Updated: Nov 27, 2019
Yep. Insulated Pads have ratings. Two types of ratings, to be exact. They have a R-Value rating, and of course, a popularity rating.
I'm partial to inflatable pads. The non-inflatable type also have R-Value ratings.
And best of luck finding a reasonably priced sleeping pad which provides good insulation, and packs down small. A Google search will return several websites, each providing reviews on about a dozen different inflatable pads.
A well insulated pad is very important if you wish to enjoy your camping experience. Especially during the cooler months, but even in the summer when camping at high altitudes. You can have the best sleeping bag in the world, but if you are not insulated from the ground, then you will likely get cold overnight. A cold ground will suck the heat right out of your body.
The one I’ve finally settled on, for now, is the Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad. How’s that for a mouthful?
The R-Value for my inflatable pad is 4.4, which is pretty good. Coupled with a zero degree rated sleeping bag, I can probably remain comfortable down to 25 deg F (see my article on sleeping bags).
There are a few things I consider when purchasing a sleeping pad.
Packed Weight & Size
Ease of Inflation
Noise when Shifting at Night
The one I purchased was just right for me. I prefer a R-Value in excess of 4, and I want it to pack down small. At the time I purchased my Klymit it was a steal at $65 on Amazon. I believe the price has increased. Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad
I’m not sure why some inflatable pads are so noisy when the occupant rolls over during the night. The Big Agnes inflatable pad is one of the more popular brands for trail hikers. However, it has a well deserved reputation for being noisy.
Even when camping in separate tents you are going to hear your friends unzipping sleeping bags and unzipping tents. When one of your hiking partners has a noisy inflatable pad, and they are restless, you will know it.
Just like when I talk about sleeping bags, it is very difficult to recommend an inflatable pad. These purchase decisions often come down to personal preference coupled with your financial budget. If you are fortunate enough to borrow one, that could help tremendously when you finally decide to make a purchase.
Best of luck and happy hiking!