How to choose a sleeping pad Hinman Pad

How To Choose a Sleeping Pad

The outdoors is our favorite place to sleep, and a restful night in the backcountry starts with a high-quality, dependable sleeping pad. We’re pretty passionate about creating the best pads available.

Looking for the perfect sleeping pad? We’ve got you covered (literally).

Comfort starts from the ground up with our line of air chamber, self-inflating, and closed-cell foam pads. Before you can determine the best sleeping pad for your next adventure, you have a few factors to consider.

Big Agnes air chamber Rapide SL Insulated pad
Choose quilted comfort with the Rapide SL Insulated pad. Photo: Noah Wetzel

What’s an R-Value?

A sleeping pad R-Value is a rating that shows how warm the pad is, thus helping you stay warm at cooler temperatures. The higher the R-Value number, the warmer the pad. A good place to start is with the season in which you’ll be camping. This will help you determine the minimum R-Value you need.

If you’re new to camping, it’s reasonable to invest in one mid-range R-Value pad for every outing, the Rapide SL Insulated sleeping pad is a good all-around starter sleeping pad. As you start camping through the seasons, you’ll appreciate the function of a cold weather pad with a higher R-Value rating, and the importance of a warm weather pad when you’re out camping in a hot desert valley.

When will you be camping – summer, spring, fall or winter? We offer pads that are suitable through the seasons, based on R-Values from 1.4 to 5.

Great for Summer – R-Value 2 or lower

  • 1.7 R-Value: TwisterCane pad – although not an air chamber pad, this closed-cell foam pad is an almost weightless addition to your sleep system and an option to use in the summer on its own. Plus, it’s made from more than 60% sugarcane resin, pretty sweet, right?
How to choose a sleeping pad TwisterCane
Afternoon hangout after a long hike in on the TwisterCane pad. Photo: Noah Wetzel

Great for Spring through Fall – R-Value 3-4.5

Big Agnes air chamber sleeping pads
Cozy up on our air chamber sleeping pads, like the Insulated Air Core Ultra (front) and Q-Core Deluxe (back). Photo: Noah Wetzel

Your winter warrior companion R-Value 5

  • R-Value 5: Hinman – warm and comfortable self-inflating pad ideal for year-round use with 1.5” – 4” of thickness to choose from
How to choose a sleeping pad Hinman Pad
Sunrise on the Hinman accompanied by the King Solomon doublewide sleeping bag. Photo: Noah Wetzel

Camping on frozen ground?

  • Our TwisterCane BioFoam close-cell foam pad can be used alone or beneath any pad for additional warmth and comfort. Pair with an insulated pad when sleeping on frozen ground or snow for a four-season system.

Next, consider the other aspects of your trip – will you be carrying all of the weight? What level of comfort do you prefer, taking pad size into consideration, and how much are you willing to invest in a sleeping pad?

What comfort level am I looking for?

Air Chamber Sleeping Pads

At Big Agnes, we built our air chamber pads to cushion you with 3.25” of air between your hips and the ground for maximum comfort. We use internal construction that stabilizes your sleeping surface so that your pad feels more like your bed at home. In all models, the outer pad is built to be a little thicker than the inner pad so that you are comfortably cradled in the middle of the pad after a long day in the saddle, on the trail, or just because you deserve the best night’s sleep out in the dirt.

How to choose a sleeping pad Rapide SL Insulated
Air chamber sleeping pads save weight and space on the long journey. Photo: Noah Wetzel featuring the Rapide SL Insulated

Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads

Our self-inflating pads range from 1.5” – 4” of thickness to sleep on, it’s like your bed in the backcountry! The soft, stretch-fabric top provides a cushioned yet durable sleeping surface and supreme insulation in colder temps.

  • Versatile foam core, self-inflating, cushiony sleep surface – Hinman, Two Track

What Size Sleeping Pad is Best for Me?

Pad Width

Now that you’ve narrowed down your sleeping pad options, it’s important to know that our pads vary in width sizes from 20” minimum to 25”, 30”, 40” and 50” widths depending on your preferred comfort level and the size of the bag you’re pairing it with. Any pad width 40” or larger, is considered a doublewide pad, because it’s wide enough to fit two people on it. We also specialize in larger 50”x78” Tent Floor Pad to cover the entire floor of a two-person tent for doublewide bags and duos camping side by side.

Pad Length

Pad lengths vary from 66” for shorter campers and kids up to 78” for taller campers. Our 72” pad length is considered a regular size pad that can accommodate a camper up to 6’ tall comfortably. If pairing with your Big Agnes System bag, make sure to check that the pad size will fit your selected bag. System Bags utilize our Flex Pad Sleeve and Pad Cinch System, and must be paired with a pad for proper insulation.

Big Agnes System Bag and sleeping pad
The Pad Cinch System easily connects Big Agnes System bags to the Rapide SL Insulated pad. Photo: Noah Wetzel

We know firsthand that the quality of your sleep determines the outcome of your day, and that’s why we’ve redesigned our entire line of air chamber pads. Increased comfort, dependability and guaranteed quality will keep you sleeping soundly through the night. Whichever pad you end up with for a night out in the dirt, you can’t go wrong with a Big Agnes sleeping pad.