Best Sleeping Pads for Side Sleepers in 2021

After long research, I think the best sleeping pad for side sleepers is Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Air Mattress. It’s a super comfortable pad that weighs only 12 ounces, and it doesn’t make any crackling sounds. My second pick is the REI Co-op Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad.

Camping is an excellent way to spend your free time. It takes you out of your comfort zone and allows you to interact with nature. 

However, you need to enjoy your outdoor adventures. Comfort, especially when sleeping, is essential. Since 74% of people sleep on their sides, it is easy to wake up with aching hips if you do not sleep on something comfy. 

Thus, you need to invest in a good sleeping pad to ensure you have a good night while camping. For side sleepers, a sleeping pad’s choice is essential as it determines how comfortable your night would be. 

Here are some of the top sleeping pads for side sleepers.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Air Mattress – Our Top Pick!

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Air Mattress is an ideal sleeping pad for backpacking. It weighs 12 ounces, making it one of the lightest. There is a small version that weighs only 8 ounces.

When deflated, the pad can pack down to the small water bottle’s size, making it easy to carry. In terms of comfort, it has horizontal baffles to make it stable and comfortable.

There is also an improvement in the type of material for this pad, as it does not make the crackling sound like previous models. 

While the NeoAir Xlite 30 denier nylon material may not be the most durable, it offers a relatively long service with proper maintenance. It also has an R-value of about 4.2, making it ideal for cold weather.

The only downside of this pad is that it has a mummy shape, forcing people to go for a large size rather than the regular. However, it is a top pick for comfort, size, ultralight backpacking, and hiking.

REI Co-op Flash 3-Season Sleeping Pad – Also Great!

The REI Co-op Flash 3-Season Sleeping pad has a high level of comfort. With the R-value at 3.2, the 3-season pad can serve you under most conditions. It also has an excellent system for inflating and deflating it.

The pad employs an air cell system that distributes weight well across it as you sleep. It enhances your comfort by reducing the pressure on your shoulders and hips. 

This pad’s mummy shape allows it to pack down to a small size, increasing its portability. Although it offers good comfort, it is slightly thinner than other pads. At 2 inches, the thickness may not be the best for side sleepers, as it does not offer sufficient cushioning.

Fox Outfitters Airlite

The Fox Outfitters Airlite is generally a good sleeping pad for warm weather. It has a very low R-value of one, making it unsuitable for cold environments.

You would need a foam pad for insulation when using it in cold conditions. The pad also has collapsed edges that can be uncomfortable when sleeping as you can slip off. 

The Fox Outfitters Airlite has tear-resistant Diamond ripstop material, which makes it durable. It has double brass valves that are also durable. The pad has a width of 24 inches, offering you more space to turn as you sleep. It comes with a foot pump and inflates to 3 inches.

Although the Fox Outfitters Airlite is durable, it is not ideal for cold weather and you should only use it with a foam pad to avoid getting cold in the night.

Big Agnes Q Core SLX Sleeping Pad

The Big Agnes Q Core SLX Sleeping Pad is an ideal pad for side sleepers. It is an improvement to the earlier Q Core and Q Core SL. It is lighter than its predecessors, weighing just 18 ounces.

The weight makes it ideal for hiking, as it is lightweight enough to carry as you hike. The pad is easy to inflate and deflate through its one-way valve system. You can inflate it up to four inches, which is sufficient insulation against rocks and other items on the ground that can make sleeping uncomfortable. 

The Big Agnes Q Core SLX is ideal for all seasons including instances where the temperature is below freezing point. It has a baffle system that enhances its comfort. The pad consists of durable material, which is 25% more durable than its predecessors.

Thus, you will get long-term service if you avoid things that can puncture it.

Alps Mountaineering Comfort Air Pad

The Alps Mountaineering Comfort Air Pad among the top choices for the summer. The pad weighs 21 ounces and measures 3.5 inches in thickness when inflated. It has a CPR-like air pump for easy inflation and can pack down to a small size.

The pad’s ripstop fabric is durable, allowing you to use it directly on the ground without worrying too much about damage. It also has brass deflation valves, making it more durable. Its horizontal baffles give you the comfort you need while sleeping.

This sleeping pad has a few downsides. First, it is only suitable for summer conditions. You would need a foam pad for colder environments. That would make it cumbersome, as it is already one of the heaviest. It also has a width of 20 inches and collapsed edges that make it narrow. That limits your turning space and may be uncomfortable.

Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

The Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad is a cold-weather pad. It consists of unique internal features that ensure you enjoy excellent support and warmth while keeping the pad easy to pack and carry.

The pad has an undulating baffle design that helps to keep you stable and comfortable even as you turn from side to side in your sleep. It also has tough fabric that is puncture-resistant for extra durability.

The material also allows you to enjoy quiet sleep, as it does not make noise when you turn. The internal metalized film helps to keep you warm even when temperatures are very low. 

You can quickly inflate and deflate the pad thanks to its zero-profile multifunctional valve. You can control the flow of air by adjusting the valve. The pad also comes with a pump sack for easier inflation.

There is also a repair kit for any punctures or tears on the pad. The size and durable material make this pad a desirable one.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress

If you are looking for a sleeping pad that offers you the most significant amount of warmth, then the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress is your answer. The pad is ideal for extremely cold conditions such as snow and frozen ground. You will enjoy warm nights as the pad insulates you from the cold ground.

The NeoAir XTherm consists of tough and durable material. It has 30D nylon ripstop fabric on the top side and 70D-nylon fabric at the bottom to enhance its durability. You can sleep without a pillow on this pad as the top fabric has a gentle texture.

Although the pad is made of a rigid material, its weight is only 15 ounces. It comes with a 0.6 ounces stuff sack as well as a 1.8 ounces pump sack. 

The incredible warmth and light material in this pad make it a durable pad suitable for all seasons.

Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad

The Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad is a comfortable and durable option for side sleepers. It measures 2 inches in thickness and 23 inches in width, ensuring you enjoy great comfort for your camping nights.

The pad has interconnected diamond-shaped air cells that provide good cushioning to minimize the soreness due to hard surfaces. The 20D ripstop nylon outer material gives it relative durability, meaning you can use it for some years.

The pad is also light, weighing just 14.5 ounces. That makes it portable and easy to pack. It packs down quickly to the size of a water bottle, further making it very portable.

Although it is a relatively good sleeping pad, it can be a bit tasking to inflate it. 

Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable Sleeping Pad

The Outdoorsman Lab Inflatable Sleeping Pad is a 4-season inflatable pad that offers comfort. Instead of baffles, this pad has diamond-shaped cells that offer more comfort.

It has a thickness of 2 inches, providing relative insulation and comfort against the hard ground or cold conditions. The weight is also impressive, as it weighs only 16 ounces. It can also pack down easily into a small stuff sack, allowing greater portability.

The Ripstop nylon material gives it flexibility while making it durable. 

The biggest disappointment about this pad is its width. It measures a meager 6 inches, which is too little space for side sleepers. It also has an R-value of 2.2, meaning that it offers little insulation in extremely cold conditions.

Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad

The Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad improves its predecessors such as the Klymit X Frame. It addresses complaints about uncomfortable vertical and horizontal baffles. The V-shaped baffles on this pad make it less bouncy and address the issue of collapsing edges. 

The Static VLite offers you great insulation, as it has an R-value of 4.4. The insulation makes it ideal for use in all seasons since you will enjoy more warmth. The material component of this pad is a 30 denier nylon, making it durable. However, it increases its weight to 19 ounces. You may need a repair kit to maintain it for las long.

Although it is an all-season pad, you may need a foam pad for icy conditions. The pad also makes a squeaking noise that can be irritating when you are sleeping.

Big Agnes Insulated AXL Sleeping Pad

The Big Agnes Insulated AXL Sleeping Pad enhances the reputation of Big Agnes sleeping pads as leaders in comfort. It has a wide width and a 3.75-inch thickness for extra comfort.

This pad is ideal for side sleepers as it has supportive side baffles that provide great comfort along with its impressive thickness. The pad is also light, weighing just 12 ounces. 

Durability is not an issue for the AXL. It has durable TPU lamination that ensures the pad has a long lifespan. It also has PrimaLoft silver insulation to ensure you are warm as you sleep.

The supportive chambers and outer rails further enhance your comfort by providing you remain at the center of the mat. This pad’s features make it one of the best for side sleepers, especially those that enjoy hiking. 

Exped SynMat 7 Insulated Sleeping Pad

Comfort is a leading factor in sleeping pads, and the Exped SynMat 7 Insulated Sleeping Pad provides excellent comfort. It has vertical baffles that enhance comfort and reduce the bouncy feel. You do not have to worry about slipping off as it also has raised edges that help keep you centered. The pad is also wide to provide more room. 

The Exped SynMat 7 has an R-value of 4.9, which makes it ideal for all seasons. It also consists of durable material that ensure you will be able to use it for many years. The pad has a built-in pump for easier inflating.

While the SynMat 7 offers outstanding comfort, it has one major drawback. It weighs a hefty 30 ounces, making it very bulky and the most massive pad available. Its weight is equal to the combined weight of a summer pad and a foam pad. It also takes a lot of space.

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Sleeping Pad

The Sea to Summit Comfort Light Sleeping Pad is a 3-season mat that has air-sprung cells instead of baffles. It is 2.5 inches thick.

The design of the pad takes into consideration the problems of side sleepers. It has smaller cells around the hip and shoulder areas for extra comfort. The cell design effectively distributes your weight as you sleep, reducing the pressure on the shoulders and hip. It also ensures more generous support and softness for greater comfort. 

The pad has no noise when you roll over and is not slippery as you sleep. It has a width of 21.5 inches and an R-value of 3.7, making it comfortable and suitable for different environments. It comes with an Airstream Pumpsack for easy inflation.

Teton Sports ComfortLite Self Inflating Camp Pad

The Teton Sports ComfortLite Self Inflating Camp Pad is a self-inflating sleeping pad with a smooth surface for a comfortable sleep. It has a width of 24 inches, which is sufficient for a side sleeper. It has a thickness of 2 inches, providing some protection from the hard ground.

The pad consists of a non-slip bottom and microfiber top to ensure you do not slip from you position. It, therefore, minimizes interruptions to your sleep for adjustment when you slip off the mat.

The main downside to this sleeping pad is that it is heavy. It weighs 3.6 lbs, making it cumbersome to carry. It does not also compact to a small size when you roll it.

This pad may not provide sufficient insulation for you in icy conditions. However, it offers comfort for side sleepers.

TNH Outdoors Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

The TNH Outdoors Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad is perhaps one of the most durable sleeping pads available. It has a 70D polyester outer material that is very durable. It can withstand sharp rocks or uneven ground. Additionally, it has great insulation against cold surfaces.

Thus, it is ideal for cold weather conditions. 

The TNH Outdoors Self-Inflating sleeping pad has a smooth top surface. It provides a comfortable feel, especially for people that do not like baffles. It has sufficient thickness combined with extra internal foam padding to provide you with ample cushioning. 

This pad’s main disadvantage is that it has a smooth surface that can lead to slipping off while sleeping, especially on a sloppy surface.

Why You Need a Sleeping Pad

Outdoors and camping can, and should be fun. You need to enjoy your adventures to the fullest.

A good night’s sleep when camping is a big part of the activity you experience. Comfort is critical when considering where to lie down for rest.

Side sleepers have an extra impetus to seek something comfortable because of their pressure on their shoulders and hips as they sleep. It would help if you had a soft pad that would absorb the pressure and allow you more comfort.

Sleeping pads provide a smooth and comfortable surface to lie on for a restful night’s sleep. You do not have to worry about hip and shoulder pains due to your sleeping position.

Without a right sleeping pad, you may end up spending the whole night tossing and turning from side to side as you seek some comfort. 

Cushioning and Support

The thickness of a sleeping pad is significant when considering which one to buy. You need your pad to be thick enough to offer you the cushioning you need for comfort.

Cushioning allows your body to sink into the mat so that you maintain the alignment of your spine.

A good sleeping pad with plenty of cushioning prevents your spine from curving as you sleep. It also reduces the pressure on your hips and shoulders, thus reducing the sores you would get if you slept on a hard surface.

It would help if you also had your sleeping pad to have sufficient support to distribute your weight evenly along the length of the mat. That ensures that your shoulders and hips are not pressed against the hard ground.

Foam vs Inflatable

You can have either a foam pad or an inflatable pad. The two types have different traits that distinguish them and influence choice. The foam sleeping pads are often bulky and less costly.

They are also easy to set and are suitable for multiple purposes. The foam pads are also durable. However, they are less comfortable that air pads. To enjoy comfort, you would need to have a thick foam pad. That would make it bulkier and heavier. 

Inflatable sleeping pads cost more than foam pads. However, they are more comfortable. They provide adequate support and cushioning, resulting in greater comfort. Due to their size, they are also lighter and easier to carry.

The only disadvantage is that they can get a puncture, which would mean that you sleep on a hard surface. A repair kit becomes a necessity when using the inflatable sleeping pads.

Shape and Size

When choosing a sleeping pad, always ensure you get the right size and shape. For most side sleepers, the width of the pad does not matter that much. That is because you take less space when you sleep on your side.

However, length is critical. It would be best if you had a pad that fits your height. While having smaller pads to save on weight may be ideal, it may not be good for your comfort. You need your feet on the pad to keep them warm and cushioned. 

The most common shapes for sleeping pads are the mummy shape and the rectangular ones. The mummy-shaped sleeping pads are ideal if you are trying to reduce the weight of your luggage.

However, rectangular-shaped sleeping pads offer more comfort. The rectangular-shaped pads are especially ideal for people that sprawl out in their sleep. Thus, the choice of the shape of the pad you want would depend on the type of sleeper you are and the weight considerations.

Warmth and Comfort

Sleeping pads serve one primary purpose. They aim to provide you comfort as you engage in your outdoor camping activities. The pad you choose needs to provide you with sufficient comfort to enjoy your sleep.

It needs to be thick enough to protect you from the hard ground. It should also have enough cushioning to ensure you do not develop sores as you sleep.

Keeping warm as you sleep is a big part of comfort. Your night would not be good if it was too cold. Thus, you should consider the warmth your sleeping pad offers. A pad with a high R-value ensures you enjoy more warmth as it insulates you from the cold ground.

Warmth is an important consideration especially when you intend to use your sleeping pad in cold weather.

Additional Features

Insulation or R-Value

The insulation you get from your sleeping pad is important. It determines how much heat you lose to the ground as you sleep. A pad with low insulation would not be able to protect you from the cold.

You may not enjoy your night if you lose heat to the ground, especially during the cold season. A well-insulated pad should have an R-value of 3-5.


We all want something that would last long. You need a sleeping pad that has durable material so that it can serve you for long.

A tough material may increase the weight of the pad but it provides a longer lifespan. There is a need to find a balance between the durability of the material and its weight.

Non-Slip Surface

The surface of your pad should be able to hold you without sliding off. As you sleep, you do not want to slip off the pad, as that would mean you have an uncomfortable night. Pads with a good surface ensure you do not slide off even when sleeping on a slope.


Some sleeping pads consist of material that is noise. That can be irritating and frustrating especially when you are trying to catch some sleep. You need a pad that does not make noise even as you turn in your sleep. 

Side Baffles

Side baffles prevent you from rolling off the pad as you sleep. A good sleeping pad should have large side baffles on the outer edges to keep your body in the middle and prevent you from rolling off.

They ensure you do not have to keep adjusting your position throughout the night.

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