When you’re backpacking, the compactness and lightness of your camping gear really matter. But this doesn’t mean you should give up comfortable sleeping. A self-inflating sleeping pad doesn’t take more space than an extra sleeping bag in your luggage, and it will surely enhance your rest. If you’re wondering which to buy, check out the five best lightweight self-inflating sleeping pads below.
1. VENTURE 4TH Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad (B078X4XJJZ)
The VENTURE 4TH Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad is not only one of the best lightweight self-inflating sleeping pads; it’s also our favorite. It’s backpack friendly and comes with an easy packing feature that allows you to roll it up to really small dimensions.
It measures only 11 x 7 inches when packed but stretches to a whopping 72 x 22 inches when inflated. The self-inflating mechanism consists of a reliable pneumatic valve that uses the un-compression process to draw the air into the pad quickly and easily.
A distinct sound will let you know when the pad is inflated, and you can adjust it to your desired comfort level by either blowing in additional air or deflating it just a bit.
Perfect to use either in a tent or directly on the ground, the pad is puncture-proof. At the same time, the 75D polyester outer shell also withstands moisture and is really easy to clean. Designed to keep your body warm, the VENTURE 4TH is also ideal to use if you want to insulate your tent for winter camping.
Coming in a range of colors, durable, and reliable, this is the best self-inflating pad you can find, and it’s even backed up by a lifetime warranty.
2. Freeland Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad (B07DK86F7W)
If you’re looking for a quality but inexpensive lightweight sleeping pad for backpacking, the Freeland Self-Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad could be the one you were looking for. This pad is perfect for hiking and camping, is simple to use, and durable.
The dual free-flow and non-leak valves ensure a quick inflating and deflating with no pump or lung force needed.
A built-in pillow enhances the overall comfort and saves you the hassle of carrying one extra-piece of equipment; we also like the generous size this pad has when inflated.
The Freeland sleeping pad is also weather resistant. It’s made from 190T polyester pongee fabric and is constructed to resist wear and tear. The tufted design boosts comfort, and the split joint design lets you connect this pad to another to create a group or family sleeping area.
We also like that all Freeland pads pass a thorough leakage inspection and are resistant to punctures. Nonetheless, they always come with a convenient puncture repair kit so you can quickly fix any issues if needed.
3. Lightspeed Outdoors XL Self-Inflating Sleep Pad (B01FELZ3TW)
Another lightweight self-inflating sleeping pad we like is this one from Lightspeed. Made from premium materials and boasting a luxury design, the Outdoors XL will hug you in a comfortable non-slip stretch material.
It is thick enough to keep you comfortable throughout the night and unrolls to a whopping 77 x 30 inches. It can successfully replace a cumbersome airbed or mattress and even comes with an integrated pillow that adds further value for money.
Due to its premium size, the sleeping pad is bulkier and heavier than the models above. It has a rolled size of 30 x 7.75 inches and weighs 6 pounds, which is not much but could become a burden when you’re backpacking.
If you don’t mind carrying it though, the Lightspeed Outdoors is a great substitute to the other pads on this list.
4. Ryno Tuff Sleeping Pad Set (B078J5D8CY)
The Ryno Tuff Sleeping Pad Set is perfect for insulating your tent for winter camping and not only. Built to last, it is made from 75D polyester fabric filled with foam insulation, and it is both durable and water resistant.
When fully inflated, the pad measures 75 x 24 inches, just what you need for a comfortable sleep. It also comes with a pillow made from 210T ripstop polyester which boosts your comfort even more; or if you don’t want a pillow, you can just leave it at home.
One thing that makes this sleeping pad set stand out is the choice of colors. Khaki and orange look amazing together, and they can easily boost up your mood after a long day of walking. The pad is also lightweight and packs compactly.
Easy to attach to your backpack thanks to the convenient pouch, this gear will only add 4 extra pounds to your luggage.
Another nice thing that makes us recommend this product is that the manufacturer commits to planting a tree for each set sold, and that’s a great way for a backpacker to contribute to saving the forests.
5. Lightspeed Outdoors Self-Inflating Sleep Pad (B01JN5JGGQ)
Another entry from Lightspeed, the Outdoors Self-Inflating Sleep Pad can easily satisfy you. It has a generous size when inflated and packs smaller than the XL model above when rolled. Three inches of padding are perfect for insulating your tent during winter or sleeping comfortably throughout the summer.
The pad is also lighter than the XL, adding only 5.5 pounds to your backpack. It even comes with an over-sized carry bag and two compression straps for no-frills packing and storage.
A design feature we really like is the side rails which will keep you from rolling off the pad while you sleep. Made from PVC-free materials, it can replace the air mattress even at your home if you need a supplementary bed for your guests.
Coming at a price that won’t break the bank and truly comfortable, this is another lightweight self-inflating pad that can serve you well on your adventures.
Lightweight Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads Buying Guide
Lightweight self-inflating sleeping pads come in various shapes and sizes, and your needs will determine which is the best for you. Here are a few things you should check before buying.
Shape and Size
The shape and size of the pad will determine how comfortable you will sleep on it, but will also influence the overall weight and packed size, thus how easy it is to carry.
Rectangular sleep pads are by far the most comfortable. They look like a very thin air mattress, and you won’t have to worry about falling off or touching the ground as you’re turning in your sleep. However, these pads are bulkier when packed and also heavier than the mummy style.
The mummy self-inflating sleeping pads look similar to the mummy-style sleeping bags. They are lighter and smaller when packed, but due to their oval shape, they won’t contain you as well as a rectangular mat.
However, they are a better choice if you’re backpacking. If you’re car camping and don’t care about bulk, then go for the rectangular kind.
As for the size, choose a pad that’s at least 3-4 inches longer than your height, so that your feet will not hang over its edges.
Lightweight self-inflating sleeping pads can have a weight between 3 and 6 pounds. Neither is heavy, but three extra pounds can really make a difference if you plan to hike throughout the day or climb mountains.
Like it is easy to imagine though, a heavier pad usually means a thicker and more comfortable interior; again, if you don’t care about weight, pick a thick pad.
It is also important to check the packed size of the pad you like. The lighter ones usually pack in a fashion similar to a sleeping bag. They fit in a small pouch and can be easily attached to a backpack.
Thicker pads also come with straps that allow you to snap them onto a backpack, but you will usually have to roll them. The roll will have the same width as the unrolled pad, and it’s easy to understand that it will add more bulk to your luggage.
Self-inflating sleeping pads can be made from a variety of materials, usually PVC-free. Regardless of the actual fabric, you should check that it is:
- Waterproof: Although there could be a tent floor between the pad and the ground, getting waterproof camping gear is essential. Dew can always find its way into the tent; then there is condensation to worry about. Waterproof fabric will not become soaked and is easy to wipe dry whenever needed.
- Puncture resistant: Even if they inflate by themselves, these pads still work more or less like an air mattress. A puncture will force the air out, and you’ll be left with a pretty much useless piece of fabric to sleep on. That’s why it is essential to get a pad that is puncture resistant, and we also recommend keeping a puncture repair kit in your backpack.
- Easy to clean: Darker colors and smooth fabrics are easier to clean than light colors and velvety materials.
This value might not matter too much if you’re only camping during the summer, but it’s essential to check if you want to use the pad to insulate your tent for winter camping. The R-value designates thermal resistance and ranges from 0 to 6.
Zero means weak thermal resistance, and these pads are okay to use when the lowest temperature you can expect will not go under 60°F. Six means thermal resistance to temperatures of or under -40°F.
While not all manufacturers specify the R-value for their products, almost all will tell you what temperature their gear is rated for. If you can’t find any information regarding it, it is safe to assume the pad is only suitable to use in the warmer months.