- FYI, REI is currently on sale.
If you have a bad back the most important gear for you is the sleeping pad. We have gathered the best sleeping pads for bad backs so you can have a great camping experience without thinking about your back.
Camping is a lot of fun, but without the right equipment, it can also be a disaster, especially if you have a bad back. You should be more careful than others when it comes to choosing the right gear.
- #A sidenote here: I'd highly recommend you to check out REI's sleeping pad temperature rating chart before you read any further.
Before going into the best sleeping pads for bad backs you can also check out our article about best ultralight sleeping bags. Choosing the lightest gear is also extremely important if you don’t want to end up having a sore back.
If you are in a hurry, here are the Quick Top 5 Best Sleeping Pads for bad backs:
Quick Top 5 Best Sleeping Pads for Bad Backs
- Exped Megamat – Best Car Camping Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
- Paria Recharge XL – Best Backpacking Air Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
- OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight – Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Pad for Back Backs
- Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap – Best Four Season Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
- Klymit Static V2 – The Most Convenient Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
What to look for when buying a sleeping pad if you have a bad back
Lightness is extremely important when choosing a sleeping pad, especially if you are backpacking.
The weight of sleeping pads generally varies from 15 oz to 100 oz. If you are looking for a sleeping pad for car camping then weight should not be your first priority. But If you are looking one for backpacking then we recommend you to go for a sleeping pad under 50 oz.
Note: Air Sleeping Pads weigh much lesser than other types of sleeping pads, therefore if you are thinking about backpacking, we strongly recommend you to go for an air sleeping pad.
Comfort is the first priority when you have a bad back, therefore every recommended sleeping pad in this article is chosen especially by taking comfort into consideration.
Construction of a sleeping pad directly affects comfort. There are three types of sleeping pads for construction;
- Air Sleeping Pads: These types of sleeping pads are extremely comfortable and much lighter than foam pads and they have the smallest packed size. They are the best type of sleeping pad for backpacking when having a bad back.
- Open-Cell Foam Pads: They are also called self-inflating sleeping pads. Due to their innovative design, they inflate when you open them. Open-Cell Foam Pads are they are incredibly comfortable, but they are heavier and bulkier, so think of buying them if you are planning to car camp.
- Closed-Cell Foam Pads: They are the most basic sleeping pads. Although they are budget-friendly, they are uncomfortable and bulky. So they are not the best option for someone who has a bad back.
Insulation might not be the first thing that pops into your mind when you are looking for the best sleeping pad for a bad back. But believe you me, when you are freezing at night hoping to sleep just a little bit, you won’t be thinking about your back. Therefore we should consider insulation before jumping into buying the most comfortable sleeping pad.
If you are planning to go camping below 50°F you should take insulation into consideration. To understand the sleeping pad’s heat resistance there is a term called R-Value. The greater the R-Value the more heat resistance you will get.
Best Sleeping Pads for Bad Backs
Ø 9.8" x 31.1"
77.6" x 30.3" x 3.9"
Ø 5" x 8"
76" x 23" x 4"
Ø 3" x 8"
73" x 21.6" x 2.2"
Ø 6.2" x 21"
72" x 20" x 3"
Ø 3" x 8"
72" x 23" x 2.5"
Best For: Best Car Camping Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
If you are into cold weather camping and have a bad back, this sleeping pad is perfect for you. Although Exped Megamat is a self-inflating sleeping pad, it comes with a small pump to inflate the sleeping pad at its maximum level. This pad has a thickness of 3.9″ which is extremely high for a sleeping pad.
Don’t forget that you will feel the lesser ground as the thickness increases, therefore the thickness of a sleeping pad is one of the most important features for bad backs.
There is no doubt for its comfort so let’s get into the other specs. Exped Megamat has an R-Value of 9.5 therefore it is one of the best sleeping pads for sub-zero camping.
Important Note: For sleeping bags, it is not the greatest idea to go for the warmest one, you need to pick a sleeping bag by thinking about the seasonality. For instance, if you go with a cold-weather sleeping bag, sleeping at a slightly hotter night can be a big pain. But that is not the case for the sleeping pads, they don’t provide warmth, they only reduce the heat loss through the floor. Therefore a high R-Valued sleeping pad can be used in both winter and summer.
Although Exped Megamat is one of the best sleeping pads for bad backs it is not suitable for backpacking, it weighs 91.1 oz and its stuffed size is Ø 9.8″ x 31.1″. If you are going to car camp, we can confidently say Exped Megamat is one of the best sleeping pads for bad backs.
Heavy and Bulky
Paria Recharge XL
Best For: Best Backpacking Air Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
As we mentioned above, If the lightness is your first priority you should go with an air sleeping pad. Air sleeping pads are not the first thing that pops into mind for warmth but that is not the case with the Paria Recharge Sleeping Pad. It has 4.7 R-value, so it is not only extremely light but highly cold-proof as well.
Paria Recharge XL has a valve to prevent air from coming back out. It is an important feature especially if you don’t have a pump (we do not recommend carrying a pump if you are backpacking, most of the sleeping pads can be inflated in 2 minutes top, therefore, there is no point carrying a pump especially if you have a bad back).
Paria Recharge XL has a thickness of 4″ which is more than enough for being completely off the ground (not feeling the ground when you lie down to the sleeping pad is one of the most important things to look for when buying a sleeping pad for a bad back). It weighs only 26 oz and can be packed down to 5″ x 8″. If you are looking for a backpacking air pad for your bad back, we strongly recommend Paria Recharge XL Sleeping Pad.
High R-Value for an Air Sleeping Pad
Relatively Heavy for an Air Pad
Best For: Best Budget Backpacking Sleeping Pad for Back Backs
OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight is a budget-friendly backpacking sleeping pad. It has an innovative air cell design that provides great comfort for sleeping.
OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight is extremely comfortable, weighs only 15 oz and can be compressed down to Ø 3″ x 8″. Therefore, it is one of the best sleeping pads for those who are on a budget and have a bad back.
It has an Automatic Shutoff system in the blowing spot, so when you stop blowing up, air doesn’t come back out. This system decreases the time and effort of inflating the pad. It might seem like a small feature but, believe you me, it will save you from a great burden.
The material of the sleeping pad is 20 denier nylon fabric which is an extremely durable material for its price. The thickness of the sleeping pad is 2.2″ which is more than enough for a steady sleeper. But if you move a lot when you sleep you might feel the ground and it is not good for your back.
The R-Value of this sleeping pad is 1.3, which is enough for camping at 35-40 °F. But if you are planning an outdoor activity below 35 °F we would recommend you to chip in a little bit more and get Paria Recharge XL. When you are freezing on a cold night, you won’t be thinking about the 20$ you saved, you will be wishing the night to be over (been there done that). So don’t mind spending a little bit more on the sleeping pad and the sleeping bag if you are planning a cold-weather camping trip.
Overall, if you are on a budget and thinking about camping over 35 F, OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight is one of the best sleeping pads for bad backs.
Extremely Small when Packed
Best For: Best Four Season Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap brought an innovative design into the market. In this design which is called pressure mapping, foam density is not equal in every area of the sleeping pad. Higher and lower dens foams are specifically distributed in the sleeping pad to provide perfect comfort. And it has a thickness of 3″ which is great for a bad back.
It is a self-inflating pad with an R-Value of 6.3. Therefore it can be used both at cold-weather and summer camping. Although it is slightly heavy and bulky for backpacking, Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap is great for four-season car camping.
Innovative Design Provides Great Comfort
Heavy and Bulky
Klymit Static V2
Best For: The Most Convenient Sleeping Pad for Bad Backs
For those who want to carry the smallest yet the handiest gear, Klymit Static V2 is the perfection. Its stuffed size is only Ø 3″ x 8″, also it only weighs 16.6 oz.
Klymit Static V2 has a patented V-celled design which is great for your back and also eases the inflation process. A person with a healthy lung can inflate the pad between 10-15 breaths.
Its V-shaped design also prevents sliding from the pad. If you’ve ever camped with a cheap air pad you can completely understand what we are talking about. It might not seem like an important feature but it really is.
Material is extremely important for air pads. Because air pads are not like self-inflated sleeping pads, when they are damaged they are useless. Klymit Static V2’s bottom layer material is 75D Polyester. If you are not familiar with the density of fabrics 75D counts as extremely durable.
Although this sleeping pad provides great features, it is not the best in cold conditions, its R-Value is 1.3. But if you are not planning cold-weather camping, we can confidently say that Klymit Static V2 is the most convenient sleeping pad for bad backs.
Innovative Design to Increase the Comfort
Extremely Small when Packed