June 18, 2024

A Guide to Sleeping Pads: Which sleeping pad to choose?

Over the years that we’ve been renting out camping gear we have tested a few different sleeping pads. We’ve mentioned that we have really cool camping gear for rent from Big Agnes, Sea to Summit, Klymit, and Kelty. But are they any good? Here are our reviews of these sleeping pads, with the pros and cons of each. Notice our star system – being not so good to being the best (we might be a bit biased, but you’ll soon see that we are also quite objective).

In our reviews, we also mention the best use scenarios for many of the items. Here are the definitions:

Basecamp car camping – camp next to the car, settle into a campsite for multiple days
Road trips – travel by car, camp next to the car, but change campsites every day or two
Backpacking/bikepacking – hike or bike to your campsite

DetourOn camping gear rental notes:
We have a maximum rental duration of 30 days. Remember that you can rent a complete camping kit for a cheaper total price. Refer to our partner, Basecamp Outdoor Gear, for a complete list of rental packages and rates. This rental gear is also available for purchase. Check out Basecamp’s used gear for sale or contact Basecamp directly to inquire about the items you want.

Big Agnes sleeping pad – Air Core Ultra and Insulated Air Core Ultra

Best use: Year-round backpacking and bikepacking
This is a very cool idea from Big Agnes! Extremely lightweight and compact, it is hard to believe it inflates to over 3″. Basecamp carries only the regular size (20″ x 72″) but you can purchase these pads in short, long, and wide sizes. Save your breath using the separate pad inflation sack.

orange air sleeping pad

Specs: 20″x72″, 22oz, inflates to 3.5″ ; R-value 4.2

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort, and very durable
  • Lightweight (22oz) yet inflates to 3.5″
  • Thicker outer chambers keep you from rolling off the pad
  • Micro adjustments make for fast inflation/deflation and fine-tuning
  • Save your breath! Use the separate pad inflation sack to fill the pad with air
  • Insulated for light winter camping
  • Separate pad inflation sack doubles as a stuff sack

Cons: Don’t lose the separate pad inflation sack and patch kit!

Note: This is our favorite pad because it is so versatile. If you want to purchase just one sleeping pad that checks all the boxes, this is it! It’s lightweight and compact for backpacking, it’s very comfortable even for car camping, and it’s very easy to inflate, deflate, and fold back into its stuff sack.

— Click here to rent this item from Basecamp or buy this item brand new on Amazon

Big Agnes sleeping pad – Two Track

Best use: Three-season backpacking
The Two Track sleeping pads are extremely comfortable, surprisingly durable, and offer supreme insulation! These pads come in regular, short, long, and wide sizes. Again a bonus from Big Agnes, they come in large stuff sacks for easy packing.

Specs: Regular size 20″x72″ (1’8″ x 6′), 24oz, inflates to 2″ ; R-value 4

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort, and very durable
  • Lightweight (24oz), yet offer supreme insulation
  • Self-inflating to about 1″. It is possible to blow air into them to help inflate them up to 2″. It takes seconds to self-inflate and just a few seconds more to blow them up to maximum thickness.
  • Super easy to micro-adjust the firmness of the pad using the two-way adjustable valve (which allows for quick inflation and deflation, and holds the air in when needed)
  • Best thing about it: Packs very small and fits in its stuff sack easily

Cons: These sleeping pads are a bit narrow and slippery – they are available in wide and long size, but then you’re compromising weight. Find a flat surface to sleep on so you don’t slide down during the night.

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Thermarest sleeping pad – Basecamp

Best use: 3-season road trips
Thermarest used to be the most advanced and coveted in sleeping pad technology. The company did such a great job at marketing its products that the brand became synonymous with sleeping pads. Unfortunately for Thermarest, the tech has been surpassed by other companies. That being said, Thermarest’s signature product, the Basecamp sleeping pad, is still sought after by seasonal campers for its simplicity. These pads come in regular, short, long, and wide sizes.

Specs: Regular size 20″x72″ (1’8″ x 6′), weighs over 2lbs, inflates to 2″ ; R-value 3.7

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort
  • Self-inflating to about 1/2″. It is possible to blow air into them to help inflate them up to 2″. It takes seconds to self-inflate and just a few seconds more to blow them up to maximum thickness
  • Quick and easy to deflate and roll away

Cons: Inflating these sleeping pads requires a bit of force from the lungs. You must blow into them as you shut the valve in order to retain as much air in the pad as possible. 20″ feels a bit narrow for car camping. It is also a bit heavy for what it is (over 2lbs).

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Klymit sleeping pad -Insulated Static V

Best use: 3-season backpacking and bikepacking
This is a very cool concept by Klymit! Extremely lightweight and compact, it is hard to believe it is so comfortable. Separate pad inflation sack doubles as a stuff sack, so no need to waste your breath blowing air into it.

Specs: Regular size 21.5″x72″, 24oz ; inflates to 2″ ; R-value 4.4

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort, and very durable
  • Lightweight (24oz) yet inflates to 2″
  • Separate pad inflation sack doubles as a stuff sack

Cons: They only come in one size to cut on weight, but it compromises the comfort of tossing and turning. Although insulated for 3 seasons, I’d still use it only in summer.

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – AirStream

Best use: Summer backpacking and bikepacking
This is a very cool concept by Sea to Summit! Extremely lightweight and compact, it is hard to believe it is so comfortable. Stuff sack doubles as inflation pump, so no need to waste your breath blowing air into it.

orange air sleeping pad

Specs: Regular size 21.5″x72″, 16.9oz, but also comes in short, long, and wide sizes ; inflates to 2″ ; R-value 3.7

Pros:

  • Soft and cushiony for maximum comfort, and very durable
  • Lightweight (16.9oz) yet inflates to 2″
  • Packs in a stuff sack that doubles as a pump

Cons: They only come in mummy shape to cut on weight, but it compromises the comfort of tossing and turning. Although insulated for 3 seasons, I’d still use it only in summer.

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – Comfort Plus SI

Best use: Non-rushed 3-season road trips
This Sea to Summit product is amazing! Take it with you on any road trip where you don’t feel rushed. This pad self-inflates in seconds to 3″, yet rolls down small for transport. Note that you need to blow additional air into it for its full firmness potential. It is made of a combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort. Packing it away is easy, albeit a bit time-consuming. This pad is perfect for overlanding, where space in the vehicle is an issue, but comfort should not be compromised.

Specs: 25″x72″, weighs over 3lbs, R-value 4.1, inflates to 3″

Pros:

  • Combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort
  • Self-inflates to 3″ in seconds
  • Easy to deflate and roll away (once you get the hang out it)
  • Did we mention comfort and insulation?

Cons: You still need to blow additional air into it for its full firmness potential. Though rolling the pad back into its stuff sack is fairly simple, it is a bit time-consuming to get all the air out. Once you get a hole in this, it’s really hard to repair.

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Sea to Summit sleeping pad – Comfort Deluxe SI

Best use: Year-round basecamp car camping
WOW. The Sea to Summit description for this item says, “BETTER THAN YOUR BED.”
Our answer to that: YUP! That’s really all you need to know. Self-inflates in seconds to 4″, combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort, easy packing (once you get the hang of it). Note that you need to blow additional air into it for its full firmness potential. What else do you need? This pad is perfect for basecamp car camping in all weather conditions. Also good for relaxed road trips.

Blue inflatable sleeping pad

Specs: 25″x72″, weighs over 4lbs, inflates to 4″

Pros:

  • Combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort
  • Self-inflates to 4″ in seconds
  • Easy to deflate and roll away (once you get the hang out it)
  • Did we mention how comfortable this pad is?

Cons: You still need to blow additional air into it for its full firmness potential. Though rolling the pad back into its stuff sack is fairly simple, it is a bit time-consuming to get all the air out. Once you get a hole in this, it’s really hard to repair.

— Click here to buy this item brand new on Amazon

Kelty sleeping pad – Waypoint SI

Best use: Year-round basecamp car camping and road trips
This Kelty product is amazing! Take it with you on any road trip where you need to get a good night’s rest. This pad self-inflates in seconds to 3″, and you can adjust firmness by adding air using its stuff sack. The pad is made of a combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort. Packing it away is easy, but requires a bit of patience and practice. This pad is perfect for overlanding, where space in the vehicle is not an issue and comfort should not be compromised.

Specs: 30″x78″, weighs over 5lbs, inflates to 3″ ; R-value 5.6

Pros:

  • Combination of air and foam for maximum insulation and comfort
  • Self-inflates to 3″ in seconds
  • Easy to deflate and roll away (once you get the hang out it)
  • Stuff sack doubles as inflation sack to increase firmness
  • Did we mention comfort and insulation?

Cons: Though rolling the pad back into its stuff sack is fairly simple, it is a bit time-consuming to get all the air out. Once you get a hole in this, it’s really hard to repair.

— Click here to rent this item from Basecamp or buy this item brand new on Amazon

Conclusion

And there you have it. A pretty exhaustive list of the different sleeping pads we’ve tested so far. Basecamp Outdoor Gear has much more outdoor gear for rent, such as tents and sleeping bags. Contact us or Basecamp if you have any questions. If you’re interested in purchasing these items, we’ve included links to all of them. Happy camping!