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Sierra Designs Shadow Mountain Sleeping Pad

rated 3.5 of 5 stars
photo: Sierra Designs Shadow Mountain Sleeping Pad air-filled sleeping pad

Specs

Price MSRP: $79.95
Current Retail: $79.95
Weight 14.5 oz / .41 kg
R-Value 1.3
Dimensions 72 x 20 x 3 in/ 183 x 50.8 x 7.62 cm
Storage Bag Dimensions 10 x 3.5 in/ 25.4 x 8.9 cm
Fabric 20D Nylon

Reviews

1 review
5-star:   0
4-star:   0
3-star:   1
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

The Shadow Mountain is an inflatable sleeping pad from Sierra Designs that, with a 1.3 R-Value, is specifically designed for warmer temperatures, unless pairing with a CCF (Closed-Cell Foam) pad. This compact product inflates and deflates quickly, and is ideal for beginner to intermediate overnight hikers who are on a budget. This sleeping pad could also be an ideal product for young campers! Note: This sleeping pad is not ideal for users above ~150lbs, or restless sleepers.

Pros

  • Deflates/packs very quickly
  • Compact
  • Interesting stow bag

Cons

  • Comfort—Ground contact occurs when moving/sitting up
  • Low R-Value makes it less versatile

Sierra Designs has been innovating apparel and outdoor gear since 1965, providing quality products to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. The company currently has two offerings for sleeping pads, the Shadow Mountain and the Granby (insulated version of this pad). Trailspace's own LoneStranger reviewed the new Granby pad, which can be found here.

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The Shadow Mountain pad paired with a Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite during a cool October week in Maine

Sleeping pads are a new addition to the Sierra Designs line. At the price point of $79.95, the Shadow Mountain will suffice for most of the weekend-warriors that go backpacking in mild weather, or  car-camp. Outside of these conditions, this sleeping pad rings in on the heavy and cold side. 

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The Shadow Mountain pad next to  1L/33.8oz Smartwater bottle


Specifications:

  • Price: $79.95 USD
  • Gender: Unisex
  • Dimensions: 72" x 20" x 3" (4" x 9" packed)
  • R-Value: 1.3
  • Weight: 14.5 oz (16 oz without storage bag recorded)
  • Fabric: 20D Nylon
  • Included stuff sack

 
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Ease of Use/Features

The Shadow Mountain sleeping pad inflates/deflates very easily, thanks to an easy-to-use valve system. Both plugs simply press into their cylinders, and are permanently attached to the sleeping pad. 

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Close-up of the inner check valve, which allows for easy inflation

The Shadow Mountain sleeping pad fully inflates with approximately 8-10 breaths, however is not compatible with any inflation sacks. 

There is a one-way check valve for easy inflation. With the valve open, the sleeping pad deflates quickly.

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Rolling up the pad for storage is effortless, without the need to struggle removing trapped air. Sierra Designs includes a "Burrito Bag," a practical storage bag unlike most storage sacks one will find on the market today.

The Burrito Bag is like a typical stuff sack, however the drawstring is sewn the circumference of the entire length of the bag.  

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The Burrito Bag has an opening the size of the width of the stuff sack.

Sierra Designs boasts that "a 3" thickness means you'd be hard pressed to find the ground." Although the sleeping pad does indeed measure 3 inches when fully inflated, ground contact is frequently made when changing sleeping positions during the night. One's backside fully contacts the ground when sitting up, which is a disappointment from such a reputable brand.

It should be noted that the pad is being tested by a 5'10", 160-pound user. With Earth-lift being such a vital necessity with a sleeping pad, this concern is the primary basis for evaluating this product as "less-than-stellar."

Until design improvements are made, this pad is not ideal for light sleepers that toss and turn frequently. Pleasant nights testing this product have felt unnecessarily long.  

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Autumn lean-to, in Maine's Baxter State Park

 

Construction & Durability

This sleeping pad is constructed of a 20D Nylon using a grid style of chambers. Since the grid is not offset, it takes a bit of getting used to.

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Close-up image of the aligned grid baffles

Sierra Designs suggests the Shadow Mountain "pairs well with 35°F bags" and promises to "deliver comfort in a lightweight, compact package." 

This being said, by constructing the pad with a low 1.3 R-Value this is a summer pad not designed for use at or below 35°F. Pairing the Shadow Mountain with a Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite pad, temperatures down to approximately 18°F have provided sufficient insulation. Sierra Designs claims that the pad 'Pairs well with 35°F bags'- the brand's claims are likely accurate. 

This pad has been tested in conjunction with several insulation setups—an REI Travel Down 45°F sleeping bag, a Double Black Diamond Down Blanket with a Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner, and a Rab Alpine Summit 20°F down sleeping bag with a Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite CCF (Closed-Cell Foam) pad. 

Testing over the last six months (12 overnights) has shown no signs of wear. Typical of most Sierra Designs products, construction is very high quality.  

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Close-up of the 20D Nylon, and air valve

Conditions

The Shadow Mountain sleeping pad has been tested since May 2020 in the mid-Atlantic East Coast, USA, area, as well as an autumn trip in Maine. This pad has been used on several overnights on the Appalachian Trail, an AT section hike, and a week-long lean-to loop in Baxter State Park, ME. Temperatures have ranged from the upper teens to approximately 65°F. 

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Testing the Shadow Mountain in the MSR Front Range Bug/Floor Insert, near Tumbling Run on the Appalachian Trail

Sierra Designs has made quality shelters for years, and it is good to see that they are branching out beyond the tent and apparel market. Although the Shadow Mountain sleeping pad has plenty of headroom for improvement, this product is still a potential contender at its lower price-point. Hopefully Sierra Designs will look further into the R&D of this pad to correct the ground contact concern that hinders this product from being a great product. At this point, this sleeping pad is best suited for lighter users, or people that tend to move less when sleeping. 

Many thanks to the people at Sierra Designs for the opportunity to test the Shadow Mountain Sleeping Pad for the Trailspace Gear Review Corps!


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Experience

After making the transition to air-inflated sleeping pads approximately three years ago, this has become a first choice when it comes to ground sleeping. After decades of using infallible CCF (Closed-Cell Foam) pads, a tired and aching back has not looked back, other than to double-up in winter temperatures, or for hammock sleeping.

Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample for testing and review provided by Sierra Designs)

About the Author

Sean Van Cleve spends much of his free time as a backcountry guide in the mid-Atlantic USA. A certified Leave No Trace Trainer and Wilderness First Responder, Sean focuses on outdoor education with friends and clients alike. Whether it is recreational high-pointing, section hiking on the Appalachian Trail, or leading multi-day backcountry trips in West Virginia, practicing outdoor ethics is at the forefront of the experience—preserving the land for future generations. 

Dean jankovic

Killer review


7 months ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for sharing your experience with this new pad so far, Sean. I'm wondering if it would be an option for a youth backpacking in summer...


7 months ago
Sean Van Cleve GUIDE/OUTFITTER

Great point, Alicia! I think this could be a great application!


7 months ago
KiwiKlimber

Great review, Sean. I've been anxious to see how SD's introduction of sleeping pads would go. Looks like the Granby is probably a better-equipped pad than the Shadow Mountain, and the price difference isn't very much.


6 months ago

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