What Size Sleeping Pad Do I Need? Sleeping Pad Length and Width Explained

What size sleeping pad do I need?

Choosing the right size sleeping pad can mean the difference between restful sleep and tossing and turning all night. Unfortunately some pads won’t be big enough for averaged sized guys. Your arms will be hanging off the sides and your legs will be dangling off the end. Sleeping pads come in a wide variety of sizes and you should be able to find a sleeping pad that’s the right size for you.

What size sleeping pad do I need? Regular sized sleeping pads are 6ft long by 20 inches wide. That’s big enough for small people, but I recommend looking for wider 25-30 inch pads and longer pads if you’re a bigger person. Sleeping pads should be 2-3 inches wider than your shoulders and 6″ longer if you’re an active sleeper.

Sleeping Pads Sizes

There are two elements to consider when sizing up a sleeping pad: length and width. A sleeping pads width is far more important than length. You’ll be constantly rolling off a narrow pad, but there’s only a 2-3 inch drop if your legs hang off the end. That’s not a huge deal for most people.

Look for a sleeping pad that’s a few inches wider than your shoulders. Regular sized sleeping pads are 20″x72″ so they’re too small for bigger guys. Some people try to save pack weight by using a narrow pad, but that won’t be comfortable. Your arms will be hanging off the sides and it will be hard to stay on the pad.

Choosing a sleeping pads length isn’t entirely dependent on your length. That’s important, but it also depends on how you sleep. Most people sleep with their feet extended so they’ll need a pad that’s about 6″ longer than their height.

You may also want to go with a shorter sleeping pad to save pack weight. Some people use torso length (aka 3/4 length) pads to reduce pack weight. They’re still somewhat comfortable since their backs supported, but there’s no pad under your legs. That’s fine in the summer, but you’ll need a full length pad with insulation in colder weather.

Regular Sized Sleeping Pads are 20″x72″

Most regular sized sleeping pads are 20″ wide by 72″ long. That’s big enough for the average person, but you will probably be uncomfortable. I’m not the biggest guy in the world at 5’10” 200lbs and my arms hang 4″ off each side and my legs dangle off the end.

Regular sized pads are great for reducing pack weight, but your arms/shoulders will hang off the sides of the pad. You’ll constantly roll off your sleeping pad and end up freezing cold without insulation from the ground. You can fight this problem by reducing the amount of air in your pad, but you’re fighting a losing battle.

Length is less of an issue, but you may still end up with your legs dangling off the end of the pad. A 6ft long pad is designed for 5’8″ height since most people stretch out their feet at night. Lots of people are comfortable on 3/4 length (aka torso length) pads so that may or may not be acceptable.

Using a wide/long sleeping pad is way more comfortable. The only time it would make sense to use a regular sized pad is if you’re worried about trail weight. I would rather carry an extra pound in my pack than deal with an uncomfortable sleeping pad.

Sleeping Pad Width

Look for a sleeping pad that’s 2-3 inches wider than your shoulder width. Your arms and shoulders shouldn’t be hanging off the sides of the pad. That might work if you’re a restful sleeper, but you’ll end up rolling off a narrow pad. Side sleepers can usually go with regular sized pads if you rarely roll onto your back/stomach at night.

Sleeping pads usually come in 20″, 25″, and 30″ widths. A 25″ or 30″ pad should be wide enough for the vast majority of people. My shoulders are 25″ wide so I need a 30″ sleeping pad to be comfortable. I have a 25″ pad for my ultralight setup, but I’m always using my wider pad, because it’s so much nicer.

What’s The Widest Sleeping Pad?

The widest sleeping pads max out at about 30″. I’ve seen 35″ pads in the past, but I don’t think there are any 35″ pads currently available. You would have to be a massive guy to need a pad that’s bigger than 30″ so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Go with a 30″ wide pad if you’re not worried about trail weight. My 6’7″ 300lb college roommate uses an X-Large 30″x77″ Thermarest Basecamp pad (pictured above). His legs dangle off the end, but it’s more than wide enough for him. I’ve borrowed it a few times and it’s perfect for my above average frame. I can get by with a 25″ wide pad, but 30″ is perfect.

You can also go with a 2 person sleeping pad if you want a lot of space. I use a 78″x52″ Exped Megamat Duo when I’m camping with my wife, but it’s ridiculously expensive. I’ll bring it when I’m camping at a campground, but carrying a 10lb sleeping pad in my pack would be ridiculous.

Sleeping Pad Length

As a general rule, I recommend purchasing a sleeping pad that’s at least 4-6″ longer than your height. So a 6ft tall guy should use an extra long sleeping pad that’s about 78″ long. It doesn’t have to be exactly 4-6″ bigger as long as you have a few extra inches.

That gives you room for a pillow and a few inches to extend your feet. Plus you rarely stay in the same spot while you sleep so there’s a little bit of wiggle room. That’s impossible for taller guys, but you can still be comfortable with your feet hanging a few inches off the end.

Reducing sleeping pad length equals less weight in your pack. If you can get by with a shorter sleeping pad you can cut a few oz out of your trail weight. That’s really only worth it if you’re using an ultralight/lightweight setup, but worth mentioning.

Torso Length and Women’s Sleeping Pads Are Lighter

Torso length sleeping pads can be used to significantly reduce sleeping pad weight. These pads are only 36-50″ish long and they’re designed to only support your back. Torso length pads are about 3/4 of the total weight/length of regular sized sleeping pads.

Women’s sleeping pads will be about 6″ shorter than a standard length pad reducing overall weight. If you’re a 5’2″ woman you don’t need a 6′ long sleeping pad. A 66″ long pad will be more than long enough for shorter women. You may still want to go with a regular length pad to stretch out, but it’s nice to be able to shave a few oz of unnecessary pack weight.