66 responses

  1. tritan
    March 27, 2009

    wow, thanks for the great chart. My wife and I tryed out tonight in the store the Big Agnes memory foam pad with a SI Mat inside and wow was that nice for bike camping.

  2. Earlylite
    March 27, 2009

    No problem – I created this to do my own comparison in search of a lightweight winter pad and discovered the Ether Thermo 6. Got one on order from REI so I can easily return it if it doesn't work the way I want it to.

  3. tritan
    March 27, 2009

    We are planning a bike camping trip soon and the wife has an old flannel sleeping bag that needs upgrading to save weight. We tried the Big Agnes Lost dog bag with the memory foam pad in which the store had a thermarest matteress in it go figure. The wife really liked it. We are going to try just the air core tomorrow to compare the two. Do you own a air core? I wonder how long it takes to inflate?

  4. tritan
    March 27, 2009

    Also earlyite is it true what the store told us a sleeping bag is rated by being in a tent on a sleep pad so for our application of summer camping a 50 degreee bag with a thicker pad would be great.

  5. Earlylite
    March 28, 2009

    I've never heard that, but it sounds plausible. However, I just sold my 40 degree bag for summer use because I was too cold using it(in a tent and on a pad), and I now use my 20 degree for all 3 seasons. Your mileage may vary, but I'd be a little skeptical.

  6. Earlylite
    March 28, 2009

    I own the insulated aircore but not the non-insulated one and I really like it. Super comfortable. Frankly, I'd go for it rather than the thermarest, memory foam combo. Save your money. My aircore takes about 20 breaths to blow up, but that shouldn't be a problem for you tough bikers. :-) It also compresses down very well.

  7. tritan
    March 28, 2009

    thanks for the input . We are going to give it a try in the local store today.

  8. Tom Murphy
    March 28, 2009

    I second the BA insulated air core reccomendation. I use it in a BA 15 deg syn bag (BA Encampment) which has no fill in the bottom half and am very happy with it.

  9. tritan
    March 28, 2009

    Well, tryed the air core with a 20 degreee BA on sale for 142.00 closeout. Then tryed the aircore with the BA 30 degree for 169.00. both minus the matress. I like both actually. I preferr the ranger 15 BA but for summer camping I think its going to be overkill as I don't plan on winter camping with this new bag.

  10. Sean
    January 22, 2010

    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.

  11. lost on the range
    August 21, 2010

    I would just like to say that the Gossamer Gear Nightlight is the torso length.

    I was thinking of picking up the full length version, shortening it to my petite height, scoring it myself, and maybe reinforcing it with duct tape to ensure flexibility and preventing tear offs. It will be pretty thick but i think if I align it correctly, it might work ok.

    Here is the info for the full length version

    Weight:

    varies 12 to 12.4 oz. (340 – 352 g.)

    Size:

    19 x 76 x 3/4 in. (48 x 193 x 2 cm.)

  12. Earlylite
    August 21, 2010

    I own about a half dozen of the torso length nightlights. I used to use them more for sleeping, but now I cut them down into 1/3 size and use them mostly as an internal stiffener for ultralight backpacks.

  13. sarah bodary
    October 5, 2010

    thank you for this website! Im hiking the Appalachian trail this march and i feel like im spending all of my time researching gear, loved the sleeping pad chart!

  14. Earlylite
    October 8, 2010

    Glad to help Sarah – have a great hike and let me know if I can give you and further gear info/advice.

  15. KY Trailnotes
    February 3, 2011

    This is a handy little chart! I had a bad experience with the BA Insulated Air Core; I prefer my REI pad over it. However I am a smaller-framed woman and for some reason the Big Agnes just never got warm under me.

  16. Plan B
    May 15, 2011

    I am a very cold sleeper. Just tried the new Exped UL 7 at 16oz a month ago on the Tonto (Grand Canyon). 1st night was cold and windy but I was warm warm warm. Also have bad experience with BA Air core and have slept very cold on Prolite.

    • BeeKeeper
      October 17, 2013

      Is the Exped UL 7 one of the noisy pads?

      • Philip Werner
        October 17, 2013

        No but it’s quite heavy. I used to own one, but really only used it for winter backpacking.

      • BeeKeeper
        October 17, 2013

        Just copied your info to an excel spreadsheet so I could sort by R-Values; should help me in my decision.

  17. Libda
    January 10, 2012

    Just bought my first pad. I bought the NeoAir Thermarest. I am planning a trip to Machu Picchu. Will this keep me warm? Packs small.

  18. Skye
    March 2, 2012

    I’ve been using the same Original Thermarest for almost 20 years, and it just doesn’t hold air like it used to (slow dribble of air all night, nothing that can be patched) and its not good in the cold anymore, but the research to find the next 20 year mattress seemed daunting.The chart is perfect, thanks for sharing!

    As for the sleeping bag rating comment/question,
    Wikipedia talks about the European bag rating system here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EN_13537 .
    In the US though, sleeping bags are generally given an “in perfect conditions” rating, which means you will be able to survive at this temperature, not that you will necessarily be comfortable unless you are in a tent with a good pad and dry socks, etc, but since there isn’t a standard for US bags, not even all 20*bags are created equal.
    I know for myself I need a bag rated for about 10-15*F higher than the temperature. My 15* (down) bag keeps me toasty at 35*, comfortable at 25-30* and I need a thick layer of fleece over my long underwear to get to 15*.

  19. Gail Pearlman
    March 6, 2012

    I’m thinking about getting the EXPED SYNMAT UL 7 – MEDIUM – S11 sleeping bag (R-value 3.1) to go with the REI Women’s Joule sleeping bag (rated at 15 degrees). I’ll be doing mostly summer hiking, sometimes at high elevations (like Sierras 10,000′). I sleep cold. Does this sound like a warm enough combination?

    • Earlylite
      March 6, 2012

      You have to tell me what the average season temps are in the Sierra where you’re going. What criteria did you use to decide on these two items?

      • Gail
        March 6, 2012

        I don’t know what the average is, but temps should not be below freezing. So, say 32 degrees. Price matters, but my most important criteria is weight – I want to keep my total pack weight under 30 pounds for a week of hiking (I also have a Fly Creek UL2 tent, which is 2 lbs. 15 ounces with everything including the footprint, and a Granite Gear Women’s Vapor Ki pack, 2.5 lbs.). The exped pad is 16.2 ounces and the Joule bag is 2 lbs. 2 oz.

      • Earlylite
        March 6, 2012

        You should be fine with that setup down to about 20 degrees. If you want to shave a little more weight (4.2) ounces, you can also get a Therm-a-Rest XLite pad (12 ounces, r=3.2).

      • Gail
        March 6, 2012

        Thank you! I will check out the XLite.

      • DaniLou
        December 14, 2012

        When I hiked the JMT over two weeks in August 2010, I carried a GoLite 20* quilt (won in a raffle on this site!) and used the original NeoAir. We had frost a couple of nights on the tent (Tarptent Double Rainbow) and spent a very windy and cold night (with ice on the tent in the morning) on Mt. Whitney. I wore insulation layers but stayed nice and toasty with that set up.

      • Earlylite
        December 14, 2012

        Awesome! :-)

    • Judy (Plan B)
      March 6, 2012

      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.

    • Walter Underwood
      December 12, 2012

      You can certainly get frost in the Sierras in the summer. I had that at Snow Lake (9600 feet) in August.

      The ground is generally fairly dry and a poor thermal conductor, so you don’t need a high R-value pad. I’ve used a NeoAir (original) and a Prolite (maybe plus?) and never even thought about it. I have a Western Mountaineering Alpenlite (20º).

      Here is the spot where I had morning frost. I was in a Ptarmigan bivy overnight, it is draped across a shrub to dry in the photo. Very nice Perseid meteors that night.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/walter_underwood/3835388973/in/set-72157622083986314

      Sleeping on snow is an entirely different matter.

      • Earlylite
        December 12, 2012

        Very nice Walter.
        I’m doing the same thing tomorrow night. Geminid meteor shower.

      • Grandpa
        December 13, 2012

        NeoAir original and 800 fill down bag tomorrow night. Geminid meteor shower for me too.

  20. M. Action N.
    March 16, 2012

    I live in Anchorage, Alaska and I recently took to the snow covered hills (as of this writing, the record of 132″ has been obliterated) with my BA Insulated Air Core coupled with a Therm-a- Rest ProLite Plus, both long versions as I stand a svelte 6’3″. I slept in a 20 degree rated Feathered Friends Swallow with a silk liner nestled snug in the bosom of a 2008 REI Cirque ASL (All Season Light) tent. The temperature dropped down to the mid-teens with heavy wind all night. I was plenty warm wearing 3 weight long underwear on. My question is two, possibly threefold.

    First, how might one calculate the R-value of stacked pads like that? Wouldn’t it be convenient if you could just add 3.8 to 4.1 to arrive at a confidence-bolstering 7.9 for uber cold weather domination? Physics, I have found, rarely plays nice. Obviously the combination is effective, though. How valuable is the combination, and if I wanted to save weight, which would be the better pad to leave at home if I am expecting to encounter similar conditions?

    Second, I am taking the plunge into the swift moving current at the bottom of the ultralight abyss. I’ve ordered a Tarptent Scarpa 2 with the mesh interior and the crosspoles. Is that, along with the above-mentioned sleep setup okay at temperatures down to the mid teens on snow? Is the jump from a heavy, 4-season REI tent to a Tarptent without the full nylon interior and only one pad too dramatic a change?

    The obvious response is probably “How much comfort am I willing to give up?” and to that I would answer “Isn’t that part of the fun?” However, I would like to make sure that what I am doing is safe.

    Thanks for doing such a swell job with this site, by the way. I am relatively new to backpacking (this will be my sophomore summer), and having access to thoughtful, concise perspective is invaluable.

  21. Earlylite
    March 16, 2012

    R-value is additive. However, for snow camping I’d recommend sleeping on a combined value of 5-6. One caution I’d make is to not rely solely on inflatable or self-inflatable pads. Replace one of your pads with a closed cell foam pad like the Zlite. In a pinch you could fold it up and sleep on just it under your torso, if your inflatable pops/leaks.

    The scarp2 with cross-poles is a full 4 season tent. You’ll be fine. I consider that tent to be luxurious btw.

  22. Jeff
    June 11, 2012

    switched from neoair to exped syl u7.Not as much noise when rolling around.Doesn’t slide around.More cozy for 2oz. more and seems a little more durable.Just sleep better on it!!!!!

  23. Chris
    December 12, 2012

    Earlier this year, Backpackinglight did a review of pad R values. One caution in the article is that manufacturers’ reported values were inconsistent. Because of this, they developed an apparatus and took a bunch of consistent measurements.

    Members can read the article here:
    http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/insulation_measurement.html

    My caution, as noted above, is that great analytics only support one’s personal preference given different sleeping styles, other elements of one’s sleeping system, budget, weight, desired toughness, etc.

    • Earlylite
      December 12, 2012

      I’m not a BPL member anymore. :-)
      The industry is working on standards,similar to EN13537 sleeping bag standards that came out a few years back.
      As I note above R-Value has its limits, particularly if your are slide sleeper. But it doesn’t matter most of the year if you sleep on relatively warm ground.

  24. grannyhiker
    December 13, 2012

    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.

    • Earlylite
      December 14, 2012

      The problem with the very thin pads is that the companies that sell them don’t have any idea what their R values are – I’ve asked

  25. Andy
    December 14, 2012

    Being the Exped pads developer based in Switzerland, I wonder about this statement:
    “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.”
    It sounds as if other mats do not depend on the body heat to warm up respectively to insulate the body…which is certainly not the case. Any pad is just an insulator and your body is the furnace. Speaking of body contact for side sleepers, especially thicker airpads like the one’s mentioned are in more contact with the body than let’s say a closed cell foam mat. Still wondering and trying to learn from it. Cheers, Andy

    • Earlylite
      December 14, 2012

      I think we’re in violent agreement. Perhaps you’re confused by the way I worded that. All inflatable pads require body heat to warm up.

      • Ken
        December 1, 2013

        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.

    • Judy (Plan B)
      October 17, 2013

      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.

  26. Earlylite
    December 14, 2012

    What I do want to know Andy, is when you are coming out with a sleeping pad made for side sleepers. 61 percent of americans sleep on their side. Big opportunity here, I think.

    • Andy
      December 14, 2012

      It seems to me you are saying that sidesleepers are not in full contact with a pad. However especially thick ones as our (Exped) downmats or synmats allow to sink in enough to have contact to all the side of your body for a sidesleeper. At least that was one of the purposes to make much thicker pads than the once standard 1 inch ones. Or what else do you think of to be missing for a sidesleeper for an ideal pad?

  27. Earlylite
    December 14, 2012

    Perhaps more back insulation and less width.We were in the tent last night watching the meteor shower and I had to put a closed cell foam pad up against the side wall of the tent to keep my wife’s back warm. What if you made an L-shaped pad? Maybe added a pillow.

    • Paul
      May 22, 2013

      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.

  28. Josh camp
    December 15, 2012

    Love that Andy chimed in on this one. I was really intrigued by the BA’s but ended up buying a xtherm and I love it so far.I use my pad on the ground and in a hammock so I preferred the horizontal baffles of the thermarest as opposed to the vertical of the exped. It just seemed more comfy in a hammock. My only qualm is that although extremely light, it did not seem as durable as the exped. We will see. I plan on using it 4 season and I’ll be interested to see just how warm I get in the summer.

  29. Andy
    December 17, 2012

    Thanks for the feedback, always good to hear of new ideas which I can try prototyping and testing, cheers.

    • Earlylite
      December 17, 2012

      Thanks for being so open to the feedback Andy and sharing your design rationale for the thicker mats. I can’t help but wonder if there’s still not a better side sleeper solution out there than what we have today and will be curious to see what you cook up. I expect to see Kai at OR next month and will pepper him with a few ideas too.

  30. BeeKeeper
    October 17, 2013

    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.

    • Philip Werner
      October 17, 2013

      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,

      • BeeKeeper
        October 17, 2013

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

      • Philip Werner
        October 17, 2013

        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.

      • BeeKeeper
        October 17, 2013

        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.

      • Paul
        October 17, 2013

        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.

  31. McCamer
    October 18, 2013

    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

  32. James
    February 11, 2014

    Hi Philip,

    Congrats on the comparison chart above. I know how that can take a lot of time to research and put together.
    I am a big fan of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season myself. But I have tried some other sleeping pads from Therm-a-Rest….. they are so high quality.
    Anyhow, it is great to see all of the specs put together like that in a well organised chart.
    I make this type of charts on my blog too.

    keep on the good work.
    cheers,
    James

  33. TheRaghorn
    February 28, 2014

    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!

  34. Jason
    March 3, 2014

    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.

  35. Mark Smith
    March 11, 2014

    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

  36. NancyP
    April 1, 2014

    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.

  37. Cynthia Jendrejcak
    April 9, 2014

    This is a great reference!!!

  38. Henry S
    April 22, 2014

    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.

    • Philip Werner
      April 22, 2014

      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.

  39. Allen S
    June 2, 2014

    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.

Leave a Reply

 

 

 

Back to top
mobile desktop