We make a lot of sleeping pads, you could say its our thing. Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads are found in camps all over the world. High in the alpine, rolled out in the back of hatchbacks and on every major thru-hike—you name your adventure, we’ve got sleeping pads for it. But how do you choose the right one out of 25 models? Sometimes, two sleeping pads is optimal (we’ll get to that), further complicating the decision.

thermarest sleeping pads guide

Picking the right sleeping pad shouldn’t be guesswork. Which is why we put together The Ultimate Guide to Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads. This piece is intended to centralize information, create quick and clear comparisons, and help you find the right sleeping pads for your sleep system.

Jump ahead to: 
1. Fast & Light Sleeping Pads
2. Trek & Travel Sleeping Pads
3. Camp & Comfort Sleeping Pads
4. Sleeping Pad R-Value
5. Sleeping Pad Construction
6. Sleeping Pad Valves
7. Sleeping Pad Sizes
8. How to Choose a Sleeping Pad
9. Sleeping Pad Maintenance

uberlight sleeping pad

Fast & Light Sleeping Pads

Our Fast & Light sleeping pads are designed to keep you safe, comfortable and moving fast in the backcountry. Backcountry sleeping pads need to be lightweight, warm, compact and durable. This tricky combination is made possible by the use of premium materials and industry leading construction techniques. In this category you’ll see why Therm-a-Rest has defined the cutting edge of technologically advanced sleeping pads for nearly 50 years.

Model R-Value Sizes Weight Thickness Best Use
NeoAir® XLiteNeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad 4.2 Regular 12 oz / 0.34 kg 2.5 in / 6.4 cm Backpacking, thru-hiking, bike packing, kayaking, canoeing, ultralight
Women’s NeoAir® XLite
Women's NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
5.4 Small
Regular
Regular Wide
Large
8 oz / 0.23 kg
12.5 oz / 0.36 kg
15 oz / 0.43 kg
1 lb / 0.46 kg
2.5 in / 6.4 cm Backpacking, thru-hiking, bike packing, kayaking, canoeing, ultralight
NeoAir® XTherm
NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad
6.9 Regular
Large
15 oz / 0.43 kg
1 lb 4 oz / 0.57 kg
2.5 in / 6.4 cm Cold weather/winter, backpacking, thru-hiking, bike packing, kayaking, canoeing, ultralight
NeoAir® XTherm MAX
XThermMAX Sleeping Pad
6.9 Regular
Regular Wide
Large
1 lb 1 oz / 0.49 kg
1 lb 6 oz / 0.61 kg
1 lb 7 oz / 0.64 kg
2.5 in / 6.4 cm Cold weather/winter, backpacking, thru-hiking, bike packing, kayaking, canoeing, ultralight
NeoAir® UberLite™
NeoAir UberLite
2.3 Small
Regular
Regular Wide
Large
6 oz / 0.17 kg
8.8 oz / 0.25 kg
11 oz / 0.31 kg
12 oz / 0.34 kg
2.5 in / 6.4 cm Ultralight pursuits
ProLite™ Apex™ProLite Apex Sleeping Pad 3.8 Regular
Regular Wide
Large
1 lb 6 oz / 0.62 kg
1 lb 12 oz / 0.79 kg
1 lb 14 oz / 0.85 kg
2 in / 5cm Backpacking, all-around use, canoeing, rafting
ProLite™
ProLite Sleeping Pad
2.4 Small
Regular
Large
12 oz / 0.35 kg
1 lb 2 oz / 0.51 kg
1 lb 8 oz / 0.69 kg
1 in / 2.5 cm Backpacking, all-around use
ProLite™ Womens
Women's ProLite Sleeping Pad
2.7 Regular 1lb 2 oz / 0.51 kg 1 in / 2.5 cm Backpacking, all-around use
ProLite™ Plus
Women's ProLite Sleeping Pad
3.2 Small
Regular
Large
1 lb / 0.45 kg
1 lb 7 oz / 0.65 kg
1 lb 15 oz / 0.88 kg
1.5 in / 3.8 cm Backpacking, all-around use
ProLite™ Plus Womens
Women's ProLite Sleeping Pad
3.9 Regular 1 lb 6 oz / 0.64 kg 1.5 in / 3.8 cm Backpacking, all-around use
Z Lite Sol™Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad 2.0 Small
Regular
10 oz / 0.29 kg
14 oz / 0.41 kg
0.75 in / 2 cm Backpacking, sleep system layering, thru-hiking, ultralight, all-around use, multi-function
Original Z Lite™
Z_Lite
1.7 Regular 14 oz / 0.41 kg 0.75 in / 2 cm Backpacking, thru-hiking, ultralight, all-around use, multi-function

NeoAir® XLite™/NeoAir XLite Women’s

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The industry standard and award-collector for lightweight three-season backpacking performance. From ultralight purists to casual weekenders, everybody benefits from the XLite’s combination of cutting-edge tech, premium materials and legendary build quality. At 2.5-inches thick, it’s comfy and supportive for side sleepers, and still able to pack down to about the size of a water bottle. Does inflating and deflating all that volume sound tiresome? The high-flow one-way inflation of the WingLock Valve makes setting it up a breeze. Plus, it comes with a breath-saving pump sack.

Triangular Core Matrix construction offers the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any pad construction in the industry. That ratio is further boosted by the embedded patent-pending ThermaCapture layer that radiates body heat back toward your body, rather than letting it slowly seep out of the pad. The result is a R-Value of 4.2 which sits right on the border of three-season and four-season warmth (the shorter and warmer Women’s model has a firm four-season R-Value of 5.4).  If you need a reliable and high-performance foundation for your backcountry sleep system, there is no better choice than the XLite.

SHOP NEOAIR® XLITE™  |  SHOP NEOAIR® XLITE™ WOMEN’S

NeoAir® Xtherm™/NeoAir Xtherm MAX

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The award-winning Xtherm provides best warmth-to-weight ratio of any sleeping pad on the market and is a must-have for winter backcountry objectives. Slightly bulkier than the XLite due to its thicker materials and added warmth features, it still packs down plenty small enough to be an easy choice for thru-hikers and alpinists. Its objective is warmth (R-Value 6.9), but that doesn’t mean we cut corners to get there (in fact the MAX model is a full, broad surface rectangular cut.) The baffled internal Triangular Core Matrix construction makes for a super-supportive 2.5-inch pad that is bound to give you better rest in challenging conditions.

Like the XLite, the WingLock valve eases inflation and deflation especially when combined with the included pump sack. One piece of feedback we regularly get from customers is that the Xtherm has become their go-to pad for every trip, not just the cold ones. One reason is that for a few extra ounces, they get the extra durability of slightly heavier materials on the bottom, and some  peace of mind knowing punctures are less likely. The Xtherm is a cold-weather specialist, but the qualities that make it great are dead-useful on any trip.

SHOP NEOAIR® XTHERM™  |  SHOP NEOAIR® XTHERM MAX™

NeoAir UberLite™

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A gram-counters dream, the UberLite is the lightest insulated air pad ever built. If the lightest and most compact sleep system is your goal, the UberLite is the pad for you. Compared to an XLite, the lighter weight materials are immediately noticeable. To achieve this level of ultralight it is necessary to sacrifice durability, that’s just how it is. Still, this 2.5-inch thick pad provides plenty of comfort, warmth and support for three-season adventures thanks to Triangular Core Matrix construction. Similarly, it uses a WingLock valve and included pump sack for easy inflation and deflation.

It may be a specialist pad, but the Uber features hallmarks of Therm-a-Rest build quality to deliver peak-ultralight performance.

SHOP NEOAIR® UBERLITE

ProLite™ Apex™

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Get the best of both worlds with the ProLite Apex. With its StrataCore construction the ProLite Apex combines the lightweight and compact attributes of a true air pad with the ease-of-use, comfort and durability of a self-inflating sleeping pad. Alternating ridges of air and open-cell foam make this 2-inch pad super comfortable, warm and supportive for all types of sleepers. Open-cell foam core pads will never be as light and compact as our NeoAirs, but by carrying some extra weight you get ease-of-use and added durability on account of the slightly thicker materials.

If the self-inflation doesn’t simplify inflation enough, the WingLock makes it so all you have to do is top it off with a few breaths to find your desired comfort level. With a 3.8 R-Value, comfort is yours for three-seasons out of the year. While the air pad innovation has stormed the industry with its reductions in weight and bulk, we’re finding the ProLite Apex is taking some sleepers back to the self-inflating side of things—with good reason.

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ProLite™/ProLite Women’s

prolite_poppy_reg-wmns

The ProLite is an absolute Therm-a-Rest classic that recalls our invention of the groundbreaking self-inflating sleeping pad. It was designed for the modern backpacker in need of reliable self-inflating performance and comfort at an affordable price-point.

The open-cell foam core utilizes diagonal channels strategically cut out of it (die-cut) in order to eliminate bulk without sacrificing warmth or support. At 1-inch thick, the ProLite provides sleepers with essential comfort and three-season warmth. Simplicity, ease-of-use and reliability is the name of the game when it comes to self-inflating pads, and that’s exactly what the ProLite is.

Available in a shorter and warmer Women’s model.

Pro Tip: Pick up a small size for serious weight savings. You’ll get the essential comfort where you need it most—your torso—and cut a lot of weight.

SHOP PROLITE™  |  SHOP PROLITE™ WOMEN’S

ProLite™ Plus/ProLite Plus Women’s

prolite_plus_reg-wmns

The ProLite Plus is a thicker and warmer version of the classic ProLite. Although the added comfort measures increase the overall weight, the ProLite Plus is no less backcountry ready. At 1.5-inches thick with a supportive die-cut foam core, this pad can be relied on for compact and durable backcountry comfort. The open-cell foam does most of the inflation work, requiring just a few breaths to find your desired comfort level. Much like its sibling, the ProLite Plus gives the sleeper simple and durable three-season performance at camp.

Available in a shorter and warmer Women’s model.

SHOP PROLITE™ PLUS  |  SHOP PROLITE™ PLUS WOMEN’S

Z Lite SOL™/Original Z Lite™

zlite_blue_reg-original

The iconic “accordion-egg-carton” closed-cell foam sleeping pad you’re bound to see strapped onto packs on just about any trail. Why? The Z Lite series is darn-near perfect with its approach to being an indestructible, ultralight and multi-use tool for your backpacking kit. Yes, it’s a sleeping pad, but it easily doubles as a seat, a dog-bed, a fly-swatter or and even a first aid tool for splinting injured knees.  Honestly, your imagination is the limit.

The textured design allows heat-trapping dimples to capture your body heat and hold it. Moreover, the SOL model features a layer of our proprietary reflective ThermaCapture coating to bump its R-Value up to a fair weather 2.0. That may not seem like much, but if you layer it under another pad, that 2.0 is added to your other pad’s R-Value. For example, an XLite—with a three-season R-Value of 4.2—on top of Z Lite SOL achieves an overall R-Value of 6.2—firmly in the four-season range. That level of backcountry usefulness is hard to find at this price in any gear category, not just sleeping pads.

SHOP Z LITE SOL SHOP Z LITE™ ORIGINAL

inflating trail pro

Trek & Travel Sleeping Pads

The modern adventurer rarely restricts themselves to a single lane of adventure. Weeks spent sleeping in a tent deep in the backcountry are followed up by weekends car camping with friends and family. Our Trek & Travel line is designed for the modern adventurer. They are light and compact enough for the backpack, while still bringing the premium comfort features you want in the frontcountry.

Model R-Value Sizes Weight Thickness Best Use
NeoAir® Topo LuxeTherm-a-Rest Topo Luxe Sleeping Pad 3.7 Regular
Regular Wide
Large
XLarge
1lb 7 oz / 0.65 kg
1lb 11 oz / 0.77 kg
1lb 13 oz / 0.82 kg
2lbs 2 oz / 0.96 kg
4 in / 10 cm Backpacking, all-around use, car camping, side sleepers
NeoAir® Topo
Therm-a-Rest Topo Sleeping Pad
2.3 Regular
Regular Wide
Large
1lb 5 oz / 0.59 kg
1lb 12 oz / 0.80 kg
1lb 14 oz / 0.85 kg
3 in / 7.6 cm Backpacking, all-around use, car camping, side sleepers
NeoAir® Venture™ NeoAir Venture Sleeping Pad 2.2 Regular
Large
1lb 3 oz / 0.54 kg
1lb 10 oz / 0.74 kg
2 in / 5 cm backpacking
Trail Pro™
Trail Pro Sleeping Pad
4.4 Regular
Regular Wide
Large
1lb 13 oz / 0.82 kg
2lbs 5 oz / 1.04 kg
2lbs 7 oz / 1.11 kg
3 in / 7.6 cm Backpacking, all-around use, car camping, rafting/canoeing, truck/van sleep systems, side-sleepers
Trail Lite™
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad
3.2 Regular
Large
1lb 10 oz / 0.74 kg
2lbs 5 oz / 1.05 kg
1.5 in / 3.8 cm Backpacking, car camping
Trail Lite™ Women’s
Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad
4.5 Regular 1lb 10 oz / 0.74 kg 1.5 in / 3.8 cm Backpacking, car camping
Trail Scout™
Trail Scout Sleeping Pad
3.1 Small
Regular
Large
14 oz / 0.40 kg
1lb 6 oz / 0.63 kg
1lb 14 oz / 0.86 kg
1 in / 2.5 cm Entry-level backpacking, backpacking, car camping
RidgeRest® SOLite™
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Sleeping Pad
2.1 Small
Regular
Large
9 oz / 0.26 kg
14 oz / 0.40 kg
1lb 3 oz / 0.54 kg
0.625 in / 1.5 cm Backpacking, sleep system layering, multi-use
RidgeRest® Classic
Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Classic Sleeping Pad
2.0 Regular
Large
14 oz / 0.40 kg
1lb 3 oz / 0.54 kg
0.625 in / 1.5 cm Backpacking, multi-use

NeoAir® Topo™

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The Topo strikes that perfect balance between specialist lightweight backpacking pad and a super-comfy backcountry bed. Made of premium materials, the Topo boasts a 3-inch (7.6 cm) thick and ultra-supportive profile while being able to pack down small when it’s time to hit the trail. WaveCore construction ensures the necessary insulation for three-season pursuits.

It comes with a pump-sack for easy inflation in addition to the standard WingLock Valve system that features one-way inflation.

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NeoAir® Topo™ Luxe

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As the name suggests, the Topo Luxe takes the backcountry comfort profile of the Topo and goes all in. 3-inches thick with a balanced and supportive rectangular sleep surface means restless nights searching for a comfortable position at camp are a thing of the past. Premium materials and iconic Therm-a-Rest construction make this comfort-conscious pad compact and backcountry ready, but with the chops to be the envy of any car campsite.

Unlike its sibling, the Topo Luxe uses the TwinLock Valve system. This system features a one-way inflation valve and dedicated deflation valve, to make inflating that extra volume easy. Moreover, Triangular Core Matrix construction gives the Topo Luxe plenty of warmth for any three-season pursuit.

Pro Tip: Layer a Z-Lite SOL underneath, and the overall R-Value of your pad set-up gets up into that four-season range.

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NeoAir® Venture™

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A classic NeoAir design, the venture provides access to the benefits of our top-line air pads at a great price. WaveCore construction makes it supportive and compact, despite its rectangular cut and 2-inch thick profile. With an R-Value of 2.2 the venture is a fair-weather pad and utilizes a WingLock valve system.

An important aspect of the Venture is its durability. Due to the thicker materials, the Venture is slightly heavier than some of its NeoAir siblings. Over the years though, we’ve found many customers prioritize durability and are willing to bag a few extra ounces for an air pad that gives them peace of mind.

SHOP NEOAIR® VENTURE™

Trail Pro™

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This underappreciated staff favorite could be exactly the pad you need; it’s a masterpiece of self-inflating performance. Compact and light enough for backpacking pursuits, the Trail Pro brings the comfort you would typically reserve for car-camping to remote destinations. The stretch-knit fabric surface is plush and feels great next-to-skin, while the StataCore foam construction offers peak support for sleepers of any type (talking about you, side-sleepers).

At three inches thick and with a cold-conquering 4.4 R-Value, the Trail Pro promises supreme comfort anywhere you take it. Three-inches with a foam core, that must be too bulky for a backpack, right? Wrong. The StrataCore foam construction uses alternating ridges of air and foam to cut bulk while the tapered cut of the pad provides max comfort and significant weight reduction. The Trail Pro distills our best designs and ideas into one go-anywhere unicorn of a sleeping pad.

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Trail Lite™/ Women’s Trail Lite

trail lite_reg-wmns

The 1.5-inch thick Trail Lite is the go-to pad for campers and backpackers looking for the ease of self-inflation, the warmth for three-season adventures and the iconic Therm-a-Rest commitment to quality without breaking the bank. The die-cut premium foam core keeps weight down, ensures packability and offers all-night support so you can follow your adventure whims anywhere they may take you.

Available in a Women’s Size that is slightly shorter and warmer. In fact, the R-Value of the women’s size pushes the Trail Lite into the four-season range.

SHOP TRAIL LITE™  |  SHOP TRAIL LITE™ WOMEN’S

Trail Scout™

trail scout sleeping pad

Novice backpackers can hardly do better than the Trail Scout, but make no mistake, the build quality, low weight, and compact profile make this pad suitable for anyone looking for outstanding value as they hit the trail. The self-inflating open-cell foam core does much of the inflation work, requiring just a few breaths into the WingLock Valve to reach your desired comfort level. Essential comfort is the name of the game for this popular three-season classic.

SHOP TRAIL SCOUT™

RidgeRest® SOLite™/RidgeRest Classic

ridgerest_solite-classic.jpg

Like its cousin the Z-Lite, the closed-cell foam of the RidgeRest series offers indestructible reliability, basic comfort and multi-function peace of mind. The “peaks and valleys” cut of the foam provides a supportive sleep surface while also creating space to trap heat. With the SOLite model, more of your body heat is retained and reflected back as a result of the ThermaCapture layer.

Unlike the Z-Lite series with its accordion-fold packing design, RidgeRests roll up into a compact cylinder. Additionally, a Large size is available—in addition to small and regular—whereas the Z-Lites max out in a regular size. The intent behind this is to offer a high-utility, basic comfort closed cell foam for backpackers and campers of all sizes and experience levels. The lower price point reflects the entry level nature of the pad as well. Nonetheless, as with the Z-Lites, everybody will find an essential use for this classic closed-cell foam pad.

SHOP RIDGEREST® SOLITE™  |  SHOP RIDGEREST® CLASSIC

large camping sleeping pad

Camp & Comfort Sleeping Pads

There are few things as sublime as a leisurely weekend spent camping with family and friends. In your favorite state park, dispersed in a National Forest, by the river, lake or crag; these are happy times. With premium materials and an eye for what the human body needs for comfy sleep, our Camp & Comfort series is designed to provide the sleep foundation for these happy times. Lay down on one of these comfort-focused pads for a sublime night’s rest under the stars.

Model R-Value Sizes Weight Thickness Best Use
MondoKing™ 3D
MondoKing™ 3D Sleeping Pad
7.0 Large
XXLarge
14 oz / 0.40 kg
1lb 6 oz / 0.63 kg
4.25 in / 11 cm Car camping, truck/van sleep systems, impressing your friends at camp
LuxuryMap™ LuxuryMap Sleeping Pad 6.0 Regular
Large
XLarge
3lbs 4 oz / 1.48 kg
4lbs 3 oz / 1.90 kg
5lbs 2 oz / 2.33 kg
3 in / 7.6 cm Car camping, truck/van sleep systems
BaseCamp™
BaseCamp Sleeping Pad
6.0 Regular
Large
XLarge
2lbs 8 oz / 1.14 kg
3lbs 6 oz / 1.53 kg
4lbs / 1.82 kg
2 in / 5 cm Car camping
NeoAir® Camper™ Duo
NeoAir Camper Duo Sleeping Pad
2.5 Double 4 lbs 7 oz / 2.02 kg 3 in / 7.6 cm Adventure duos, car camping

MondoKing™ 3D

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This aptly name pad is the pinnacle of camp comfort; spend one night on one and you’ll likely reach the same conclusion.  “3D” refers to the sidewall construction style that allowed us mimic a traditional mattress with a broad, flat and supportive sleep surface and four inches of thickness. The use of sidewalls makes it possible to capture the comfort and ease of self-inflating foam without a tapered off sleep surface around the edges. Other key comfort features include the next-to-skin delight that is stretch-knit fabric, and the four-season R-Value of 7.0—the highest R-Value of any of our pads.

Despite the outsized comfort aspirations of the design, the Mondo remains compact thanks to StrataCore construction. With the dedicated deflation valve of the TwinLock Valve system it will easily roll up slot into any car trunk. When it’s time to set up camp, the combo of open-cell foam and the highflow valve makes inflating this beast as easy as topping it off to your comfort level with a few breaths or rolls of the included pump sack. Whether you are pitching a tent or sleeping in a car, the MondoKing provides more than enough warmth and comfort for a good night’s sleep any night of the year.

Pro Tip: Lay it out in your home when you need an extra bed for visiting friends or in-laws, it’s that comfortable.

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LuxuryMap™

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The LuxuryMap is the perfect bridge between the essential performance of the BaseCamp and the mammoth comfort of MondoKing 3D. It utilizes the same plush stretch-knit fabrics as the Mondo that make it delightful to the touch and comes it a cold-conquering 6.0 R-Value. Thicker than the BaseCamp at three inches, the LuxuryMap lives up to its name with a broad and supportive sleep surface that accommodates side-sleepers and those that toss and turn at night.

The self-inflating foam core provides ease-of-use for this high-volume pad, while the TwinLock Valve system makes topping it off and deflating it remarkably easy. It steps up from the BaseCamp with a pressure-mapped foam core designed to prioritize support and cushion in key areas, while cutting weight and bulk in lower use areas. As a non-3D pad its less bulky than the Mondo, but still provides outstanding comfort in the frontcountry—if that’s something you’re interested in, have a look at the LuxuryMap.

SHOP LUXURYMAP™

BaseCamp™

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The BaseCamp is one of our most recognizable pads. Its simple form factor harkens back to the original self-inflating foam pads, but it’s beefed up to offer a high-degree of comfort in the frontcountry. The real kicker though? It’s incredible value. If you have been using your backpacking pad for car camping and are looking to build a quiver of pads to better match your system to each camp situation, the BaseCamp is an excellent choice for the car camping slot that won’t break the bank.

Two inches thick with a supportive open-cell foam core wrapped in comfortable and durable fabrics, the BaseCamp can be relied upon as a comfortable refuge from the elements time and time again—just like a base camp ought to be.

SHOP BASECAMP™

NeoAir® Camper™ Duo

neoair camper duo sleeping pad

An innovative solution for adventure duos who are over falling into the gap between their individual pads and sleeping on the ground. The NeoAir Camper Duo features a gapless connection of two individual chambers so you won’t be bouncing your tent buddy off the pad in the middle of the night. Despite having the greatest overall volume of any NeoAir, the Camper Duo employs the WingLock Valve system, rather than the TwinLock (which we typically put on our high-volume pads). This allows for each chamber to be inflated to the desired comfort level in order to accommodate the preferences of each individual sleeper.

Being a NeoAir, the Camper Duo is much lighter and more compact than many competing two-person pads. The low bulk, high heat retention WaveCore construction makes the Camper Duo suitable for three-season pursuits, so adventure duos everywhere can be comfortable under the stars, together.

SHOP NEOAIR® CAMPER™ DUO

sleeping pad in snow

Sleeping Pad R-Value

What is R-Value? R-Value is a measure of thermal resistance; the higher the R-value, the more thermally resistant the material or structure is. Practically speaking, the higher the R-Value, the warmer a pad is.

Keep in mind that R-Value is not the same as the temperature ratings used to rate the warmth of sleeping bags and quilts. Whereas a sleeping bags uses its insulation to keep cold air out and trap warm air in hundreds of tiny air pockets, a sleeping pad creates a thermal resistance against the cold ground. Heat flows from warmer to cooler space until there is no difference in temperature. Your sleeping pad is the barrier that prevents that heat loss, and R-Value is the rating of how well it does that.

Why is knowing about R-Value important? Having a pad with the right R-Value for the present conditions will allow you to be thermally efficient. Of course, thermal efficiency is achieved by the right combination of all the gear that makes up your sleep system (more on that in a moment), but your pad is the foundation of the system so being informed on R-Value is essential.

Here’s a quick breakdown of R-Value ranges and how they pertain to the seasons:

sleeping pad r value chart

Keep in mind that this is general guide. There are no absolutes when it comes to conditions outdoors and the preferences of a sleeper’s body. Some people sleep cold even if it’s warm, and sometimes it the weather changes unexpectedly. Choosing the pad that fits your preferences—both of where and how you adventure, as well as what type of sleeper you are—will ensure you follow that key rule of going outside: be prepared.

ultralight sleeping pads

Sleeping Pad Layering + R-Value

One mantra that is often tossed around when talking about preparing for any outdoor adventure is, “expect the unexpected.” In the category of sleeping pads the best way to prepare for this is the same as clothing (and even sleeping bags and quilts): layering. R-Value is additive. Meaning if you stack two pads you can add their respective R-Value’s together for higher overall rating. We don’t recommend stacking two inflatable pads, chances are you would fall off overnight, but a closed-cell pad is a different story.

We mentioned it above but its worth repeating, a Z-Lite SOL is a downright useful thing to have. If temperatures unexpectedly drop, layering that Z-Lite under your inflatable pad will boost your overall R-Value by 2.0 and allow you to stay warm. If you don’t need it for your warmth, then you have something comfy to sit on or to swat flies with. That’s winning at preparation.

ASTM standard R Value machine

Sleeping Pad Construction Technology

Different construction types allow Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads to be unique and excel in different areas.

NeoAir Construction Types

triangular core matrix

Triangular Core Matrix: This patent-pending technology is a big reason our NeoAir line has created better experiences in the backcountry and collected numerous awards along the way. Two stacked layers of triangular baffles minimize heat loss and create an incredibly stable sleep surface despite the use of ultralight and compact materials. No other construction tech can match its warmth-to-weight ratio.

wave core

WaveCore: Utilizes a single layer of horizontal baffles that slows convective heat loss without adding extra bulk. It doesn’t quite match the warm-to-weight ratio of Triangular Core Matrix, meaning it’s found in our warmer weather pads. Less material and manufacturing intensive means WaveCore pads are usually less expensive.

Self-Inflating Construction Types

open cell foam

Open-cell foam: The original construction type and the technology that revolutionized outdoor sleep. Nowadays its less a construction type than it is the raw material that we use in the next three types. Still, the properties of open-cell foam are what makes self-inflation happen. Empty open cells act as a vacuum when the pad is rolled out and the valve opened. Air fills them until equilibrium  is established with the outside air pressure.

stratacore

StrataCore Construction: StrataCore marries the attributes of air pads and self-inflating pads. A continuous layer of thermal open-cell foam is cut in an pattern of a series of ridges. The spaces in between the ridges are filled with air to accompany the support of the foam. This allows significant weight savings, but here’s the best part: StrataCore yields the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam construction.

vertically die-cut foam

Vertically Die-Cut Foams: A cut structure that cuts vertical channels out of a solid open-cell foam core. This allows us to trim weight off the pad and keep it compact while still being supportive.

diagonally die-cut foam

Diagonally Die-Cut Foams: Like vertically cut foam, except the channels are diagonally cut. Diagonal channels reduce heat loss by minimizing air flow while providing the same support and reduced weight and bulk.

Winglock-Twinlock-Valve

Sleeping Pad Valves

Classic Valve: While not on any of our pads anymore, understanding the classic valve puts the advancements of our next two valves in perspective. The original valve focused on three key principles, ease-of-use, durability and repairability. Its easy twist-to-open and close action made it intuitively easy to use with gloves on, in the dark or in the cold. Having it set off the surface of the pad made midnight adjustments possible. Set into a plastic valve seat in the pad and sealed with an adhesive made replacing the valves a simple process that could be done at home or in the field.

sleeping pad valve

WingLock Valve: The WingLock kept the core principles of the classic valve and took it to the next level. Still with the simple twist action, the added “wings” allow for the valve to be set to inflation or deflation mode. In inflation mode the valve is one-way, ensuring that the air you put in doesn’t escape between breaths or rolls of a pump sack.  When the wings are set in deflation mode, and the valve opened, the air can escape. We made the orifice larger so there is 3x the airflow in and out. The high-grade plastic parts are durable and easy to grip with gloves and cold hands. Still set of the surface of the pad and into a plastic valve seat, replacing the valve is just as easy with a valve repair kit. The WingLock valve is found on most of our pads, including all of the Fast & Light series pads.

deflating sleeping pad twin lock valve

TwinLock Valve: Reserved for our high-volume pads, the TwinLock takes all of the functionality of the WingLock and splits into two valves. A dedicated one-way inflation valve, and a dedicated deflation valve that allows you to rapidly dump air out of your pad.

sleeping pad size

Sleeping Pad Sizes

Women’s Size: A few of our sleeping pads offer a Women’s size that is shorter and warmer. Our research shows that on average women tend to sleep colder and benefit from a little extra insulation. The dimensions of the Women’s size maintain the width at 20-inches wide (51 cm), like the standard Regular size, but trim the length down to 66 in (168 cm) from the Regular 72-inches (183 cm). We’ve found that a significant number of men opt for Women’s sizing due to the decrease in weight and increase in warmth. Likewise, plenty of women opt for our standard sized pad’s.

Small: 20-inches (51 cm) wide and 47-inches (119 cm) long. This sizing is commonly referred to as the ¾ pad, and is popular amongst thru-hikers and other ultralight focused adventurers. This size offers warmth and comfort for the most critical area of the body—the torso—and cuts a significant amount of weight by not supporting the legs. Sounds uncomfortable? Not so fast, a common solution is to put your backpack under your legs. Not for everybody, but the weight savings and packability gains makes it worth it for some.

Regular: 20-inches wide (51 cm) and 72-inches (183 cm) long. The baseline size of our sleeping pads. The Regular size offers full body support for people up to 6-feet tall.

Regular Wide: 25-inches wide (64 cm) and 72-inches (183 cm) long. Added width supports broader shoulders and body types without adding unnecessary extra length.  

Large: 25-inches wide (64 cm) and 77-inches (196 cm) long. The Large size offers full body support for those that are taller than 6-feet. Added width accounts for broader shoulders and body types.

setting up sleep system in tent

Sleep Systems & How to Choose a Sleeping Pad

Sleep systems are the combinations of sleeping pads, sleeping bags, quilts and pillows used to achieve a good night’s sleep outdoors. When choosing a sleeping pad, it’s critical you consider your choice in context of the other gear you will be using alongside it.

Choosing the right sleeping pad is a function of matching the attributes of a pad to your sleeper profile, the climatic conditions you expect to encounter, and the performance of your other sleep equipment. There’s a lot to consider here, so in addition to the sleep system blog linked above here’s some additional reading materials to help you out:

repairing thermarest mattress in repair shop

Sleeping Pad Maintenance

You’ve done all your research, you’ve spent the money and now you have a new sleeping pad (or maybe even sleeping pads!). Get stoked, better sleep makes for better adventures. That stoke will quickly disappear when your pad fails and you find yourself waking up on the ground. Here are some materials about caring for and repairing your pad to ensure that doesn’t happen.

If your punctures and you are unable to repair it, you can always send it into our repair shop and let the pros do it. We make our gear to last and to be repairable. Keeping it out of landfills is an important step in sustainability. In the event that a manufacturing defect causes a failure, we will replace the pad free of charge under our Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Final Thoughts

A good night’s rest can mean the difference between a safe day outside and a dangerous one. While the difference between full mental engagement and a bit of grogginess doesn’t always lead to questionable safety, the point remains: better sleep = better days.

This is why we are invested in making sure you get the right sleeping pad, not just a sleeping pad. We hope this guide was helpful to your gear research efforts and advanced your knowledge of sleeping pads. If there is any way that you think it could be better, please leave us a comment and share your thoughts. We are always interested in improving our customers experience on the trail as well as in the marketplace. Happy camping!