Sleeping Pad R Values

Measuring Insulation

If you’re a home owner, you are probably familiar with the concept of an R-Value. If not, it’s a measure used in the building and construction industry to rate the thermal resistance of building insulation under specific test conditions. The higher the R value, the more effective it is.

R value performance testing is done in a 70 F environment with no air movement. As such, it doesn’t reflect many real world conditions where you’d use a sleeping pad, so I highly recommend that you augment any gear selection that you make based on it with field testing.

If you are interested in sleeping pads for early spring, late autumn or winter conditions, R-Value is additive. When it gets cold, I like to use two pads, a closed cell foam pad and an insulated inflatable one with a combined R-Value of at least 5.

For purposes of backpacking, you also need to factor in weight, comfort, compressibility, and rigidity when you make a sleeping pad selection. In addition, side sleepers may not receive the full R-value of benefit of an inflatable insulated pad because their bodies are not in full contact with the surface of the pad. This is particularly true for insulated sleeping pads that depend on your body heat to warm them up, including the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir product line, Exped’s DownMats and Big Agnes’ Insulated Pads.

Sleeping Pad R-Value Comparison

The following table provides a side by side comparison of the major sleeping pads available in the US market. The pad weights listed are sized for 72″ long x 20″ wide pads, though there are a few exceptions below. The R-Value of a pad should still remain the same if you select a longer, shorter, or wider variation of the pad. If a sleeping pad has a R-Value of “Not Available”, it’s because the manufacturer has not supplied one or R-value testing has not been performed.

MfgLowest Price (Click)R-ValueWeight (oz)ThicknessType
Big AgnesGreen Ridge1.5172.5Inflatable
Big AgnesAir Core1.5213.25Inflatable
Big AgnesInsulated Aircore4.1223.25Inflatable
Big AgnesDouble Stuffed Double Z 5.8244Inflatable
Big AgnesInsulated Q-Core5274Inflatable
Big AgnesInsulated Q-Core SL4.5173.5Inflatable
Big AgnesDouble Z1.5174Inflatable
Big AgnesTwo Track5.5362Self-Inflating
Big AgnesHinman5.5361.5Self-Inflating
KlymitInertia X FrameNA9.11.5Inflatable
KlymitStatic V1.318.12.5Inflatable
KlymitInertia XLNA171.5Inflatable
KlymitInsulated Static V4.4252.5Inflatable
KlymitInertia X-LiteNA6.11.5Inflatable
KlymitInertia O ZoneNA12.21.75Inflatable
KlymitStatic V21.316.332.5Inflatable
KlymitX WaveNA10.51.5Inflatable
KlymitStatic V Luxe1.326.53Inflatable
KlymitInsulated Static V4.4252.5Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitComfort Light Mat1162.5Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitComfort Light Insulated Mat4.220.52.5Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitComfort Plus Mat2.5202.5Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitComfort Plus Insulated Mat525.52.5Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitUltralight Mat0.712.52Inflatable
Sea-to-SummitUltralight Insulated Mat3.315.52Inflatable
Therm-a-RestZ-lite SOL2.6140.75Closed Cell
Therm-a-RestZ Shield1.5120.38Closed Cell
Therm-a-RestProlite2.4171Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestProlite Womens3.0171.0Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestNeoAir XLite3.2122.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir XLite Womens3.9122.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir XTherm5.7152.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir XLite Max SV3.2162.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir All Season4.9192.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir Trekker3172.5Inflatable
Therm-a-RestRidgerest Solar3.5190.79Closed Cell
Therm-a-RestRidgerest SOLite2.8141.5Closed Cell
Therma-RestProlite Plus3.4201.5Self-Inflating
Therma-RestProlite Plus Womens4.2201.5Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestNeoAir Venutre WV1.8242Inflatable
Therm-a-RestTrail Pro4302Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestWomens Trail Pro4.8302Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestTrail Lite3.4281.5Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestWomens Trail Lite4.9281.5Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestTrail Scout3.4221Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestZonker4.4411.75Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestRidgeRest Classic2.6140.625Closed Cell
Therm-a-RestNeoAir Dream6664Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir Camper2.2243Inflatable
Therm-a-RestMondoKing11.4754Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestLuxury MAP6.8523Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestBasecamp5382Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestEvolite Plus3.2202.5Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestEvolite2.0122Self-Inflating
Therm-a-RestLair Air2.2322Inflatable
Therm-a-RestNeoAir Voyager2.2232.5Inflatable
ExpedDownmat Lite 54.1212Inflatable
ExpedSynMat Lite 53.823.12Inflatable
ExpedDownmat 75.929.82.8Inflatable
ExpedDownmat UL 75.920.52.8Inflatable
ExpedDownmat 98343.5Inflatable
ExpedSynmat 74.929.92.8Inflatable
ExpedSynmat UL 73.115.82.8Inflatable
ExpedSynmat 9625.43.5Inflatable
ExpedSynmat Hyperlite3.312.32.5Inflatable
ExpedSynmat Winterlite4.914.33.5Inflatable
ExpedDownmat Winterlite716.83.5Inflatable
ExpedSynmat 126524.7Inflatable
ExpedSyncell 52.925.62Inflatable
Gossamer GearNightlight2.274.90.75Closed Cell
Gossamer GearAir Beam SleepersNA10.12.5Inflatable
NEMOAstro AirNA202.5Inflatable
NEMOAstro InsulatedNA192.5Inflatable
NEMOTensorNA13.53Inflatable
NEMOTensor InsulatedNA153Inflatable
NEMOVector InsulatedNA203Inflatable
NEMOAstro Insulated LiteNA133Inflatable
NEMOCosmo AirNA233Inflatable
NEMOCosmo Air LiteNA173Inflatable
NEMOCosmo InsulatedNA292.5Inflatable
NEMOCosmo Insulated LiteNA213Inflatable
NEMOZOR-RNA141Self-inflating
NEMOZOR-SNA101Self-inflating
NEMOORA-RNA201Self-inflating
NEMOORA-SNA13.51Self-inflating
REIFlash Insulated3.2162.5Inflatable
REIAir Rail 1.54.2261.5Self-inflating
REITrekker5.6401.75Self-inflating
WenzelBlue Foam Pad1.47.50.38Closed Cell
REICirrus Insulated2.8232.5Inflatable

Updated 2016.

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42 comments

  1. Came on this a little late, sorry. The Big Agnes insulated aircore does not take too long to inflate if you have reasonably working lungs. I was a child asthmatic and I can managed it after hiking all day. Instead of full inflation I find that around half filled is about right. When fully inflated I find the pad way too hard and bouncy. For reference I am a side sleeper, so this may affect my preference.

  2. I purchased the Exped Syn UL last year and love it. I too am a very cold sleeper. I use it with a Feathered Friends 20 degree bag. I have tried a variety of other mats which were lighter but I just was too cold even in temps above freezing but adding this mat really helped. I try to walk or exercise for about 10-15 min before bed & wear hat & socks which also help. I will be taking by Eped on the PCT for 700 miles of the Sierras this Aug-Sep.

  3. Thank you, thank you for the table! I’ve been using the one on Mark Verber’s website, but yours has far more pads. It would have been nice to mention the 1/8″ and 1/4″ CCF pads from Gossamer Gear and Lawson Equipment that a lot of people use to beef up their less warm sleeping pads. The only trouble is that the 1/8″ pads have an R value (per Mark) of 0.4, which means they don’t do much “beefing”! I suspect that that much additional won’t even be noticed.

    One thing found by the BPL testers (see Chris’ link above) is that the R value goes down the less you inflate the pad. Since I have my insulated air pad (from the late KookaBay) about half full (to be comfortable), this does affect the insulation qualities a bit.

    Again, thanks for the table! I’ve bookmarked it, as I’ve done with your articles on EN13537 and down fill power ratings.

  4. I can’t resist butting in here guys.

    If a side-sleeper’s back is cold that is because their sleeping bag is too thin. It would be nothing to do with the mat.

    Sleeping mats are designed for lying on because the portion of a sleeping bag that is under the body will be crushed flat and useless by the sleeper’s weight. However, that is not the case with the portion of sleeping bag that is in contact with a side-sleeper’s back. Thjat portion will loft fully and will insulate better than any mat can, …unless of course the person is jammed up against the tent wall!

    Relatively deep mats such as the Exped Downmats are, in my opinion, already optimised for side-sleepers, as the mat will, to some extent, wrap around the sleeper’s body. (However, this is more a matter of comfort than heat retention since any part of the body not in contact with the mat will be warmed by fully-lofted sleeping bag in any case.)

    One could argue that thicker mats such as the Exped Downmats can be less suitable for confirmed back-sleepers (unless you go for the extra-wide versions) because a back-sleeper’s arms or elbows can find themselves hanging off the sides of the mat in a more uncomfortable way than they would on a thinner mat.

    Would you agree with that Andy? Would you recommend the Medium width mat for side sleepers and the Long Wide mat for those who sleep on their backs? I myself wish you made a Wide mat that was a Medium length as I could use the width for back sleeping but find the longer length too much in my little tent, especially if I am sharing it with someone else, as the tent corners are kind of rounded.

  5. I’ve been using the Therma-Rest Prolite Plus Womens with a 4.6 R Value for the past few years. I’m a side sleeper and it’s the first mat where I do not experience hip pain; however, to be fair I have not tried any of the newer inflatables. With the 21oz weight and the packed size dimensions, I’m in the market for a replacement pad. I’m a restless sleeper so don’t want the potato-chip bag crunch. I also tend to sleep cold, so am trying to balance R Value with weight and packed size. I currently use a Big Agnes 15 degree down bag which doesn’t have any down on the underside. I’m in the market to replace this bag with a lighter weight more compact version. Seriously considering the Zpacks 900-fill 20 degree bag and/or possibly a quilt.

    Any recommendations on a replacement pad? Temps in the area I pack are down to 25 degrees.

    Thanks for your timely summary of the R values.

    • I think the Thermarest Xlite Womens pad would be excellent and it’s really not that noisey. I doubt you’d be cold with down to 25 and if you were, you just need to slip your sitlight pad under the pad, below your torso.

      Big Agnes also has a q-core xl out these days which is pretty light, but I heaven’t tried it and Kymit has an insulated Static V which some people like,

      • Any thoughts on the new beta Gossamer pad I recently saw reviewed?

      • I wote that review! Those pads are not insulated and are intended for warm, 3 season temps at night – I’d say 50F+. Very very comfy though and they pack about 1/2 the size of a TAR Xlite.

      • LOL!!! Interesting your definition of 3-season being 50F, I’ve always ASSUMED 3-season was more like 32+. My nightly temps of 50F are very rare, but then again most of my treks are above 6,000′. Hmmm good food for thought.

      • Yes well, you asked about the Exped mats. No, they’re not noisy. The U/L Synmat is very good for side sleepers, it’s very light and it packs up very small. The downmats, including the ultralight ones, are a bit heavier, a fair bit bulkier when packed (though still a lot smaller than a thermarest – my thermarest anyway – and are quite a lot warmer. For the temps you describe I would try a U/L Synmat. I think you’d like it.

  6. Is the Exped UL 7 one of the noisy pads?

  7. Wanted to jump in here on how much I love my Synmat UL7. As a very cold side sleeper who has used Thermarest & Big Agnes, the Exped is so much warmer, less noisy & more comfortable. I have used it over 1000 miles. Including a 2 month stretch of the PCT through high Sierra into Sept. Use it with a 20 degree Feathered Friend down bag.

  8. Good chart
    I got the exped 9 down….little narrow, but it sure is warm.
    I used it last year on a Search and Rescue over night exercise….a balmy -25c but had been colder just before.
    made a tarp shelter and put the pad on a plastic, nothing but bare ground and a skiff of snow under that (cleared the snow to find any sharp objects).
    with a -30c synthetic bag to sleep in, my side bottom was the warmest half
    I need a -30 t0 -40 down bag now

  9. All pads (inflatable and foam) require body heat to warm them up. From my experience as a side sleeper, I notice that when I sleep on my side I tend to compress air pads more than I compress foam pads, and if you compress a pad you reduce its effectiveness.
    I have extensive experience on my BA Insulated Air Core, but I’m giving up on it because insulated air mattresses are unreliable. I’m going back to two Ridge Rests.

  10. Great Info! We added you as a link to our newest gear review on the Therma-Rest NeoAir All Season! Keep up the great work!

  11. Thank you very much for making this chart! I’ve been looking all over for an R-value comparison of different sleeping pads.
    I’m thinking about combining the Klymit Insulated Static V with the Thermarest Solar for winter camping.

  12. I have analysed a number of manufacturers R factors and temperature ratings, it seems there is a clear relationship between temperature and R factor required.
    0C = R2.5
    -10C = R4
    -20C=R5.5
    -30C = R 7
    -40C = R8

  13. The BA Q-core original is ridiculouslythick, comfy, and warm, and has taller “edge” baffles that help keep you from rolling off. It feels like a car-camping air mattress. The pad takes a while to inflate and I have found a 3 oz. battery-powered pump that does the job in 3 minutes – set up, go back to making dinner.The bad thing about the BA is that it weighs a “ton” (27 oz.) – also, it tends to slip around on the silnylon tent floor, which is mildly annoying.
    I take the Q-core plus closed cell foam Zlite for winter. I am thinking about getting a lightweight shorty pad that would work in a hammock.

  14. I have looked around for and have not been able to find an r value for the Nemo Cosmo insulated mattress. I am also considering the Therm-a Rest Neo Air Xtherm which is 5.7 by your chart. This mattress is being purchased for my wife, who has used my Exped Downmat 9 and was very pleased with the comfort/warmth. Any input as to which may be the better bag between the two I am considering. I would go with the Downmat 9 for her but… it is a long story.

    • NEMO is derelict when it comes to publishing R-values. My guess is that don’t want to pay for the independent test results. The xtherm is a perfectly fine mat and easy to carry, while the Downmat 9 is really a car camping pad or for use in very extreme conditions. Both are excellent pads but if you have to carry it, I’d go with the XTherm.

  15. This is a great chart. I wish I’d found it before purchasing my Kymit Insulated Static V, although I don’t think it would have change my mind. It’s good compromise of price, weight and r-value.

  16. I have always used a 1″ ThermaRest (72×20) pad original design that has been around for almost 15 years. Supposedly it has an R-Value of ~1.5. Alone, it works well on all but the coldest ground. Many years ago I discovered that merely using a space blanket underneath the pad works wonders. Last February in Colorado, the outside temps dropped to -20 to -25 every night and the days could do no better than -5. Sleeping on the snow/ice was completely comfortable with no hint of a chill from the ground.
    I think the hype of a R-4+ pad is a little overblown considering the bulk and weight issues…

  17. Good job, Philip! There are a lot of variables that cannot be measured by simple R-value. Length, edge bleeding, ground to be set-up on, etc. Using a Klymit Inertia inside a bag vs. outside a bag will make a large difference to warmth, for example. The type of covering, quilt vs sleeping bag, can make a large difference with inflatables for another. And the use of “loft pockets” on pads can add unseen insulation to your sleep system as well. But, this is an excelent overview.

  18. The women’s X-lite R value is 3.9 @ 12 oz

  19. Philip,

    I have been looking at the new Sea to Summit Comfort line of sleeping pads namely the Comfort light insulated and the Comfort Plus insulated. The feedback and reviews on them sound great and the specs/design seem great. Do you have any experience or thoughts on these??

    Thanks,

    KEVIN

  20. Great info. Thank you very much for making this chart! I’ve been looking all over for an R-value comparison of different sleeping pads. Keep up good work.

  21. I’m looking at the NeoAir XTherm Max mat – mainly because of its rectangle size, comfort, lightweight and small packability. I’m going to be camping all summer, however, mostly in warm but in some cooler conditions. Does a high R value make you hot in the summer? Or would it be more neutral? Anyone know?

    • Paul, it is recommended to flip the mat over if you want to stay cool. In this way, insulated mats are excellent for hot weather as well. I have the Xtherm and I absolutely love it. I’ve used it for a few years now, on bare ground without tents/footprints, and it is very durable. I’ve had dozens of pads over the years, and this one is by far my favorite.

  22. Paul, well, it can leave you hot. But mostly it is neutral.
    1) Unlike a bed, it is fairly stiff and not much more than 1 to 1.5″ deep. So, most of you is exposed to the outside air.
    2) Sleeping LOW on the ground is often a bit cooler than higher up.
    3) Outside, you often get some sort of breeze or wind.

    But, unlike an air conditioned bedroom, you cannot turn the heat off.

  23. How do they actually test these pads? Do all companies test them in the same way? I just want to know how accurate their claims really are or are they just feeding us a load of b.s. to sell their product.

    • There’s an active standard’s body trying to define a universal test standard, but at the moment each company publishes their own results.

      • Perhaps when they reach a universal testing standard, they will finally evaluate the pads at temperatures lower than 32 degrees. It has recently been shown that the R value in building insulations change with temperature, depending on material.

        They also need to test the pads with a control subject. Side sleeping on an air mattress compresses the middle more, thus reducing the R value in the center of the pad. As far as I know, this isn’t taken into consideration.

  24. Thanks! The R-value is, like, the most important thing about an air mattress. I know a lot about traditional mattresses but only have a passing familiarity with air mattresses.

  25. Since my last comment I have done lots of research regarding r values and my daughter created a science experiment which received first place.

    We emailed several big name companies to find out more of how they test r values. Most did not respond. Most couldn’t explain how they got their numbers but, Nemo equipment provided us with the hard facts. They used a few different methods to find temperature resistance. Some with hot plate and others with cold. No where do they test in real setting or as extensively as let’s say siding on a garage door, with the wind and other elemental factors. No one ever test with a real person.

    They are trying to have a set standardized test. This is called the EN testing. Still, No natural elements and no human testing to my understanding. I personally don’t think that human testing can be accurate because we vary so much from person to person. There would be more factors to consider. Like are you properly hydrated? Your body temperature before the experiment and have you eaten recently, because we all know this can increase your body’s core temperature.

    In the end my daughter (Alice Alldridge of 5th grade) used a medical water bottle(filled with water), inside a thinly insulated stuffed animal (a koala) starting temperature at 99°. She put the koala on a frozen roasting pan of ice and timed how long it took the koala to suffer from hypothermia of 82°. She tested a Mylar emergency blanket, refletix (reflective bubble wrap) and closed cell foam hiking mat. This may not be high tech but I think it’s a start. In the least to simulate a person being made up of mostly water.

    Thanks for reading my update. I would love to hear your thoughts and read your opinions.

    • Congratulations on your daughter’s project! Sounds like she learned a lot about R value.

      It’ll be a great day when the pad manufacturers let go of their “R-value” claims, and create a consistent comparison method. When the dust settles, people will realize that the air mattress values are totally over-inflated (pun intended). But to prove this, one must create a test where a side keeper is simulated, since there is more weight concentrated in the center of the pad. They also must simulate nighttime body movement, since the R-value of air mattresses is severely impacted by internal convection from any slight movement.
      Finally, the building indrusty has found that R-value changes with temperature. Given most of us would like to be comfortable at a cold air/ground temperature, this must be contemplated as well, for any of these values to offer any reliability in the real world. My understanding is many testing chambers are calibrated at temperatures above freezing. In our world where sleeping below freezing can be a life/death affair, sub-zero R value simulation must be considered.

  26. Firstly, this is such an informative post, so I want to say thank you for it. Secondly, I would appreciate if you could answer me this question: I’m a side-sleeper, so if I want to chose Big Agnes’s sleeping pad, which product line should I choose? Moreover, which R value is suitable for me?
    Thank you so much!

  27. Ha! The intro picture is a concrete, high efficiency house built by Walter Jefferies of Sugar Mountain Farms. One of my favorite blogs. I have learned a ton about the corruption in our food supply chain from this man.

  28. R values are measured by conduction only. Heat moves by radiation, convection, and conduction. Any surface that is touching another has zero insulating value. There are many factors that come to mind here. Your body touching the surface, the ground touching the surface, the space inbetween it, the amount of air movement over, and under it from hot, and cold colliding, and the emission or transmission of energy in the form of waves or particles through space or through a material medium.

    All of these things do make R values only meaningful 1/3 of the time, and should not be the only thing considered in any actual insulation value.

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