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  1. #1
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    Sleeping pads - What do you use - pro/con

    Looking at my gear and i'm realizing it's time for a total makeover. Some of this stuff is 20 years old. Most of what i'm replacing needs replacing, it's fairly worn out. The serviceable gear, like my 22 year old tent, well technology has advanced, time for lighter stronger.

    First up, something highly personal, sleeping pads. I have an old inflatable, not great but gets the job done. I figured this for a simple decision but when i got to REI, I suffered analysis paralysis. Too many choices!!!!

    Let's poll the experts: What sleeping pad do you use, what do you like about it, and what would you change if you could?
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad, size Regular would be my choice now. I used the original NeoAir and it was the lightest, smallest packing, most comfortable pad I have used. I found my original one fine at 18F and the new one is said to have a better R value.

    There are two drawbacks:
    1. They are expensive.
    2. They do sometimes have inner baffles break causing a blister/bulge. That said if you buy from REI they will replace it outside the normal warranty period. Actually Cascade Designs may as well, or at least they did in my case despite the fack that I had no receipt, didn't remember where I bought it, and didn't remember when I bought it.


    A few tips:
    1. Keep it clean and free of stuff like sunscreen, bug spray, and body oils. When that doesn't happen wash and dry it frequently.
    2. Do not over inflate it.
    3. Be careful of leaving it inflated in a hot tent in the sun.

  3. #3
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    Exped synmat UL7....no complaints.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  4. #4
    "Fred"--is that bad? DTSCDS's Avatar
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    To me that question is a bit like asking "How long is a piece of string?"
    The breakdown:
    Closed cell (light, easiest to use, not so easy to pack small, not very much support)
    Self-inflating (heavier, pretty easy to use, not so easy to pack small, a little more support)
    Fully inflating (can be the heaviest option but can also be close to the self-inflator, more effort to get it inflated, packs very small, more support)

    What is most important to you? Weight, comfort, packed size, ease of setup and take-down, cost?
    List your priorities in order.
    Last edited by DTSCDS; 07-18-12 at 12:37 PM.
    The meek shall inherit the earth (If that's okay with the rest of you.)
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  5. #5
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    Any outdoor gear with polyurethane (PU) waterproof coating that's more than 10 years old should be inspected for signs that the PU coating has deteriorated. A common symptom is a bad odor with no obvious cause, which to my nose smells like vomit. Another sign is that the PU will begin separating from the base nylon or polyester fabric, either in pieces or whole films of PU coating. This produces a translucent, uneven, milky appearance when viewed from inside the pack, tent rain fly, stuff sack, or pannier. In some cases the PU simply separates and hangs off in strips and patches. I've had all these bits of gear "rot away" while stored in an air-conditioned, UV-protected room or closet - as the PU coating depolymerizes over the course of time. You can still use packs and panniers where the waterproofing (WP) PU is shot, but you'll have to find WP covers, which is easy since they can be purchased. However, tents and stuff sacks are pretty useless once they lose the PU WP. Ten to fifteen years seems to be the time when PU first starts to give out.

    In addition to waterproof coatings used in outdoor gear, foam padding will rot over time too. EVA and PU foams will simply crumble into dust after ten years or less. I have a pair of circa 1997 Vasque Super Hikers with dense foam midsoles, and the Vibram rubber outer sole literally fell off as I lifted the boots from a shelf in the closet. The midsole was nothing but black dust after ten years. The Vibram sole was still in great shape (now if I can just glue that to my foot). I've had Gregory backpacks where the back padding and/or strap padding crumbled into dust.

    So, if your gear is >10 years old and includes WP layers or foam, it may already be junk, regardless of use and appearance.

    Now back to topic, I mostly use traditional Thermarest pads. They are relatively bulky and heavy compared to modern air mattress type pads, but they are more durable, insulate better, cost less, are available in a wide range of length, width and thickness, and most importantly, sleep better. For the short backpacking trips I still occasionally take, I use a Big Agnes insulated air mattress, as it saves weight off my back and is super compact. I can tolerate an inferior sleep experience for a couple nights. On a bicycle, gear weight is less critical, although the wind resistance of a big Thermarest sleeping pad is something to consider.

    I also have experience with older open and closed cell foam sleeping pads. Although Ensolite was King in 1976, they are now inferior to Thermarests and air mattresses, and hardly anyone uses them anymore. I rank sleeping pads: Thermarest > air mattresses > various foam rubber pads.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTSCDS View Post
    Fully inflating (ban be the heaviest option but can also be close to the self-inflator, more effort to get it inflated, packs very small, more support)
    By that do you mean inflatables that you blow up? If so, ones like the NeoAir or the Klymit Inertia X-Light are not only lighter than the self inflating pads, bit pretty close to the closed cell foam ones. The Klymit Inertia X-Light for example is 6.1 ounces. The NeoAir small is 8 ounces and the regular 12 ounces.

  7. #7
    "Fred"--is that bad? DTSCDS's Avatar
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    and there you have it. . .
    Where seeker333 would find the Thermarest comfortable and the BA pad inferior but would use it in a pinch, for me it's the exact opposite. I find Thermarest pads basically useless. I think they are WAY too thin to offer much padding--I might was well lay down a few layers of newpaper. I MUCH prefer the Big Agnes Air Core.

    There is no way around trying something and seeing how you like it. Polling us is not going to do much good for you.
    Last edited by DTSCDS; 07-18-12 at 12:40 PM.
    The meek shall inherit the earth (If that's okay with the rest of you.)
    “Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”Alexander Woolcot
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  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTSCDS View Post
    I find Thermarest pads basically useless. I think they are WAY too thin to offer much padding. I MUCH prefer the Big Agnes Air Core.
    Both the Aircore and the NeoAir are 2.5" aren't they?

  9. #9
    "Fred"--is that bad? DTSCDS's Avatar
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    Clarification:
    By "Thermarest" I am thinking of self-inflating pads in general. In my argument, the NeoAir would fall into the same category as the BA AirCore--ones that you have to inflate yourself.
    The meek shall inherit the earth (If that's okay with the rest of you.)
    “Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”Alexander Woolcot
    Schwinn Super Sport (86)
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  10. #10
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Love my Neo Air Trekker, best pad I've ever owned. Cons are the cost and have to blow up each nite but well worth the comfort provided. The lighter version was just a little too noisy for me when moving around on it.

    http://www.rei.com/product/810375/th...r-sleeping-pad

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I got an Exped, air mattress with insulation in it..
    fill options : chipped foam plugs cut out of their thinner foam mattress line,
    [self inflate]

    others, a synthetic insulation , or Down. now feature integral pump.


    Took a Stevenson warmlight bag even thicker, down filled,
    but wet Irish air gets to feed mildew and airtight coatings
    become less air tight.
    resolved only by going somewhere else with hot dry air.

    Web discussions with Exped seemed to say a damp place where you camp overnight, for weeks

    theirs may suffer the same problems.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-13-14 at 08:14 AM.

  12. #12
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTSCDS View Post
    ... I think they are WAY too thin to offer much padding--I might was well lay down a few layers of newpaper. I MUCH prefer the Big Agnes Air Core...
    I wholly agree, the thin, ultra-light TRs are inadequate. I have 7 or 8 TRs, a few are the thin, short 1.0-1.5 lbs pads I bought for backpacking, I never use them anymore. Even though they're heavier and bulkier, I grab the >2.5" TRs every time.

  13. #13
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    I wholly agree, the thin, ultra-light TRs are inadequate. I have 7 or 8 TRs, a few are the thin, short 1.0-1.5 lbs pads I bought for backpacking, I never use them anymore. Even though they're heavier and bulkier, I grab the >2.5" TRs every time.
    I'm a little confused by this statement, as the ultra-light Therm-a-rests are 2.5 inches in height. The new Xlite is just 12 ounces, about the same as an old closed cell foam pad. The new Xtherm is only 15 ounces, and just about the warmest pad you can buy. I have an old Prolite, but it's just too thin and to heavy to really be of use, it provides the same comfort as a closed cell foam pad, but at twice the weight.

    Sleeping pads are light, comfy and cheap, pick two.

    If you're starting out and don't have much money, closed cell foam is the best solution; it's cheap, durable and effective and it won't leave you cold.

    If you have money to spend, buy a NeoAir. They're smaller, lighter and cheaper than most of the competitors. If you're going to be camping on snow a lot, get an Xtherm, otherwise the Xlite. If the noise bothers you, spend the money you saved on a pair of ear plugs.

  14. #14
    Senior Member 12bar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
    Exped synmat UL7....no complaints.
    That would my choice.
    "It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after a night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for someone you love". Blazeman, Warrior Poet

    11 Giant Talon 1, 10 Masi 3VC, 08 Long Haul Trucker, 08 Felt Curbside, 99 Specialized Allez

  15. #15
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuzz2050 View Post
    I'm a little confused by this statement, as the ultra-light Therm-a-rests are 2.5 inches in height.
    They weren't when I bought mine - back then they were ~1.5" thick maximum for the lightweight ones.

  16. #16
    Real Men Ride Ordinaries fuzz2050's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    They weren't when I bought mine - back then they were ~1.5" thick maximum for the lightweight ones.
    It's really amazing how some things have changed. I just got myself a Neoair, and I'm pretty damn excited by it. It's lighter and comfier than my old closed cell foam, and I managed to get it for the same price (REI used gear sales are awesome.) I have a thirty year old tent that's just as light as anything made today, and probably many times as durable, same with some backpacks I have, but sleeping pads have really been through some dramatic evolutions in the past few years.

  17. #17
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    I knew this thread was like asking where to buy the best pizza, but great stuff so far. Keep it coming.

    THX!!!!
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  18. #18
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    exped down mat 7 .

  19. #19
    __________ seeker333's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seeker333 View Post
    They weren't when I bought mine - back then they were ~1.5" thick maximum for the lightweight ones.
    I thought I had exaggerating the (lack of) thickness, so I checked:

    My 1999 TR Ultralite pad measures 20"x47"x 1.0" - fully inflated. It weighs 15.9 oz, obviously they were aiming for 1 lb or less. I recollect this pad was the lightest TR type pad made up till that time. It slept OK in AT shelters (wooden platform), and not so well on rocky ground.

    I also have a 2000 CD Ridgerest (foam like Z rest), 20x48x0.75", weighs 8.7 oz. Worst pad I ever owned for comfort, practically useless.

    Finally, 2006 Big Agnes Insulated Air core mummy style air mattress, 20x72x2.5", 25.6 oz, just for comparison.

    I've weighed about 50 or more items at the Post Office over the years using their fancy digital scale, at night when it's empty. About 47 of those items weighed more than claimed, some significantly more than claimed by the manufacturer. The newer items seem to be represented more accurately, and I think this is due to more people actually weighing things and sharing the info via Youtube, etc.

    When it comes to weight specs, especially on BP/outdoors gear, you should always assume it is misrepresented.

  20. #20
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    I use a auto window shade . $ 1.99 , light , packs small .

  21. #21
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    I love my Neoair but as stated above they are loud like sleeping on a bag of potato chips if u toss and turn like I do.Anyone around u will be anoyed.

  22. #22
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    Annoyed

  23. #23
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Neoair that replaced T. Prolite. Lots more puffing, but more packable, lighter, and comfortable. Also a bit more fragile. Excellent service from Cascade Designs.

    If yours leaks and you can't find and fix it quickly, contact Cascade. They'll do you right.

    As noted, do not leave any inflated pad exposed to the sun for long. It'll explode.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  24. #24
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Have used an Exped Airmat 7.5 for several years, not too expensive, well made, comfortable, folds down very small into it's stuff sack (about as big around as a softball and about 6 or 7 inches tall). I think, a good value for the money. Easy to adjust firmness by letting air seep by turning one of the knobs. I like it! The only 'knock' I can think of is that it is a little narrow for my wide body, but so is my sleeping bag.
    "My psychiatrist told me I was crazy and I said I want a second opinion.
    He said okay, you're ugly too." -Rodney Dangerfield

  25. #25
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by *****man View Post
    I love my Neoair but as stated above they are loud like sleeping on a bag of potato chips if u toss and turn like I do.
    The Neo Air Trekker version is very quiet.

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