and types for both camping and backpacking. They’re often comfortable and thick making them great for side sleepers while some air pads let air circulate and won’t keep you warm. Many air pads increase their insulation R-value with synthetic or down fill or heat reflective materials.
- Self-inflating or open cell foam pads: are filled with foam made of tiny bubbles that expand and pull in the air when you open the valve. So there’s no need to blow them up yourself. These pads are lightweight, supportive, and warm and because they’re available in a variety of thicknesses and weights, they are a popular choice for both car campers and backpackers alike.
- Closed-cell foam pads: are made of dense foam that acts as an effective insulator against the ground. These pads are bulky but they are the lightest option and they’re solid materials mean you don’t have to worry about punctures or air leaking out. Foam pads also make great sit pads at camp and when camping in severely cold weather, many people will use a closed-cell foam pad underneath an inflatable sleeping pad to further increase their insulation.
Sleeping pads come in different lengths and widths so you can choose the best one for you. Campers usually prefer wider pads for more room while backpackers choose smaller pads to save weight and space. Women-specific pads are often a few inches shorter and have extra insulation in key places.