It’s the perfect camping evening. It’s not too hot and not too cold and you just had an amazing day out in the wilderness. You’ve recently gotten into the wonders of hammock camping and can’t wait to get snuggled into your cocoon like hammock for a night of blissful rest under the stars.
But despite all the advice you’ve received about a sleeping pad, you decided to opt against one.
At around 1 am you are suddenly getting a bit chilled. Just cold enough to put an extra layer on and think you’ll be fine until dawn.
But now, it’s around 3 am and you are starting to wonder if Frost But Syndrome really is a thing and just what kind of permanent blue damage is going to last on your hiney.
Why, oh why, didn’t you just get a darn hammock sleeping pad!?
Our Top Two Sleeping Pads For Hammocks Pick:
But first, let’s get back and down to the basics. (Or skip straight to our top 10 Hammock Sleeping Pad Comparison Chart)
What Is Hammock Camping
For all of us that love camping, we all know that we need a place to lie our heads at the end of a fun day outdoors. For many, they love bringing along a backpacking hammock instead of something like a tent. Why? Well, it’s pretty darn awesome, and versatile, that’s why!
Pros To A Camping Hammock
- Easy to pack
- Hiking Hammocks: Great for on the go
- Can be more than just a bed- use a hammock as a hammock chair to kick back on, bring less gear and still have tons of comfort
- Sleeping in a hammock has a definite learning curve to it (but can be extremely comfortable once you get the hang of it!)
- Hammocks need trees to be set up. If you are in a location without good trees or above a tree line, then a tree hammock isn’t going to do a ton of good
3 Camping Hammocks To Look Into
Best Camping Hammocks
|Camping Hammock||Image||Pros||Weight||Price||Read Reviews and Check Price|
|Hennessy Asym Zip||Thru backpackers love it. Has mosquito net and rainfly built in.|
|Grand Trunk Ultralight||Lightweight. Great budget option||7.2 ounces||$|
|ENO Doublenest||Spacious. Lightweight||1.2 pounds||$|
What Is A Hammock Sleeping Pad?
At first glance, you might think that a hammock pad (also known as a hammock mat), is simply just for added comfort.
While comfort IS a ginormous plus, the reality is that a hammock sleeping pad is much more about keeping you WARM.
There are several different TYPES of sleeping pads (more on this below), each having their own set of pros and cons.
Do I REALLY Need a Sleeping Pad For a Hammock
Short answer? YES.
Long Answer? Well, here we go….
Even if you think it is warm where you are camping, the cold hard (no pun intended!) truth is that anything below 70 degrees at night and you are going to desperately wish you had a hammock insulation pad!
When sleeping in a gathered end hammock, you will have air circulating underneath your body, as you are floating in between the trees. As the night chill comes on, it’s shocking at how quickly this air underneath you can make you surprisingly cold. Having a hammock mattress pad is not only going to give you a bit of extra comfort but significantly keep you much warmer.
Camping Hammock Sleeping Pad Comparison Chart
|Sleeping Pad||Image||Great For||Cons||Stats||Find It Now|
|Best For: Lightweight |
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight
|Lightweight backpacking, extremely comfortable, Durability||Can be noisy||R value= 3.2|
Weight= 16 oz
Size (inflated)= 77x25x2.5
|Best For: |
Klymit Static V
|Easy to inflate, Tall and/or Heavy Individuals, Side Sleepers, Has Lifetime Warranty,||Be wary of holes. Some people report deflating||R value= 4.4|
Weight= 18.6 oz
Size= 72 x 23 x 2.5 Inches
|Best For: |
|Gathered End Hammocks||Loud and not great for side sleepers. Heavier than lightweight pads||R value= 5.7|
Weight= 1.8 pounds
Size= 77x25x2.5 inches
|Best For: |
Built In Pump
|Has pump included, Very comfy. Long and wide. 4 Season||Pump can take awhile to inflate pad. Check for holes immediately after receiving.||R value= 4.9|
Weight= 2.8 Pounds
Size= 77.5" L x 26" W x 2.8
|Best For: |
Venture Self Inflating Sleeping Pad
|Self inflating, Stays Inflated for Days. Good comfort||Takes awhile/ Hard to deflate, Not great for side sleepers||R value= 4|
Weight= 2.2 Pounds
Size= 72 x 22 x 1.5 inches
Foam Sleeping Pad
Therma Rest Z Lite
|Great budget option, surprisingly lightweight for foam, Keeps You Warm||Not very comfortable||R value= 4|
Weight= 14.4 oz
Size= 72 x 20 x 0.8 inches
Outdoors Men Ultralight
|Extremely Comfortable, Great Budget Option, Ultralight||Do a practice run at home upon arrival to ensure a non defective (leaky) pad.|
- May not be the best for 4 season camping (lower R Value)
|R value= 1.3|
Weight= 16 oz
|Big Agnes Q Core SLX||SUPER thick=Very comfortable, multiple sizes available||Can be noisy, Takes awhile to inflate (a lot of breaths!)||Size: Regular|
Temperature Rating: 15 Degrees
Weight= 1 pound
Size= 72x20x4.25 inches
|Sea To Summit||Loved by the hammock camping community, Durable, Lightweight.||Can feel narrow, can be noisy, complaints by a lot of side sleepers||Size: Regular|
R value= 3.3
Weight= 1 lb. 0.9 oz.
Size= 72 x 21.5 x 2 inches
Things to Consider For A Hammock Sleeping Pad
Ok, so you’ve finally realized that you DO need a sleeping pad (well, or you once ignored the previous advice and therefore had quite the cold wake up call on your last trip and so, alas, are back here again, looking for the best hammock pad!)
Here are some things to look for when deciding on which hammock pad is best for you.
Since you are looking for a pad to keep you warm, this should be a high priority. The last thing you need is a piece of gear that you had to pack and bring along, just for it to not have the desired outcome!
Our Top Pick for the Best Insulated Sleeping Pad: Thermarest Neoair XTherm
– 4 Season/ R Value: 5.7
Consider the size of a pad not only for packing purposes but for comfort as well.
Remember, if there is a body part not on the pad at night, there will be a cold spot.
If you are especially tall, get a longer mat.
Another important feature to look for is a wide mat (especially at the shoulders). A wide pad is going to be the best sleeping pad for side sleepers, as it gives you more space.
Another big complaint to sleeping pads is cold arms and shoulders. One option is to get a small foam rectangle and put it width wise under your main mat around the shoulders. This small little piece can make the world of a difference!
Our Top Pick For the Best Sleeping Pad For Side Sleepers: Neoair XLite
This is mostly for packing reasonings. If you are backpacking or doing any type of travel where weight restrictions are a consideration, you’ll clearly need a lightweight mat.
Our Top Picks For The Best Ultralight Sleeping Pad: Neoair XLite
Klymit Static V
Another complaint with a sleeping pad in a hammock is how much it shifts and moves around. Once you get it in that perfect spot (which should be worthy of receiving a gold medal in and of itself!), the last thing you want is to barely move in your hammock just to have the pad slide out of place!
There are several pads, like the Klymit Static V, that are known to be good at staying put. Or you can attempt a budget, DIY project to help keep your pad in place.
Jump down to the Sleeping Pad Tips section on some ideas on how to prevent slippage.
One factor to consider is the comfort level of your sleeping pad. Some people opt for more of a hammock mattress pad (an inflatable pad), which gives a good layer of comfort. This may depend most on your tolerance levels of comfort.
Considering that one of the main reasons why people love hammock camping is how it’s not as bulky and cumbersome as tents, then you’ll want to note how easy it is to pack into your gear.
- Does it roll or inflate?
- Is it thick and awkward?
You’ll want something that does its job without compromising the ease of easy packing. Consider a foldable sleeping pad like this one for extra areas like your feet and shoulders.
The whole point of a good sleeping pad while out camping is to get a better night’s sleep. So even if you’ve gotten your pad in the perfect position, it’s not slipping around and it was a cinch to pack, what’s the point if every time you move a limb, it’s noisy enough to wake your outdoor neighbors!?
You know the sound…an almost screechy, crinkly, sometimes whoopie cushion type of noise! So much for a peaceful slumber!
Types of Hammock Sleeping Pads
Most beginners like to opt for a foam sleeping pad for its simplicity, but especially for its cost.
If you are looking for the best budget sleeping pad, then foam is a great option, especially if you already have a camping sleeping pad.
Another great thing about a cheaper foam pad is that you can cut it up yourself to make a completely customizable pad to your size and frame as well.
Sleeping Pad Closed Cell Foam
Most people choose to get a pad made of closed cell foam. These are sturdy pads (albeit not the most comfortable in comparison to air) and can easily be attached to the outside of your pack.
The biggest complaint with closed cell foam is that you are likely to get quite a bit of condensation (from your body heat), which isn’t ideal when trying to stay warm. I’ve got tips on how to combat this a little down below in the Tips Section.
A lot of foam pad lovers will argue that Gossamer Gear is one of the best foam sleeping pad options. You can cut it yourself to create a mummy type shape that is customizable to you and it’s decently breathable.
Our Top Pick For Closed Cell Foam: Therm A Rest Z Lite Sole Ultralight
Memory Foam Pads
While super comfy, a memory foam pad for camping may not be your best choice. Since it can freeze (and harden!) using this type of pad in cold weather would just be a disaster and not to mention the weight of memory foam pads. So, while they might sound plush and cozy, save them for your bed at home, not out camping.
Pros To Foam Sleeping Pads
- Won’t pop
- Quick to roll out/ set up
- Great for ground camping, if needed
- Can be awkward to pack due to size/ weight
2) Inflatable Sleeping Pad Air Mattress
There is a wide range of inflatable air sleeping pads, but they all have the same concept. They are essentially pads (or even thick, like a thin mattress) that are blown up with air.
Self Inflating Sleeping Pads
Some of the pads are self- inflating, meaning you don’t have to blow them up yourself. However, even the ones you do have to blow up aren’t typically all that difficult or hard since they are small enough to inflate within minutes with little excursion.
Pros To Inflatable Air Pads
- Very comfy
- Easy to pack
- Can puncture (ALWAYS bring along a repair kit and some sealant so that you aren’t finding yourself with a holey (aka useless) pad rendering your freezing at night!)
- Are often more expensive
- Can’t be attached to the outside of a backpack
Our Top Pick For Best Inflatable Sleeping Pad: Venture Self Inflating
Sleeping Pad Shape: Mummy Or Rectangle
For Gathered End hammocks, a lot of people prefer a mummy style pad. It’s less cumbersome when sleeping and slightly easier to get situated in the hammock itself. Since a gathered end hammock cradles you in, the mummy shaped pads help to accomplish this task, where a rectangular one might feel somewhat bulky inside.
However, if you’ve already got a great rectangular pad or are on a budget, that’s not to say that you can’t make a rectangular pad work. In fact, many people still prefer rectangular pads. They can be wider (aka less potential for cold spots) and many are really comfy.
The bottom line is that this is actually something that you might just need to play with yourself.
If you have a bridge hammock, you could, again, go either way, but I’d lean more towards a rectangular shaped mat simply because it will fit the shape and contour of the bridge hammock better, just like the mummy shape does for the gathered end.
Hammock Pad Alternative: A Hammock Underquilt
If you are really serious about hammock camping, then start looking into a hammock pad right now. This thick, down feathered quilt goes underneath your hammock and is going to keep you so toasty and comfy, you may never want to leave your hammock!
- No cold spots
- Don’t have to fidget and get a pad in juuust the right place
- Can layer up with a pad in addition to the quilt for extra warmth in especially cold locations
- Can be expensive
- Is another piece of gear to carry
- Can be hard to set up
FAQs About Hammock Sleeping Pads
Will The Pad I Get Depend On A Gathered End Hammock vs Bridge?
This forum does a phenomenal job of describing the differences between the two styled hammocks.
Chances are though unless you are specifically SEARCHING for a bridge hammock, you are probably looking at a gathered end. Think of a bridge as more of a “hammock bed.” It’s got rods and you can lie flat, but it’s also heavy and has more gear, which is why a lot of people prefer the gathered end.
Some people prefer a rectangle pad for the bridge hammock and a mummy style for the gathered end, but at the end of the day, it is often a personal preference.
Can’t I just use blankets for warmth?
If it is a warm summer night (above 70 degrees) then yes, you might be able to get away with just using a blanket, but I still wouldn’t recommend it. Blankets are not insulated and can quickly add a ton of bulk and weight to your pack.
Can I just use a sleeping bag instead of a pad?
Simply put, no. Sure, it’s thick and warm. However, a sleeping bag is made for ground sleeping. Therefore, when suspended in the air, as you lay on the sleeping bag, it is going to compress, removing all the insulation, resulting in air circulation below you. It’s shocking how quickly even warmer air moving and circulating can feel cold on your underside in a hammock!
You CAN use a sleeping bag as your top quilt, but even then they can be a bit finicky and it can be quite the challenge to get into the hammock with. A sleeping bag is still a viable option for the TOP QUILT (not insulated warmth like a pad will give you underneath!) if you are on a budget.
Can I side sleep on a pad
Sure. Like a lot of hammock sleeping, you might need to really practice and work at getting good at adjusting the pads just right, but many people find they can get into a fetal-like position even in gathered end hammocks.
Are There Cold Spots With Sleeping Pads?
Depending on your size and how much you move at night, you still might find a few cold spots even when using a hammock sleeping pad if any body part gets off the pad.
You can look for wider pads, extenders or even cut extra pads widthwise to put under areas that might get exposed (arms, feet, etc)
Should I get a Hammock Underquilt or a Hammock Pad
There are so many variables to this question, but here are a few of the top things to consider
1) Cost. This is typically the biggest determining factor in deciding if you should get an underquilt or a pad. If you are just starting out or on a budget, you can certainly still be comfortable and warm using a pad. However, if you have the money, are going to be doing a lot of hammock camping or will be in cold temperatures, I’d start looking into an underquilt.
2) Ease. Getting an underquilt juuuuust right can also be tricky. While getting a pad situated is arguably hard (if not harder), once you figure out your particular quilt and it’s own nuances, a lot of people consider these the easier option.
3) Type of Hammock. If you have a bridge hammock, then a pad is your better option, where an underquilt is great for the gathered ends
What is an R Value for Sleeping Pads?
Chances are, if you are looking around for sleeping pads, you’ve seen R-Value ratings. This is the ability of the pad to retain body heat (vs actual outdoor temperature ranges).
Low numbers (1s-2s) are fine for summer sleeping but if you plan on doing winter camping, you’ll want an R-value of at least 4.
Hammock Camping Accessories
A pump sack is one of those extra pieces of gear worth having if it’s a multi-functional one. After all, how many items can be used for a:
- Dry bag
- Stuff sack
Again, an extender is a must if using a pad to sleep in a hammock.
You should always have a repair kit on hand, especially if you get an inflatable pad. Little mini patches are great to have on hand, but for longer trips, a roll isn’t a bad idea, either.
Click Here To Buy Your Patches and Repair Kits
Now that you’ve FINALLY gotten situated and cozy, make sure you have all your supplies nearby so that you don’t have to go through that whole rigamarole again!
I like inflatable pillows for the hammock because it’s just simple and lightweight to pack, but there are all kinds of pillows for camping, from self-inflatable to compression.
LED Camp Lighting
These battery powered LED camp lights are great to help you know where your hammock is at in the dark or just to give a bit of extra ambiance in the night
Tips For Using Your Sleeping Pad In a Hammock (Gathered End)
If you have an inflatable sleeping pad, just barely underflate the pad before setting it inside. This gives the pad a bit more flexibility in the hammock.
When sleeping in a gathered end hammock, you’ll want to sleep at a DIAGONAL (NOT straight up and down!) so place your sleeping pad at the diagonal angle as well before getting in.
The first step to a successful positioning in a gathered end hammock is getting in!
- Face away from the hammock (back/but against the fabric)
- Hold onto the side of the hammock AND the edge of the pad at the same time
- Sit down on the side and then swing the legs in
Adjusting Your Pad
There are about a million techniques on how to adjust your pad, but a really simple one is when you are lying down, put your feet on the SIDES of the pad (on the hammock fabric), NOT the pad itself.
Go into an almost glute bridge type of position and grab the pad with your hands. Then simply slide the pad up or down to adjust.
Wide Sleeping Pads
Most people like getting wide sleeping pads for hammock camping. This cuts down on cold spots on your shoulders and arms significantly.
Deal With Cold Spots
Using a Segmented Pad Extender (SPE) is one of my favorite ways to help cut down on cold spots. While you can make an SPE yourself, for the time, effort, and cost of materials to make one, you might as well just purchase one ready to go. The ENO Hotspot is the go-to SPE.
Insulated Seat Pads, like the Therm a Rest Z Seat is a great way to easily add a bit more coverage in spots like your feet and shoulders. These are great to have on hand because they can double up as pads to sit on the ground as well.
Try It Out At Home
The last thing you need with your hammock is to be fidgeting and fiddling, frustration rising as the sun sets trying to get your hammock set up and settled. Do a test run with your sleeping pad at home to make sure you know all the quirks before using it on an actual trip.
A big complaint with sleeping pads is how they slip and slide all around in the hammock. Luckily, there are a few methods for all budgets to try out.
Double Layer Hammocks
A lot of people love their double layered hammocks. The pad slides into a pocket so they can get the positioning of the pad just right. Then, once you hop into the hammock, it’s not sliding around, ruining all that hard work!
A great hammock with a sleeve or a double layer to consider is the Warbonnet Traveler or one like this Skybliss
Segmented Pad Extender
SPEs are also another great way to cut down on slippage in addition to helping with cold spots. As you can see, they have multiple jobs, so are a great asset to have.
Use a Silicone Sealant
I don’t LOVE this idea because once used, it’s pretty permanent. But an easy DIY and budget option is to just use a silicone sealant. Start with a few beads on the corners to see if that helps, if not drizzle the sealant in lines on the back of your pad to help prevent slippage.
Another awesome and cheap DIY option to try out is the no-slip cupboard liners! Not only are they affordable but you can also cut to the shape you need AND it’s super lightweight. Since it’s non adhesive, it’s not going to ruin any materials, either! Get Gorilla Grip Liners Here
Do you love to Hammock Camp? What sleeping pad has been your favorite?