What's the lightest & "best" pad I can get for under $50? I'm new to backpacking, so weight (then comfort) is a huge issue for me!
DAVID R very thin , but it does add some comfot on rough ground. i use it as a place to sit around camp or during stops. two of us can sit and stay dry if ground is wet. minimal r value but i also put it under my big agnes sleeping bag (as the exped syn 9 sleeping mat slips inside the pocket in the bag ) keeping the bag bottom cleaner. i like and use it all the time. hope this helps your decision dave
DAVID L Not much in the sub $50 range except foam pads. I own Thermarest NeoLite and Exped synmat 7 w/pump and would buy both again but they are north of $100 and worth every dime.
I like a good nights sleep and as a side sleeper the foam pads don't cut it for me comfort wise plus one tends to feel every variation of the ground they're on vs inflatable that conforms a bit easier.
From my experience sleeping bag, sleeping pad, wet weather protection, hiking boots are items not to skimp on and worth the extra money. If any of these fail you in effectiveness and/or comfort your hiking/camping experience gets to be kind of crappy.