Best Ultralight Sleeping Pads of 2024

User Best Ultralight Sleeping Pads: A camper rolling up his ultralight sleeping pad in the morning

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Trimming weight from your backpacking gear is crucial for adventures, but comfort, especially with your sleeping pad, must never be sacrificed.

For spring, summer and fall excursions, you’ll want a highly insulated pad that cushions as well as keeps you warm through the night.

Weight is also crucial, requiring careful consideration of materials, thickness, and pack size. Thankfully, modern technologies offer the best of both worlds.


Let’s explore our selection of the best ultralight sleeping pads on the market.

What Are the Best Ultralight Sleeping Pads?

  1. Most Ultralight: Thermarest NeoAir XLite NXT (13.05oz/370g)
  2. Best Overall: Nemo Tensor Trail Regular Mummy Sleeping Mat (15.9oz/451g)
  3. Best Value: Sea to Summit Ether Light XT (17.28oz/490g)
  4. Most Comfortable: Exped Ultra 5R Sleeping Mat (20.7oz/587g)
  5. Budget Option: Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL (16oz/454g)

1. Most Ultralight
Thermarest NeoAir XLite NXT

Ultralight 4-Season Sleeping Pads: Thermarest NeoAir XLite NXT

Key Specs

Weight: 13.05 ounces (370 grams)
R-Value: 4.5
Price: $$


✅ Ultralight

✅ Quiet


❌ Can be heavier than stated (14oz/396g)

Therm-a-Rest refined an already excellent pad with the XLite NXT. Its improved construction dramatically reduces noise by over 80%, providing a well-insulated sleep surface free of crinkling distractions.

Boosting comfort to 3 inches with ThermaCapture technology, the NXT radiates warmth for consistent 4.5R heat retention across a variety of conditions. Its lightweight build nonetheless inflates and deflates quickly for easy packability down to water bottle size.

In testing various terrains and climates, the NXT delivered premium nights of undisturbed rest. Its warmth and supportive cushioning translated to relaxing recovery between trails. While slightly weight-heavy compared to specs, premium materials and performance outweigh this minor complaint.

For backpackers seeking the gold standard in comfortable protection against the elements, look no further than the refined XLite NXT.

2. Best Overall
Nemo Tensor Trail Regular Mummy Sleeping Mat

Ultralight 3-Season Sleeping Pads: Nemo Tensor Regular Mummy Sleeping Mat

Key Specs

Weight: 15.9 ounces (451 grams)
R-Value: 2.8
Price: $$$


✅ Various specs available

✅ Great warranty


❌ Sticky inflation/deflation cap

NEMO improved upon their classic Tensor line with the Trail model, delivering outstanding warmth with versatility for spring, summer and fall trips demanding low pack weight.

Featuring the proprietary Spaceframe baffle construction and suspended Thermal Mirror insulation layer, it radiates heat efficiently for an impressive 2.8 R-value rating while eliminating the crinkly noises often associated with air pads.

During testing, the Trail provided supportive and comfortable nights of undisturbed rest across varied terrains. Its durable 20D/40D nylon fabric proved puncture and tear resistant.

Inflation and deflation using the included Vortex pump sack is quick and effortless. While the valve’s plug/cap can be stubborn, NEMO’s lifetime warranty reassures.

Overall, the Tensor Trail excels as a go-to pad for minimizing ounces without compromising quality rest. Its reliable, efficient design continues NEMO’s reputation for maximizing backcountry comfort through innovative innovations.

3. Best Value
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT

Ultralight 3-Season Sleeping Pads: Sea to Summit Ether Light XT

Key Specs

Weight: 17.28 ounces (490 grams)
R-Value: 3.2
Price: $$$


✅ Comfortable

✅ Durable


❌ A bit noisy

❌ A bit bulky

The Ether Light XT brings an unprecedented level of comfort to three-season backpacking camps with its innovative Air-Sprung Cell construction. Looped elastics cradle the body while double layers of insulation radiate warmth efficiently.

During testing, I found its four inch profile brought welcome cushioning to uneven ground, keeping my back pain-free even on multi-night trips. While bulkier than coreless pads, improved 30D/40D fabrics proved durable enough for off-trail exploring.

Inflatable in just a few breaths using the speed valve, it also reliably held air through varied conditions and abrasion risks. Noise was noticeable on high-load cells but not disruptive.

Thanks to outstanding customer service addressing a minor repair, I can confidently recommend this pad’s comfort-prioritized design for backpackers seeking plush night’s rest. Overall warmth and reliable performance exceeded expectations for varied three-season adventures.

4. Most Comfortable
Exped Ultra 5R Sleeping Mat

Ultralight 4-Season Sleeping Pads: Exped Ultra 5R Sleeping Mat

Key Specs

Weight: 20.7 ounces (587 grams)
R-Value: 4.8
Price: $$


✅ Various sizes available

✅ Good for side sleepers


❌ If unsure, go for the longer size

The Exped Ultra 5R sleeping mat is an excellent option for ultralight backpackers and thru-hikers looking for a lightweight and compressible sleeping pad without sacrificing comfort or warmth.

With an R-value of 5, this mat provides ample insulation for 3-season backpacking and camping.

The Synmat Technology and lofted insulation prevent heat loss while providing a cushy 2.75 inch thick air cushion. The lengthwise air chambers give consistent support and stability.

I love that Exped includes their Schnozzel pump bag for quick and easy inflation without moisture buildup. Deflating is also a breeze thanks to the oversized flat valves. The durable 20D recycled polyester fabric withstands abrasion and resists punctures well.

Overall, the Exped Ultra 5R hits a sweet spot of being lightweight, insulating, and comfortable. It’s an excellent sleeping mat for those looking to shed weight and bulk without compromising too much on a good night’s sleep.

We would recommend considering a longer size for taller individuals.

5. Budget Option
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL

Key Specs

Weight: 16 ounces (454 grams)
R-Value: 4.4
Price: $


✅ Relatively affordable

✅ Warm


❌ Slippery

❌ Nozzle placement could be better

The Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL sleeping pad lives up to its name as an ultralight and compressible pad option.

It packs down small but still provides decent warmth with an R-value of 4.4 thanks to the lightweight Klymalite synthetic insulation.

The V-chamber design and body mapping technology allows the pad to cradle your body. The integrated side rails help center sleepers on the pad while the deep welds let your sleeping bag fully loft.

The patch kit is a nice addition for emergency repairs.

While supremely packable and insulating, the biggest downside is the pad’s slipperiness. Sleepers may find themselves and their sleeping bags sliding off the pad during the night. The valve placement can also create an uncomfortable lump.

Overall, the Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL is an impressive ultralight sleeping pad but should be used with non-slip liners or pads to prevent sliding at night.

How to Choose the Best Ultralight Sleeping Pad

Selecting the right sleeping pad is a crucial step in ensuring a good night’s rest during your outdoor escapades. These pads serve a dual purpose: providing cushioning for comfort and insulation to keep you warm. When making your choice, consider the following factors:

  • Types of Sleeping Pads: Air pads, self-inflating pads, and closed-cell foam mats, each having distinct benefits for various camping situations. Air pads, in particular, are favored by ultralight backpackers for their lighter weight and adaptability across different conditions.
  • Warmth (R-Value): Higher R-values mean better insulation. For 3-season use, opt for a pad with an R-value above 2.5.
  • Features: Consider additional features like weight, cushioning, size, and ease of inflation, depending on your preferences.
  • Warranty: Air sleeping pads may develop issues over time, so it’s wise to review the warranty policy when selecting a product.

If you believe you require a sleeping pad with a higher R-value, you can consider checking out our guide on winter sleeping pads.


How to choose the best ultralight sleeping pad?

When selecting the best ultralight sleeping pad for backpacking, it’s crucial to find one that’s compact, meaning it’s small and light but still comfy and warm enough. Important factors to consider include how small it packs up, how light it is, how well it keeps you warm, and how comfy it feels. Aim for a pad that weighs less than 1.3 pounds and can squeeze into your backpack easily. Keep in mind that the really light and tiny pads might not be very cozy or warm, so it’s important to find a balance between weight and comfort for your hiking trips. Pads shaped like a mummy can help keep you warm and save weight. Blowing up the pad by hand instead of it inflating by itself can also save weight. Make sure to choose a sleeping pad that helps keep your backpack light but still lets you get a good night’s sleep after a long day of hiking.

How compact are these ultralight sleeping pads when packed?

Ultralight sleeping pads are designed to pack down extremely small so they take up minimal space in a backpack. Premium ultralight pads can fold down to about the size of a 1 liter water bottle or smaller. Many compress to 5 x 8 inches or under when packed in their stuff sacks. Higher end inflatable pads use innovative materials and valve systems to shrink down as small as the size of a soda can. Even budget-friendly ultralight sleeping pads compress much smaller than traditional pads. The most lightweight and compact sleeping pads fold up to a fraction of their inflated size, making them easy to carry and stow when backpacking with limited space. Advanced compression technology allows even thickly cushioned sleeping pads under 2 pounds to become pocket-sized when packed.

Who offers the longest warranty on their ultralight sleeping pads?

When it comes to ultralight sleeping pad warranties, Therm-A-Rest, Sea to Summit, and Nemo all offer lifetime warranties that cover defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the product. This means if an issue arises due to a production flaw or defect, they will repair or replace the pad. Of these top brands known for their lightweight, packable sleeping pads, Therm-A-Rest provides the longest and most comprehensive protection. Their lifetime warranty reflects confidence in the durability and quality of materials used in their ultralight pads. Sea to Summit and Nemo also guarantee their sleeping pads for life, underscoring their commitment to quality lightweight backpacking gear.

Spread the word →

Why you should trust us

At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

Have any questions?

More Insights

Suscribe to Our Newsletter

Stay smartly informed with our weekly newsletter

Follow us

hikinglite logo white
© 2024 Hikinglite - All rights reserved

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe now to stay ahead of the pack with the most up-to-date outdoor content.