Which sleeping pad for winter camping is best?
Sleeping pads have long been a staple for casual campers and thru-hikers alike due to their portability, convenience and comfort. However, you may be wondering if a basic sleeping pad is enough to keep you warm on your outdoor adventures during the winter months. Sleeping pads come in a variety of different styles, and some are even designed just for use in the colder seasons.
With the right sleeping pad, you can stay warm and comfortable while camping in the winter. Our top pick, the Therma-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Max Ultralight, is a great choice for a sleeping pad that will keep you warm even in extreme-cold conditions and winter weather.
What to know before you buy a sleeping pad for winter camping
Sleeping pads are ranked in their insulation and warmness by their R value. This may seem hard to understand at first, but the best way to look at it is that any sleeping pad with an R value of 5 or higher is ideal for winter camping. Sleeping pads with lower R values are great for camping in the spring and summer, but it’s always best to go with a sleeping pad of an R value of at least 4 to make sure that you’re prepared for anything.
If you are a year-round camper or hiker, opt for a sleeping pad with an R value that will work for you throughout the different seasons.
There are a few different types of sleeping pads available online. The main three types of sleeping pads that you can buy online are air pads, self-inflating pads and open-cell foam pads. All of these pads perform the same function by providing you with support while you sleep, but every camper will have their own preference as to which type of pad they like best.
Air pads are the type that you will encounter most frequently, due to their lightweight nature and easy-to-use designs. These pads are commonly used by hikers on backcountry treks, as they are so easy to carry and to set up.
Self-inflating pads are like air pads, but differ in the way that they are set up. Some campers swear by the convenience of having a self-inflating pad, while others don’t like the added technicality.
Lastly, open-cell foam pads are more similar to a yoga mat. They roll up for portability, but they are also the heaviest model of sleeping pad that you can buy. These pads are mainly loved for their durability, as there’s no fear of having the pad punctured.
Different sizes of sleeping pads
Sleeping pads, while generally being one-size-fits-all, come in a variety of sizes. For campers, opting for a larger sleeping pad could provide some extra comfort, especially in the winter months. However, if you’re a backcountry hiker, you’ll definitely want to find a sleeping pad that fits your body size exactly to avoid carrying around any excess weight.
What to look for in a quality sleeping pad for winter camping
Insulation and high R values
For winter camping, you’ll want a sleeping pad that has a higher R value and more insulation from the cold. Especially if you are planning to camp in a snowy place, you need as much insulation between you and the ground as possible in order to keep warm.
The thickness of a sleeping pad is roughly correlated to the R value or insulation, but the two do not always have a direct impact on each other. Sleeping pad thickness is essentially a personal choice, as some campers prefer having a thicker, more cushioned pad.
If you’re a thru-hiker, having a sleeping pad with optimized portability is the key to success. Air pads are the lightest sleeping pads and normally come with straps to help you attach them to your backpack.
How much you can expect to spend on a sleeping pad for winter camping
Sleeping pads can range from about $80 to upwards of $300 depending on the brand, type and R value.
Sleeping pad for winter camping FAQ
Should I use a sleeping bag in combination with a sleeping pad?
If you are camping in extreme winter conditions, you might want to consider this. If you are a thru-hiker, carrying both might be too heavy.
Which type of sleeping pad is the most hassle-free?
While all sleeping pads are relatively easy to set up and use, open-cell foam pads are definitely the easiest to use.
What are the best sleeping pads for winter camping to buy?
Top sleeping pad for winter camping
What you need to know: This is the ultimate pick for winter camping, due to its higher R value and comfort.
What you’ll love: This sleeping pad is light and portable while still providing you with the comfort and insulation that you will need for winter camping.
What you should consider: It is a bit pricey, but worth it for those who do a lot of winter camping.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top sleeping pad for winter camping for the money
What you need to know: This self-inflating sleeping pad from Exped comes with an R value of 7.5 and a budget price to boot.
What you’ll love: This pad is comfortable and thick without being too heavy. With such a high R value, it will keep you warm even on the coldest of nights. It comes in a few different sizes.
What you should consider: Some users have said that this pad isn’t comfortable, but you shouldn’t have a problem with it as long as it is inflated properly.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This pad is 3 inches thick and provides great comfort and support in addition to having an R value of 9.5. It’s great for those that like to have an extra bit of cushioning.
What you’ll love: Sleeping mats are normally known for how loud they can be when you move around in your sleep, but this one is virtually silent. It’s very durable and easy to inflate and deflate.
What you should consider: It’s on the heavier side, so it may not be the best choice for hikers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Addison Hoggard writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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