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The Great Camping Sleeping Pad Test

The Great Camping Sleeping Pad Test

Author Alex Kafure

Camping enthusiasts are always in pursuit of the best gear, and when it comes to sleeping pads, the quest is no different. In a world brimming with choices, we decided to put the top-rated and best-selling sleeping pads to the test to help you make an informed choice.


For our research, we referred to the trusted review platform, Outdoor Gear Lab, and picked their top three sleeping pads. Additionally, we added Amazon's best-selling sleeping pad to the mix. Before diving into the tests, we concealed the brand names, ensuring an unbiased evaluation irrespective of price points, which varied from $50 to $300.

Pressure Test

An essential factor in any sleeping pad is its ability to insulate the user from the ground. In our test, both the Exped and Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe Sleeping pads successfully kept us elevated even with concentrated pressure on the knees. However, the Sea to Summit and Klymit Static V allowed noticeable contact with the ground.

Quick-Dry Evaluation

We tested the pads' drying speed under a sunny Florida sky in mid-September, with ambient conditions. Remarkably, the Exped was dry in just 3-4 minutes. The NeoAir Therm-A-Rest followed, and the Static V and Sea to Summit dried simultaneously shortly after.

Insulation Performance

To gauge their insulating properties, we timed how long it took before feeling cold while sitting on each pad. The results were as follows:

  • Exped: 45 seconds
  • Therm-A-Rest: 2 minutes 24 seconds
  • Sea to Summit: 2 minutes 39 seconds (Best performer!)
  • Klymit Static V: 9.5 seconds

Durability Check

We first unleashed a playful pitbull, followed by a heap of rocks, sticks, and 500 pounds of pea gravel, subjecting the pads to extreme conditions for two hours. Surprisingly, all the pads held firm without deflation. However, upon closer examination:

  • Exped: Suffered the most, with five tears along its seams.
  • Therm-A-Rest: Incurred one small tear but proved great for a faux-winter sled ride.
  • Sea to Summit: Endured a half-inch tear, revealing some of its insulation.
  • Klymit Static V: Presented an inch-and-a-half tear.

To further evaluate resilience, we repaired the pads and added 150 pounds of pea gravel, standing atop them, totaling 320 pounds of pressure. Post two hours:

  • Exped: Completely deflated.
  • Therm-A-Rest, Sea to Summit, and Klymit: Retained their integrity without any loss of air.

Ember Resistance

Understanding the proximity of sleeping pads to campfires, we evaluated their resistance to stray embers:

  • Exped: Developed 4-5 small burns.
  • Therm-A-Rest: Exhibited potential bubbling but remained intact without any holes.
  • Sea to Summit: Sustained 5-6 minute holes.
  • Klymit Static V: Presented 1-2 minor burns.


Choosing the right sleeping pad can be the difference between a restful night in the wild and a discomforting one. Through our comprehensive tests, each pad showcased its strengths and weaknesses. It's crucial to weigh these results against your camping needs, ensuring you select the pad that's perfect for you. Safe camping!

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