Top 5 Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats of 2023

Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Female hiker on chilly morning with backpacking sleeping mat

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

When it comes to choosing an ultralight 3-season sleeping mat, there are some things to consider that will help you rest easy. Think about its weight, insulation, comfort, and size – all the important stuff for a good night’s sleep.

Among these specifications, the sleeping mat’s R-value holds significant importance. The R-value serves as a standardized measurement indicating how effectively the mat insulates against cold surfaces.

If you’re looking for guidance, our TOP 5 guide is here to help you make the right call.

Top Ultralight 3-Season Sleeping Mat Picks

  1. Most Ultralight: Exped FlexMat M (12.27oz/348g)
  2. Best Overall: Thermarest Z-Lite SOL Sleeping Pad (14.46oz/410g)
  3. Best Value: Big Agnes TwisterCane BioFoam Pad (14oz/397g)
  4. Most Comfortable: Nemo Switchback (14.63oz/415g)
  5. Budget Option: Thermarest RidgeRest Classic (14.1oz/400g)

1. Most Ultralight
Exped FlexMat M

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Exped FlexMat M

Key Specs

Weight: 12.27 ounces (348 grams)
R-Value: 1.5
Price: $


✅ Ultralight

✅ Durable


❌ Not the smallest pack size

The Exped Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mat, also known as the FlexMat, is a versatile and durable choice for ultralight hikers.

We can highlight its reliability and adaptability. While not as compact as some, its stability on uneven terrain and added warmth when used with an inflatable pad stand out.

Although it may not match pricier air pads in comfort, its dependable performance in various conditions makes it a valuable option for specific adventures.

2. Best Overall
Thermarest Z-Lite SOL Sleeping Pad

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Thermarest Z-Lite SOL Sleeping Pad

Key Specs

Weight: 14.46 ounces (410 grams)
R-Value: 2
Price: $$


✅ Durable

✅ Great insulation


❌ Some find it a bit narrow

The Thermarest Z Lite SOL ultralight backpacking sleeping mat shines with its reflective coating that captures radiant heat, boosting warmth by almost 15%. With heat-trapping dimples and an R-Value of 2.0, it’s a versatile choice for warmer weather.

We can echo the pad’s practicality. It’s favored for its simplicity and durability—ready to handle the wild without worry. Yet, some users have mentioned a desire for a wider version to prevent arms from slipping off the pad at night. Overall, the Thermarest Z Lite SOL resonates as an ideal choice for an ultralight and dependable sleeping pad.

3. Best Value
Big Agnes TwisterCane BioFoam Pad

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Big Agnes TwisterCane BioFoam Pad

Key Specs

Weight: 14 ounces (397 grams)
R-Value: 1.7
Price: $$


✅ Enivornmentally friendly material

✅ Durable


❌ No transport strap

The TwisterCane BioFoam Sleeping Pad from Big Agnes offers a versatile solution for ultralight backpacking. This pad’s closed-cell foam technology creates a comfortable buffer between you and the ground, featuring a smooth side and a tire tread pattern on the other. It’s a practical choice, whether used alone or layered with an air pad for extra insulation.

Reflecting on the pad’s functionality and durability, we’ve been impressed by its ability to protect air pads and provide insulation. However, we have noticed minor nicks in the foam when catching on tree limbs. One suggestion is to include a transport strap, but improvising with paracord is an easy solution.

4. Most Comfortable
Nemo Switchback

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Nemo Switchback

Key Specs

Weight: 14.67 ounces (415 grams)
R-Value: 2
Price: $$


✅ Comfortable

✅ Great warranty


❌ A bit narrow

The Nemo Switchback ultralight backpacking sleeping mat has redefined the conventional closed-cell foam pad. It offers increased thickness and plush comfort while keeping a compact size. The hexagonal nodes, crafted with dual-density Axiotomic foam, form zones that strike a perfect balance between comfort and support.

Furthermore, a thermal film layer reflects heat back to your body, resulting in a warmer and more comfortable experience compared to other pads.

We appreciate its comfort and improved packability. However, a significant concern arises from its width—20 inches might not be sufficient for everyone. In general, the Nemo Switchback sleeping mat earns praise for its comfort and innovative design.

5. Budget Option
Thermarest RidgeRest Classic

Ultralight Backpacking Sleeping Mats: Thermarest RidgeRest Classic

Key Specs

Weight: 14.1 ounces (400 grams)
R-Value: 2
Price: $


✅ Durable

✅ Relatively affordable


❌ Bit bulky

The Thermarest RidgeRest Classic ultralight backpacking sleeping mat rekindles the durability of the original design. Constructed with sturdy foam, it assures extended utility, positioning itself as a prime selection for campers in pursuit of fundamental comfort.

We can commend its steadfast performance; the ideal width and density guarantee a tranquil night’s rest. However, the only drawback is its somewhat bulky pack size, which might not suit the most dedicated ultralight hikers.

All in all, the Thermarest RidgeRest Classic mat stands as a reliable alternative, esteemed for its endurance and comfort.

How to Select the Right Backpacking Sleeping Mat

Choosing the right backpacking sleeping mat involves considering both convenience and comfort.

Closed-cell foam pads offer durability and insulation, and they serve double duty as comfortable sit pads around your campsite. When packing them, you have two key considerations: packed dimensions and weight.

Closed-cell foam pads come in either rolled or folded Z-form designs, making them versatile for attachment to the top, bottom, or sides of your pack. Alternatively, they can even fit inside your pack if the dimensions allow. Deciding whether to attach the pad externally or store it inside your pack is your first choice, with smaller packed dimensions being preferable for internal storage.

Weight is another essential factor, especially for ultralight backpackers who meticulously measure each ounce. Thicker pads typically offer greater comfort, but most closed-cell foam pads are relatively thin, so consider your preference for firmness when making your choice.

Finally, don’t forget the R-value. Higher R-values mean better insulation. For light 3-season use, opt for a pad with an R-value above 1.5. If your 3-season camping extends into early spring and late autumn, look for an ultralight 3-season air inflatable sleeping pad instead.

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