Hammocks are great for hanging out in the sun someplace, relaxing with a good book and a glass of something cool, but they can also be great for providing a little more comfort when you are tent camping, and really don’t relish the thought of sleeping on that hard ground, however padded and insulated your sleeping bag is.
A hammock sleeping pad can add to that comfort, but what are they, and how are they used? And which are the best sleeping pads for hammocks?
A sleeping pad for a hammock is just what it sounds like, a mattress-like insert that adds comfort and warmth to your hammock sleeping experience. And while there are lots out there to choose from, we’re going to be taking a closer look at these top five picks:
What Is a Hammock Pad, And How are They Used?
A hammock sleeping pad, as we mentioned, is a lightweight, mattress-like insert for your hammock.
It adds comfort without adding too much weight and bulk, and can help keep those drafts at bay, as even in the summertime, hammock sleeping can get a little chilly at night.
The Most Comfortable Sleeping Pads For Hammocks
The best hammock sleeping pads fit snugly in your hammock and can be rolled small enough for them to be easily added to your backpack when it’s time to move on.
You should also choose one that is relatively easy to clean and care for when it’s not in use.
We kept all of this (and more) in mind when choosing our top five sleeping pads for hammocks (along with things like price and longevity).
1. Klymit Insulated Static V
This is our overall top pick for a number of good reasons. It’s designed for four season use and its R Value – a measurement of how well a fabric can prevent the flow of air in and out – is 4.4, which is good enough to keep you warm even when the temperature hits freezing. It’s crafted using a puncture resistant polyester and features a ridged ‘v-cell’ bottom and side pads to help ensure it fits snugly into your hammock.
The Klymit Insulated Static V is also quite light and although it’s nice and puffy when inflated, it packs down to just 5×8 inches, which will take up very little space in your backpack. It can be wiped clean with a damp cloth, and seasoned camping hammock sleepers say it’s also very durable and long-lasting.
2. Klymit Static V2
Maybe you’re a summer camper who likes to travel light but also does prefer a little comfort when you head off the trail and off to sleep in your tent at night. If so, this is the hammock sleeping pad for you.
It features the same v cell construction as our top pick, but is much lighter (under a pound) and while it still keeps those cool breezes out, it’s also very breathable, which will prevent you from waking up a sweaty mess in the morning. It is worth noting that it only boasts an R value of 1.3, so is not a good option for fall and winter’s chillier temps.
3. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro
If you are concerned about getting enough support for your back when you sleep in a hammock, then the fact that this sleeping pad features 2 inches of supportive memory foam should put your mind at ease.
It also has an R-Value of 4.0, so is a good option for camping in colder climes. It’s self inflating, which is a great time saver, and has a ridged channel surface that provides extra comfort. On the downside, it is bulkier than some of the other choices we’ve made here, so may not be the best choice for backpackers.
4. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
As lightweight as this hammock sleeping pad is – it’s well under a pound when uninflated – and rolls up very small – it is also very warm, boasting an R-Value of 5.7 which will keep you warm in the coldest of conditions.
Speaking of staying warm, this pad is soft and very flexible and will cover any and all gaps that might let cold air from the floor shock your body as you sleep. In addition, it self-inflates very quickly and can be cleaned with just a damp cloth. It is a more expensive choice, but for an avid four-season tent camper the extra expense will be easy to justify as it offers ease of carrying, warmth and great durability.
5. OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight
This is a simple, very straightforward and easy to use budget hammock sleeping pad that is an excellent choice for occasional summer campers looking for something that gets the job done without breaking the bank.
The pad is crafted from TPU and rip stop nylon (the same stuff as many sleeping bags) and is nice and flexible, making it easy to fit into your hammock. It weighs less than a pound and rolls up to easily fit in your backpack when not in use.
Hammock Camping: Sleeping Pad vs Underquilt?
There is an alternative to a hammock sleeping pad: an underquilt (see image below). As its name suggests, it fits underneath your hammock instead of in it, but it too is designed to provide a barrier between your sleeping body and the cold ground.
There are pros and cons to both sleeping pads and underquilts for camping hammock use, and so it is usually a matter of camper preference which they use, rather than one having a significant positive difference over the other. Some people find sleeping pads too restrictive, so for them an underquilt may be a better choice.
For those looking for more support for their body, especially their back, a sleeping pad is often the better option.
Is Sleeping In a Hammock Bad For Your Back?
Sleeping in a hammock is, for some, very comfortable. For those prone to back pain, as a hammock won’t provide the support their bed at home does, sleeping in a hammock may make waking pain worse than usual.
A supportive sleeping pad – like the Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro from our best of list – may help. For those with more severe back problems, sleeping on the ground itself, or an air mattress, may be a better idea.
What’s the Best Way To Clean a Sleeping Pad?
When cleaning your hammock sleeping pad, it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, as there is no one material considered standard for use in them. In general however, most can be cleaned simply by wiping them off with a wet cloth soaked in a mild solution of dishwashing liquid and water, rinsing that off and then laying the pad flat to air dry.
You should avoid direct sunlight when drying a hammock sleeping pad, as the sun’s harsh UV rays can harm the materials it’s made of, especially if TPU is involved.
When storing your hammock sleeping pad, try to do so in a cool, dry place away and leave it loosely rolled in its sack or carrying case.
How To Insulate Your Hammock?
The best way to insulate your hammock when camping really is – and camping experts agree – making use of a good fitting sleeping pad. But there are some there things you can do to stay warmer while you sleep, including all the following.
1. Don’t Forget Top Insulation
Your hammock sleeping pad or underquilt will handle any drafts coming up from the ground, but you should not forget about top insulation! Sleeping in a traditional sleeping bag can be hard in a hammock, so many people prefer to use a quilt or specialist camping blanket to cover themselves instead.
Quilts are lightweight, hoodless alternatives to sleeping bags that come in a variety of temperature ratings. The majority of them feature a foot box and drape over your body easily, like a standard blanket. In addition, they allow you to sleep on your back or side, and are easier to get out of in the morning!
If you need a good winter top quilt for single hammocks, I recommend this quilt here.
2. Dress Appropriately
While you shouldn’t sleep in a bulky coat, dressing for bed when sleeping in a hammock when camping should include wearing warm layers of clothing and some people even opt for a hat to prevent all that heat loss from their head. Warm socks are a good idea too!
3. Insulate Your Tent Better
You’ll stay warmer in a well-insulated tent. After the initial set up, when you get to your chosen campsite check for gaps between the tarp and the seams and ensure that the front zipper closes all the way down.
What’s The Best Hammock For Winter Camping?
There are lots of hammock options available, and choosing the right one for you will involve things like matching weight capacity, size and ease of assembly to your needs.
If you already have a camping hammock that you’re happy with then use it for winter camping too and follow our steps above to stay cozy. For those who need a winter hammock suggestion, I’d recommend one of Hennessy’s Expedition hammocks or the budget-friendly ENO’s SingleNest hammocks.
Whichever you do choose, however, the use of one of the hammock pads listed here, as well as our keep warm tips, should help ensure your hammock sleeping experience while camping in colder weather is a pleasant one.