Most Comfortable non-inflatable Pad

11:21 p.m. on May 7, 2013 (EDT)
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I'm exploring the possibility of getting a more comfortable sleeping pad for summer/shoulder season backpacking.  I'm currently using a Therm-a-rest Z-Lite Regular.  While it's comfortable for what it is, I suspect there may be other options.

I'm not interested in an inflatable pad though.  I also have a Ther-a-rest Prolite, and found it to be less than satisfactory for my use.  I'm a "combination sleeper", meaning I sleep on my side as well as whatever other positions my body can find to be in during the course of the night.  With the Prolite, if I turn on my side, my shoulder flattens the inflatable pad, so in effect I end up lying on the ground.  Additionally, I'm not enthralled with the way it loses pressure as the air cools overnight.

I also want to keep the weight to no more than that of the Zlite (13.3 oz).  I suspect this and my aversion to inflatables may mean I've already got the best I can get.

Am I overlooking any good options for more comfortable lightweight non-inflatable pads? :)

11:26 p.m. on May 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill, any thoughts on that Exped Multi-Mat I mentioned a bit back?

11:33 p.m. on May 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Hmmm I thought I had looked at this and found it heavier.  I just looked again and it's 2 oz lighter than the Zlite pad I have now.

Hmmm...  have you used one of these Rick?  is it comfortable?  It seems awfully thin :)

5:29 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill:

I too have a pro-lite but do not have the flattening out issue you describe, regardless we are almost identical body types and weight.  I initially  inflate my pad when I set up camp, then give it another boost when I hit the hay.  I inflate it as much as possible, and have developed a skill at closing the valve with minimal air escaping.  So that pad can still provide cushion, at least for me. 

Short of that I would say go with the good old blue foam pad.  Not enough padding for you?  Then stack them!  I use two ¾” pads when snow camping.  I find contouring the surface under me helps make for a more comfortable bed, especially when using BFPs.  A slight dip where the hips (or butt) would go, and a slight incline leading from the mid section to the head both really help, but probably don’t address the specific issue you relate.

Ed

7:23 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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The Exped Multimat doubled up is 4mm thick, that is 5 times thinner than the Z Lite uncompressed.

The foam of the Z Lite is 8mm thick (the rest is the egg crate structure) but still I would think that laying on both, the Z Lite would offer still much more cushion than the Multimat.

I have a generic solid foam with a rubber base that is more comfortable than the Z Lite but about 1/3rd heavier and much bulkier too.

About the only solution I can think of, is to beef up the Z Lite with a single Evazote thin layer like the GG Thinlite insulation pad : http://gossamergear.com/sleeping/1-8.html

(BTW, I have the GG type , there is no way I could sleep "comfortably" on that alone ; it is almost the same thickness as the Multimat doubled up...)

9:33 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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I have not experienced the deflating of the inflatable that Bill is experiencing and I go out in pretty cold weather.

I am wondering if his has a slow leak or a bad valve.

9:40 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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Rick - i don't think it actually leaks, my impression is that it just feels less inflated because the air contracts as it cools overnight.  I could do the "bathtub test" to be sure ...

10:13 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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My Downmat 7 doesn't seem to lose air and I have slept directly on top of the snow with it testing it when I got it.

Maybe I am kicking off a bunch of heat.

We are all different.

11:07 a.m. on May 8, 2013 (EDT)
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i don't think you will do any better for the weight.  i don't use inflatable pads either, and my primary is a thermarest ridgerest - practically the same thickness and weight as the Z lite.  the ridgerest solar is a somewhat thicker pad, but it weighs more. 

3:43 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Lately I've been using foam pads from Alps Mountaineering. They're under $20 from the online REI Outlet: http://m.rei.com/mt/www.rei.com/product/783023/alps-mountaineering-foam-sleeping-mat-72-x-20-x-06-in-special-buy

4:19 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Franco said:

The Exped Multimat doubled up is 4mm thick, that is 5 times thinner than the Z Lite uncompressed.

The foam of the Z Lite is 8mm thick (the rest is the egg crate structure) but still I would think that laying on both, the Z Lite would offer still much more cushion than the Multimat.

 I think stated manufacturer's pad thickness really doesn't hold that much validity when it comes to CCF pads. 

What I am saying is while the Z lite is 8mm thick without someone lying on it I highly doubt that it would be once I place my 200lb+ frame on top of it. 

I think a bigger factor would be the resiliency of compression that the material possesses. This would be based upon exactly what type of foam is being utilized. 

I personally get a chuckle when I read stated thickness claims. 

The only type of pad that holds true to how thick they are is inflatables imo.

This is also based upon how much air one places into the pad and how firm one like their pad. 

I fill my DM7 up and make it pretty firm. The pad doesn't lose much of it's thickness with me on top of it. 

There is absolutely no way to control this with a CCF pad and individual results will vary.

Such as how much does the pad compress with a 105lb female lying on it compared to a 225lb male.

6:38 p.m. on May 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Gee, I don't know Bill

I could have sworn that Thermarerst made a 3/4" thick Ridgerest pad at one time, but I don't see it on their website now - am I missing something?

Anyhow, I used to carry two 5/8" Ridgerest pads during the winter and always wondered why someone didn't sell a 1 1/4" CCF pad.

I now use an Exped Air Mat with a thin sheet of closed cell Polyethylene underneath.

Mike G.

 

7:50 a.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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thermarest still makes a 3/4 inch closed cell foam ridge rest pad, the "solar."  2 cm/.75 inch thick, R value 3.5.  widely available, check backcountry, campmor, us outdoor, moosejaw, and many others.  

8:14 a.m. on May 10, 2013 (EDT)
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leadbelly2550 said:

thermarest still makes a 3/4 inch closed cell foam ridge rest pad, the "solar."  2 cm/.75 inch thick, R value 3.5.  widely available, check backcountry, campmor, us outdoor, moosejaw, and many others.  

 Thanks LB,

I guess I just missed it.

3:32 p.m. on May 11, 2013 (EDT)
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I have 2 different types of therma rests you inflate and both can be inflated to be too hard to suit me. Letting air out isn't a problem though. However i always combine them with the Ridge Rest too.

Walmart has a 8 dollars pad that looks interesting by Ozark. It's closed cell foam, but rolls up easy and reminds me of memory cell foam. These come in slate blue and or drab green. I believe these are 25 inches wide and 72 long long or perhaps even longer.

I buy pads like that at low cost to cut up for assorted other uses. But i didn't buy that pad type yet.

7:55 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Well I decided to let go of my "no inflatable" requirement, though I still have a general distrust of inflatable pads.  I decided to try an Exped Synmat UL 7.  It seems like a good balance between weight and padding (a few ounces heavier than my Z-lite, but with a reasonable amount of insulation).

I didn't see anything non-inflatable that would provide significantly more cushioning than the Z-lite.  Since I pretty routinely suffer from lack of sleep while on the trail, I decided to try something different.

I'll post an update when I've had a chance to try it out :).

8:22 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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love my ridgerest. double them up in winter, or just for more padding. never tried the thicker one. the regular one was always good enough for me, but then I don't have problems sleeping on the trail. looking forward to your review.

1:43 p.m. on July 7, 2013 (EDT)
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The Exped Synmat UL 7 turned out to be *extremely* comfortable - and the schnozzel pump bag worked well.  The only "downside" I noticed is that the thickness raises me up enough to rub the slightly sloping end/side walls in my Copper Spur UL 1 if I'm not careful so it makes the tent feel less roomy.

But infortunately it seems like my concern about inflatable pads all these years turned out to be justified.  The pad leaked. on the very first night out on the trail.  It didn't go flat, but by morning it felt like it was less than half inflated.  The second night it did the same thing. 

I got in touch with Exped support.  They seemed helpful and responsive, but said it would take 2-3 weeks to "exchange or repair" it.  I wasn't up for having a (what I consider to be "super expensive" premium level) brand new pad "repaired" so I just returned it to the retailer.  Had Exped just done a cross-ship replacement then I would have done that. As it turns out, the retailer was out of stock now, so I got a refund.

Since the pad was so comfortable, I've decided to give it a second try before giving up on inflatables and returning to closed cell foam, so I've ordered one from another retailer.  Now I just have to wait a full week for it to arrive since it's traveling cross-country and didn't want to pay for fast shipping.

Hopefully the replacement will work out better than the original.  After seeing how much more comfortable this pad is compared to the foam pads I've been using all these years, it'd be hard to go back to them..

6:56 p.m. on July 7, 2013 (EDT)
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When you inflate the mat  in most cases the air you put in will be warmer than the night temperature.

So as the air inside the mat cools down it will also "deflate"

The thikker the mat the more noticeable this is.

Same reason (in reverse) why people "blow" the mat chambers apart by leaving a fully inflated mat in the sun...

7:07 p.m. on July 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Franco, thanks for the suggestion.  I thought about that, and discussed it with the support person at Exped.   They agreed that probably wasn't what happened here. This wasn't a minor softening, like I said, in the morning it was (felt like) less than half the original inflation.  Is that what everyone else observes with their comparable pads?  It's hard to believe as it seems unacceptable.  Also this was a warm weather trip at low elevation (for the Sierra) at about 8K feet, where it "may" have dropped 10 degrees overnight, maybe a little more.  There wasn't a dramatic temperature change.

December 19, 2014
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