Sleeping pad - Self-inflatable vs. standard foam cell

10:35 p.m. on February 15, 2010 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
155 forum posts

Hello, new to the forum and I'm probably posting something that has been talked about before, but here goes.

After being away from backpacking for several years, I've decided to get back into it with a vengeance. When I did backpack years ago, I was young and stupid, so please don't hold that against me.

Anyway, back then I just used a regular foam cell ground pad and that was it. Over the weekend, I went to a local store and found several self-inflatable pads staring me in the face. Maybe they were out there in the 90s when I was hiking, but I sure don't remember them. I ended up buying the foam pad because of familiarity and now I'm rethinking whether I should take it back and get a self-inflatable.

The whole reason I talked myself out of the self-inflatables in the first place was A. They appeared to be heavier and B. My thought was if your packing at the bottom of the pack it seems they could tear easily as you take the pack on and off.

As I've done research, I've found some comments that the extra weight is worth it for the comfort and the argument that your standard ground pad will get all beat up and have to be replaced pretty quickly.

What are your impressions?

10:03 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
63 reviewer rep
123 forum posts

As I've done research, I've found some comments that the extra weight is worth it for the comfort and the argument that your standard ground pad will get all beat up and have to be replaced pretty quickly.

 


this question ranks up there with, "which came first the chicken........"


as a 43 year-old who does mostly car-camping with the scouts comfort is the biggest priority for me. i use a thick foam mattress for most excursions. and when we are camping i use a therma-rest luxury camp 2.5" thick. being comfy when sleeping is way more important to me than the extra 3 lbs.


if you are gonna be going long distances into the back-country and are more concerned with the weight than standard foam is ok. just not as comfy.

10:36 a.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
59 reviewer rep
14 forum posts

I like the air mats. I have an Exped Synmat 7 Deluxe. According to REI it weighs 39 ozs and packs into a 6x12 stuff sack. It comes with the pump built in to it.

Pros: Super comfy, I sleep above the ground, floating on air. And this one is insulated so it's warm on cooler nights. It packs up much smaller than my self inflaters. It provides support to my entire body.

Cons: If it gets a hole that I cannot patch then I have something much thinner and less comfy than a self inflater or foam roll. I bring a patch kit with me every time I camp.

There are other insulated air mats available as well.

Mike

1:06 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
200 reviewer rep
4,120 forum posts

I used a Ensolite pad for 28 years, then got a Therm-a-Rest pad from a friend. I used it for a few year, but have gone back to the Ensolite pad. My Therm-a-Rest pad always managed to get punctures and made my sleeping uncomfortable when they were. My Ensolite pad never has puncture problems no matter what happens to it.

1:23 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
415 forum posts

It also depends on where you're going to be camping -- desert environments are bound to be more puncture-prone, for example.

I recall reading an article about a guy who was trying to set a speed record for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail; while everything in his pack was as light as possible, the one place he did not compromise was on the sleeping bad: he always carried an inflatable.

And it's worth noting that for many adults, the ol' spine doesn't bend like it did in their youth.

1:29 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,272 forum posts

Rocklion -

Self-inflatables have indeed been out there for years. We still have our Thermarest pads from the early 1970s. And of course, air mattresses have been around since well before WWII.

There are probably a dozen or more companies making variations on the inflatable. The big pluses are that, like the "air beds" that are so popular as a "guest bed" for homes (much nicer than a cot), they are comfortable and when deflated, they take up little storage space (well, for backpacking, they roll up pretty small so you can get them into the pack or can strap them on the outside). The big negatives are that they cost a bunch (some going well above the $100 mark, particularly the super-cushy ones), weigh a lot, and they can develop leaks unless you are very careful with where you place them and how you protect them. When they do develop leaks in the field, they are a super pain to repair unless the hole is very obvious, and then it may be too big for your patch kit.

If you get out in winter and camp on snow or on glaciers, traditional air mattresses and even the new Cascade Designs Neo are pretty cold (the Neo is a huge improvement over the traditional air mattresses, but still really is not recommended by the manufacturer for snow camping). The reason is that the large air tubes for comfort allow a lot of convection, hence convective cooling - not as bad as a cot with no mattress, but still cold.

The self-inflatables were developed to get around the convection problem - they have an open-cell foam inside the shell that can be compressed to squeeze the air out (then close the valve to keep the air out) so that they are compact for backpacking. When you unroll them and open the valve, the foam springs back and sucks air in. Blow a little extra air in, close the valve, and you have a comfortable mattress. A variation on this is the down or Primaloft filled pad. These are somewhat warmer and lighter than the foam version (and more expensive!). Field repairs require finding the leak (hard for pinhole slow leaks) and patching it. If you go with an inflatable with its extra cost and weight, always carry a patch kit and learn how to use it.

You can still find open-cell foam pads, some with a nylon cover. These are fairly cheap, but open-cell foam = sponge. Get them around liquids (rain leaking into the tent, camping in the open, spill the soup), and they act like what they are - a wet sponge.

You can also go with what it sounds like you used to use, a closed-cell foam. These do not soak up water, and are very light (typically under 8 ounces, compared to 1.5-2 pounds for an inflatable), but bulky (since they do not compress like open cell foam or an inflatable). They can be very cheap ($5 at WalMart, Target, etc for the traditional "blue foam") or very expensive (for the fancier Ridgerest or Z-rest, close to the same size inflatables in price). They are pretty good insulators on snow, though you might want to double up.

For expeditions that involve camping on snow or glaciers, many of us use a combination of "blue foam" (the closed cell foam) and an inflatable. That way we get the advantage of the softer inflatable, which is on top of the closed cell foam that provides the automatic backup if the inflatable develops a leak (a flat inflatable is really cold and really miserable on the rocks and sticks under the ground cloth).

Despite my comments about leaky self-inflatables, in close to 40 years of using them, I have never had a leak. On Boy Scout backpacking trips, on the other hand, I have seen many flat inflatables ("It was my tentmate who punctured the pad, Mr. Scoutmaster, not me!"). And I have had companions on expeditions who have gotten small leaks in their pads (really hard to find and patch in sub-zero conditions).

1:30 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,192 forum posts

It's all about comfort, R values, longevity, and pad-care. How comfortable do you want to be? How much effort are you willing to expend to keep your inflatable unpunctured? Many backpackers are clueless with their blowup pads, they lash them to the outside of their packs unprotected, they throw them on the ground and sit on them, etc. And then they wonder why they have a slow leak thru the night.


I've seen many winter backpackers take out insufficient pads and when they throw them on the ice and snow they sleep cold. A fairly foolproof number is the R value of a pad. I saw a woman with a Prolite who had to bail due to the ground cold. I wouldn't go out with anything below a 6R in the winter, and here's where it gets interesting. (And I won't use anything but the wider 25 inch in the winter).


Look at the Big Three: Big Agnes, Thermarest and Exped. You will find their 25 inch, high R value pads in short supply(except for the Exped Downmat 9 which has its own set of problems). A good 25 inch wide, high R pad is HEAVY. Go look at the numbers yourself.


Here's my basic rule of thumb: After setting out the pad and/or inflating, if you can feel the ground under your butt when sitting up on the thing, it is too thin. This is a real world test of all pads and important as you'll be spending a lot of your time sitting up on the thing. Of course, most pads do great when laying down(here's where the Exped downmat shines), but sitting up is the real taste test.

1:38 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
21 reviewer rep
12 forum posts

I have tried them all and have found the air mattress works best for me. I can get more comfort and insulation to weight ration in the air mat and it packs up small. I'm as old as the hills and have broken and bent many parts ( I''m not talking about gear ether) I like a cushy pad. Check out the list of pads on Trailspace and the gear reviews you will see stuff you never knew existed.

To avoid problems with the air mat inspect it before you go and if you carry a patch kit it decreases the chance of leaking by 99% ? The Exped is a great mat I have used them as well. In most three season usage I like the Pacific outdoor mat it works great the mat has held up very well and if flat will keep you warm, found this out, out of curiosity. I like rolling my mat instead of folding it this way there is no permanent creases in it creating a weak point ? It fits in my 3800 cu in backpack or on the outside using a thermarest stuff sack that comes with a daisy chain

Last thought is "a good night sleep is a must, not an option"

1:49 p.m. on February 16, 2010 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
155 forum posts

I've been looking at the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core and the Pacific Outdoor Ether 6. I've heard good things about both these. I went out and bought a, what I call standard but I guess is the closed cell, pad over the weekend. Was thinking about taking it back, but I might keep it to maybe double up in the winter.

I live in Tennessee and don't expect to be heading to any too faraway places soon. Definitely won't be heading to the desert. lol.

1:04 a.m. on February 17, 2010 (EST)
65 reviewer rep
168 forum posts

I started back in the day with a blue closed-cell pad. It was never terribly comfortable, and was bulky when rolled up (like most of my fellow backpackers, I carried it lashed to the top of the pack.) But it was cheap, gave some cushioning, and insulated well. Couldn't puncture it of course, but it could be torn.

Then I used a basic 2/3 length Thermarest when they came out, for many years with only one puncture, easily repaired with the repair kit.

A few years ago, my brother gave me a newer Thermarest. Full length, with the Lounger envelope that you slip the pad into and it can turn into a chair. Heavier, but worth it on two counts. For one thing, the Lounger sheath gives more puncture protection. For another thing, it is pretty cool being able to have a comfy chair. I think it may have a slightly thicker pad inside than my old self-inflater, it just seems a bit cushier.

I also have an Exped DownMat for cold-weather camping. The air mattress, properly inflated, is more comfortable than even the Thermarest, while the down fill makes it plenty warm -- nothing cozier!

10:34 a.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
42 reviewer rep
352 forum posts

Looking in the gear closet i found 5 different pads i use for different purposes.

1- Small 3/4 lenght blue foam pad for ultralight ventures (7oz)

2- 3/4 lenght 1/2 inch thick Evasote pad for winter camping (9oz)

3- Full lenght ridgerest (13,5oz)

4- Full lenght thermarest inflatable with the chair (17 oz plus chair)

5- Full lenght 25 inch wide 2 inch thinck inflatable (heavy)

I found that for sleeping directly on the ice in winter i need pads 1-3-4 to stay warm. The chair is heavy but very comfortable when melting snow for 2 hours at night.

For camping on snow i only bring 3 and 4 (without the chair addition). I build a bench in the snow. The inflatable is less likely to get punctured in the winter unless you're using crampons.

For light trips on snow i bring 2 and 3 (high elevation gain, long duration or gear-heavy trips) and pad underneat with whatever i have left.

Hinge season low elevation i bring the ridgerest, and summer time the blue 3/4 pad. I like foam pads in the summer because they take a beating and keep working.

I sleep on the big inflatable (5) at home the rest of the time, it's that comfy.

I stoped using the Z-rest because it doesn't last long (30-40 nights) before ending up like a pancake. The Ridgerest is more durable, at least twice as much. The inflatable can last for years provided you're careful with punctures.

I'm a very cold sleeper and tend to bring more to stay warm. Hope this helped.

6:58 p.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
89 forum posts

I picked up a ridgerest today .38 zrest last year 1.00

10:16 p.m. on February 18, 2010 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
155 forum posts

I had bought a Ridgerest over the weekend and was thinking of taking it back. I've instead decided to keep it and just bought the Pacific Outdoors Ether 6 today. I figure in cold weather I'll use them both together.

Thanks all for the tips.

10:30 p.m. on April 14, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

is there any way around paying sooooo much for a self inflating pad. other than a regular old sleeping pad?

and why are they so expensive there isnt any major technology in self inflating pads.

12:20 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,272 forum posts

The manufacturers have it pretty well sewn up. For a long time, Thermarest was the only choice, though I do not remember the original ones we still have being any more expensive than basic "stick the hose in your mouth and huff 'n puff away" air mattresses (the original metal valves that tended to develop leaks were replaced with the plastic ones long ago). I think we paid $10-15 for the first ones, which would mean that the same ones would be $100-150 or more, given that inflation (financial, that is) has been a factor of 10 or 20 since we got our first ones in the early 1970s. The actual prices are less than that, so prices have effectively been coming down. As other versions were introduced by other companies, they were all priced close to the same level.

For comparison, our 1970 VW Kampwagen cost $2500 new. These days, the comparable VW Eurovan with the Westphalia conversion is more like $30-35k. I was looking for a pair of dress shoes yesterday (yes, I do wear something other than sandals and hiking boots from time to time). Shoes I paid $15-20 for in the 1970s are now more like $200-250. I can get a good pair of hiking boots for that (I think, haven't had to to replace a pair lately, just resole them).

We used to get the Blue Foam pads for $4 or $5. Last time I looked, they were $15.

I could also ask why our house, built in 1953 and sold for $10,000, would have sold for $1.2 million anytime in the past year of "down" housing sales (several identical tract houses on our street sold for that, but we decided to take advantage of the construction slowdown, scrape the lot and build from the ground up).

You could borrow Dr. Who's TARDIS, go back to 1980 or so, and pay half the price.

6:58 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

i understand that things are more expensive now then they were then but why. just because they want them to be? its just foam inside of an air matress pretty much. i know it dosnt cost 100 plus dollars to make.

7:47 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
983 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I understand how you feel, someone once told me that any item is worth whatever someone will pay for it.

Seriously though, I'm sure some of that money goes to research & development, testing, etc. Plus there is a bit of operating cost difference per unit between an item you will sell millions of, and an item you will sell thousands of. If you are making millions of something you can spread your costs out over a broader range.

Specialty outdoor equipment tends to cost more than things that everyone uses, like toasters. They sell millions of those.

I am a self employed wood worker and have learned this lesson myself.

If a customer asks me to build a custom Mahogany fishing rod stand with drawers & such, the first copy will be quite expensive as there is a lot of layout work involved and a lot of time setting up shop tools to do the work. But, if a customer wants me to build 50 of them, that initial set-up expense gets spread out over the 50 models rather than just the one. Plus if you buy materials in bulk you get better prices.

Remember also that if you buy quality gear and take good care of it the purchase price gets spread out over the number of years you own it. I know that doesn't make it any cheaper to purchase the gear you need to get started, but something to consider.

Having said all that.....I hear ya'.

11:04 p.m. on April 15, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

i get the idea behind the volume of sales but dosnt therma rest have like several different style of pads.....and obviously they sell them around the world. so the more they sell shouldnt the price go down more and more over time......i just cant see how they are still soooooo much they have been around for awhile. i could see like you said with the fishing pole stand. if they had just come out recently, or there were only one that exsisted maybe. I dont know im still having a hard time breaking and buying one.

12:29 a.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,272 forum posts

Look in the current Campmor catalog or online - they have several Thermarest models on sale for $30-40. Maybe that is in your price range. I believe they are closeouts of discontinued models.

7:24 a.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
225 reviewer rep
1,192 forum posts

Look in the current Campmor catalog or online - they have several Thermarest models on sale for $30-40. Maybe that is in your price range. I believe they are closeouts of discontinued models.

There seems to be a line of Thermarest pads available from Campmor that aren't in Thermy's catalog. I bought both over the years. One's called the Backpacker pad, and the other is called the Explorer.

What's funny is all the current madness for the expensive NeoAir, when you can get an even warmer R pad called the Trail in short that weighs only 6 oz more but costs $29 instead of $150. The malady of ultralight correctness prompts people to do strange things.

9:24 a.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
27 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

I'm not defending the price of the Neo, but it has more going for it than simply its weight. It is a touch lighter than other pads, but from my understanding it utilizes absolutely no porous, absorbent insulating material, meaning that there's nothing on the NeoAir that can get went and reduce insulating performance. That's a huge plus for people camping in wet environments. It also compacts down to about half the size of other pads of its type, eliminating the need to strap it onto the outside of your pack.

Right now it might be a niche product, but like all other new technology it's priced accordingly. As competing products enter the market, materials become more plentiful, and production methods get streamlined, the price will fall. It's only a matter of time.

12:28 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

Right now it might be a niche product, but like all other new technology it's priced accordingly. As competing products enter the market, materials become more plentiful, and production methods get streamlined, the price will fall. It's only a matter of time.

Thats kind of what i though as far as the price goes. But i kinda feel they should already be cheaper than they are. Maybe im missing something.

4:08 p.m. on April 16, 2010 (EDT)
69 reviewer rep
21 forum posts

My standard backpack sleeping set-up is a Thermarest full length on top of a Z-rest. Warm and comfy all year round and the z-rest also makes a great utility pad for around camp, too. I don't mind the extra weight of the second pad (about a pound) because a good night's sleep is worth it.

5:16 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

I dont skimp on things as far as comfort goes, i have a north face sleeping (nova)bag which was around 400 dollars....but i cannot seem to spend hundreds of dollars on something as simple as a peice of close cell foam... to me it seems like glorified egg crate, I have done hundreds of camping trips out of my truck, and only a few out of a kelty super tioga. and maybe this is where im missing the point. But i cannot see spending hundreds on foam cubes with plastic around them.....i have never had a problem speeping on the straight ground, while a sleep pad does add comfort, for the limited amount of days im in the woods, i can deal with the ground. Maybe when the price comes down to reasonable, ill buy one "fancy" model...although i am concidering one of those sale modles bill s was reffering to.

6:17 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

Those days of sleeping in the forks of trees and on top of boulders without a pad are long gone for me. :-)

I use a full sized Thermarest Ultralite purchased used on eBay (very cheap) and supplement with a 3/4 Magellan from Academy. Both pack down pretty small and I sleep well on them.

10:53 a.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

maybe ill h have to do some shopping around, if i could find one reasonable ill get it. I love the idea of a self inflating pad, i just dont like the price of them.

2:37 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

maybe ill h have to do some shopping around, if i could find one reasonable ill get it. I love the idea of a self inflating pad, i just dont like the price of them.

The 3/4 size pad from Academy was less than $30.00. It looks to be about 1 3/8" - 1 1/2" thick when inflated and weighs 22 ounces. I've slept on it a few dozen times. Looks to pretty durable.

randy

4:06 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

awsome, im going to look into it....my only concern is that im a big guy and kinda figured id need something with a little more heft. If im going to mash it flat i might as well not even be laying on it. Any input on weather you think it'd be a problem with the academy pad your talking about?

4:45 p.m. on April 17, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

In your shoes I would probably purchase it and lay around on it in front of the tv for a while and see how it holds up. You can always take it back if you aren't satisfied.

I actually slept on my setup a few times at home before taking it for a spin in the backpack.

12:53 a.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

good advice. ill have to get one of them, worst case i can give it to my girlfriend whos small im sure itd server her well.

I just want to avoid having my hipbones and elbows grinding into the ground. But hey maybe even highend therma rest pads would produce that kind of discomfort?

6:12 p.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
148 forum posts

My 1" thick Thermarest Ultralite keeps my 150# off the ground. Someone bigger "might" need a thicker pad.

I bought the Thermarest thinking it would be all I needed. But I sleep better with both pads used together.

randy

7:03 p.m. on April 18, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

thats kind of what i figured on doing when i started looking at sleep pads. I ale maybe assumed id double up a military style sleep roll with a self inflatable pad.

1:09 a.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

Just to touch base with this subject. I found a 3 inch thick self inflating pad at gander mountain for 70 bucks i think. It was called the guid series grizzley i think, it seemed very very thick and plush. and for my big ass i might spring for thr 70 and get it. Just a heads up for any other big kids out there hiking worried about poking the ground wit htheir hip bones and elbowes. they also have a stupidly thick 4 INCH pad. called the Kodiak for around 85 bucks.....I dont know much about therma rest but i dont think they can beat that with a stick.

7:34 a.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
27 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

I recently reviewed the Big Agnes Two Track that I bought on recommendation from my local outfitter. The 2" version, while thermal overkill for nearly all of my outings, keeps all of my 260 pounds off the ground. Due to the difficulty rolling the 2" model, I may investigate the 1.5" for late fall/early Spring outings after this season.

Definitely on my wishlist too is the Big Agnes Air Core for Summer camping. They make a insulated model for light 3-season use as well.

2:19 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
4 reviewer rep
59 forum posts

good info that give me some hope im around 270 so it gives me a good idea of what im going to need to deal with.

8:49 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

The large size rectangular Big Agnes Insulated Air Core pad is comfortable for bigger guys and is not heavy to pack. One DOES need further insulation from the ground in cold weather and the EVA foam sections from "Gossamer Gear", called "Torso pads" or something, will, if used sideways provide that and are still light.

You "should" be able to be totally comfortable with this setup at about 40 oz. weight for your total pad and with a decent bag at about 3 lbs., this will take you to 0*F. I seldom use my winter bags and can/do sleep out in the cold with this pad system and my lighter bags, this is roughly 6 lbs, with eVent bivy and siltarp, not a bad camp, even in cold rain.

I would not have another of the thick heavy Thermarests, my old "Camprest" finally fell apart a year ago and it always was a heavy, bulky pita to use. I would and have chosen an Exped Deluxe 9 for real crappy conditions and this and the synthetic option of Exped pads is FAR beyond any Thermarest I have used and I have had a good half dozen in the past 30+ years.

Just because one is a big bruiser and maybe has a little more "beer" around his middle than he ought to....as most of us do from time to time, does not mean he has to hump some 5 lb. monster pad that takes up half your pack. No point in suffering when better options exist.

9:27 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
983 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

Dewey,

I'm glad to hear you like the Exped 9, I am strongly considering getting it, or one of the variants.

I'm thinking of making the quantum leap from CCF Ridgerest to Exped.

My conditions are generally above 0 deg. F. in winter.

11:35 p.m. on April 21, 2010 (EDT)
12 reviewer rep
613 forum posts

I seldom use mine as I prefer the lighter rig and I am almost impervious to cold, it freaks my buddy, who has climbed all over the globe, out, but, I just do not mind cold.....Viking blood, I guess.

That said, these Exped mats are really a fine rig, I consider the synthetic filled one a little bit more practical and just wish they would make it in 25" x 60" to save a few oz. I have some info. on a custom outfit in Californey that makes something like this and may look into a shorter, wider custom pad....BillS aka OGBU will know.

Check out "Prolite" and/or "Gossamer Gear" for the EVA pads I mentioned, these are just awesome and weigh zippola.

10:28 p.m. on April 22, 2010 (EDT)
MODERATOR REVIEW CORPS
983 reviewer rep
3,475 forum posts

I seldom use mine as I prefer the lighter rig and I am almost impervious to cold, it freaks my buddy, who has climbed all over the globe, out, but, I just do not mind cold.....Viking blood, I guess.

HaHa,

While I live in Southeast US, and it does not get really cold around here, I most often go solo during winter because everyone here thinks it's too cold to go camping. Even when I offer to let them use some of my good winter gear, they say no.

Oh well.

I go wade fishing in January / February with my brother in law with temps in the 20 F to 40 F range, water temps around 45 F to 55 F.

You must have the right gear of course, and use some common sense, but I love it, and my brother in law loves it even more.

Winter for me means no mosquitoes, ticks, etc!

11:58 p.m. on April 23, 2010 (EDT)
20 reviewer rep
14 forum posts

Height 6'0"

Weight 220lb.

If your looking for quick and cheap, Thermarest has some decent stuff for around fifty bucks. They have an inflatable in that range and go for the long if comfort is part of the issue, combine with one of their RidgeRest pads should be around eighteen bucks and you have one extremely comfortable system. For the inflatables in general it is best to fully inflate and then slowly let air out while laying on top to gage support and softness. The original sleepmember, also the self-inflating thing is beyond overated. If lloking for a testimonial, I used this combination as my bed in an aparment for six months and if given time, the stiffness will actually align your spine to its natural state instead of an unnatural curve, normally gotten from a cheap mattress. Hope this helps.

6:58 p.m. on April 25, 2010 (EDT)
27 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

The Therm-a-Rest seems cheaper at a glance, but what you don't get with it makes up that difference. The stuff sack for the cheaper Therm-a-Rest runs $13 at most stores, and the patch kit runs around $10. If you use REI's prices, the Trail Lite pad runs $60, so you're at $83 for the whole outfit. That matches the price of the 2" Big Agnes Two Track. The 1.5" Two Track is then cheaper.

2:26 p.m. on June 12, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts

I just dug out-of-the-basement & handed down my old thermarest ultralight to my 8yo daughter for family camping trips. We are going to start car-camping as a family and see what happens (i know....the horror). I used to BP/ski tour and hike a bit - just getting back into it...

My 4yo son needed something too so, I went out and picked up a thermarest trail (small). Perfect size for kids (I am now older and need more 'cush' the.......ultralight ain't gonna cut it).

Anyway.......I got it home and unrolled the thermarest trail to let my son try it out and I noticed that it is still made in USA. I kind of like that fact. I don't want to start a 'made in USA thread'or anything but, just want to point it out, if that is important to you.....

I don't know *that* much about CasscadeDesigns. I do like their story, and I do like the thermarest stuff (ymmv). I have always liked any of my MSR purchases.......the stuff is typically well thought out (owned by casscade). Seems like they are trying to keep the mfg here in the states.....for how long who knows?

The prices do seem a bit high, especially compared to a china clone-import product at big box sporting goods stores. I guess they do still have a lifetime warranty (I have never had to use that or their customer service). I do have a soft spot for the old-school 70's gear startups like the old Kelty stuff and such............especially if they are still making it here (most are not).

(hope this isn't getting preachy or too off-topic - seriously)

Happy trails!

1:19 a.m. on June 13, 2010 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,285 forum posts

...If you go with an inflatable with its extra cost and weight, always carry a patch kit and learn how to use it.

You can also go with what it sounds like you used to use, a closed-cell foam. They are pretty good insulators on snow, though you might want to double up.

For expeditions that involve camping on snow or glaciers, many of us use a combination of "blue foam" (the closed cell foam) and an inflatable. That way we get the advantage of the softer inflatable, which is on top of the closed cell foam that provides the automatic backup if the inflatable develops a leak (a flat inflatable is really cold and really miserable on the rocks and sticks under the ground cloth).

Despite my comments about leaky self-inflatables, in close to 40 years of using them, I have never had a leak. On Boy Scout backpacking trips, on the other hand, I have seen many flat inflatables ("It was my tentmate who punctured the pad, Mr. Scoutmaster, not me!"). And I have had companions on expeditions who have gotten small leaks in their pads (really hard to find and patch in sub-zero conditions).

These comments from Bill pretty much sum up my decades of sleeping mat knowledge and experiences. The Therm-a-rest units are a little softer sleeping, but as pointed out are somewhat less efficient insulators from cold and have the potential to fail. In my opinion it is only worth switching out what you have if the inflatable provides enough loft such that no part of your body can compress the mat to the point it touches the ground below. Test this out in the store before purchasing, and in different sleeping positions.

8:03 p.m. on June 16, 2010 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,329 reviewer rep
5,272 forum posts

There was an article in today's Wall Street Journal about the trend toward high end mattresses. After reading it, my suspicions about the softening of the American and European public were confirmed. These mattresses (priced from $20,000 to $50,000 (yup, the decimal is in the correct place, multiple tens of thousands of dollars) have sometimes as many as 10 layers of "stuff", and are reputed to cure all your back ailments and improve your sleep by a huge amount. They aren't exactly backpackable, though.

Sorry, folks, you aren't going to get that sort of "comfort" in a Thermarest, much less blue foam. Thankfully, despite my ancient age, I still find the ground more comfortable than the majority of beds, especially beds in motels or the few high end hotels that someone else has paid for me to stay in - one of the least comfortable beds I ever had to sleep in was in a 5-star resort hotel in one of their top end rooms (both price and location on the top floor). I later found out the mattress was supposed to be a super custom made one, just for that resort.

10:39 p.m. on June 16, 2010 (EDT)
27 reviewer rep
200 forum posts

That's an obscene amount of money to spend on just about anything that isn't real property or mechanized in some way.

1:03 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
1,245 reviewer rep
1,267 forum posts

This is a very interesting thread because I'm thinking about this very topic myself.


When I last backpacked, I used a Mountain Hardware Highmountain 72 (http://www.trailspace.com/gear/mountain-hardwear/highmountain-72/) I bought somewhere around the turn of the century. I think it's a hybrid of open cell/closed cell foam. They don't seem to sell them anymore (they're not on their website anyway).

It's shown here contributing 2 lbs, 8.5 ounces (!!!) to my 65lb monstrosity backpack.

I have little to no desire to backpack with 65lbs on my back these days so I'm looking to "downsize" ("lightsize"? :). So I'm considering the Prolight.... it's a fraction of the size, and only 16 ounces. I assume there'll be a significant tradeoff in comfort and warmth. Maybe a compromise would be the Prolite Plus since it has a slight extra bit of padding and is touted as "4 season", at the cost of an extra half pound .. yet still a full pound less than what I carried before.

I also have a 1994 standard Thermarest pad ... it's "ok", though it's only torso length ... when I'm car camping I combine the two and that works out pretty well. This one weighs just 9 ounces :).

August 21, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: rediscovered a great fire starter Newer: How far could I expect to go?
All forums: Older: For Sale New in Box Garmin GPS and Radio Rino 120 Newer: Looking for a 25-50 L pack for daily commute, overnights and multiday car camping