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The BEST and WORST Sleeping Pads of 2023

In this list, I want to emphasize the significance of having a comfortable and insulating sleeping pad for your outdoor adventures. Over the past few months, I've dedicated my time to testing, comparing, and rating nine different sleeping pads. My evaluation criteria include factors like price, comfort, warmth, and weight. The ultimate goal here is to help you make an informed decision when selecting the perfect sleeping pad for your needs, especially if you're a three-season camper who occasionally ventures into colder temperatures. Keep in mind that while some pads are ideal for summer use, others can handle even the chilliest conditions. So, join me as I break down these sleeping pads and find out which one suits you best.

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MyLifeOutdoors
MyLifeOutdoors
26th October 2023 in travel
The BEST and WORST Sleeping Pads of 2023
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Insulated V

Insulated V

  • Klymit
video - Insulated V

This pad is an affordable option known for its warmth. It features a patented V design with deep valleys to relieve pressure points, offering decent thickness and comfort. However, it's not the most comfortable pad available. One significant drawback is its weight due to insulation in most areas, making it the second heaviest on the list at one pound eight ounces. The pad has a cold spot in an uninsulated area, allowing ground cold to seep through. It has a low ASTM certified R value of 1.9, suitable only for summer use, raising questions about the necessity of carrying extra insulation.

Ether Light XT Extreme

Ether Light XT Extreme

  • Sea to Summit
video - Ether Light XT Extreme

It's the heaviest pad, weighing in at two pounds 1.6 ounces, nearly double the weight of most other pads. However, it compensates for these drawbacks with its exceptional warmth, boasting an impressive R value of 6.2, making it the second warmest pad. Additionally, it offers superior comfort with a quilted pattern on top that helps relieve pressure points.

XT Rectangular

XT Rectangular

  • Sea to Summit
video - XT Rectangular

The Ether Light XT is similar in design and comfort to the regular Ether Light pad, but it's only half as warm. Despite the reduced warmth, the cost savings are minimal, at around twenty dollars less. The main advantage seems to be the weight savings, as the Ethernet Extreme is about a pound lighter than the regular version, weighing in at one pound 6.2 ounces.

XTherm NXT

XTherm NXT

  • Therma-Rest
video - XTherm NXT

The X-Therm NXT pad boasts an impressive warmth-to-weight ratio, featuring an R value of 7.3 while weighing just one pound and four ounces. It's suitable for extremely cold temperatures, making it a year-round pad. However, it comes at a high cost, being the most expensive option at $260. In terms of comfort, it's not the most comfortable due to its small, shallow horizontal baffles, which offer minimal give, making it feel quite stiff. Nonetheless, this design contributes to its exceptional warmth for its low weight.

Regular Climate

Regular Climate

  • Klymit
video - Regular Climate

Climate Static V pad, designed for summer use and sharing the same insulation issue as the insulated version. However, it's affordably priced at just $65. Despite being a budget-friendly option, it offers decent comfort and is relatively lightweight at one pound and two ounces. If you're a summer hiker on a budget, it's a reasonable choice.

Insulated Tensor

Insulated Tensor

  • Nemo
video - Insulated Tensor

The Insulated Tensor is a popular choice for 2022, weighing in at one pound and three ounces, making it relatively lightweight. It offers good comfort with a moderately quilted baffle construction that many find comfortable. Priced at $220, it's not the cheapest option but also not the most expensive. It provides excellent warmth with an ASTM R value of 4.2, suitable for all but the coldest temperatures. However, there were some weak spots in the insulation during testing, though in practical use, it proves to be adequately warm for most hikes.

Xlite NXT

Xlite NXT

  • Therma-Rest
video - Xlite NXT

The X-Light NXT is the best-selling pad on the market, and testing reveals why. It's the lightest pad on the list, weighing just 16 ounces, yet it offers excellent warmth with a certified R value of 4.5. Unlike many other pads that have cold spots allowing ground temperature to seep through, the X-Light NXT, along with the Therm-a-Rest pads, is highly efficient at insulating against the cold. While it may not be the cheapest option, its combination of low weight and exceptional warmth makes it a top choice for many.

Rapide SL

Rapide SL

  • Big Agnes
video - Rapide SL

The Rapide SL sleeping bag is highlighted as a more cost-effective and comfortable option compared to the NXT sleeping pad, while offering similar warmth. However, it comes at the trade-off of being significantly heavier, weighing one pound and eight ounces versus the NXT's one-pound weight. This information is valuable for potential buyers weighing the factors of cost, comfort, warmth, and weight when choosing between these two outdoor gear options.

ZOOM UL

ZOOM UL

  • Big Agnes
video - ZOOM UL

This sleeping pad is highlighted as the most comfortable among the tested pads, featuring a quilted top with three inches of thickness across the pad and 3.5 inches on the outside edge, providing a cradling effect. However, it faces challenges in terms of price, as it's priced at $230, which is on the higher end of the price spectrum for quality sleeping pads. Another surprising aspect is its perceived warmth, as it didn't seem as warm as its certified ASTM R value of 4.3. This is unexpected because it received the same standardized certification as Therm-a-Rest pads with a similar rating but felt colder in the field and exhibited cold spots during testing. Despite these factors, it still scored well in the overall evaluation.

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