Backcountry 2023 Memorial Day Sale: Best of Sleeping Pads

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TOP DEAL: NEMO Tensor Insulated

The NEMO Tensor Insulated is a fan-favorite amongst side-sleepers and offers a lightweight yet comfortable and warm sleeping solution for backpacking in most temperatures. It combines Primaloft insulation and a heat-reflective film to retain heat, while its innovative spaceframe baffle construction provides cushioning and support. Despite its premium materials and comfort, the Tensor packs down to just 17 ounces (depending on size), and is built to handle years of use in challenging conditions, making it the ultimate sleeping pad for campers and backpackers looking for a great night of sleep.

R Value: 4.2
Thickness: 3 inches
Weight: 17 oz
Best For: side sleepers / prioritizing comfort over ultralight

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite XNT (Regular Short Only)

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is an ultralight and compact sleeping pad that provides excellent insulation for its weight. Using advanced materials, the NeoAir XLite inflates to 2.5 inches thick yet packs down to the size of a water bottle. It’s very comfortable yet durable enough for extended backpacking trips. For gram-counting backpackers and side-sleepers looking for maximum comfort, the NeoAir XLite is a top choice.

R Value: 4.5
Thickness: 2.5-3 inches
Weight: 11.5 oz
Best For: ultralight-ers looking for a premium piece, rarely on sale

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Uberlight

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite is an ultralight sleeping pad that delivers maximum comfort for minimal packed size. Weighing in at just eight ounces, the NeoAir UberLite is one of the lightest sleeping pads we’ve tested. Despite its diminutive size, the pad’s tapered air channels and advanced fabrics provide decent support and insulation for side sleepers and backpackers looking to shed ounces from their pack. While not the most durable or budget-friendly option, the NeoAir UberLite is a compelling choice for ultralight enthusiasts and thru-hikers chasing lighter loads.

R Value: 2.3
Thickness: 2.5 inches
Weight: 8.8 oz
Best For: ultralight-ers looking to maximize weight savings

Sea To Summit Comfort Plus XT Insulated

The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated sleeping pad offers a compressible yet cushy sleeping surface ideal for any camping adventure. With separate inflation chambers, this rugged and durable pad ensures maximum comfort and insulation. The Comfort Plus Insulated is a versatile 4-season sleeping pad available in multiple sizes that provides an excellent balance of comfort and packability.

R Value: 4.7
Thickness: 3 inches
Weight: 41.8 oz
Best For: backpackers and campers looking for comport above all

Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated

The Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated provides comfort and warmth for all types of backpackers. With vertical baffles and a textured surface, this lightweight pad cushions and insulates as well as any pad on the market. Made of durable nylon ripstop, the Rapide SL Insulated inflates quickly and deflates just as fast for packing up camp. At less than 2 pounds and over 4 inches thick, this sleeping pad is ideal for minimalist adventures where every ounce matters without sacrificing comfort.

R Value: 4.2
Thickness: 4.25 inches
Weight: 19 oz
Best For: balance of comport and weight

NEMO Switchback

The Nemo Switchback  is an innovative sleeping pad that provides a comfortable night’s sleep at a budget-friendly price. Its  channeled design allows for lateral baffles that mirror the shape of  your body, cradling you as you sleep under the stars. Made of durable yet lightweight materials, the Switchback packs down impressively small but still delivers cushioning and insulation. For backpackers and side sleepers on a budget, the Switchback could be the pad you’ve been waiting for. 

R Value: 2.0
Thickness: 0.9 inches
Weight: 14.5 oz
Best For: ultralight-ers prioritizing weight over comfort

Set Your Feet Free: Unleash the Benefits of Zero Drop Shoes

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As an avid outdoorsman, I’m always seeking improvements to my hiking and backpacking adventure equipment. One piece of equipment in particular has plagued me for years – my hiking boots. Following years of excruciating pain, I finally became fed up with traditional hiking boots and set off to discover a better solution. After extensive research, I came across the incredible benefits of zero drop, barefoot style shoes, and it revolutionized my outdoor experience forever.

Discovering Liberation through Minimalist Footwear

After what should have been one of the most incredible experiences of my life backpacking to Mount Whitney, I found myself 1 day, 15 miles in and trebling with pain from numerous blisters. Fortunately (or unfortunately) I wasn’t alone, and my companion similarly experienced pain throughout what should have been a purely bliss-filled trip. In short, we were both on a mission to find better shoes following our trip.

Now picture this: I stood at the trailhead of our next adventure, lacing up my zero drop, barefoot style shoes for the first time. As I took my initial steps, an extraordinary sense of liberation enveloped me. Unlike the confinements of traditional hiking boots, these shoes allowed my feet to move freely, creating a connection to the natural world beneath me. With each stride, I felt the ground beneath my soles, heightening my awareness of the terrain and instilling a newfound sense of balance.

Some of Our Favorites

Lems Primal Series

Best For: Every day use, light hiking, short run (wide toe box, zero drop, barefoot style)
Available for $110 on Lems’ Website

Altra Lone Peak Series

Best For: Backpacking, hiking, trail running (wide toe box, zero drop, more structure/cushion)
Available for $112.50 on Campmor


Best For: Backpacking, hiking (wide toe box, zero drop, barefoot style)
Available for $168 on Amazon

Strengthening My Feet and Body

One of the most remarkable benefits I experienced was an improvement in foot strength and flexibility. By wearing zero drop shoes, my feet were no longer confined to the rigid structures of traditional footwear. Instead, they were encouraged to move naturally, engaging the muscles and tendons in a way I had never experienced before. Over time, this led to enhanced foot strength, stability, and a greater range of motion. The transformation was profound, enabling me to tackle challenging terrains with greater ease.

Unparalleled Comfort and Reduced Joint Strain

Traditional hiking boots often come with cushioned soles that offer temporary comfort but can lead to long-term joint strain. In contrast, zero drop, barefoot style shoes provide a unique level of comfort through their minimalist design. While the soles may appear thin, they allow for a more natural distribution of impact forces across the foot, reducing stress on joints such as knees and hips. As a result, I found myself trekking for longer distances without the discomfort I used to associate with hiking.

Embracing My Natural Movement

Walking in zero drop shoes felt like a revelation. With their flat soles and unrestricted design, these shoes allowed me to adopt a more natural walking style. Gone were the days of over-striding and forcing an unnatural gait. Instead, I walked with a renewed sense of freedom, letting my feet move instinctively and embracing the biomechanics nature intended. The result? Improved efficiency, reduced strain, and a profound connection to the rhythm of the trail.

Unforgettable Adventures Await

Embracing zero drop, barefoot style shoes has truly transformed my hiking and backpacking adventures. From traversing rocky terrains to trekking through lush forests, these shoes have become my trusted companions. They have not only elevated my physical performance but also deepened my connection with nature. I feel more attuned to the environment, more aware of my body’s capabilities, and more in tune with the very essence of the wilderness.

Important Considerations for a Smooth Transition

While the benefits of zero drop, barefoot style shoes are undeniable, approaching the transition thoughtfully and considering potential downsides is crucial.

  1. Gradually build up your use of minimalist shoes to allow your body to adapt to the new movement patterns. Start with short periods and low intensity, increasing progressively.
  2. Prioritize foot conditioning exercises to strengthen your feet. These may include toe spreads, ankle mobility drills, and foot stretches. Seek guidance from a medical professional if needed.
  3. Consider how the specific trail conditions may impact your experience. Minimalist shoes provide little protection on rugged terrain, uneven ground, or in harsh weather. Hybrid or more protective minimalist shoes may be better options in some situations.
  4. Each person’s feet and biomechanics are unique. Listen to your body and make adjustments as needed. Consulting a podiatrist or physiotherapist can provide tailored guidance.

Minimalist footwear can transform your hiking and unlock many benefits. However, a gradual transition and considerations around foot conditioning, trail conditions and individual factors are important for an optimal experience. Lace up, get outside, and discover a new dimension to your outdoor pursuits. Your feet and body will reap the rewards of this natural approach.

TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack

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Looking for the perfect backpack for your first backpacking trip? Look no further than the  TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack! This durable, comfortable, and affordable backpack has everything you need to get started on your outdoor adventures.


With its spacious main compartment, padded shoulder straps, and ventilated back panel, the Scout 3400 will make your first backpacking trip a breeze. And with its lightweight design, you’ll hardly even notice you’re carrying it.


So what are you waiting for? Start your backpacking journey today with the TETON Sports Scout 3400 backpack!



Durable materials: The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is made of durable materials, including a 600D polyester outer shell and a 420D polyester lining. This makes it a good choice for backpacking and other outdoor activities where the backpack may be exposed to the elements.


Comfortable to wear: The TETON Sports Scout 3400 has a number of features that make it comfortable to wear, even when fully loaded. These features include a padded shoulder harness, a padded waist belt, and a ventilated back panel.

Versatile design: The TETON Sports Scout 3400 has a versatile design that makes it a good choice for a variety of outdoor activities. It has a large main compartment, a top pocket, and two side pockets. It also has a rain cover to protect your gear from the elements.

Affordably priced: The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is an affordably priced backpack that offers a good value for the money. It is a good choice for budget-minded backpackers who are looking for a durable and comfortable backpack.




Can be heavy when fully loaded: The TETON Sports Scout 3400 is a large backpack, so it can be heavy when fully loaded. This may be a drawback for some backpackers who are looking for a lightweight backpack.


Some users have reported quality control issues: Some users have reported quality control issues with the TETON Sports Scout 3400. These issues have included broken zippers, ripped seams, and faulty buckles. However, it is important to note that these issues are not widespread and that the vast majority of users have had a positive experience with the backpack.

The Best Budget Adventure Backpacks: A Beginner’s Ultimate Guide

To simplify what can feel like a major decision, I’ve compared two popular entry-level backpacks under $100: the TETON Sports Scout 3400 Internal Frame Backpack and the NEVO RHINO Internal Frame Hiking Backpack. Please note, I have a complete profile on each if you are interested in doing a deep dive. (TETON Review Here)

TETON Sports Scout 3400 NEVO RHINO
Price $82 $78
Weight 4.2 Lbs 3.7 Lbs
Capacity 55L 65L
Adjustability Above Average Average
Reviews 4.7 (9.4K reviews) 4.6. (1.5K reviews)


The NEVO RHINO provides a good balance of affordability and functionality, making it an attractive choice for budget-conscious adventurers. However, it’s important to note the potential limitations for female users and those with smaller hips due to its adjustability constraints.