I have been looking for a really lightweight, thick, shorter length, comfy inflatable sleeping pad for a long time. Inflatable Air Core pads are available, with or without insulation inside, but they are too heavy, at sixteen ounces or more. Finally, we have the Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad, a 2.5-inch thick polyurethane inflatable pad that weighs just 11.7 ounces (measured weight) in the 20 x 60-inch mummy size (their smallest and lightest). I have been sleeping on a Bozeman Mountain Works TorsoLite Pad (10 ounces, 1-inch thick, 32-inches long) for several years, and find it just barely comfortable enough (for me). For just 1.7 ounces more, the Big Agnes Clearview Pad is 2.5-inches thick and nearly twice as long. I’m flipping out on this pad! Also, for lightweight backpackers who enjoy their comforts, Big Agnes has the 6.3 ounce (measured weight) Cyclone Chair SL Kit that the Clearview Pad (or other 20-inch wide pads) fits into, reviewed here.
The shortest and lightest Big Agnes Clearview Air Pad is 60 inches long, 20 inches wide, 2.5 inches thick, and weighs 11.7 ounces. For my six-foot height, the sixty-inch pad is adequately long. Photo by Travis Ward.
The Clearview Pad is made of thin polyurethane with welded seams. Okay, I know what you are thinking at this point: 1) is it adequately puncture resistant to withstand backpacking conditions? and 2) how insulating is it? The short answers are: yes – it is quite puncture resistant, but there limits; and no, it doesn’t contain any insulation, but it’s warm to sleep on down to about freezing (Big Agnes rates it at 35 F). Read on to get the details of our testing.
Carol Crooker reports: "I used the Clearview pad on four trips, for a total of seventeen nights. The trips were a five-day CDT trek and desert and canyon country packraft trips, one in Arizona on the Gila River and two on the Green River in Utah (Desolation/Gray Canyons) and Colorado (Gates of Lodore). I slept on the pad inside a Bozeman Mountain Works Vapr bivy sack or Six Moon Designs Serenity NetTent. The prototype sixty-six-inch rectangular pad I used on two trips was two ounces over the specified weight of fourteen ounces and made of a slightly thicker material than the production sixty-inch (11.5 ounce) mummy pad I used on the CDT and Gates of Lodore trips.
The Clearview is very comfortable. For times when insulation is not needed, it is more comfortable than two other pads I’ve slept on in that weight range: the Bozeman Mountain Works TorsoLite and the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Uber Lite. These are both torso length, one-inch thick self-inflating pads. The Clearview is more comfortable than those pads because it has enough thickness to keep my hip off the ground when I sleep on my side. Interestingly, the Clearview is also more comfortable than Pacific Outdoor Equipment Max Thermo (an older version of the Ether Thermo 6) and Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pads I’ve slept on, which are just as thick as the Clearview pad. The reason? The Clearview is made of polyurethane, which is softer and more flexible than the nylon rip-stop material in the other pads. I’ve been careful with the Clearview and haven’t needed to repair it. It even survived the torture of being used in the Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair Kit on my CDT trip. I’d love to see a torso length, thirty-one-inch Clearview pad! Now that would be light!"
I used a sixty-inch long Clearview Pad on nine trips totaling twenty-three nights. Using my backpack as a pillow, I found the sixty-inch length pad to be adequately long for my six foot height. The pad inflates fairly quickly, about fifteen deep blows. As far as comfort, I found the Clearview to be much more comfortable than the Bozeman Mountain Works TorsoLite and Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 Short pads I have used in the past. The Clearview is very flexible and "absorbs" the lumps and bumps of the surface I am sleeping on, which included spruce cones and sticks. I always had a groundsheet or tent floor under the Clearview and did not get any punctures at all.
How warm is it? On several spring and early summer mountain backpacking trips, and summer nights in the mountains after a shower cooled things down, I encountered nights near or below freezing, and found the bottom side of the Clearview getting a bit chilly (but not cold). I wore insulating clothing inside my sleeping bag, but it compresses on the bottom side. Big Agnes’s rating of 35 F is about right.
So, how durable and how repairable is it? To try to answer those questions, I napped on the Clearview on top of some nice sharp lava rock. I succeeded in puncturing the pad between the tubes, a hard place to repair. It was not hard to find the leak by immersing the pad in water, and I easily repaired it with McNett SeamGrip. I wanted to try other repair methods, so I punctured the pad with a sharp nail on the top of one of the tubes and tested various patching materials. I first tried duct tape since many backpackers carry it. It worked just fine as a field repair. For a permanent repair I tried McNett’s Tenacious Tape, McNett SeamGrip, McNett FreeSole, Therm-a-Rest Repair Patches, and Platypus Repair Patches. All adhered very well and made a permanent repair.
To test the Clearview’s puncture resistance, I napped on the Clearview on top of some very rough lava rock. I managed to puncture the pad between two of the tubes.
The Clearview is easily repaired in the field with duct tape or a Platypus Repair Patch (left). McNett SeamGrip also works well in tighter locations (right), but it takes time to dry, so it’s not a good field repair method.
The next time I used the pad, I discovered a different issue. While working on the Hardrock 100 Endurance Race in Silverton, Colorado I left the inflated pad (inserted in the Cyclone Chair Kit) out in the sun. Heating from the sun overinflated the pad and caused some of the tubes to rupture where they were folded in the chair, and also caused a leak where the valve is attached to the pad (see photos below). The ruptures are cosmetic so far and have not resulted in any problems, and I successfully repaired the leak with McNett SeamGrip.
Over inflation of the pad from letting it sit in the sun caused some rupturing of the tubes (left) and a leak at the valve (right), which I repaired with McNett SeamGrip.
From our field testing and my home tests, I conclude that the Clearview is adequately puncture resistant under normal field conditions, with reasonable care. However, it won’t withstand outright abuse, and I’m sure it would be no match for thorns or other very sharp objects. Other inflatable pads would have the same vulnerability. Also, I found it to be easily repaired with a variety of patching materials.
Overall, the Big Agnes Clearview Pad has made my backpacking nights a lot more comfortable. It has proven to be adequately durable to resist punctures, and easily field repairable if it is punctured.
|Big Agnes (http://www.bigagnes.com/)|
|2008 Clearview Air Pad|
* Sizes Available:
|Rectangular or mummy, 20 or 25 inches wide, 60-78 inches long (20 x 60 inch mummy and 20 x 66 inch rectangular pads tested)|
|Plastic valve, welded seams, mesh stuff sack|
|measured weight Will’s 20 in x 60 inch mummy pad 11.7 oz (332 g), Carol’s 11.5 oz (326 g); manufacturer specification 11 oz (312 g)|
|20 in x 60 inch mummy is $35USD|
Read BackpackingLight.com’s companion review, the Big Agnes Cyclone SL Chair Kit Review, here.