CAMPING & HIKING

Best Sleeping Pad for Side Sleepers: Keeping You Comfortable on the Trail

sleeping bag and sleeping pad
Rita Warfield
Written by Rita Warfield

If you’re like a lot of people then you generally sleep the exact same way every time that you go to bed. You lay down on your back, your stomach or your side and that’s the only way that you can get to sleep, but sleeping in your own bed is entirely different from sleeping in the wilderness.

Man lying on sleeping pad

It’s not that you don’t want to sleep the same way; it’s just that it can be difficult to do because you’re not able to get the same level of comfort. Most sleeping pads are built for back sleepers, after all. But what if you could find the best sleeping pad for side sleepers?

Be On the Lookout

Look at a number of different features before you decide on any type of sleeping pad, because it’s going to be somewhere you spend a lot of time. You really do want to be comfortable while you’re sleeping so look at all of the features we’ve mentioned ere and definitely don’t skip out on some of your other favorites or most important factors either.

It’s going to keep you comfortable and better protected while you’re out in the wilderness for any length of time.

Size

You should look at a number of different aspects when it comes to the size of your sleeping pad. First, you need to be sure that it’s the right size for you to be comfortable. Some people like a small sleeping pad that’s only just the size of their own body while others may prefer an option that’s larger and gives them space to move around. You’re still going to need to look at how small your sleeping pad folds up as well.

Sleeping pads for camping

You want something that can be folded small to make carrying it around with you a whole lot easier, no matter how long you’ll be gone.

Durability

This is crucial for any piece of gear that you’re taking with you into the wilderness. You need your gear to be sturdy and capable of standing up to anything. You’ll be carrying it around a lot and putting it into and out of a sack constantly.

If you carry it on the outside of your pack it will be exposed to the elements and even to trees or dirt. You need a pad that will still work for as long as you need it and will keep you comfortable.

Thickness

This is going to be about your personal preference. You get to decide what level of thickness works best for you but make sure you consider the weather conditions where you’re going to be. You need something thick enough to keep out the cold and retain the heat that your body gives off throughout the day.

Types of sleeping pads

Thickness isn’t just about comfort. You want to consider the other factors as well and the heat that you’re going to keep in with you is one of the most important.

Waterproof

Getting as many of your items in a waterproof version is definitely an important factor that keeps you feeling more comfortable throughout the night. If there’s rain in the forecast it’s even more important, but if you’ve ever been up early in the morning you know that dew starts to form even when there is no rain.

That dew can seep through your tent and your sleeping pad if you’re not careful to get something waterproof rather than just water resistant. Check for the ratings and keep in mind your own comfort if your sleeping pad gets wet.

Choosing the Best

ReCharge Sleeping PadReCharge Sleeping Pad

Dimensions: 72” x 20” or 76” x 23”

Weight: 20 oz. or 26 oz.

Specific Features: 2 sizes available, R-value 3.5, packs small, 40D diamond ripstop nylon

Best use: Warmer needs, lightweight, not much space

The ReCharge Sleeping Pad is designed to give you the night of sleep that you’re looking for with plenty of comfort. The smaller version is 72” x 20” to give you enough space to lay out, but if you want more space to move around the XL version will give you 76” x 23”.

Each one is lightweight with the largest still weighing only 26 ounces and when you roll them up they’re small enough to easily fit in your pack and make transportation a whole lot easier.

Made with 40D diamond ripstop nylon, these sleeping pads are strong and sturdy and capable of standing up to anything. You get to be sure it works in any conditions and you get a repair kit just in case something does go wrong. There’s also a limited lifetime warranty available on the pad so you can rest assured that it’s high quality and will continue to work as long as you need it.

Check the price on Amazon

Ultra Lightweight Self InflatingUltra Lightweight Self Inflating

Dimensions: 72” x 20” or 77” x 25”

Weight: 30 oz. or 42.3 oz.

Specific Use: 2 sizes available, R-value 3.3, 75D ripstop nylon, comes with a carry bag

Best use: Moderate cold, lightweight, moderate space

Made a little different from other sleeping pads, the Ultra Lightweight Self Inflating is available in two different sizes and colors but it also has a unique shape. With a rounded top and bottom, it’s definitely going to fit your body better than anything else.

It also has a thickness of 1.5”, which keeps you comfortable when you’re lying on rocky terrain or anything else. It also deflates completely so it packs down into your bag with no problem.

Made with 75D ripstop fabric on both sides, this pad will resist absolutely anything and stands up to even your worst abuse. It inflates on its own and comes with a patch kit to make sure you’re ready for any damage. There’s also a money back guarantee that ensures you’re happy with what you get and how it works out for you and your next camping experience.

You can easily deflate the pad, roll it up and get it packed down small to take with you wherever you want to go.

Check the price on Amazon

Winterial Lightweight Self-Inflating PadWinterial Lightweight Self-Inflating Pad

Dimensions: 71” x 22”

Weight: 3 lbs.

Specific Use: Weather resistant, 3 lbs. weight, self-inflating

Best use: Moderate weight available, moderate space available

If you’re looking for something simple but still high quality then the Winterial Lightweight Self-Inflating Pad is one to take a look at.

It weighs a little more than some of the other options at around 3 pounds, but it can easily inflate and deflate itself so it’s always ready when you are. Able to fit inside nearly any sleeping bag at a size of 71” x 22”, it is made with a durable nylon shell that’s weather resistant and strong to withstand anything in the wilderness you come across.

Available in three different colors, this pad is one piece with no ridges throughout to make you uncomfortable. It also rolls up into a small wrap to make it easier to pack, though you’ll prefer strapping it to the outside of your bag. There’s no air pump needed to get this pad inflated and you can get it inflated in just a few minutes time. It’s also inflated enough that you’ll stay warm and comfortable, no matter what the conditions outside.

Check the price on Amazon

WACOOL Lightweight Sleeping PadWACOOL Lightweight Sleeping Pad

Dimensions: 73” x 23”

Weight: 2.25 lbs.

Specific Use: Automatic inflation, 2.25 lbs., open cell foam, non-slip, waterproof

Best use: Moderate cold, moderate space available

The WACOOL Lightweight Sleeping Pad is a little bit heavier than some options but it’s a self-inflating sleeping pad that will give you the comfort you’re looking for with no problems. Waterproof and non-slip, you’ll easily be able to pull it out and get it ready for you to go to bed in no time at all. You’ll just have to open the valve and everything will go on its own, with no problems.

Made with open-cell foam, this pad lets in just enough air to keep itself inflated and to insulate you against the cold, but doesn’t let the cold itself get to you. If there’s ever a puncture you’ll have a repair kit to take care of things and you’ll have 1” of thickness in the inflated pad.

That gives you just the right amount of padding without taking up too much space in your pack when you’re putting it into the bags. This is also ideal for less than desirable ground surfaces.

Check the price on Amazon

Lightspeed FlexForm PadLightspeed FlexForm Pad

Dimensions: 77” x 30”

Weight: 6 lbs.

Specific Use: R-value 9.66, 3” foam, no odor

Best use: Guest room, camping, high insulation, oversize

The Lightspeed FlexForm Pad is designed to give you a whole lot of comfort and a whole lot of padding.

You’ll get 3” of foam that’s made to give you enough support that you’ll be just fine sleeping even on rocky ground. This is also enough to keep you warm, even when the ground is colder. What’s even better is that it has two different air valves that help it inflate on its own.

That way you’re going to be ready to go a whole lot faster because the bed gets ready for you.

Made with non-PVC materials, you won’t have to worry about the smell that most plastics have or the sounds that they make when you move around. With an integrated pillow to make it even easier for you to get ready for bed, this pad even has its own carry bag and compression straps. It’s meant for not only your camping experience but also for the next time you have someone at your house for a visit.

Check the price on Amazon

Big Agnes Insulated Sleeping PadBig Agnes Insulated Sleeping Pad

Dimensions: 20” x 48” to 25” x 78”

Weight: 15 oz. to 23 oz.

Specific Use: Rated to 35F, 70D ripstop fabric, rolls small

Best use: Cold weather, rough terrain, easy carry

With six different sizes to choose from including large, mummy style and petite, the Big Agnes Insulated Sleeping Pad is something unique and perfect for your next camping trip. Rated to R-4.1 this sleeping pad will work out great for you even when it’s 35F outside. It’s made with 70D nylon ripstop fabric on the top and bottom, which makes it even more durable.

On the inside is a polyurethane coating that’s even more protective and keeps it from ripping even more.

I-beam construction makes sure there’s not a lot of welding in the seams and makes sure everything inflates and deflates easily without cold spots. In case you do have a problem with tears or holes there’s an included repair kit to take care of things. Everything fits right into the included stuff sack and the repair kit goes right into the bag as well.

Check the price on Amazon

Premium Self Inflating PadPremium Self Inflating Pad

Dimensions: 70” x 20”

Weight: 2.2 lbs.

Specific Use: Easy self-inflation, 1.5” padding, 75D polyester shell

Best use: Cold weather, short to average height

Choose this Premium Self Inflating Pad if you’re looking for something that takes up less space but still fits you and keeps you comfortable.

With just the right amount of padding at 1.5”, you’re going to feel comfortable without taking up a whole lot of space in your bag. It’s also made with a 75D polyester outer shell that’s more durable than other materials and it’s more puncture proof.

If you’re not happy with the product you can always return it to get your money back or get it fixed if there’s a problem with your sleeping pad.

This sleeping pad is easy to inflate because all you need to do is open the valve and it gets started on its own. You can add a little air yourself if you prefer, but it’s going to be ready for you in no time and it’s going to be thick enough to keep you protected from the hard ground. It’s ribbed with just the right amount of texture to provide an anti-slip surface and packs easily into its own bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Klymit Static Sleeping PadKlymit Static Sleeping Pad

Dimensions: 72” x 23”

Weight: 18.6 oz.

Specific Use: 2.5” thick, includes stuff sack, lifetime warranty

Best use: Moderate cold, moderate thickness

The Klymit Static Sleeping Pad is definitely a unique style, but that’s going to be a great benefit when it comes to keeping your sleeping bag on the mat and keeping yourself off the ground. It packs down small so it’s easy to transport, but has plenty of sizewhen it’s all unrolled and inflated as well.

You will have to inflate it yourself either by your own breath or with a separate air pump, but it’s available in five different colors for your preference.

The includes stuff sack makes it even easier to move and the ‘V’ design that makes it so unique actually makes it super easy to keep in the air and heat that you want when it’s cold outside. This also provides you with better support and has a moderate weight to keep your pack down when you’re heading out into the wilderness, no matter if you’re sleeping outdoors, in a tent, on a hammock or anywhere else.

It’s all about having a great time and staying comfortable while you do it as well.

Check the price on Amazon

ExpedMegaMat 10 Sleeping MatExpedMegaMat 10 Sleeping Mat

Dimensions: 78” x 30”

Weight: 5.7 lbs.

Specific Use: R-value 6.4, 50D tricot nylon fabric, hydrolysis resistant

Best use: Moderate cold, large space available

More expensive than the others, the ExpedMegaMat 10 Sleeping Mat is made with 50D tricot nylon and TPU polyether film laminate. The mat itself is a self-inflating foam and has an R-value of 6.4. It’s going to keep you warmer and more comfortable no matter what you’re doing and where you are.

The thick mat definitely doesn’t look like it’s filled with air, but it’s still going to give you the layer of protection you’re looking for.

Hydrolysis resistant, this red mat is heavy, but there’s definitely a reason for that. It includes a mini pump to help you get it inflated quickly. It also has a velvety top layer to be softer against your skin and it has thick material that is designed to be puncture resistant and keep from any kind of damage. It’s a little bulkier if you’re planning to travel, but it’s still very useful if you’re not too concerned about taking the extra weight along with you.

Check the price on Amazon

What You Need

No matter what you decide is the most important feature, you’ll want to look at all of these options and pick out your favorite. Of course, we want to know more about your favorite features as well and just what you look at when choosing your next sleeping pad.

So look at these and then let us know even more. What is the most important feature to you when you’re looking for a sleeping pad? What is your favorite sleeping pad when you head out on your best camping trips?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rita Warfield
Rita Warfield

Fully passionate about the outdoors and totally committed to a life of exploration and learning, Rita is the perfect guide when it comes to choosing the right gear for your adventures. She gathered years of practical experience in testing her survival skills and knowledge in a wide range of difficult situations but she is also a passionate mountain climber. Even more, Rita loves hunting, she knows her way around a weapon, and she doesn’t back off in a difficult situation.

  • Deborah Withers

    When I was searching for the perfect sleeping pad, every pad seemed to fall short in at least one category. I was looking for light weight, decent r value, and enough cushion for my hips after a long day of hiking. No one pad worked perfect for my needs, so I now carry two on my backpacking trips; the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite and the Therm-a-rest ZLite Sol. The NeoAir is very light, and has a decent r value, but when I put the ZLite beneath it, I sleep comfortable and warm all night.

    • Rita Warfield

      What weight are you looking into as well as r-value? I did suggest to one of the commenters to try Lightspeed Flexform Pad. This perhaps would meet your needs in terms of weight as it is 6lbs, roughly the weight of your two sleeping pads. R-value is great at 9.66 and 3 inches of foam. Check it out some time.

  • Renee Ivey

    The Klymit Static V has been perfect for my summer camping. I have always been a side sleeper, and the V shaped ridges caress my hips and make for a wonderful night’s sleep. I have been wanting to do more cold weather camping, though, and have been looking into a higher r-value pad with the same level of comfort. I know Klymit makes an insulated pad too, but their r-value just isn’t high enough. Although I want comfort and warmth, I am not willing to sacrifice weight. Do you have any recommendations for my needs?

    • Rita Warfield

      Why don’t you try out Lightspeed Flexform Pad. It is a bit heavier at 6lbs but R-value is at 9.66, with 3 inches of foam. It even has an integrated pillow so it’s easy to get ready for bed where ever you are. Hope this helps!

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