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Best backpacking sleeping pads

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After a hard day on the trails, your body will require some rest. Sleeping pads provide added comfort to sleeping outdoors by putting a layer of protection between you and the rocky ground. A sleeping pad supports your joints so that you can catch a restful night of sleep. Not all pads are created equal. I've put them to the test, and these are my top picks this year.

When every ounce matters

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Therm-a-Rest neoair xlite

Staff pick

Long days in the backwoods require a serious sleeping pad, and that's why I've carried the NeoAir Xlite for years. The ultralight sleep system weighs in at 12 ounces and has a warmth rating that meets all conditions for three seasons. A reflective coating traps radiant heat and the no-slip materials ensure you don't slide off the pad while you rest. My favorite feature, though, is the size. It's 2.5 inches thick but packs down to the size of a one-liter bottle. This super pack-friendly sleeping pad comes with a stuff sack and repair kit and is the best of the best.

Best value

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ALPS mountaineering 375

A lightweight foam pad

The lightest sleeping pads are foam. They roll up tight and slip under the floating lid or in the bottom straps of your backpack. Foam pads don't usually offer as much cushioning as inflatable varieties, but this model from ALPS Mountaineering may be the exception. Adding just nine ounces of weight, this affordable option is thick enough to put some warmth between you and the hard ground and is the best bang for your buck.

Hammock-friendly

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ECOTEK hybern8

Easily inflates for a comfortable rest

The Ecoek Hybern8 takes the work out inflating your sleeping pad, something no long-distance hiker wants to do after a long day. In less than ten breaths, the Hybern8 inflates, giving you 2.5 inches of loft. You get 3 season warmth and cushiness from this pad, and its versatile design also fits inside a hammock. This sleeping pad folds down to the size of a one-liter bottle and weighs just 18 ounces, so it sits right in your pack. The Hybern8 is waterproof and tough enough to go on all your adventures.

Rugged

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Klymit static V

Cushions all types of sleepers

I pack the Klymit Static V pad for rough terrain because it stands up to sticks, stones, and sleeping right on the ground. With a 75D polyester exterior, it never punctures or tears, and is abrasion-resistant. The comfort level is off the hook too. Whether you're a stomach, back or side sleeper, the Static V supports your body in a V-shaped design that cradles you and prevents the tossing and turning that can come with sleeping in the outback.

Best lightweight

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Therm-a-Rest ridgerest solite

Reflective properties keep you cozy

The cross-linked polyethylene in the Therm-a-Rest SOLite keeps this sleeping pad lightweight yet durable so that you can strap it below your pack without worry. The ThermaCapture surface reflects radiant heat from your body and locks it in, so you stay warm and dry all night long. This 3 season sleeping pad comes in small, regular, and large sizes, and adds only 13 ounces to your pack weight. When you need a lightweight foam pad that will keep you warm on chilly nights, don't pass up the SOLite.

Bottom line

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad is the best option if you are thru-hiking or on a weekend adventure. It's packable and lightweight, adding only 12 ounces to your pack while getting 2.5 inches of comfort. The NeoAir Xlite inflates in under two minutes and provides ample warmth and cushioning to give you a great night of rest.

Geared toward thru-hikers and minimalist backpackers, the sleeping pad from ALPS Mountaineering adds a thin layer of cushion and warmth between you and the ground. This is a dense closed-cell foam pad that weighs only 9 ounces and works well as part of your 3 season gear.