Therm-a-rest dominates the backpacking pad scene but…
Price Paid: $40
Therm-a-rest dominates the backpacking pad scene but I opted for the economical minimal investment of the POE Traditional. I picked it up brand new for $40 from the Frugal Backpacker store in Asheville, NC.
This pad is pretty heavy compared to some of its more expensive competitors. The foam, even when new, will take several hours to fully inflate the pad on its own, but when I get into camp I throw the pad out in the tent and let it go for 30-45 min while I make dinner, etc. By the time I'm ready to crawl in, I put in two or three breaths of air and the pad is firm.
I've used this pad, in combination with my 0º synthetic bag to take on 10-20º nights in the snow. It has no grippy material on top or bottom so it gets pretty slippery. It packs down pretty well and definitely has to be carried on the outside of your pack.
I cannot sleep on my side on this pad without getting a sore shoulder, it's not thick enough.
The reason I gave it a five star is because for the price you won't find a mat more durable, reliable, or warm. It would be nice to have a fancy expensive one, but for the budget oriented hiker give this mat a try. (Also check out the POE Ether 6 series for $20 more than this mat, it's as good or better than the Neo Air).