Sleeping pads

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    David N
    BPL Member


    I’d like to buy a sleeping pad for lightweight cycle touring, where small pack size and low weight are fairly high priorities.


    I’m a side sleeper, 6ft tall and slim.


    However, I don’t have much experience with the different types of sleeping pads, and I’ve never had a pad which I found to be really comfortable.


    My current ‘lightweight’ mats include an old Prolite rectangular pad, which is okay but not that comfortable.  A year or two ago I bought a Nordisk Ven 2.5 short pad as an experiment.  I got around to trying it the other night, but found the short length was a bit of a hassle when the floor\ground is cold.  I also had an old Exped DownMat which is supposed to be warm and comfortable, but I’ve never found it comfortable – I don’t think I like being that high off the ground on an air mattress.  Furthermore, the mattress exploded on me when I was testing it the other night,resulting in a sizeable quantity of down being ejected into the room, which has put me off these!


    I think the slippy mats combined with non-integrated pillows don’t help.


    Without being able to see and try the mats it’s difficult to make a decision.


    I’ve been looking at some other makes, including Klymit, and their Ozone model.  They seem to suggest this can be placed into a sleeping bag, but I have a narrow Western Mountaineering bag, and I’m not sure about that.


    Then there’s the MultiMat range, which seem reasonably priced.


    The Thermarest UberLites (and XLites and XTherms) seem ridiculously expensive, but perhaps they’re the wisest choice…

    Bob Shuff
    BPL Member


    Locale: SoCal

    No more self-inflating pads for me, unless I’m car camping with lots of room in the car for an old REI 3″ monster of a pad.

    For backpacking, I’ve long used the Thermarest NeoAir XLite – and the one I have is the older crackly type, but it doesn’t bother me, even though I’m a side sleeper and switch sides throughout the night.  It’s narrow at 20″, but doable when I want light and  packable.  I bought it used here on BPL and have had no problems for 5+ years (maybe 10?)

    I also picked up a used Exped Winterlite MW sleep pad – I think it’s like a synthetic version of the DownMat, and normal/wide which is all the rage it seems.  It’s more comfortable to me, but also 7 ounces heavier, so I go back and forth depending on the trip.  I’m 5’9″ and don’t need the 70″ length, much less the XL versions.  If I could design one it would be 25″ x 66″ with an R-value greater than 4.0.  Make it revolutionary light and I would pay top dollar.

    Adjusting the amount of air in an inflatable pad makes a huge difference on comfort, and like with a bed at home different people like different levels of firmness.  I found a little less than full works best for me.  Others have said they like horizontal or other baffles better – mine are both vertical.  I have not tried Nemo or Sea-to-Summit, but they both get good reviews generally.  My son used an older Big Agnes pad that started to leak.  We tried to submerge it in the tub to find the leak and the baffles delaminated and it became a big balloon.  I contacted Big Agnes to see if I had any options, but they never responded.  That may be a one-off, but I would personally stick with the other brands if Big Agnes won’t respond to support requests.

    When I backpack I also bring along a Gossamer Gear 1/8″ foam pad that goes under the inflatable.  It adds warmth and puncture protection, and is handy around camp for sitting or kneeling on.  I haven’t tried bikepacking yet, but I’ll probably try to fit the GG pad in my bikepack bags if I can.


    David N
    BPL Member


    Thanks very much!  Lots of good information.


    I’ve tried adjusting the air pressures, but when you’re on them it’s usually a case of initially setting them firm then deflating them a little: adding air back in when trying to sleep never happens for me!  However, over time you get used to what soprt of pressure works best.


    I’m now considering the Sea To Summit pads – they may not be as light as some (so an Uberlite still has a strong pull) but they seem to have some interesting features, and I like the idea of being able to ‘lock’ one of their pillows to the pad.  I think that alone could improve my sleep when camping.

    BPL Member


    I really like the sea to summit pads, but prefer the “regular” UL ones vs the ether light series. I’m 6’2” and have found the smaller size (60” length) works really well. It inflates super fast and insulates from the ground very well. The pillow lock system is pretty hard to beat as well.

    The Klymit V2 is a solid option if you’re not too worried about insulating properties. It’s also easy to cut and reseal if you want to shed some weight or inflation effort.

    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northeast

    I’ve been using an original neo air xlarge for over 10 years now.  Sure I’ve patched it a half dozen times (tenacious tape does the trick), but in all it is the most comfortable pad I’ve had in some 53 years of backpacking.  At 6 1/2 feet long i have room for a pillow and it is wide enough that lying on my back my arms rest on the pad.

    The newer ones are mummy shaped but the old rectangle works just fine.  And the 3″ keeps my hipbones off the ground when lying on my side.  And I thought the old 1″ thick thermarest self-inflators were good…the neoair in terms of overall comfort was a game changer.  But for me it takes the extra large size otherwise I am hanging off and spend more time concentrating on not rolling off the pad than sleeping.

    S Long
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wasatch

    Just a note: I have a Thermarest XTherm and wanted the pillow lock system for my S2S Aeros pillow. I emailed Sea to Summit and told them what I wanted to do, and they sent me a set of the velcro “pillow lock” tabs with sticky backing. I put them on my XTherm and it works great to lock the pillow in place. Sea to Summit didn’t charge me a dime even though I didn’t have one of their pads; they just wanted my mailing address. That’s awesome customer service in my book. I think S2S will be my next pad.

    Dustin V
    BPL Member


    +1 on wide pads. When I do roll on my back, I hate the feeling of my elbows dropping to the ground.

    I actually like the Klymit Lite pad. It’s just barely wide enough, warm enough and firm enough for side-sleeping. I also like that it’s not as tall because it gives back a little bit of head/foot clearance.

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