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Old 11-10-07, 06:36 PM   #1
spinnaker
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Which sleeping pad?

It seems the popular brand of sleeping pad seems to be the Therm-a-Rest.

Therm-a-Rest can be very expensive. Campmor has their own brand and brands such as Slumberjack that are a bit more affordable. What advantages does the Therm-a-Rest have over these types of pads?


Therm-a-rest seems to have a number of different models. If I purchase Therm-a-Rest then which one? I noticed some of them are short? Is this for short people or are your legs just supposed to stick off of the pad?
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Old 11-10-07, 06:46 PM   #2
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Yes, your legs hang off of a short mattress unless you are only 4 feet tall. I have a Thermarest short I purchased from campmor, it was a second & at a good price and works pretty well. With my aging body I'm seriously looking at the Big Agnes Pads for next year, they look to be about the best now but they ain't cheap.

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Old 11-10-07, 06:58 PM   #3
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Thanks,

I guess I should have added that I want a comfortable pad.

What Big Agnes were you looking at? The type that is not self inflating?
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Old 11-10-07, 08:33 PM   #4
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****

I'll second the Big Agnes. I use the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. It set me back $70 at REI, but well worth it. Needs a little bit more than a puff of air, but you can adjust the mattress pressure to your comfort. I like it two-thirds inflated, very comfortable. No foam, so it packs real small.





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Old 11-10-07, 08:49 PM   #5
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[quote=jvsabas;5611744]****

I'll second the Big Agnes. I use the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. It set me back $70 at REI, but well worth it. Needs a little bit more than a puff of air, but you can adjust the mattress pressure to your comfort. I like it two-thirds inflated, very comfortable. No foam, so it packs real small.





I have a list of things I want to buy for touring, and that one has risen to the top of the heap. I have heard it is compact and comfortable, but how durable do you think it is? I have a Thermarest 3/4 length and do not care for it at all.
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Old 11-10-07, 09:23 PM   #6
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I have a list of things I want to buy for touring, and that one has risen to the top of the heap. I have heard it is compact and comfortable, but how durable do you think it is? I have a Thermarest 3/4 length and do not care for it at all.
So far I've only used it for a one week backpacking trip in the Sierras. I was using it on top of bare granite for daytime naps, laid it up against boulders to use as a lounge chair. It was scraping a lot against the granite as I moved around but it doesn't seem to be any worse for wear.
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Old 11-10-07, 09:57 PM   #7
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The other question is what width? Most mattresses seem to come in 20 and 25 inches. Both sizes seem to be pretty narrow to me as I like to sleep on my side as well as my back. The 25" is almost $25 dollars more expensive than the 20 inch. Is the extra width really worth $25??
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Old 11-10-07, 10:12 PM   #8
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****

I'll second the Big Agnes. I use the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. It set me back $70 at REI, but well worth it. Needs a little bit more than a puff of air, but you can adjust the mattress pressure to your comfort. I like it two-thirds inflated, very comfortable. No foam, so it packs real small.
On my first long tour I had a Eureka "backpacking tent" that was 5'x8' and weighed about 11 pounds. I had a full-length, thick Thermarest. Sure, I was comfortable, but I had a tough time climbing hills, and I broke so many spokes I aborted the tour before I finished.

Then I got a short Thermarest and a small, light tent. I was almost as comfortable and much happier when riding. I stopped breaking spokes. You don't really need any insulation under your legs. Sure, it's nice, but if you make a practice of saving weight wherever you can, your total load will be much easier to schlump up hills.

HOWEVER, I bought one of the above-mentioned Big Agnes Insulated Air Core air mattresses. It's the best thing I've found in awhile. It packs really small and light, but it blows up to be full-length. I agree with jvsabas. If I blow it up most of the way, lie on it, and let a little air out until I feel the first part of my body just barely touch the ground, it's perfect! I've had the most comfortable nights on it that I've had touring.
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Old 11-11-07, 02:36 AM   #9
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G'day

As already mentioned with a 3/4 length mattress your legs and feet hang over the end of the mattress. I am not so sure this is a big issue as you really want your upper body and hips supported. If it really bothers you carry a piece of foam mat to provide the extra length or put spare clothes under your legs. That said if you camp in the snow I believe a full length mattress might be more important. Maybe those with experience of same can comment.

Personally I use a Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4S which I tested for BackpackGearTest.org in 2004 and have been using it since. I see it is a balance between comfort and weight carried. I need to ride or walk all day ... having to carry a lot of extra weight really impacts on the days experience. I prefer to balance my sleeping and my day's experience, hence carrying the ProLite.

I have carried and tested full length mattress. They are great to sleep on, but do I want to carry it all day? No way. Just kills the experience. I use my full length mattress for car camping and base camping only.

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Old 11-11-07, 07:50 AM   #10
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I have used and generally like Thermarest pads. The comfort is good and ours have held up well over the years. I had a couple that I threw out because they were leaking all along the seams, but they were at least 20 years old. The latest ones have been backpacking a few times and also have done the TransAmerica route (4,244 miles 73 days). They have not had a single patch.

I wonder about the Big Agnes inflatables (the non-self inflating ones). They are light, pack small, and I have heard that they are very comfortable. My question is how durable are they? I would like to hear either from folks who have had problems with them or from folks who have used them for long and/or many trips without problems.

Are they easy to repair?

Are they prone to leaking in places that are hard or impossible to patch (like a seam)? If so does Big Agnes stand behind them?
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Old 11-11-07, 11:28 AM   #11
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Hey Spin,

Just caught up with your threads about possible tours for next year. Another good source for outdoor gear is Cabela's. We have one a short drive away on I-70 near Wheeling, WV. Plus you can shop online also.

http://www.cabelas.com
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Old 11-11-07, 03:37 PM   #12
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I've got a Thermarest prolite 3R. It is moderately narrow and quite thin. If the ground isn't cold I find it more comfortable folded in half, ie. twice as thick but half as long. I find I sometimes move off the mat if I'm alone in the tent. It is a little more comfortable than a closed cell foam mat (but same ball-park) and packs much smaller.

The thicker car-camping mats are really comfortable but you don't want to be carrying one in a backpack or trying to fit one in a pannier. My wife's weighs 2.5kg! (ie. more than my tent, sleeping bag and mat together). However it is so comfortable we use it as the spare bed at home, it's better than a fold-out cot or sofa bed.

I'm also in the market for a Big Agnes insulated air core, unfortunately not available in Australia, but with the US$-AUD level at the moment I might be able to justify it...
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Old 11-13-07, 04:18 PM   #13
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I used a Big Agnes insulated air core pad on a recent 10 week tour. I only used it as a sleeping pad, not as a chair or river raft or anything, but it held up just fine. No leaks at all. I got tired of having to inflate it every night and so I might take my old thermarest on my next trip. When I compared the Big Agnes and Thermarest side by side before my trip, I'm pretty sure the Big Agnes was slightly heavier, but rolled up more compactly.

As for Big Agnes customer service: I bought one of their tents with a broken pole section at an REI gear sale. Big Agnes sent me two replacement pole sections for only the cost of shipping. I won't hesitate to buy their gear in the future.

Last edited by velo2000; 11-13-07 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 11-13-07, 05:58 PM   #14
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Ya know, inflating the Big Agnes every night was a pain. I'm thinking of rigging some sort of hose or tubing and an old presta valve to inflate the pad with my tire pump.

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I used a Big Agnes insulated air core pad on a recent 10 week tour. I only used it as a sleeping pad, not as a chair or river raft or anything, but it help up just fine. No leaks at all. I got tired of having to inflate it every night and so I might take my old thermarest on my next trip...
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Old 11-13-07, 08:32 PM   #15
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I saw the Exped downmat 9 at Cabela's new store in East Hartford Ct. the other night. Great idea that really performs as I've heard, but at $160 I can wear out alot of other pads first!
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Old 11-13-07, 11:10 PM   #16
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Something to think about - do you sleep on your back or on your side? If you sleep on your back, maybe a Thermarest is the way to go (less hassle inflating). But I sleep on my side and when I used to use a Thermarest, my hip would dig into the ground and it hurt. Now I am madly in love with Big Agnes...
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Old 11-14-07, 06:06 PM   #17
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I use a Big Agnes Air Core; not for bike touring (so far) but for camping and the like. I use it in combination with a Big Agnes sleeping bag (a Horse Thief in this case), which has a no insulation on the bottom, instead providing a sleeve that the mattress goes into. I love it! The sleeve keeps the pad underneath me, even in a hammock, and means that the sleeping bag can be lighter for an equivalent amount of insulation, since no down is wasted on the bottom of the bag. The pad-and-sleeping bag can be rolled up into just the sleeping bag's stuff sack, although i am a little concerned about the loft of the down in this configuration. Highly recommended, even if blowing it up is a bit of a PITA... I'd buy a presta-fitted one in a heartbeat, and it hadn't occurred to me to rig my own valve adaptor. hmm....

They are very durable (by reputation), come with a repair kit, and Big Agnes is very good about customer service. I'd recommend it over a Thermarest any day.
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Old 11-14-07, 06:24 PM   #18
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Big Agnes has some very nice ones, combined with their sleeping pads. I toured the PCW with a thermarest and my partner had Big Agnes. Needless to say, I was jealous the entire time.
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Old 11-14-07, 06:51 PM   #19
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This summer I purchased a Therma-Rest Prolite 4 to replace the 1/2" thich blue foam like pads. Hands down the Therma-Rest is one of the bes purchases I've made especially since I like to sleep on my side. Also helps keep the body warm !
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Old 11-14-07, 06:58 PM   #20
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Blowing it up every night is not the most convenient thing. But I timed it and it only took me two minutes. I've had a problem with a sore back while camping for at least 20 years. The Big Agnes helps me sleep more comfortably. To me that's easily worth the hassle of blowing it up.
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Old 11-14-07, 07:59 PM   #21
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Well, I just may be the only one who dislikes the Big Agnes pads.

I've used the insulated and uninsulated pads in temps just below freezing and couldn't keep warm both times. I'm a warm sleeper and I have a nice, puffy down bag.

The Thermarest 4 season pro-lite insulates much better and you don't have to get all light-headed blowing the thing up.

I concede that the Big Agnes is very comfortable. If you don't plan on touring where the temps get mildly cold, the BA is a safe bet. Otherwise, go for the Thermarest.
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Old 11-14-07, 09:00 PM   #22
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the Air Core is not designed for even mildly sub-freezing temperatures; the Insulated Air Core is, but not by much. To match the insulation of a 4-season Thermarest, you'd want a Hinman pad, probably, or a Two Track.

While one could eschew Big Agnes entirely, it might make more sense to buy the pad that actually fits conditions; or, if planning to mostly summer camp but wanting to extend comfort into lower temperatures, a cut-up blue 'walmart' closed-foam pad can be added. That's my plan; so far it hasn't come up, though, since i do most of my sleeping out-of-doors in above-freezing temperatures.
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Old 11-15-07, 12:51 PM   #23
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I bought a BA air core this year and used it on two tours. It is heavenly compared to my old 1" thermarest and packs smaller. It is a must for a side sleeper and well worth the time to blow it up.
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Old 11-16-07, 01:55 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jvsabas View Post
Ya know, inflating the Big Agnes every night was a pain. I'm thinking of rigging some sort of hose or tubing and an old presta valve to inflate the pad with my tire pump.
It will take you forever to inflate the pad with a bike pump as they are made for high pressure, not volume.

I really like my Big Agnes insulated Air Core. No problem for temperature just under freezing so far. I prefer it fully inflated otherwise it feels like a pool matress and the air moves too much when I roll around so I tend to fall off the mat. It's so thick you can fall off your bed! The 25" might be worth for that but it's heavier and takes longer to inflate.
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Old 11-16-07, 06:21 AM   #25
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Extra 5

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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
The other question is what width? Most mattresses seem to come in 20 and 25 inches. Both sizes seem to be pretty narrow to me as I like to sleep on my side as well as my back. The 25" is almost $25 dollars more expensive than the 20 inch. Is the extra width really worth $25??
Yes, the $25 extra is the best you'll spend on your gear. I always felt as I was laying on a rail at 20", but the extra 5" makes it feel more like a place designed to sleep. (Think car seat versus your favorite BarcoLounger!!! Both good, one just better.) I noticed my shoulders seemed to hang off the sides and was sometimes and issue after a long day.
The difference in weight is moeny well spent, on my old self anyway!!

Best, John
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