One item that saved my AT thru-hike, and I chose to also use on the PCT, is my NeoAir Xlite inflatable sleeping pad. I started off with a foam sleeping pad, but being a side and stomach sleeper, it just wasn’t going to work for me. My bony hips would dig into the ground every night causing me to lose sleep. I upgraded to the inflatable pad in New Jersey and I haven’t looked back since. I opted for the NeoAir Xlite because it is just as light as my foam pad was and it’s more compact than other styles of inflatable pads.

On the AT I used the regular length pad that weighed 12 ounces, but on the PCT, I decided to cut my base weight to offset the water weight I would have to carry in the desert. I upgraded to the shorter version which weighs only 8 ounces (both have an R-value of 3.2). Because it is shorter in length than my body (I’m 5′ 8″), people voiced their concerns that the pad wouldn’t be as comfortable or I might get cold.

My sleeping pad comes down just below my knees, but my pack makes up for the difference!

I’m happy to report that it has worked wonderfully, even through the Sierras with colder nights. I simply place my pack at the bottom of my pad so my legs still have something to rest on and are insulated from the ground. I have had a couple nights on steeper sloped ground that I had to readjust my pack and pad, but the weight saving is still worth it to me.

I highly recommend either pad (short or regular), ESPECIALLY if you are anything but a back sleeper. You can check them out here:

Regular Pad:

Short Pad:

If you have any questions about my personal experience with either pad, feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll be happy to share more!


I will be posting a weekly gear-related item. It will always be something I have used or seen used enough that I would recommend. Hopefully, this helps initiate conversation about gear and assist beginning backpackers with gear selection.