Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up with a bruised hip after a camping night? Hello, dear fellow side sleeper, I feel your pain. Did you know that the majority of us are side sleepers? With research confirming it as the favorite sleeping position of 74% of people, it’s time to take your sleeping pad seriously as one of many wild camping essentials you’ll need for your trip! If you are wondering where to start, dive into this guide to the best sleeping pads for side sleepers, curated especially for you.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Want More Gear Guides?
- 2 Intro to the Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers
- 3 TOP CHOICES of the Best Pads for Side Sleepers
- 4 What Makes Up a Great Sleeping System?
- 5 Do I Need a Sleeping Pad?
- 6 What Are the Main Types of Sleeping Pads?
- 7 Why Do I Need to Consider Being a Side Sleeper Before Buying a Sleeping Pad?
- 8 What Are the Main Features of Sleeping Pads?
- 9 What Is the R-Value on Sleeping Pads?
- 10 What Size Sleeping Pad Do I Need?
- 11 How Your Sleeping Pad Interacts With Your Sleeping Bag
- 12 The 10 Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers
- 13 1. Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad
- 14 2. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
- 15 3. Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad
- 16 4. Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad
- 17 5. Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Self-Inflating Foam Camping Pad
- 18 6. Big Agnes Sleeping Pad Insulated Trail Boss
- 19 7. Exped MegaMat Lite 12 Sleeping Pad
- 20 8. Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad for Camping
- 21 9. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattressacking Backpack
- 22 10. Powerlix Sleeping Pad – Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Mat
- 23 Choosing the Best Sleepings Pad for Side Sleepers – Final Thoughts!
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- Choosing the best backpack for women
- Find the best budget hiking shoes and boots
- Get your gear together with the ultimate camping checklist
Jump to the Roundup of the 10 Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers!
Intro to the Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers
For sure camping and hiking are a kick in the adrenaline as there’s so much adventure, excitement, and fun all together. But, you need a good timeout at the end of the day to prep yourself for the next day. This is when a good sleeping system matters. A LOT.
Out in the backcountry, there are many factors like the weather and annoying insects -like…sandflies in New Zealand, grrr I hate them!- that can affect your sleep.
Imagine being awake the whole night shivering in cold with chattering teeth, because your sleep system is not up to the task of keeping you warm and comfy through the night?
Doesn’t sound like you would be up for a bright smile the next day, eh? Worse, you wake up, dead tired and moody, only wishing you could crash into a comfy bed instead of dragging yourself through the entire journey.
Take my word for it when I say your sleep system can mark the difference between an energetic camper and a sleep-deprived zombie -yes, zombie.
TOP CHOICES of the Best Pads for Side Sleepers
Best for top quality for all 4 seasons: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
Best top rated, lightweight budget sleeping pad for side sleepers: Sleepingo Double Sleeping Bag for Backpacking, Camping, Or Hiking. Queen Size XL!
Best sleeping pad for car camping: Exped MegaMat Lite 12 Sleeping Pad
What Makes Up a Great Sleeping System?
It should essentially consist of a good waterproof tent to keep you dry, a winter sleeping bag if you are hiking in extreme weather, and of course, a sleeping pad that supports your side sleeping position. You can also throw in a liner, a pillow, an eye-mask, and a ground tarp to further isolate your tent.
In this guide, I’ll be taking you through the basics of selecting the best sleeping pad for side sleepers along with my recommendations you can easily purchase through Amazon.
Do I Need a Sleeping Pad?
Nobody likes to haul a lot of weight when camping and hiking, so for sure you may wonder if a sleeping pad is essential or something you can do without. If you are going on a hiking expedition in extreme weather conditions, a backpacking sleeping pad for side sleepers is an absolute necessity to get a good sleep as well as avoid risks like hypothermia.
However, in warm weather conditions, it is something you can consider skipping, although I still recommend it as it ensures you have a comfortable rest.
A good sleeping pad provides warmth and comfort by providing insulation from the ground, especially during cold weather. Even in warm weather, the insulating material of the pad acts as a barrier to provide the right warmth. Moreover, it supports your back when the ground is a bit uneven with rocks or twigs that can make your back sore after some time.
What Are the Main Types of Sleeping Pads?
Sleeping pads come in three major types depending on the material and how they function. I have briefly highlighted them below, along with their benefits and drawbacks.
Closed-cell Foam Pads
These are perhaps the most basic type. They neither fully inflate nor have a sophisticated design for added functionality. They have small closed air cells that don’t provide much insulation but serve the purpose moderately. They are cheap, durable, light in weight, but not compact in size. They can also be uncomfortable as they are not thick enough to keep you well off the ground.
As the name implies, these mats completely rely on air for inflation. This can either be done manually or by using a pump. They are relatively thicker than foam, which means air matresses are an ideal choice for side sleepers. They are extremely comfortable, light in weight, and pack better than other types. But, they lack in durability, can be quite slippery sometimes, and take time to inflate (sometimes taking your breath away – not in a romantic way though). These also tend to cost more. Some air pads can also be noisy when you stir in your sleep or too bouncy, which can be annoying.
Arguably the most convenient choice. All you have to do is unfold them and open the valves for them to go puff! These have open cell foam for insulation, which uses air to inflate automatically. The major benefits are excellent insulation, relatively compact when packed, durable, and adjustable for your comfort, making it another great option for side sleepers. But, they take time to deflate and are quite bulky.
I personally prefer self-inflating pads! However, I’m also happy to take an air pad -not so much closed-cell foam pads.
Why Do I Need to Consider Being a Side Sleeper Before Buying a Sleeping Pad?
In order to choose the best sleeping pad FOR YOU, is key to determine whether you are a back sleeper or a side sleeper.
Although it might look like side sleepers utilize less space in their position, they need more room to turn comfortably, and some even curl into a ball with knees towards their chest. So, in this case, you need to look for the best sleeping pad with a wider surface.
Also, your side sleeping position affects your spine differently and requires more support, which is why you should go for a thick surface. It also provides your hips and elbows adequate cushioning that’s much needed.
Speaking of joints, a side sleeping position doesn’t spread the pressure of your body evenly on the pad. The pressure points will be on the same spot over and over again, which requires the pad to be very sturdy.
Some sleeping pads are narrowly shaped like your body when you sleep in the back position. This is a shape side sleepers should avoid as they are not designed for them unless you are okay with having half of your body outside the pad when you turn!
Finally and most importantly, the support system and the surface patterns also play a role when choosing the best sleeping pad for side sleepers. In support systems with vertical baffles, you could ‘slide’ into the gaps between seams, which can make it very uncomfortable. A horizontal or honeycomb design is highly recommended as these have a better surface with increased friction to keep you in place.
What Are the Main Features of Sleeping Pads?
No sleeping bag fits everyone as your physique and requirements differ from your partner. So, consider these factors before you buy the best sleeping pad for side sleepers.
The size depends on whether you are looking for a 1-person sleeping pad or a larger one that can accommodate multiple people. If you are camping with your partners or friends, purchasing a bigger pad altogether would help a lot in reducing weight. But, before you purchase, make sure it fits your tent dimensions! Size also determines how portable your pad is.
The choice of shape greatly depends on the sleeping position as “mummy” shaped pads are great for back sleepers. They also save you weight by shaving off extra space as much as possible. Side sleepers would prefer to go with a conventional rectangular-style one as it supports their position well. That being said, there are enough mummy-style pads that have proven to be the best camping sleeping pads for side sleepers. Check out my list of recommendations!
Your choice of weight greatly depends on whether you are hiking, backpacking, or car camping. Backpackers would be thrilled to have an ultra-light sleeping pad that also packs small. Ideally, it has to weight 1lb or less. Car campers have the luxury to carry a large pad and enjoy extra space!
A regular sleeping pad designed for an average person comes in 72 inches in length and 20 inches in width. If you want a longer one, go for 75-78 inches one. If you need more space to roll around, especially when you are a side sleeper, you might have to look for a pad of 25-30 inches in width.
The most common material used in the sleeping pad is foam, as it provides insulation for the user. The amount of layers of foam, heat-reflecting materials or synthetic fill determines if your sleeping pad is suitable for cold conditions or just for moderate weather. In addition to it, brands also utilize ripstop nylon or other similar material to adopt for rough terrains and prevent the sleeping pad from getting damaged. Some even have a waterproof coating.
The exterior of pads is mainly constructed using nylon or polyester, but the quality may differ depending on whether it is targeted for heavy-duty or light camping trips. The base of the pad is sturdier than the external surface to withstand wear and tear.
Bacterial Growth Prevention
If you have owned a sleeping pad before, you would know that there’s a tendency for mold and bacterial buildup. Luckily, some pads have a system to prevent microorganism growth. Whether your sleeping pad has it or not, it’s a good idea to treat it with care.
What Is the R-Value on Sleeping Pads?
This is key. When purchasing the best sleeping pad for you, one important factor to pay attention to is the R-value. The R-value is the insulation capacity of the sleeping pad. The higher the value, the more your sleeping pad will prevent body heat from transferring to the ground. Depending on the nature of your expedition, the climatic conditions of the terrain, and even your hiking clothing layering, you have to opt for sleeping pads with different R-values.
If you are camping in very cold weather, go for an R-value of 5 or higher. On the other hand, if you are hiking in moderate weather conditions with 3-season gear, R-value should be 2 or higher.
Now, for us ladies who tend to have a low metabolic rate and body mass than men, the tip is to go for one R-value higher than the recommended rate. That is of course if you don’t want to spend a cold night shivering head to toe!
Jump to the Roundup of the 10 Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers!
What Size Sleeping Pad Do I Need?
While the primary factor that determines the size of the pad is your physique, there are also some other factors to consider like the mode of transport, climate, and terrain.
As an example, if you are camping or hiking in warm weather conditions, you can manage with a sleeping pad that’s shorter than your length. But, if you are a cold sleeper, you have to select one that covers your entire body.
Also, if you are going backpacking, picking a smaller, lighter sleeping pad will save a lot of weight. As mentioned earlier, car camping will allow you to settle for a more comfy, spacious sleeping pad.
How Your Sleeping Pad Interacts With Your Sleeping Bag
It’s easier to think that your sleeping bag is the ultimate component in your sleep system and it is true to some extent. Yet, it’s so much better when paired with a good sleeping pad!
While sleeping bags are designed to keep you adequately warm and comfortably by creating a cocoon-like enclosed space, they aren’t good insulators, especially during cold weather. You need a good sleeping pad to provide the required warmth by acting as an insulator. Together, these two elements make up the basics of a perfect sleeping system.
The 10 Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers
Let us save you the time spent on researching and reviewing sleeping pads! In this guide, we’ve simplified the process of choosing the best sleeping pads for side sleepers with a roundup of great products selected to fit your outdoor needs. This list has a choice for everyone, so dive right in!
1. Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad
Best for: The best lightweight sleeping pad for side sleepers at a cost-effective price
Pack size: 22.5 x 9.5 inches
Weight: 14 oz.
R-Value: 2.1 (3-season)
Baffle Pattern: Quilted
Amazon Rating: 4.7 (7790 reviews)
A top-rated budget sleeping pad
The unique baffle design is great for side sleepers
- Very light in weight which also makes it the best backpacking sleeping pad for side sleepers
- Very easy to inflate as it only requires 8-15 breaths to fill up
- Durable with ripstop design
Easy to clean
- It’s not ideal for below-freezing temperatures as the insulation is low
- Lack of size options may be a problem for those looking for a smaller or bigger sleeping pad for side sleepers
Other Considerations on the Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad
This is undeniably the best sleeping pad under $50 that covers every aspect you look for in a good pad. While it may not hold in extreme weather, it is water-resistant to guard against moisture buildup. It may look very thin with only 2-inch thickness, but lasts long! It’s also designed to be noise-free which I think is a great plus for side sleepers.
2. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress
Best for: The best sleeping pad for winter camping – a premium choice
Pack size large: 11 x 4.5 inches
Regular: 9 x 4 inches
Large: 1lb 4 oz.
Regular: 15 oz.
Baffle Pattern: Horizontal lines
Amazon Rating: 4.3 (278 reviews)
- Keeps you warm
Ultra-light for a highly-insulated, 4-season sleeping pad. It’s the yardstick from which other options in its range are measured
Available in two sizes to match the needs of side sleepers
- Repair kit included
- Can be quite slippery
Other Considerations on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Ultralight
Regular campers would know that Therm-a-Rest is a reputed brand for sleeping pads. So, while the price point may discourage you, consider it a worthy investment, especially if you are planning to purchase one for frequent use. You can select between Standard Valve and WingLock Valve based on your preference, but the latter helps you to inflate/ deflate the pad much faster!
3. Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad
Best for: A sleeping pad for side sleepers with great choices of style and size
Regular: 8 x 3 inches
Regular Wide: 9.5 x 3.5 inches
Long Wide: 9.5 x 3.5 inches
Regular Mummy: 8 x 3 inches
Short Mummy: 8 x 2.5 inches
Regular: 15 oz.
Regular Wide: 1lb 3 oz.
Long Wide: 1lb 5 oz.
Regular Mummy: 1lb 10z.
Short Mummy: 12 oz.
Shape: Both rectangle and mummy-style
R-Value: N/A although the temperature rating is 10 to 20F / -12 to -7C
Baffle Pattern: Spaceframe baffles (quilted pattern)
Amazon Rating: 4.6 (49 reviews)
- Ultralight and compact sleeping pad for backpackers
- So many choices to suit every kind of sleeper! Best sleeping pad for big folks.
- You can sleep quietly as a mouse as the special baffle pattern is so effective in noise reduction
- It’s thick enough to provide side sleepers with cushioning to rest their joint comfortably.
- Relatively expensive
- Only ideal for moderate weather conditions
- Can be difficult to inflate/deflate the pad quickly
Other Considerations on the Nemo Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad
I think the biggest plus of Nemo’s Air pad is the range of choices it offers you so that you can easily pick one that fits your requirements. Also, side sleepers gain a lot from the noise reduction technology as we tend to move a lot in the pad.
4. Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad
Best for: The most comfortable sleeping pad that is endorsed by many side sleepers
Pack size: 5 x 8 inches
Weight: 1lb 9 oz.
Baffle Pattern: V-shaped baffle pattern
Amazon Rating: 4.4 (1078)
- Reasonably priced
- Very comfortable for side sleepers. Users have raved about this being the ultimate plushy, comfortable, cuddlesome sleeping pad even for people with a larger physique.
- Light in weight for backpackers
- Compact when packed
- Can inflate within 12-15 breaths
- Quite expensive
- Although it is categorized as a 4-season pad, its R-value is not sufficient for extreme weather.
- Some users have commented on faulty products that are susceptible to leaks. Make sure to check it.
Other Considerations on the Klymit Insulated Static V Sleeping Pad
If you are a side sleeper who is frustrated waking with joint pains of all sorts, you have to try this out. The pad lifts you off the ground but not too much to make you feel like floating! The specially designed baffle pattern provides specific support for consistent pressure points. No more sore joints in the morning, yaz!
The sleeping pad is available in 3 colors namely Orange, Black, Coyote Sand, Kings Camo, and Real Tree Xtra.
5. Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Self-Inflating Foam Camping Pad
Best for: The best sleeping pad for hiking
Large: 13 x 8.3 inches
Regular: 13 x 6.5 inches
Large: 2 lbs. 8.96 oz.
Regular: 2 lbs. 4.8 oz.
Baffle Pattern: No baffles. A pattern of small dimples
Amazon Rating: 4.5 (59 reviews)
- Quite compact and light in weight
- Very comfortable to sleep in
- A durable choice
- The surface can be quite slippery due to lack of baffles
- Doesn’t completely self-inflate by itself. So, you might have to do it manually, which doesn’t take a lot of time.
- Not ideal for camping in winter
Other Considerations on the Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Self-Inflating Pad
As the brand that first brought air pads to the party, Therm-a-Rest continues to increase the convenience of adventurers by manufacturing products with guaranteed durability and ease of use. This pad also has a Standard Vale and a WingLock Valve. To prevent the issue of the sleeping pad losing air, it’s better to blow it to the maximum capacity in the beginning.
6. Big Agnes Sleeping Pad Insulated Trail Boss
Best for: A sleeping pad for side sleepers that is extremely durable and comfy
Petite: 8.5 x 5 inches
Regular: 9 x 5 inches
Long: 9.5 x 5.5 inches
Wide Long: 10.5 x 6 inches
Wide Rectangular: 10 x 6 inches
Petite: 31 oz.
Regular: 34 oz.
Long: 36 oz.
Wide Long: 44 oz.
Wide Rectangular: 41 oz.
Baffle Pattern: Honeycomb
Amazon Rating: 5 (3 reviews)
- Extremely sturdy.
- It has an inbuilt antimicrobial treatment system that prevents the growth of mold and microorganisms.
- The material is extremely thick making it one of the best camping sleeping pads for side sleepers
- Very expensive
- May not be ideal to be used in terrains with harsh weather conditions
Other Considerations on the Big Agnes Sleeping Pad Insulated Trail Boss
Again, this is a pricey option, no doubt. However, this Big Agnus sleeping pad delivers you industry-grade standards as with its many other products. You can use it for a long time, as many users have commented on its impressive build quality -we’ve gathered reviews from websites other than Amazon to get a full reference on this pad. The honeycomb pattern and the thick surface combined make it a non-slippery, ideal surface for side sleepers to doze off!
The sleeping pad also has a size for everyone, which is a huge plus!
7. Exped MegaMat Lite 12 Sleeping Pad
Best for: A great sleeping pad for car camping that makes you feel like resting on a cloud!
Medium: 9.8 x 5.9 inches
Medium Wide: 10.6 x 6.3 inches
Large Wide: 10.6 x 6.3 inches
Large X-Wide: 12.2 x 6.3 inches
Medium: 2.1 lbs
Medium Wide: 2.5 lbs
Large Wide: 2.7 lbs
Large X-Wide: 3 lbs
Baffle Pattern: Vertical pattern
Amazon Rating: 5 (11 reviews)
- Ultra-thick pad for better cushioning. Perfect for side sleepers
- Super comfortable
- 5-year warranty
- The 2-valve system makes it easy to inflate and deflate
- Excellent durability
- You can get slightly uncomfortable if your joints fall between the seams of the vertical design
- It’s quite bulky and heavy as it’s half the size of a regular sleeping pad when rolled.
- Relatively expensive.
Other Considerations on the Exped MegaMat Lite 12 Sleeping Pad
You can say goodbye to all those sleep-deprived camping days when you used to wake up dreaming about your comfy mattress at home because this sleeping pad comes close. Even though you might find it a bit pricey, it serves the purpose really well.
However, it may not be the best pad for hiking and backpacking, so keep in mind how you’ll use it!
8. Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad for Camping
Best for: Best budget sleeping pad
Pack Size: 8 x 3 x 3 inches
Weight: 14.5 oz.
Baffle Pattern: Unique Air-Support cells design
Amazon Rating: 4.3 (1358 reviews)
- One of the best lightweight sleeping pads for a low price!
- Super easy to inflate and deflate as it takes less than 10-12 breaths
- Compact and easily portable. Great for backpackers!
- Very comfortable to sleep in
- Durability is ensured as it is built with sturdy materials
- The innovative baffle pattern provides a good grip for side sleepers who continuously toss and turn
- Lifetime warranty
- Users have commented about receiving faulty products where the pad was deflating with leaked air. It’s best to test it at home first.
- Sometimes, you might feel the ground when your pressure is applied on a particular point
- A low R rating sleeping pad. Only ideal for summer.
Other Considerations on the Outdoorsman Lab Sleeping Pad for Camping
If you are looking for the comfort, ease of use, and quality offered by big brands at a fraction of a price, look no further. The customer service is very impressive and prompt so even if you get a faulty product, contact them for a replacement. It comes in 3 colors such as blue, green, and orange.
9. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattressacking Backpack
Best for: Anyone looking for a small, ultralight backpacking sleeping pad for side sleepers that has it all!
Small: 9 x 3.5 inches
Regular: 9 x 4.1 inches
Regular Wide: 9 x 4.6 inches
Large: 11 x 4.6 inches
Small: 8 0z.
Regular: 12 oz.
Regular Wide: 15 oz.
Large: 16 oz.
Baffle Pattern: Horizontal
Amazon Rating: 4.2 (327 reviews)
- Remarkably light in weight which makes it another super choice for backpackers
- Impressive weight to warmth ratio. For a sleeping pad this light, it manages to keep you adequately warm and insulated to serve well in 3-season trips.
- It’s more pricey
- It can be quite difficult to blow the sleeping pad to its maximum capacity as you might find air escaping when you take the mouth off
- It can be noisy when you shift in sleep which can be quite annoying
Other Considerations on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Air Mattress
Personally, I would gravitate towards this choice for its compact size when packed, and the superior comfort it offers. But, overall, it’s a good choice that ticks all the boxes except during harsh weather. Sometimes, you might find it a bit difficult to move around as a side sleeper when the pad is fully inflated. Then, it’s better to let some air out to get it down to a slightly squishy size.
10. Powerlix Sleeping Pad – Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Mat
Best for: The most comfortable camping sleeping pad
Pack Size: 4 x 11 inches
Weight: 1.32 lbs
Baffle Pattern: Hexagon
Amazon Rating: 4.5 (659 reviews)
- Compact and light in weight. Ideal for backpacking
- The baffle design and material are designed to provide support for all pressure points. For side sleepers, this means a comfortable sleep!
- Two repair kits and patch kits included
- Lifetime warranty!
- Very low insulation
- There are complaints regarding its air valves being faulty
Other Considerations on the Powerlix Sleeping Pad – Ultralight Inflatable Camping Sleeping Pad
If you are looking for more options than the Klymit pad that’s specially manufactured to provide ergonomic support for pressure points, this is it. However, it’s only good to be used in warm seasons as it has a very low R-Value. The sleeping pad comes in 3 colors such as orange, green, and blue.
Choosing the Best Sleepings Pad for Side Sleepers – Final Thoughts!
You may have noticed that I didn’t include any closed cell foam sleeping mats. It’s not a matter of not liking these but I reckon that if you found this guide it’s because you truly want a pad comfortable enough to sleep on your side. I’ve personally struggled with neck pain for years, so of course I prefer at least SOME level of comfort when camping. I hope this guide helped you choose your next fave piece of gear!
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