Jun 21, 2006 at 1:19 pm #1218854
So…. what lightweight pad to get?
I’m coming from I guess an a $20 used REI rental original Thermarest standard long… somewhere inbetween the current Base Camp or Trail Comfort regular:
~42oz R~4+ 78×20~1.5
Here is what I have found my my CO late sprint to early fall UL possiblities. In tent with 32F or 15F bag.
Thermarest Ridge Rest Deluxe trimmed to 3/4:
12.5oz R=3.1 47x20x0.75
Thermarest Ridge Rest 3/4
9oz R=2.6 47x20x0.63
PacOutEq InsulMat SL-Mtn 1.0 3/4
9z R=??? 48x20x0.5
Gossamer Gear NighLight 3/4:
7.5oz R=2.3 59×19.5×0.75
Gossamer Gear Nightlight Torso:
3.7oz R=”2.2″ 29x18x0.75
Thermarest Prolite 3 3/4:
13oz R=2.3 48x20x1
Bozeman Mountan Works Torso
10oz R=”3.5″ 32×17-12×1
PacOutEq InsulMat uber-Lite
8oz R=??? 37x17x1
Anyone have any thoughts or experience? Any pads I’ve overlooked?Jun 21, 2006 at 1:45 pm #1358331
The lightest one that gives you a good nights sleep. I use both a closed cell pad and a self-inflating pad. The closed cell pad can also be used in a chair kit and is the backup if the self-inflating one gets a leak. I would use both the 3/4 RidgeRest and BMW Torso pad.Jun 21, 2006 at 2:51 pm #1358337
2 pads (19oz, R=5.6/2.6 4×8+20×6.5, $90) is a lot of weight, bulk, and cost for temps 30+!
I guess for 2 pads Insulmat Uberlight + either a Gossamer NightLight or Gossamer ThinLight 3/8 makes mroe sense (15.5oz or 13.5oz, R~5/2.25 or R~4/1.25 60″ total more torsoe, $65 or $55, 4×8 + 20×8 or 20×2)
At that price/weight range you suggest, one could enter a whole new bunch of pads:
Insulmat Hyper-Lite 1.0WP
17oz R=3+??? 66x20x1.0 $60 rolls to 5.5×20
(combo self inflating/closed cell)
Thermarest Prolite 4S
17oz R=3.2 48x20x1.5 $80 rolls to 11×4
Big Agnes REM Air Core Petite Mummy
17oz R=? 60x20x2.5 $65 rolls to 10×4
Insulmat Max Thermo-Lite Reg (self inflating)
19oz R=? 72x20x1 $65 rolls to 12×6
Insulmat Hyper-Lite Mtn 1.5WP
19oz R=4??? 66x20x1.5 $70 rolls to 6×20
(combo self inflating/closed cell)
Thermarest Prolite 3WR
20oz R=3 66x20x1 $80 rolls to 11×4
Big Agnes REM Insulated Air Core Mummy Reg
20oz R=? 72x20x2.5 $65 rolls to 10×4
Jun 21, 2006 at 4:04 pm #1358345
The 2 pad system fits my style. YMMV.
I am a side sleeper and with a self-inflating pad alone I need a 1.5″ pad to keep my shoulder from going numb.
The RidgeRest is stiff enough to make the chair kit work. The GG 3/8″ ThinLight does not work well in a chair kit.
2 pads is similar to clothes layering. A separate shell and insulating layer is more versitile than a single combination garment.
In May I carried my self-inflating pad on the outside of my pack for the first 2 days of a 6 night trip because I needed the room inside for food and 2 gallons of water. The self-inflating pad developed too many leaks to repair by the second night. I was using the full length RidgeRest, and I can get my shoulder and hips on a doubled RidgeRest. I added the flaccid self-inflated pad and slept well the remaining nights.
I like to have one pad be the pack frame and the other be the sit pad. Not easy with a single pad.
The rare times I use a shelter with a floor the closed cell pad goes under the floor to replace the ground cloth and the self-inflating pad goes inside.
I own a BA mummy Insulated Air Core. It is easy to use and VERY comfortable, but the 2 pad system fits my style.
For a multi-night trip for me it is not about weight, money or bulk. I may get kicked out of the club, but by the third day I need to sleep well to have the energy to hike.Jun 21, 2006 at 4:55 pm #1358346
You may want to consider the Stephensons Warmlite DAM.
Website is a little confusing, but product is solid. It is bright yellow though.
I had a custom one made. It has 3″ loft and is 28″ x 47″ weighs 17 oz plus pump sack 2.8 = close to 20 oz. I use it in a hammock with my pack under my legs. It is really warm!!
When it’s warmer at night I use an Insulmat Max Thermo 3/4
REI says 15 oz, but mine weighs more like 16, still pretty light. No pump sack needed.
Both of these pads can be used as flotation devices. Fun for paddling around the mountain lakes.Jun 22, 2006 at 9:40 am #1358368
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
I have some thin plastizote pads I just got in. You
can contact cement pieces together to get just
the right thickness, width, length etc.
work good in hammocks ’cause they are doublewide
and wrap around you to stop convective, conductive
and evaporative heat loss out the bottom.
Closed cell, you can use them without a ground sheet. In cold weather you can use them under an
inflateable too.Jun 22, 2006 at 11:43 am #1358372
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
I have a couple questions on pads:
1) Can you add R values? If you put an R2 pad on top of an R3 pad is it then R5? I could eee where there might be some loss of efficiency, but can this be a general rule of thumb?
2) I got an uninsulated/unfilled air mattress. What might be a loose estimate of a low temperature limit to use a plain air mattress?
3) What can I expect for cold weather performnace if I combine a thin (3/16″) closed cell pad on top of an uninsulated air mattress? To that end, should I just count on the air mattress adding nothing to the insulating value and go by the rating for the foam pad? It seems that getting up off the ground a couple inches must have some postive effect.
4) How about a space blanket on top of an air mattress– any gain, or is the sleeping bag in the way of reflecting any body heat?
Great stuff here– gettin’ down to the nitty gritty!Jun 22, 2006 at 12:07 pm #1358374
1. Don’t know.
2. I can stay comfortable on an plain air matress to about freezing – if I use a quilt that covers the side of the air matress. If the sides of the air matress are exposed then take about 10 degrees off.
3. I always use the pad underneath the air matress to protect the air matress. I believe over/under does not matter if you use a quilt that covers the side of the air matress. I guess that it is warmer to put the closed cell on top when using a regular sleeping bag.
4. No experience. I do not carry a space blanket.Jun 22, 2006 at 12:23 pm #1358375
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
1) as you said.
2)well above freezing. Think summer, lower elevations.
3)better than2) in insulating from ground but there’s a reason there’s foam inside a Thermorest pad. Air, by itself is a poor insulator. 3/16″ foam, alone, would not offer adequate insulation for most people in 30-ish and below temps–real rough estimate.
4)miniscule gain. Anyway, a space blanket doesn’t offer much of a warmth difference unless you wrap yourself in it. Then it works more as a vapor barrier to increase warmth. A sheet of plastic would be as effective.
If one wanted a really cushy,comforts of home(sorta) pad, I would recommend the Stephenson DAM (light, techy, a little fussy) or the Big Agnes Air Core pads.Jun 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm #1358378
1. Yes the R values are simply added (negating boundry effects, air circulation, etc) more or less adding is the rule.
4. Interesting idea of an aluminized or mylar top layer on a ground pad… it would help with radiated heat in theory but is that a large factor? I don’t know.
I’m now looking at an Exped Down AirMat 7 Short. Looks way warm and way cushy.
However, the link Carol was kind enough to provide has some great down airmat options as well. (BTW, PSA the link is NSFW as the manufacturers appear to be nudists). They seem to have some unique and highly innovative quality products especially in their airmats and some fantastic 4 season lightweight tents. Their company seems to have been around for a long time although they should hire me to reformat their site text. Can anyone vouch for those tents?Jun 22, 2006 at 12:50 pm #1358379
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
Thanks for all the replies.
With the down-filled mattresses, what happens to the moisture you blow in there? It seems it would condense in the bottom when it hits the cold ground. Does it start growing stuff in there?Jun 22, 2006 at 12:54 pm #1358380
Dale – You are absolutely correct that exhaled moisture would kill the down air mats. That is why they all have stuff sacks that double as pumps or they have 1oz micropumps.
Kevin – Air is an excellent insulator as long as convection is prevented… that is what insulation filled air mats do infinitely better… open cell foam mats mostly stop convection… closed cells completely stop it.Jun 22, 2006 at 1:31 pm #1358382
@kdesignLocale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Thank you, Summit, that’s right. Dead air-space w/ no convection is the ticket. You don’t get this in a standard air mattress. The Exped mat looks good but have never used it—heavier than the DAM.
For me, for 3 seasons—- the BMW Torsolite or the GG Nightlight 3/4 (cut down and tapered–3.4 oz.)are my ticket to dreamland. In most of my Winter camping, the Torsolite and a GG 3/8″ ThinLight plus my pack pad do the job.Jun 22, 2006 at 5:45 pm #1358400
I have (2) of these. The Exped’s have an R-value of 4.9. So they are warm. Equal in warmth to the Stephenson Dam even though they’re a little less in thickness. More down I would guess, since they weigh about the same but are narrower. But, I’ve had the slow air leak problem with them that other people have reported as well. This is where at about 3 in the morning you are on a flat pad. Finding said leak is a major pain. Best way I’ve found is soapy water, like looking for a gas leak.
I sent the original (2) I bought back and received a replaces free of charge from Exped. These current ones are the replacements. I’m not sure if I damaged them or if they came with the leaks. They always seemed to leak a little. But, I was never sure if it was the temps dropping or a leak causing the minor deflation. But, it has slowly gotten worse and worse.
I’ve repaired the leaks I could identify, but I just don’t trust them anymore. 3 am is a bad time to get up and mess around with a pump that was your pillow.
I’m not inclined to send these back although I take excellent care of my gear and don’t really feel I am at fault.
My advice, if you get one of these is to test it really well before you take it on the trail. Inflate it and sleep on it all night, preferably outside, where the temps will drop and it will deflate some from that as well. Determine for yourself if the pad is leaking from the git go. So you can return it, confident that it came to you defective.
These are really slow leaks that don’t even show up under water, unless you apply quite a bit of pressure. But, they do show up over night.
Other than this problem the Expeds have been great. Comfortable, warm, compress down well.
So far the Stephenson has been fine. No leaks, no problems. The guy who makes them was friendly and tried to talk me out of my custom size. He’s not an ultra light fan. But I persisted and he sent me the custom one.
I found the website offputting at first. Not because of the nudity. I didn’t care one way or the other about that, but because the info was so scattered. But, I heard good things about the products and found I wanted something custom, so it was the only game in town, as they say.
Looks like he measured and cut it himself. You can see the measuring marks on it still. Fine by me. I’m into the function not the looks of the thing. definately not mass produced.
I’ve only used it a handful of times, so we’ll see how it holds up. I’m impressed so far. And looking forward to having a floaty for the mountain lakes this summer.Jun 22, 2006 at 6:48 pm #1358403
@greyhoundLocale: Sierra Nevada
I have an insul mat max compact without insulation, and start to get cold under 40. I bought a 1/8 thinlight pad from gossamer and went on a two nighter.
The first night I put the gossamer gear thinlight under the air pad and was still cool.
The second night I put it on top of the air and was nice and warm.
Just my experience, for what its worth.Jun 22, 2006 at 7:30 pm #1358406
Ken HelwigBPL Member
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Greyson I have the same set up as you and sleep very nicely. I too have found out that, with setting the thinlight on top of the Insul Mat makes life very cozy!Jun 22, 2006 at 8:14 pm #1358409
General advice I’ve seen for dual mat winter camping has been to place the closed cell on top of the self inflator or air matress.
Your experience seems to confirm that advice.
The reasoning given has been the closed cell is not subject to internal convection or air shifting between open cells with sleeper movement.Jun 22, 2006 at 11:43 pm #1358414
Richard NisleyBPL Member
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Many, if not most, of the Exped “slow leak” problems can be easily solved by a procedure change. The air valve on this mattress hits what appears to be the stop point before it is completely sealed. By twisting the air valve another partial turn after you think it is closed you will eliminate the “slow leak” problem.
As a test of this concept, inflate your mattress, close the valve the way you did in the past and just let the mattress lean against the wall for a couple of days. It will probably start to sag and then eventually fall down after a day or so even without sleeping on it. Now do the same test with the revised valve close procedure and you will see what I am talking about first hand.Jun 23, 2006 at 6:23 am #1358422
I have that type of valve on my full length Exped Mat. And it did take me awhile to catch on to it. So it’s good you posted this here. But, the (2) 3/4 length pads that I have have a different smaller valve that doesn’t have that preliminary stop. IMHO the problem with these pads is not the valve. I have actually found a few small, very small leaks in the fabric, which I repaired.
The exped full length mat does not leak, by the way. It has a little different fabric too. Maybe they’re fixed the problem by changing their fabric??? But, then I almost never use it because it’s so heavy.Jun 24, 2006 at 6:53 pm #1358509
@jjpittsLocale: Midwest US
I have a number of different pads for different uses.
I have the Exped pad for camping with the Boy Scouts (Jamborees, etc). No need to go without on these trips! It is very comfortable.
I have the gonzo Thermarest that I use when I go camping with my wife (of course she uses the Exped pad!)
I have the InsulMat sort, tapered pad which I use on my backpacking trips and I l-o-v-e love it.
I have a Ridgerest that I don’t use much anymore. I used to use it because I could stuff it in my pack as a “tube” and pack all my gear into it (in a frameless pack obviously).
I have a few “Wal-Mart” blue eggshell pads that I used to use that I can’t bring myself to dispose of. :)
I would say the Insulmat is my favorite. I have gotten a LOT of good service from it. The thing is tough and does what it’s supposed to do and a little bit more. Never a problem with it… not once.Jun 24, 2006 at 7:53 pm #1358511
I tried the Exped 7 short, the Thermarest Prolite 3 short and the Prolite 4 short.
I’m stoked that I have absolutely no problem with the 47″ pads (I’m coming from 78″). I’m a side sleeper so the closed cell is kinda hard and limits campsight choice.
The 1″ prolite 3 is more than comfy enough as a side sleeper with some care in site choie.
The 1.5″ 4 lets me sleep on pointy rocks comfortably, little more warmth, 4oz penalty.
The exped pad… well neither the REI guy (who is actually a ULer himself) nor I (a former engineering student) could figure out how to inflate the damned thing! The instructions were useless and most of the air pumped in came back out. We concluded that the 1oz pumps that Exped notes on tehir website + a silnylon sack would be easier and lighter than the drybag/pump/stuffsack it comes with. We finally used a thermarest airmatress megapump… the mattress was SO comforatble! Theoretically the same weight as the Prolite 4.
Does anyone know if the downmat 7s or 9s have changed between the 04, 05, and 06 models?
All 3 pack to rediculously small sizes.
ETA: Going to contact WarmLite re a custom DAM (smaller, lighter, than what they list…) ala Carol’s
There is also a BA Insulated Airmat for 18oz… 60x20x2.5 only $65… I wonder if I could cut it down to 47″ and heat seal it… that would be a 14oz or 15oz 47x20x2.5 mummy primaloft air pad!!!!No need for a pump!!!!Jun 25, 2006 at 10:44 am #1358517
Curt PetersonBPL Member
@curtpetersonLocale: Pacific Northwest
“There is also a BA Insulated Airmat for 18oz… 60x20x2.5 only $65… I wonder if I could cut it down to 47″ and heat seal it… that would be a 14oz or 15oz 47x20x2.5 mummy primaloft air pad!!!!No need for a pump!!!!”
BA makes a 3/4 AirCore with no insulation – actual weight is 17oz with NO insualtion with the dimensions you note.
Pacific Outdoor makes an insulated 3/4 air pad. Similar dimensions with insulation it’s only 15oz. I just used it for 3 nights and it was great.
I do prefer the I-beams of the BA pads, but there’s a bit of a weight penalty and no insulation in the shorter one. I’m a 100% side sleeper, by the way.
-CurtJun 27, 2006 at 8:56 pm #1358620
Carol CrookerBPL Member
@cmcrookerLocale: Desert Southwest, USA
If you want the lightest self inflator, go with the TorsoLite over the Uber-Lite. They are both made by Pacific Outdoor Equipment and are a good inch thick – cushier than the ProLite 3. The T-lite is effectively a couple inches longer and easier to stay on due to the shape. If you want real cush and still fairly light – go with the POE Uber-Mtn. 1.5″ thick and 13 oz measured weight. I’d prefer the T-Lite shape, but the hour glass shape works fine on top of a closed cell pad. You can actually take advantage of sliding off the pad by letting your hip rest in the hour glass “waist” for an automatic hip hole. For me, a 1.5″ self-inflator is luxuriously comfy! Be aware that the Uber-Mtn is short (about 30″ which is only about 1.25″ shorter than the T-Lite but it is a noticeable difference to me with a 19″ torso) and may need some adjusting to.
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