Having a good night’s sleep is crucial, especially if you’re in the wilderness. This is the reason why having your own sleeping pad is essential when it comes to long-periods of outdoor activities.
Most of the time, sleeping pads work fine for most campers and backpackers. However, it’s not the case with side sleepers. These types of sleepers are usually unsatisfied with their sleeping pads that are not very comfortable. This is due to the fact that the weight distribution of an individual sleeping on his chest or back and a person sleeping on his side is different.
For side sleepers, their weight is more focused on a narrow surface area, which makes their side press more firmly against the ground. The hip and shoulder joints are the most affected by this pressure, which ultimately results in disrupted sleep and sometimes pain in the joints. Meanwhile, back and chest sleepers have their weight evenly distributed over a wide surface area, which explains why they have a better night than side sleepers.
To make sure that you don’t get a disrupted sleep, we will share with you the best sleeping pads for side sleepers. In the buying guide, you’ll learn the important factors to consider when choosing the best sleeping pad for side sleepers. Along the way, we will answer your frequently asked questions.
Our Favorite Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers
In this section, we will show you our favorite sleeping pads that are perfect for side sleepers. Each one of them comes with its advantages and disadvantages. So make sure that you’re well aware of your needs so you can make an easy and smart decision. Let’s start with a table of comparison!
|Material Used||Inflated Dimension (Standard Size)||Packed Dimension (Standard Size)||R-Value||Weight||Thickness||Price||Our Rating|
|TNH Outdoors Premium Self Inflating Sleeping Pad||Top and bottom fabric type: 210T Polyester|
Core: Foam 19 kg/m3
|15.9” x 9.8” x 6.5”||8”x 1 3”.9”||4.5||2.16 lbs.||1.5”||$||4|
|Klymit Static V Lightweight Sleeping Pad||75D polyester fabric||72” x 23” x 2.5”||3” x 8”||1.3||1 lbs.||1.3”||$||5|
|TETON Sports Outfitter XXL Sleeping Pad||Foam||82"x 38"x 2.5"||38" x 13" x 14"||6.2||9 lbs.||3”||$$||5|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm MAX Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress||Polyester and Foam||77”x 25”x 2.5”||11”x 4.5”||5.7||1.25 lbs.||2.5”||$$$||4|
|Outdoorsman Lab Blue Orange Green Ultralight Sleeping Pad||200 ripstop woven Nylon with a laminated TPU coating||73" x 21.6" x 2.2"||8" x 3" x 3"||2.2||1 lbs.||2.2”||$||4.5|
|Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight Foam Backpacking Mattress||Foam with ThermaCapture coating||72” x 20” x 0.8”||20” x 5” x 5.5”||2.0||1 lbs.||0.8”||$||4|
|Exped Megamat 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad||Hydrolysis-resistant, polyester top and bottom with TPU laminate||33” x 11” x 9”||2” x 11”||9.5||7.5 lbs.||3.9”||$$-$$$||4|
|KingCamp Deluxe Series Thick Self Inflating Camping Sleeping Pad||100% polyester 150D Oxford||77.95” x 24.8” x 2.95”||26.37” × 9.05” × 9.05”||7.5||5.95 lbs.||`2.95”||$||4.5|
A lot of outdoor enthusiasts, especially hikers and campers, love this sleeping pad because of its very convenient auto-inflation function. This impressive feature is perfect for high-end campers out there. It comes with an R-value rating of 4, which is considered high in the sleeping pad industry. It is also easy to inflate, so you don’t need to waste time and effort in inflating it.
The sleeping pad is made of eco-friendly materials. This sleeping pad is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who want to help conserve nature while enjoying camping and hiking. Aside from being comfortable, this sleeping pad also comes with a reasonable price.
The Klymit Static V is famous for being an air sleeping pad. Meaning, it is very lightweight as it only comes with 1 pound of weight. This is perfect for many backpackers who always travel for long periods of time.
The Klymit Static V also features a V-chamber design in its construction. This design ensures that the air is spread equally, which also means better comfortability. It also features a twist-pull valve. The manufacturer claims that this sleeping pad can be set with just ten breaths.
It is constructed using excellent quality polyester material, which has a high resistance to tear, puncture, and abrasion. Polyester also helps to keep the sleeping pad durable and lightweight. It is best suited for summer and spring season because it possesses an R-value of 1.3. Overall, we can say that it is worth the price if we consider its weight-to-warmth-to comfort ratio.
The TETON Sports Outfitter sleeping pad is filled with open-cell foam, which serves as an extra layer of insulation from the craggy ground and cold weather. Also, it is very easy to carry because of its 6 pounds weight and its convenient carry handle. Packing it up is also easy because it is incorporated with roll-up straps and compression buckles.
It comes with a removable cover that can be slipped off for easy cleaning. It features a zippered pocket on one of its sides, which is pretty convenient to store your necessary items such as mobile phones and keys. Also, to ensure that it doesn’t shift while you’re sleeping, the manufacturer incorporated tie-down loops attached to its 4 ends that can be used to fasten them to the cot. Lastly, it comes with multiple sizes that you can pick from.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty sleeping pad for side sleepers, this one’s for you. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight is a four-season sleeping pad crafted to endure cold and harsh conditions. It only weighs one pound and gives an optimal warmth for its weight.
Therm-a-Rest claims that this sleeping pad easily inflates in just less than 2 minutes by simply blowing into its valve. With easy inflation, you can quickly set up a tent or a bivy. In terms of warmth, this sleeping pad offers an R-value of 5.7 incorporated with Thermacapture technology that helps retain heat. Additionally, with its triangular baffle design, you are ensured that the pad won’t give you uneven spots.
The Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable sleeping pad is perfect for you if you’re searching for a fully functional pad at a reasonable price. It is as compact as a packed umbrella and only weighs 1.1 pounds, which makes it very portable. The manufacturer claims that this sleeping pad can effortlessly be inflated with just 10 to 15 breaths.
Optimal warmth and comfort are ensured with this sleeping mat because of its interconnected diamond-shaped air cells that self adjust to the user’s body. It is abrasion-resistant, compact, and flexible because it is made using Ripstop Nylon. It also comes with an R-value of 2.2. Overall, the Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable is certainly worth the price because it is fully functional at an affordable price.
The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight is made of closed-cell foam that will give you optimal warmth and comfort. Aside from being ultralightweight, it is also easy to pack and compact all thanks to its folding accordion-style construction. It is incorporated with a ThermaCapture coating that traps heat effectively, which helps to increase warmth by up to 20%.
This sleeping pad is also made of lighter stuff at the top for additional comfort. There’s a denser foam incorporated at the bottom of the sleeping pad for your protection and safety. It makes the sleeping pad durable and also serves as extra insulation. Lastly, it comes with an R-value of 2.6. Wherever your next adventure is, you can rely on Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Ultralight to keep you safe, comfortable, and warm.
If you want a sleeping pad to use for outdoor bungalows or bush cabins, then look no further than EXPED Megamat 10. Its firm compact nature makes it easy to store in cupboards. It uses flat valve technology incorporated with shallow valves to inflate to help you have an enjoyable and very comfortable sleep.
To enhance this sleeping pad’s overall feel, EXPED has crafted it with special sidewalls. This is certainly an excellent option for side sleepers due to its sturdy construction. It is also a great option if you’re searching for a nice indoor sleeping pad. It is also comfortable with the skin because of its stretch Trictor fabric. It has a foam block core, and it is self-inflating.
KingCamp DELUXE Series‘ single and double sizes both offer an R-value of 7.5. It has two more versions that offer an R-value of 10. With such high R-values, this makes the KingCamp DELUXE Series very warm among others on this list. If you’re always camping or hiking in extreme conditions, this sleeping pad is a perfect companion to give you a comfortable, good night’s sleep.
It can be inflated up to 4 inches of thickness, depending on the size you will choose. This is ideal for side sleepers because it will ensure that your hips stay secured with a lot of cushions. You’ll only need to wait around three minutes to completely deflate it.
Choosing The Best Sleeping Pad for Side Sleepers – Buying Guide
Sleeping pads can be used in various kinds of situations. Regardless of your intended, there’s a huge probability that it will take a little bit of beating over its lifetime.
This is the reason why you should get one that comes with the right specifications. So to guide you, here’s a list of what to look for when choosing the best sleeping pad.
A lot of sleeping pads have little to no unnecessary weight at all. It is important to get one that can be easily carried on your back, particularly if you are going on long hiking adventures. An ideal weight that you want to get is less than 2 pounds.
Also, we suggest you pick a closed-cell foaming sleeping pad since they are usually lightweight. If you can spend more, getting inflatable sleeping pads is much better nowadays than closed-cell foaming pads. Aside from being lightweight, inflatable sleeping pads can also be packed down very small.
There are two main sleeping pad categories. The first ones are very lightweight, portable, easy to use but usually lack a little bit of comfort. They are perfect for people who usually move around a lot from one place to another.
The second type is big comfortable, cushiony sleeping pads that are perfect for those people who want to stay in one place during their camping expeditions for a while
Different users have different needs, but usually, side sleepers must get some extra padding since certain parts of their body are more affected with pressure while sleeping.
Typically, smoother surfaces are more comfortable, unlike those ones with deep baffles. On the flip side, if you’re a restless sleeper, you would want to get a textured sleeping pad, so you don’t slide off while sleeping.
Keep in mind that you might be sleeping on a craggy ground, so getting a thicker sleeping pad is generally the better choice.
Sizes are normally included in the weight factor, but it’s not always the case. You must consider if you have enough space in your pack. Also, it’s a wise decision to pick a model that will roll up nicely. But for the most part, sleeping pads will come with their respective carrying bags. And many of them are just the size of a larger water bottle when appropriately rolled up.
Your body size will be the greatest consideration when choosing the right size of the sleeping pad. It’s a general rule of thumb to pick one that will accommodate your body size optimally. The size of self-inflating sleeping pads will determine how heavy or light they will be. Unlike bigger sized pads, smaller ones are usually lighter.
Durability is one of the defining factors that determine whether a sleeping pad is worthy of your hard-earned money or not. If you are planning to spend money on a sleeping pad, then it should at least last for more than a couple of trips. One good way to measure the durability of a sleeping pad is whether the manufacturer gives a good warranty on the item.
Aside from the warranty, you can also check out the fabric on the exterior and see if it’s tear-resistant, abrasion-resistant, or waterproof. These are all ideal traits to look for when choosing a durable sleeping pad.
The outer fabric of a sleeping pad is essential because it protects the inside of the pad. Thermoplastic Polyurethane or TPU is a material that is normally applied in many sleeping pads to improve durability.
Warmth and R-value
Warmth is normally indicated by the insulation R-value of the sleeping pad. The higher the R-value of a sleeping pad, the more you’ll get warmth. Sleeping pads with R-values of more than 1.5 are good enough for colder conditions.
In cold weather during hiking or camping trips, the warmth of your sleeping pad plays a vital role since it keeps you warm on a cold, breezy night. It serves as an insulation between the ground and your body.
When selecting the best sleeping pad for side sleepers, the R-value is what you want to look for. The “R” in it stands for resistance. Basically, it is the resistance against the ground and air that will help you warm, particularly if you’re hiking in high altitude locations. If you are camping or hiking during winter, you would want to get a sleeping pad that has an R-value rating of 5. As for summer, a sleeping pad with an R-value of 3 is enough.
Take note that sleeping pads with a higher R-value rating usually comes with a higher price. But still, it’s worth the price if you can get that much warmth.
Inflating sleeping pads will differ on each pad. With the help of new technology, you’ll be able to find self-inflating sleeping pads in the market that come with air and cell foams that will enable them to inflate on their own.
You can also find some manual sleeping pads that you can blow manually or come with a hand-held pump. These types of sleeping pads are usually the lightest pads and come with good cushioning.
For the most part, you are going to set up your sleeping pad more than once. So you must ensure that setting it up won’t cause you too much hassle. Acquire a sleeping pad that is either specially engineered to only need a few breaths to inflate or one that has automatic inflation with an integrated pump.
Thickness and Width
Thickness is one of the most crucial features that you must consider when searching for an ideal sleeping pad. Almost all closed-cell foam sleeping pads come with the same level of cushioning or thickness. However, there are also different thicknesses that are available in the market these days.
You must also consider the width of the sleeping pad. You might choose a sleeping pad that is a bit narrow since it is inexpensive. However, the comfortability might get compromised. Most sleeping pads out there usually offer a standard width of 20 inches. But sometimes, getting a sleeping pad that has a width of 25 to 39 inches is a much better option.
On the flip side, if you’re a camper or hiker who doesn’t like heavy loads, especially on a long hike, you may prefer a sleeping pad that has thin foam mattresses since they are much lighter and portable.
What Is An R-Value?
R-value means the ability of a sleeping pad to insulate users from the coldness of the ground and to retain heat. This particular specification is pretty similar to the temperature rating you typically see in sleeping bags. When it comes to R-value, there are some contributing factors to it. These include design, structures, and materials.
On the flip side, summer sleeping pads are normally crafted without insulation, which results in an R-value of around 1.0. As the temperature gets colder, you will want a better-insulated pad. This means a higher R-value.
In particular, a 3-season sleeping pad usually falls between 3.0 to 4.0 R-value rating. Meanwhile, 4-season ones that are used under extremely cold conditions have an R-value rating of between 9.0 to 10.0
What’s the ideal R-value for a sleeping pad?
R-value of 5 or higher is recommended for winter camping and backpacking. On the other hand, an R-value of 2 is ideal for three-season outdoor activities. Take note that you can stack two or more sleeping pads to increase their R-values and thus providing you better insulation and warmth.
Why is a sleeping pad necessary for backpacking?
Sleeping pads provide warmth and insulation, which will help you during your expeditions. If you’re going to sleep on the floor or ground during your camping or backpacking, you might want to get some form of insulation to avoid heat loss to the ground while sleeping.
How to store a sleeping pad?
For self-inflating sleeping pads, you should store them unrolled and fully inflated in a dry place with its valve open. By doing so, the foam will self-inflate much faster when you want to use it. Make sure not to store the pad in a damp area as it could cause mildew damage. As for NeoAir sleeping pads, make sure to leave the valve open. Store it rolled tight in a stuff sack to protect the pad from sharp objects as well as dirt.
How to inflate a self-inflating pad during winter or cold conditions?
In freezing conditions, make sure not to inflate your sleeping pad with your breath because the moisture can freeze inside the sleeping pad. To easily inflate your sleeping pad in freezing conditions, you can simply use an electric pump or pump sack.
Are sleeping pads gender-sensitive?
There are some manufacturers that make sleeping pads specifically suited for female users that come with more insulation around the lower body and core area. Women tend to lose heat in these areas more easily.
How to maintain a sleeping pad?
Sleeping pads are easy to maintain, especially because they are very easy to clean. Most sleeping pads out there are made out of tear-free fabric that is resistant to excessive use. Some sleeping pads also come with repair kits that will help you maintain them better. When cleaning, it’s usually best to inflate first the sleeping pad so you can thoroughly clean it.
How to pack a sleeping pad?
Campers and hikers normally find themselves struggling to attach their sleeping pads to their backpacks. Without caution, the sleeping pad might get ripped apart. So, we suggest you pack your sleeping pad inside the backpack if the pad is not that heavy, and there’s enough space.
Putting it vertically can also save a good amount of space. If you have a large sleeping pad, you must place it in the center of your backpack because it will help to balance off the total weight of your other items and tools. If you don’t prefer putting it inside your pack, you can attach it outside with the use of straps in the bottom or in the back.
How to inflate a sleeping pad?
If you purchase a self-inflating sleeping pad, inflating it is very simple. For a newly-bought pad, simply unroll it first, open its valves, and it will automatically inflate. Different sleeping pads need a different amount of time to be completely inflated. Simply close the valves after fully inflated.
Meanwhile, there are some sleeping pads that you need to inflate manually, and it could take up to 3 minutes or more. If you can’t do it with your own breath, you can purchase hand pumps to make things easier.
By squeezing out air, you’ll be able to adjust the firmness of your sleeping pad. Lastly, keep in mind that if you use the sleeping pad under extreme conditions, you shouldn’t inflate the sleeping pad with your breath because the moisture from your breath will reduce its ability to retain and reflect heat.
To sum it up, if you’re a side sleeper, it is crucial to pick well-insulated and thick sleeping pads. If you want a comfortable and feature-loaded sleeping pad at a reasonable price, then we highly recommend the TETON Sports Outfitter Camp sleeping pad. It is ideal to use for camping because of its high R-value rating of 5.5, which is very good for different seasons.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to do backpacking, our best recommendation for you is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight. This sleeping pad is very durable and ultralight and is also perfect for different seasons. It effectively retains heat to keep you warm on cold nights. It also comes at a reasonable price.
I hope this article helps you find the ideal sleeping pad for your needs. Have fun on your outdoor adventures, and see you at the next one!