Jan 21, 2019 at 8:00 pm #3574276Andrew MarshallModerator
@andrewsmarshallLocale: Tahoe basin by way of the southern AppalachiansJan 22, 2019 at 6:07 am #3574388John HBPL Member
Great review thanks. I finally paid to subscribe based on how good and thorough you were. I simply can’t get past the price though… and knowing that, like an Apple phone or Porsche car, a large proportion is simply profit. Apple and Porsche still set the standard IMO, but I ain’t paying 1/3 or more pure profit.
I coughed up for an StS Comfort Plus about 3 years ago as the heavy duty hiking mattress to get into hiking despite being very concerned about getting a good sleep – it worked! It was a big outlay for a non-hiker but I understood the potential value was there. Compared to the main Thermorest options, it is over twice the weight but less than half the cost. And two full air chambers.
Now I’m looking to assemble a UL kit and the Thermorests would be at the top of the list but for their lack of a regular and wide option … and those prices. Instead, I am going for a cheap foil-on-one side foam thing plus a $35 StS rip off from China. $50 total cost, some redundancy and perhaps 650g total. The only other starter is the Rei tapered, insulated option.
I get how the price can be seen as cheap when averaged over 100 or more nights of good sleep over years. And they basically invented a lot of this stuff. That is worth something. But the cost of entry is over $350 AUD and you either get something overly long or a good length but not wide enough. So no.
Thanks again for this review though! Cheers JohnJan 22, 2019 at 6:18 am #3574389MinerBPL Member
Nice review, though lacking in info on long term durability other than theory, which is what most of us care about. But not surprising given how new the product is.
Only statements that I took issue with wasn’t the UberLite part and perhaps it should be noted in a separate thread. it was the comment on how sleep can degrade on a foam pad and that your sleep will degrade the longer you are out. That has not been my experience at all. In fact it is the opposite as my sleep improves the longer out I am, not degrading, where I eventually sleep more soundly than at home (note that I’m a light sleeper at home who tosses a lot and all the staring at at computer screens before bed probably doesn’t help). Hiking for 12-13+ hours a day tends to help with sleep quality for me as does getting into the natural circadian rhythm with the sun/night cycle. I hiked the PCT with a GG Torso Pad+SitPad on a 1/8″ thinpad and I think I slept pretty well after a few weeks on the trail without any soreness or numbness which I’ve only experienced when I allowed myself to get overweight by a good margin or tried sleeping on an AT shelter floor made out of logs not boards. Though I do admit to being very selective in my normal cowboy camp/tarp campsites with an eye for comfort as much as drainage. Note, I’m not talking about using those thin Zrest/Ridgerest pads, but Gossamer Gears effectively thicker pads where the bumps aren’t hollow on the other side and thus can’t collapse as much. With the Zrest, I can more see your point, but I haven’t used them in 12+ years so don’t remember them well.
I also own a short NeoAir, but I still go the foam pad route 2 out 3 trips even now for a small weight savings as I still bring the thinpad with the neoair for puncture protection. I tend to only bring the NeoAir with my smaller MLD Burn where the GG pads fill up too much of the volume and I really have to compress my sleeping quilt to fit which I don’t like. The NeoAir in comparison takes up much less space which is it’s biggest advantage to me. That said, this Uber Lite intrigues me as the short version is as light or may be a bit lighter than my TorsoPad/SitPad setup which does have my attention and strong interest as except for possible durability (which is still a big deal in pointy environments), it beats out my foam pad in every other category. Given the 2 REI giftcards I got for Christmas, when does REI have their next 20% off one item sale as I’m almost sold?Jan 22, 2019 at 11:32 am #3574398James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Durability, well this is my primary concern. I think that dropping the top side to 15D and leaving the bottom at 30D would have been a more durable, but less weight saving, choice. Forest duff, pine needles, twigs, sharp rocks are of some concern (pokes,) but these are easily repaired. Mostly, I think sand will do the primary damage. Even small amounts will abrade, doing severe un-repairable damage to the bottom in the form of multiple fine leaks and weakened fabric. I will wait for a couple years to see some longer duration reports, I think, before committing ~$180 to a pad that may not hold up. Though it might be worth it for the 3.2oz weight savings.
Thanks for the report!Jan 22, 2019 at 3:29 pm #3574414karl hafnerBPL Member
@khafnerLocale: upstate NY
How times have changed. May I say improved. Back in the 60’s and 70’s I routinely went out in winter and used a 1/2 inch ensolite pad in the Sierras all winter. I doubt it had an R value of 2. I do now prefer my Exped down mat. The new light wt pad should have excellent utility in 3 seasons. Having punctured several pads I do have concerns re: durability.Jan 28, 2019 at 4:32 am #3575462SFOldManClanSpectator
@sfoldmanclanLocale: Washington DC
Why didn’t they use Dyneema? Its lighter, stronger, etc…Jan 28, 2019 at 11:29 am #3575478James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
“Why didn’t they use Dyneema? Its lighter, stronger, etc…”
Because it is less abrasion resistant than nylon. Laminating an abrasion resistant fabric makes it far heavier in total weight than nylon. There are other reasons, creasing and bending for example. The technology doesn’t exist to make a reliable/durable dyneema air pad, yet. And of course, $$$.Jan 28, 2019 at 11:16 pm #3575564John GiesemannBPL Member
I have to agree with the first reviewer regarding price. It is hard to understand why a pad that is technologically simpler than the XLite costs more. Is the material really that much more expensive? Or is the extra price simply because it is lighter. Also, is nyon material really that expensive? The Sea to Summit Ultralight pad is similar to this pad and only costs $99.95, $79 dollars less. Yes, the R-Value is only rated at 0.7 but I have slept on this pad down to freezing and had no problems. (Yes, I sleep very warm but I don’t think the Uberlite is goiing to sleep much warmer.) And, yes, the S2S pad weighs a good deal more, about 5 ounces more, but, It is still signiicantly lighter than the previous pad I was using and very similar in size to the Uberlite and Xlite pads. And $29.95 cheaper than the XLite pad.
Does this make a difference? I think it does. When we will pay almost any amount just to save 3 to 4 ounces, we send a strong message to the manufacturers. Where will the price increases end? They won’t if we continue to buy at inflated prices. When I see tents costing from $500 to $1,000 simlply because they are lightweight, it is very difficult to see the justification. It is getting difficult for the average user to have a lightweight system for a reasonable dollar amount.
I just hope the manufacturers can begin to make lightweight, preferably ultralight, products for a reasonable price again.Jan 29, 2019 at 2:30 am #3575595jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I use a polycryo ground cloth. This helps keep the floor of my tent clean and helps with abrasion on the floor at a very minimal weight cost. It also helps with punctures. I also use a very thin and light foam mattress from Gossamer Gear inside my tent and under my mattress primarily for puncture protection, but also for a bit of added warmth. This combination makes me more confident in using an Exped air mattress and has kept me from having any leaks. And since I’d use this combination in any case with any mattress, it would add a lot of confidence in using the Uberlight.
Of course, there could be issues with this mattress over time for other reasons.
I’m not shelling out $180.00 clams for this at this moment in my life. BUT, if you pro rate the thing over 70 or 80 nights or more….it costs much, much less than a room for two nights in a Motel Six. Thinking like that, it’s probably worth the money.Jan 29, 2019 at 12:33 pm #3575643Brad PBPL Member
When you build a quilt on the EE web site, choosing the 7d material instead of 10d increases the cost. I can only assume the lighter materials are more expensive.Feb 3, 2019 at 4:04 pm #3576563Ross BleakneyBPL Member
It is hard to understand why a pad that is technologically simpler than the XLite costs more.
It is the same reason that new phones cost more. It isn’t the cost of manufacturing or materials, it is because the people who make the new product thinks they are worth more. They don’t believe that this will replace previous pads, or be the standard for pads. It is merely an option for those that are willing to baby their gear, and are willing to put up with a colder pad. That means that they don’t expect to sell huge numbers, regardless of price. It would be silly, therefore, to sell this for under the cost of the XLite. If they did, they would have trouble recouping the cost of development.
As for why all the XLite products are relatively expensive, I’m guessing there are a couple big factors. One is the cost of development, which I would imagine is pretty high for this company. They are one of the more innovative companies out there (especially the Thermarest division). Second, the products are made in the U. S., and I believe they are made in Seattle. That means labor costs are more than the U. S. average (Seattle has a high minimum wage) and much higher than the developing world. My guess is they hire (and keep) skilled manufacturers by paying them well.
When we will pay almost any amount just to save 3 to 4 ounces, we send a strong message to the manufacturers.
I agree, and I think it is a good message. If you keep innovating and make high quality products, people will buy them. This isn’t a product for everyone (any more than an iPhone is a product for everyone) but I think it an option that will work for many. Even if I don’t buy it, I’m glad they made it.Feb 3, 2019 at 6:43 pm #3576589Eric BBPL Member
I’d bet that warranty support is another major expense for Thermarest, especially for the lighter weight mattresses.Feb 3, 2019 at 6:47 pm #3576591John VanceBPL Member
@servingkoLocale: Intermountain West
+1 No doubt the anticipated warranty claims are baked in to the cost which seems reasonable to me – the practice of baking in the warranty claims – everyone will decide for themselves is the price is reasonable and vote with their wallet.Feb 9, 2019 at 4:47 am #3577603Hanz BBPL Member
+1 on warranty built in costs. And this is Therm-a-Rest let’s remember. If they found a 15d fabric that met their standards for a new product then I’m sure it’s high enough quality for me. I’m not sure why everyone is so confused about the price being higher. I mean its an UL branded item, like, yea, the price will be higher, unless you are in myog, which I my experience can be a wash anyway by the time you get it right.Feb 9, 2019 at 2:01 pm #3577633Brad PBPL Member
If you put one in your cart selecting in store pick up at REI, the pick up date is 2/14.Feb 28, 2019 at 3:20 pm #3580976Dean F.BPL Member
@acrosomeLocale: Back in the Front Range
“Shoe is size 9 for reference.”
That just tells you everything you need to know about BPL’s dedication to sweating the details. :)Mar 4, 2019 at 5:03 am #3581693Emmanuel RomoBPL Member
@emman714Locale: Southern California
(Please read lightheartedly, I enjoyed this review and am considering buying the NeoAir UL)
Excuse my UL heresy but I am completely satisfied using my Large 25″x 77″ TAR RidgeRest SOLar, R-Value 3.5. Sure its heavy/bulky at 26oz but it is ONE pad to keep track of. It functions as my full length, bomber- take a nap on the rocky/snowy- trail pad. It provides me extra length and width so I don’t slip off and get a cold spot. It also serves as my groundcloth being that it’s wide and long- therefore one less item to worry about and less weight. It never makes annoying crinkling noises that keep me and my camp buddies awake. No worrying about babying my $200 pad is all the comfort I need to sleep soundly. LOL
I’ve trained myself to be a back sleeper. It starts at home. Switch to a firm mattress and don’t use pillows. Then your spine will be ready : PApr 19, 2019 at 3:26 pm #3589553Michael RSpectator
I bought one of these last week and went out 5 days ago with my wife on a 3 day hike. I was delighted with the size/weight . My wife slept on it the first night and I wanted to scream when I heard it. The night was still and I am sure that a couple of other hikers about 150 yds away could easily hear it also. My wife is deaf at night without her hearing aids on so she could not hear it. I used it the second night and it was comfortable enough but I am thinking of getting something else. You can only hear the offending sound when you lay on it and move around. It does not crinkle but sounds almost like a roaring sound.Apr 19, 2019 at 6:32 pm #3589594Eli NSpectator
My experience with the regular XLite pads is that they are very noisy when new but get much quieter after a few nights of use. Not sure whether to expect the same with these.Apr 19, 2019 at 7:16 pm #3589602Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
I’ve spent several nights on my Uberlite pad, and have already noticed that it’s getting quieter. That said, I still think it’s a quieter pad than my XLite. That sucker when new is something else.Apr 19, 2019 at 10:57 pm #3589620Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
RE: How companies come up with pricing
Just for background there are three parameters the marketing representatives of product development teams use when it comes to pricing:
Cost plus, meaning cost plus some markup over cost. This cost includes not just the cost of materials but the R&D and other costs amortized over the life of the product. The use of this parameter is mostly not followed today when social media companies price apps or services below cost in order to capture mindshare and eyeballs. For some products like CPUs and other chips that go into laptops and cellphones actually get cheaper on a unit cost basis the more of them that you build. (See Moore’s Law).
Price against the more or less competitive products, including products in your own product portfolio.
Price based on the perceived value to the customer. As stated above, the BPL community will pay $$$ for lower weight products. In some industries, the price itself is a signal of compelling value, witness the price of luxury cars.
Often the three parameters yield three very different potential prices. The bias is to price high since if you price too low, it is very difficult to raise the price later unless you are selling something customers cannot do without.Apr 20, 2019 at 1:26 am #3589634Timothy D BBPL Member
i think I am going to stick with my Xlite for 3 season trips for the time being, a difference of 4 ounces not quite enough to justify the price of a new mat for the present.
Again, a very interesting review. Content like yours makes me glad I paid for a subscription.
TimMay 10, 2019 at 10:24 pm #3592353Hanz BBPL Member
Two nights of use ok so far. I agree it’s notably less noisy then either my neoair xlite women’s or my neoair thermarest. It was satisfactory to 37 F in no wind conditions with a 10F quilt vented with the 5mm gossamer gear pad underneath. I slept on pine needles polycryl and 1oz dyneema and found no issues.
weight wise I think as I’m 5’10” I’d be picking between the neoair women’s (11.7oz/3.9R) and this Uber light for all but summer trips and low altitude fall trips. I did appreciate less noise.Dec 29, 2020 at 2:06 am #3691204Fred KellyBPL Member
Ryan – thanks for the great reviews, including the original video that you did on potential use of the UberLite sleeping pad (with a CCF Pad layered underneath) for winter camping approx 23 months ago in Jan 2019. I also read your good recent winter backpacking blog at https://backpackinglight.com/winter-backpacking-when-theres-no-snow/ . In that blog, you included a photo showing the NEMO Tensor Ultralight Insulated Extra Wide (I’m guessing 19+ oz), and, in the imbedded video in that blog ( https://youtu.be/rc8sv0aNEng ), it looked like you used your trusty XTherm for a winter outing (thanks for sharing). Sorry if I’ve missed it elsewhere, but any chance of getting an update on your journey/experiences with the Uberlite over the past 23 months (any/all seasons, warm & cold)? I love the weight/size of the Uberlite. I was crazy careful with my first Uberlite (regular) knowing how delicate those pads have been (I always use in a MLD UL bivy to protect the pad), and still ended up with two separate pinholes that were easily fixed (but required time/effort on trail). On the 2nd pinhole, it was near a seam, so I sent it to Thermarest for repair (to make sure the repair was solid) & they elected to replace it with a new Uberlite with the new wing valve, so it’s now back in use (I’ve only got maybe 10 nights on it so far – no issues). Mentally, I prefer my Xlite (I’ve had great luck with the qty 4 XLites I have purchased for my family ), but the weight of the Uberlite is hard to beat! The XLite’s don’t seem to be as delicate as the Uberlite (15D vs 30D). I’ve got a friend (living in North Georgia) who does AT/Colorado/Wyoming backpacking (minimal snow), who has an old XLite (regular), and is wanting to go to a wider pad (he is also working hard to reduce his pack weight). He is seriously looking at the Uberlite Large/Wide (to get the 25″ width) for summer use (12.0 oz), and then add a GG CCP or Z-Lite for cooler shoulder 3 season temps (exactly as you were evaluating in your Jan 2019 Uberlite video). He is also looking at just moving to the the XLite Reg/Wide (15 oz) – but that adds 3 oz to all warm weather use. Any update(s) on your journey/experiences with the Uberlite (any/all observations would be appreciated), and, any follow up thoughts on that past topic of using a Uberlite beyond warm weather on top of a CCF Pad? In your opinion, is the 3 to 5 oz weight advantage of the Uberlite over the XLite (in warm weather) still warrant the increased “focus” required to protect the Uberlite? Any other light weight solutions/combos you might consider/prefer other than the XLite Reg/Wide or the Uberlite Large/Wide for full three season use? Thanks for your work Ryan!Dec 29, 2020 at 11:21 am #3691252Michael BBPL Member
I think it is about time for a long term update – this thread is 2 years old and price has come down on these pads a bit.
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