A Sleeping Pad R-Value measures a sleeping pad’s ability to prevent heat loss (to the ground) when you lie on it at night. Pads with higher R-values do this more effectively than pads with lower R-values. R-value isn’t a measure of warmth per se, but of a pad’s ability to prevent the loss of the warmth that your body generates.
- For winter backpacking and camping, an R-value of 5, or higher, is recommended.
- For three-season backpacking and camping, an R-value of 2, or higher, is recommended.
- R-values are additive, so you can combine two pads to increase your warmth level.
- Women need higher R-values pads because they have lower body mass than men. An additional R value of 1 is usually a good hedge for women and other cold sleepers
For purposes of backpacking and camping, you also need to factor in weight, comfort, compressibility, and rigidity when you make a sleeping pad selection.
Sleeping Pad R-Value Standard
In 2020, the outdoor industry is rolling out an international and industry-standard R-value test procedure called ASTM3340-18. This means you’ll be able to compare the R-values of different sleeping pads made by different manufacturers and know that they’re all using the same test procedure to measure the R-values of their 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 (coming soon). The R-Value of a pad should remain the same if you select a longer, shorter, or wider variation of the pad. If a sleeping pad has a R-Value of “NA”, it’s because the manufacturer has not supplied one or R-value testing has not been performed.
Old R-Values vs. New Standardized R-Values
This table lists the old R-values that manufacturers assigned their sleeping pads before the passage of the new ASTM3340-18 standard and compares them to their new standardized R-values, which have been tested using the same test methodology and apparatus.
Updated February 22, 2020Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.
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