May 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm #1290417
Greetings my fellow backpackers!
I use a standard rolled foam pad. It weight 320 gram (11.29 oz) and its great. I saw several UL pads at about 450 gram so can't understand why my pad is bad. It's really cheap ($15 or so) and has reflective layer on bottom.
What do I miss here?
Thanks!May 28, 2012 at 1:50 pm #1881769
I hang it on my pack either vertically or horizontally.
And the last thing. I hike in desert and warm climate.May 28, 2012 at 1:56 pm #1881771
@cohikerLocale: San Isabel NF
Alot of people just can't get a good nights sleep on a closed-cell foam pad. Plain and simple.May 28, 2012 at 2:12 pm #1881775
Just do whatever works best for you!
I can't sleep comfortable on anything <5 cm thickness so I envy you. I have to buy things like Synmat or Neoair/Xlite which are just silly thin plastic bags filled with air for a huge amount of money.May 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm #1881781
Nothing bad about such a pad if it's comfortable for you!
A lot of us find that as we get older, our pads keep getting thinner (although of course it's really that our joints get more sensitive), and we have to go to something thicker. This is obviously a very individual determination!May 29, 2012 at 8:55 am #1881973
The CCF pad is the cheapest and most reliable solution. So enjoy it's simplicity and reliability while you are young.
I really liked my Z-Rest. Have two of them.
But now I'm in a hammock :) Life happens!May 29, 2012 at 9:02 am #1881975
Foam pads are why I hated camping as I child. So incredibly uncomfortable.May 29, 2012 at 9:26 am #1881985
@geokiteLocale: Southern California
Tried the Ridgerest Solar pad recently, 2cm thick. I thought that it would be more comfortable than the thinner version. Nope. The foam isn't softer, just thicker. So it was just as hard as the thinner version.
Might have worked if I was bottoming out the thinner version (if I was a larger person).
SteveMay 29, 2012 at 9:36 am #1881991
…May 29, 2012 at 9:42 am #1881994
it's a noticable improvment over the typical flat ccf pad. i also got to experince first class customer service from Tom. if you are on the fence of switching between ccf and something that has to be inflated and stands a chance of getting a leak give the lunapad a try.May 29, 2012 at 10:04 am #1882000
Roger, can I conclude you don't like air pads/mattresses? :P
You probably just made the longest list of advantages of foam pads :-D If I hadn't experienced trying to sleep on a foam pad, I definitely would have thrown away my airpad after reading your list.May 29, 2012 at 10:21 am #1882009
…May 29, 2012 at 11:49 am #1882024
Conversely, I'd rather take the time to repair the air pad and enjoy the trip because I'm getting a good night's sleep. I'm not a functional human being without good sleep, and I've never slept well on foam pads. Whatever downsides you list to air pads are rendered moot by the need, for me, of getting good sleep.May 29, 2012 at 11:57 am #1882027
I go back and forth. I love the comfort of air pads (especially my 3.5" car camping pad), but I also love the durability of foam. There is nothing better than just throwing down a piece of foam where ever you like without having to worry about popping it. Foam takes abuse, pure and simple. And really, 15 years later, I'm still scarred by the time I cowboy camped on a big piece of sierra granite, and just has I was about to doze off, my inflatable pad took a crap. That sssssss' sound haunts me.
I found this thread just as I was about to pull the trigger on a nunatak luna pad. I never had a Mt. Washington but I"m anxious to give this a try.May 29, 2012 at 12:26 pm #1882038
@geokiteLocale: Southern California
I don't understand the width of pads. Most are 20 inches. So if you are a back sleeper, your arms are either hooked across your body somehow, or on the ground. If you are a side sleeper, most foam pads are quite uncomfortable.
I would try a Luna pad but at under 20" width, not worth it. Unless I tape two pads together. Hmm, there's an idea…
SteveMay 29, 2012 at 1:34 pm #1882059
@hhopeLocale: East Bay
Some of the points roger raises are true, although not nearly as annoying as he finds them.
Issue one is just failing to properly clear the flat area under your tent/tarp, that's user error, nothing else.
Only pad failure I ever had was when i was using a big old thermarest that I had attached to the outside of my pack and on a hot day I stumbled into a prickly desert plant, which pierced 5 layers.
That wouldn't happen now though, the pads are so small they are in my pack, all safe and sound.
Sadly, not a single one of the negatives outweighs the simple fact that I never slept even reasonably well using foam, 3/8, 1/2, made no difference, first time I ever actually had a decent night's rest was using air, thermarest.
problem with ccf is you can't inflate it a specific hardness, it is what it is.
The way you sleep also makes a monstrous difference, if you sleep on your side, there's simply too much weight for a normal thickness foam pad to cushion, it's physics, force per cm2, nothing more. Even the 1" thermarest prolite can be made stiff enough for my body.
Also depends on body weight, it's all physics again, nothing theoretical. If you sleep on you back or stomach, you can use foam, I could easily do that if I could distribute my weight a bit more. Also depends on if you move when sleeping. A lot of things, some people I know just pass out, on their backs, snoring, all night, and are like rocks. Those people of course I'd rather die than go camping with, which is another question and problem.
Other factors that can obviously massively influence reliability of air is user weight, if they grasp that if they plunk their 180 pound body onto the mattress thoughtless, they can weaken delicate seams. So body weight, actual practice in using the air mattress, are also going to be major factors, but for some reason people tend to ignore such fundamental points when considering the functionality of something, a 200 pound person plumping down on the mattress, puts huge force and pressure on the pad, a 140 pound person gently placing their body on it with consciousness that this is a non robust part of ones equipment can easily get hugely different results. The drag is that the old thermarests, the original green/tan ones, were far far far more robust than the new untralight stuff, and probably were much more tolerant of abuse and less prone to failure I'd guess. And if a 200 pound, or 180, person is lying on a mattress all night, moving, they are putting a heck of a lot more force and pressure on its seams and construction than if a light person is doing the same thing. Basic physics again, seems odd to not always prominently note ones weight before deducing any larger wide spread observations on something.
And habits, like, run into campsite at dusk, toss down mattress, bivy, fail to clear space, of course you're going to puncture the air mattress, that's a given. I spend a fair amount of time clearing the space, always, without exception. I'd like to not have that worry as much, though those pricklies will puncture silnylon just as readily as your air mattress, so I just do it. House wrap as a ground cover, heavy but would probably help, to some degree, no idea on how puncture resistant it is though, the msds pdfs would show that I believe if you know what the numbers mean.
So it's not really a choice, the human body needs rest, especially when undergoing physical exertion daily, and if you can't sleep on a foam pad, it's irrelevant what advantages it has. Carrying the patch kit does not kill m e, I'm not a cripple yet, nor am I racing anyone to see how many miles of nature I can pass per day successfully, so I carry what I need to carry, it's nto rocket science here.
One great tip I got from reading these forums was to mix , ie, use a 1/8" evazote type pad under the air mattress, and that's especially relevant with these new hyper thin fabric light ones that are coming out now. Then you have the sit pad too. If you use stiffer, like 3/16", it rolls up tight enough to make a pack frame that works. With thinner, you can use a folded 3/8" pad, two sections, to wrap the 1/8 up with. Great for sitting, great for meditating, whatever.
I actually agree with the pluses of ccf, and as soon as someone starts selling 1" or 3/4" ones made with the new foams, if the weight is comparable to air mattress plus under foam pad, I think I'll contemplate switching to that, though it won't be quite as good as a 1" air mattress since you can't overinflate closed cell foam, obviously. But my guess is for lighter bodies, a reasonably thick high end foam pad can work for some people who find that a prolite type pad works for them. Big, bulky, has to be carried externally, yeah, but like roger notes, it's basically indestructable in terms of punctures and so on.
Lawson was talking about stocking some size or other but there's been no sign yet of that, I'm going to buy one if he gets a 1" that is not too heavy, say around a pound or so, and try it, I'd rather use ccf too, but I have to sleep at night, just is one of those weird biological things.May 29, 2012 at 1:38 pm #1882060
While I agree that CCF foam pads have their advantages, I would be screaming with pain all night if I tried to use one! It's a matter of aging! Here's how I progressed or regressed, depending on your point of view:
Teenager–no pad at all
20's and 30's–CCF foam pad
40's and 50's–standard Thermarest self-inflating (one of the earliest)
Late 50's to late 60's–Thermarest LE–also self-inflating–2 inches thick and heavy
Late 60's-mid 70's–POE Insulmat Max Thermo (insulated air pad, 2.5" thick)
Current–3.5" thick insulated air pad from the late lamented KookaBay
So far I have had no problems with leaks or punctures with any of my inflatables. I certainly hope that continues!May 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm #1882064
@hhopeLocale: East Bay
Mary, I think a large percentage of failures are user error, at least judging from what I see in terms of care given to stuff as rule. Some failures due to other factors like I listed above, weight, treatment, etc, then a tiny segment that is actually just a manufacturing failure or issue.
As soon as I got my new prolite, and especially the neoair, I got a thin under ccf pad for it, the material of the pad is just very thin, and there is not a magical way to make thin material as strong as thick material when it comes to punctures. pads plus under pad comes in at about 1 pound give or take, which is fine with me. That's about what a thick ccf pad will weigh give or take.
It's kind of obvious to me that there is a set of of people out there who simply do not really have a sense of mechanical things and limits, and who don't pay attention to directions and guides etc, I see that in the stove threads too, where people talk about people blowing up pressurized white gas stoves, which really almost never happens unless you violently and consistently overpressurize them in the real world, fail to lubricate the insertion points, yanking tubes out of seals instead of gently twisting them out, thus over time degrading the seals, and so on. Lack of mindfulness, that is, to put it into Buddhist terms. Or putting pack weight ahead of functionally required weight, a point raised recently here in the Skurka interview with golite people, when it finally dawned on him that functionality should be put first, not weight… the light flickers on….
I'm definitely going to try a thick ccf if someone starts selling them, I saw a bpl member who lives in sweden was using a thick one, looked like 3/4" at least, maybe 1, in his pictures he posted of a bushwhacking trip he took.May 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm #1882146
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
I have used half a dozen inflatable pads over the last 15 years or so and never had one fail on me,.
My current pad of choice and by far the most comfy is a regular Exped Synat UL and depending on
season will supplement with a 1/4 Zlite, 1/2 Zlite or regular Ridgerest Solar.
If I did get an unrepairable puncture I hope I would be sufficiently warm enough with the foam I carry for that season, in winter I would double over the Ridgerest.
A good nights sleep and peace of mind is worth the few extra ounces.
Cheers,May 29, 2012 at 8:55 pm #1882204
In many cases yes, but not all. In my case, a seam blew. After that I tried a self-inflating thermarest (let's say late 90s, so early in the technology) and it blew at some point. I ended up going back to the old blue foam with eggshell glued on pad, loved it, and still have it though its battered to hell. Inflatable pads make for great sleeping, but I think deep down most of us are still a little ambivalent over their durability. Hence so many carrying another pad to put underneath, which, to me, should be unnecessary. I was reminded of all this recently when I took my 6 yo son out for his first backpacking trip a month ago. He used an old 3/4 ridgerest of mine. He slept on it, used it by the fire dragging it around as the smoke shifted, schlepped it up a big boulder to lounge and read a comic book, and so on. Watching that (while using an older prolite 3) I was reminded of how much I miss the durability of CCF. Drape it over a log and lean back for some comfort, that's what I want in a pad (while of course getting a good night's sleep, there's a reason I'm no longer using a ridgerest)!
By the way, here is the link to the mentioned thread on Lawson EQuipment potentially developing a thicker foam pad.May 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm #1882206
I know some people whom I trust to care for their gear who have had inflatable pad issues. I feel lucky that so far I haven't! For those of us who can't possibly get any sleep on a CCF pad, though, we takes our chances!May 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm #1882213
Inflatables are always a liability in the desert. I do baby my gear and occasionally take an inflatable but only when I head up to the pines.
No matter how careful you are, the desert exists solely to kill you. Often the best campsites are simply those that don't have a baby cactus in them, even if that means sleeping on large cobblestones. Of course without frequent rain fall those "cobblestones" never erode into smooth river rocks and instead are covered in jagged crystals waiting to puncture a pad.
Roger also brought up a good point on temperature of air. In the desert we often see 30F+ degree swings in a day so even during cooler weather, in inflating your pad by mouth you can see up to a 10% decrease in volume or pressure over the course of a night. This often results in a flat pad and waking up chilly.
If I lived in a location with a lot more soil instead of rock, someplace that has cushy duff piles and grasses that can be easily cleaned of poky but not thorny twigs…I'd love to play with inflatable pads more. But I don't so I carry a RR SOLite and already plan that when I age and need more comfort I'll probably still keep the SOLite type CCF as a desert version of ground cloth and put an inflatable (or softer foam) pad on top to mitigate leak issues.
To the OP, if it works for you and changing your technique increases your pack weight while introducing more caveats…it clearly ain't broke so no need to fix!May 30, 2012 at 3:15 am #1882240
Inaki Diaz de EturaParticipant
@inaki-1Locale: Iberia highlands
The OP never answered back and everybody here seems to have understood it was a question of CCF vs inflatable. I saw it more of a question of cheap CCF vs a more typical, high-end CCF that costs way above the $15 he mentioned. True the "UL" mention for a 450 gr figure would be a bit misleading for a CCF pad but I'm sure you can see that announced.
If that is the case, I'd say cheap CCFs are way poorer insulators. That may or may not be important depending on temps and terrain. In mild temps and where the ground itself has some insulating layer (forest duff, thick grass…), the cheap stuff works. If it works for you, then go ahead with it.
On the other hand, the reflective layer is probably not doing much in any CCF pad, cheap or expensive.May 30, 2012 at 4:18 am #1882245
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
I assumed he meant the way they were carried. Obviously, rolled does little good just strapped onto a pack. I use a split NightLite pad, a bit more than $15 to purchase. But, by taping it back together, bumps interlocked, it *fits* into the pad holders of the GG packs and others, generally making the pad and pack a bit more comfortable to carry. (This was mentioned already.) It IS puncture proof. Thorns, sticks, etc do not make it go flat (mentioned). It weighs a bit less than 10oz(~280gram.) Has the same R value as a NeoAir. For sleeping in wooden floored shelters, I far prefer the inflatables, though. They just work better for comfort…on most ground you can shift it around a bit. Depending on my planned route I may cary one or the other or both.
I seem to remember that IR radiation acounts for about 10% of your bodies heat loss. Things like space blankets, etc, don't really do much in comparison to conduction (direct contact) or convection (direct contact with air) heat escape mechanisms. A MAXIMUM of 10% is all you can expect between reflective and non-reflective pads. And, only between you and the ground, or less than 50% of a bodies surface area to start with. This is minor. Two works no better than one.May 30, 2012 at 6:25 am #1882270
WOW! Great answers! THank you alot.
First of all, I've just wanted to know why people buy expensive pads. Now I understand, that inflatable pads are much more comfortable. And foam is not a good insulator. I'm lucky it's really warm here. At night however the temps drop considerably in desert. But still not that cold. In winter – yes. You can get soaked in rain and the winds are very strong. THere is however another danger: after rain there are floods and very strong UNEXPECTED streams that take everything with them (rocks, sand, broken trees, hikers with inflatable pads :) …)
Didn't want to start a holy war inflatables vs foam. Just curious what are the benefits.
When I'll go hike in higher mountain terrain (Alps), I will consider inflatable pad. By now, having my 320 gram pad is enough.
Again, thank you all for so informative answers!
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