Best Lightweight Sleeping Mats – 2018 Review


Lightweight adventures don’t have to go hand in hand with uncomfortable sleeping arrangements. Nowadays, new materials and technologies mean hiking mats are more comfortable and compact than ever before.

With these new technologies comes an increased product range, which can make choosing a sleeping mat for your hiking and trekking adventures a somewhat daunting task.

So, to help, we’ve put together our top-selling hiking mats over the last 12 months. But, firstly we want to cover off on some common questions about lightweight sleeping mats.

Are hiking mats noisy to sleep on?

Air filled mats, such as the Thermarest Neo Air (not in this list) and the Sea to Summit air filled mats, create more noise than self-inflating mats. The good news is that this noise is usually due to the fabric being new, so it will decrease over time. This is usually a small trade-off for a lot more comfort.

Lying down on Thermarest Mat

When brand spanking new, some mats may make a tiny bit of noise. Image: Thermarest

What is a bonded sleeping mat?

This question refers to the self-inflating mats, where the outer fabric layer is glued (bonded) to the inner foam. This creates a sturdier sleeping surface and allows the mat to be inflated tightly.

How do I care for my sleeping mat?

Wherever possible always use something between your body and the mat, such as a sleeping bag or liner. This reduces the amount of oil and sweat that soak into the mat. Should your mat need cleaning, use a mild soap with warm water and a soft bristled brush to gently clean the surface.

Couple lying on camping mat with a sheet liner

Your mat will need some TLC to keep it performing at its best. Image: Thermarest

How do I store my sleeping mat?

Self-inflating mats (the ones that are full of dense foam) are best stored inflated. This ensures the foams’ memory is in an expanded state which shortens the time it takes at camp for the mat to inflate. Air-filled mats and air-filled insulated mats are much easier to care for. They are best stored loosely rolled, but if space is a premium, they can be rolled up and stored in their stuff sack once they’re clean and dry.

Storing a self-inflating mat

Store your hiking mat properly so that it stays in good condition for many more adventures. Image: Erin Wescombe

What size sleeping mat should I get?

If you’re in the ultra-lightweight category, then you’ll probably want to consider the shorter version of any mat. This reduces weight, but you may need to use something else to insulate your feet if the ground is cold. If weight is not a big concern and you just want comfort, or you are a cold sleeper, then choose a mat that is roughly the same length as you are in height.

Width should also be considered, especially for users with larger frames. Women’s sized sleeping mats are usually shorter than the men’s equivalent and often have increased insulation around the feet and hips.

Couple laying on different sized Sea to Summit hiking mats

Unless weight is an issue, go for the size that matches your height. Image: Sea to Summit

What is R-value?

R-value is an indication of how well the mat resists the transfer of heat from one side to another. This applies to the heat or cold from under the mat, as well as the heat your body may lose into the mat.

The higher the value, the less likely it is you will feel cold from the ground and the more body heat you will retain.

Woman sleeping on Thermarest mat in tent

In cold conditions, a higher R-value will help prevent you from feeling the cold. Image: Thermarest

Mat Types

Closed-Cell Foam

These are made of a dense foam with thousands of airtight bubbles inside. They do not compress down, don’t offer much comfort, but they insulate really well and are indestructible, lightweight and very affordable.

Air-Filled Mats

These consist of chambers or cells that require inflation before use. These mats usually offer a lot of comfort for their relative weight and packed size. They are not self-inflating and should they get a puncture, will not offer any comfort at all. Insulated versions have chambers filled with synthetic or down to help trap warm air.

Woman lying on air filled Sea to Summit Mat

Air-filled mats are usually the choice for lightweight trekkers and adventurers. Image: Sea to Summit

Self-Inflating Mats

These are slabs of open cell foam, often with holes or cores cut out, with a durable-surface-fabric bonded to the foam. This fabric is also sealed on the edges to create an airtight mat. The expanding foam is what creates the ‘self-inflating’ feature, but this also means they require a little more muscle to compress the foam to pack away. The other benefit of these mats is that if a puncture does occur, they still offer some padding and insulation.

Man laying on a Sea to Summit self-inflating mat

Filled with expanding foam, a self-inflating mat is a very comfy choice, though not as light. Image: Exped

That’s enough of all the details, let’s have a look at Snowys best-selling sleeping mats for hiking over the last 12 months. We’d like to note here that we choose the products we range based on value for money, feedback from our customers, as well as the quality and support from the manufacturer.

With that being said, let’s get into our top-selling lightweight mats. Starting at number 10…

10. Oztrail Giga Mat


You could be excused for thinking that this list would comprise of expensive and technical mats, but the fact is that a closed cell foam mat is, and always has been, a reliably simple pad for adventures worldwide. These are used by alpinists as a second layer under their sleeping mat purely due to their insulation properties.

  • Type: Closed-cell foam
  • Thickness: 2 cm
  • Weight: 550g
  • R-value: Nothing listed, estimate 2-3
  • The good: Excellent insulation, lightweight, affordable, indestructible
  • The not-so-good: Not overly comfortable, bulky when rolled

9. Thermarest Prolite Self-Inflating Mats


The Thermarest name is somewhat synonymous with sleeping mats. The Prolite range has been around for some time and has been continually refined over the years. There are two thicknesses available, each in multiple sizes, including women’s. If you want a mat that has been tried and tested to the extreme, the Prolite mats are a good choice.

  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Thickness: 2.5 – 3.8 cm
  • Weight: 320 – 740 g
  • R-value: 2.2 – 3.4
  • The good: ‘Plus’ model offers decent comfort, good warmth to weight ratio
  • The not-so-good: Can be punctured, valve sticks out, a bit pricey

8. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI Mats


These mats would be suited for alpine adventurers who need the extra insulation and are not willing to forego any comfort. Lightweight trekkers, however, will find them to be on the heavy side. 8cm of foam and a soft touch upper all but guarantee a good sleep, plus a flat profile multi-function valve makes inflation and deflation a breeze.

  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Thickness: 8 cm
  • Weight: 895 – 1195 g
  • R-value: 4.1
  • The good: Super comfortable, multi-function valve is unobtrusive, has a soft-touch upper
  • The not-so-good: A little heavy for the lightweight hiker

7. Exped Sim Self Inflating Mats


We only stock a couple of the Exped Sim mats. The Sim Lite 3.8M is great for all-around hiking and trekking. It features durable materials and has separate inflation and deflation valves that tuck out of the way when packed.The simplified Exped Sim 3.8 weighs a little more and only has one valve for inflation and deflation but does offer better insulation and is more affordable. Exped is a Swiss company and the quality of these mats are second to none.

  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Thickness: 3.8 cm
  • Weight: 740 – 870 g
  • R-value: 3.2 – 4
  • The good: Excellent affordable quality, flat valves
  • The not-so-good: A little heavier than the Thermarest

6. Exped Synmat Insulated Mats


Given most of our customers who look at these mats are seeking comfort as a priority, we only carry the long and wide versions (LW). Depending on the model you get, these mats offer either 7cm or 9cm thick air-filled tubes that are filled with synthetic insulation.As the tubes fill with air, the synthetic inside expands and helps trap warm air. As an added bonus, these mats have an integrated pump, which when combined with the one-way deflation valve, makes setup and pack-away really easy.

  • Type: Air filled with synthetic insulation & integrated pump
  • Thickness: 7 – 9 cm
  • Weight: 1080 – 1150 g
  • R-value: 4.9 – 6
  • The good: Thick and warm, integrated pump, rolls up easily
  • The not-so-good: Heavy, can take a few minutes to inflate

5. Exped Downmat Insulated Mats


The Downmats from Exped have been continually refined over many years to offer a warm place to rest on any winter adventure. These aren’t the lightest options around but if you like spending your nights in a snow cave, the Downmat will offer the comfort and insulation you need.We only carry the long and wide (LW) versions of these mats as weight is often a secondary concern for adventurers looking for a warm mat.

  • Type: Air filled with down insulation & integrated pump
  • Thickness: 7 – 9 cm
  • Weight: 1110 – 1240 g
  • R-value: 5.9 – 8
  • The good: Really warm, integrated pump, packs away easily, flat valves
  • The not-so-good: Heavy, can take a few minutes to inflate

4. Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Mats


In a nutshell, these are a super technical and lightweight airbed. Their sub 500g weight, combined with 5cm of thickness, make them sought after by lightweight hikers everywhere. However, they are best suited to warm climates as there is no insulation inside.They are made up of a network of air-filled cells that conform to your body, while the integrated flat multi-function valve makes inflation and deflation easy, particularly when paired with an additional Sea to Summit pump.

  • Type: Air-filled
  • Thickness: 5 cm
  • Weight: 296 – 495 g
  • R-value: 0.7
  • The good: Super lightweight, affordable, compact packed size, flat multi-function valve
  • The not-so-good: No insulation, can be noisy when new

3. Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Sleeping Mats


These mats are a similar weight to some of the self-inflating mats in this list yet, at 6.3cm, offer almost twice the thickness. They comprise of two layers of air-filled cells that require inflation independently, so if a puncture should occur, the second layer will keep your mat from deflating.The cells in these layers are offset and filled with synthetic insulation. They are available in both regular and rectangular shapes, each in multiple sizes to suit everyone.

  • Type: Air-filled with synthetic Insulation
  • Thickness: 6.3 cm
  • Weight: 715 – 1170 g
  • R-value: 5
  • The good: Insulated dual layer construction provides excellent all-season comfort, flat multi-function valve
  • The not-so-good: Can be a little noisy when new

2. Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Sleeping Mats


The Comfort Light Insulated mats really do bring car camping comfort into the lightweight sleeping mat category. These are insulated mats suitable for all year comfort. They are constructed with dual layer air cells throughout the torso to provide increased insulation, while single layer air cell construction at the foot and head, saves on weight. These are a more comfortable alternative to self-inflating mats in the same weight range.

  • Type: Air filled with synthetic insulation
  • Thickness: 6.3 cm
  • Weight: 570 – 755 g
  • R-value: 4.2
  • The good: Great warmth to weight ratio, dual layer cells for torso insulation, thick and comfortable, flat multi-function valve
  • The not-so-good: Can be a little noisy when new

1. Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Mats


The Ultralight Insulated Mat from Sea to Summit is the ultimate companion to your lightweight shelter. With 5cm of comfort, insulation for just about any climate and weighing in at less than 600g for the large model, it’s no wonder it is our best-selling hiking mat.Available in four sizes, this mat is made with single-layer synthetic-filled air cells that conform to your body as you sleep. This mat is guaranteed to give you a good night of rest, so you’re ready for another day of adventure.

  • Type: Air filled with synthetic insulation
  • Thickness: 5 cm
  • Weight: 349 – 595 g
  • R-value: 3.3
  • The good: Provides excellent comfort with minuscule weight and pack size, flat multi-function valve
  • The not-so-good: Can be a little noisy when new

Honourable Mention: Sea to Summit Comfort Light SI Sleeping Mat


We wanted to add this mat to the list because we think it presents some of the best specifications we’ve seen in a self-inflating mat. Plus, it’s a good alternative to those concerned about the noise of the air-filled mats.The technology used to core the foam has created a mat that is thick, supportive and comfortable but is still comparable in weight to thinner mats in our range.

  • Type: Self-inflating
  • Thickness: 5 cm
  • Weight: 595 – 880 g
  • R-value: 2.7
  • The good: Thick and light, multi-function valve
  • The not-so-good: Low R-value for a thick mat

That’s it! Our recommendations for lightweight camp mats, based on customer feedback, to keep you sleeping soundly on your 2018 adventures.


Have you used any of these lightweight mats?


About the writer...

Ben Collaton

Trekker, surfer, climber, mountain biker, runner, camper. Participator in most things… master of none.

Joined back in March, 2013

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