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Anyone use Kooka Bay sleeping pads?
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John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
New Pad from Kooka Bay! on 04/09/2010 11:21:59 MDT Print View

I thought I would post this in this thread as well since there doesn't seem to be an "official" Kookabay thread.

I received my pad from Bender yesterday and have to say I am impressed. The seams and sealing is very consistent, straight, and even. My custom pad used the standard 70d fabric and is 24" wide, 60" long, and 3.5" thick with some 6 oz of down with the total weight coming in at 21.5 oz with an inflated size of 23" x 59". This is replacing both my short and regular length exped downmat 7's that weighed 20.4 oz and 28.5 oz respectively (without the pump-sacks). I decided on this length based loosely on the measurement from the floor to the top of my shoulders and will put my pack under my head to help elevate my stuff sack pillow. I wanted a wider pad and expect the extra width this new pad provides to help with cutting down on drafts during quilt use, as I tend to toss and turn throughout the night. I do not strap my quilt to the pad but often use some elastic straps that I made to keep the quilt wrapped around me while still allowing for all my moving around. This width also allows for laying on my back while having my elbows and arms stay on the pad without having to clasp my hands across my abdomen. For reference I am 5' 9" and 170lbs with a shoulder girth of 51"

The fabric had a much softer hand than I expected and is certainly much lighter than the fabric on the other insulated pads I have used in the past. It doesn't seem to be any more noisy than other mattresses and certainly less than a neo-air. I deliberated over the 30d fabric but glad I went with the heavier 70d. He also has a 200d for those that tend to be harder on gear or use little to no ground cloth under them. The 200d is probably more like the fabric used on the exped downmats which are 170d or 190d as I recall. The pad seems to be quite a bit more "bouncey" than my previous pads but I don't think it will be a problem. Some of this is due to the fact that the pad is 3.5" vs the 2.8" of the exped mats. Moreover, the Kookabay pad even though it is 4" wider uses 2 fewer chambers across the width. I am not sure what the baffles are made from but in earlier posts Bender had mentioned that he had been experimenting with sewing mesh to strips of nylon and then heat sealing the strips to the top and bottom. If mesh netting, that could also contribute to a little more stretch or bounce. Based on the way the pad inflated it appeared that air moved across the chambers as much as it did from end to end, suggesting that perhaps mesh netting had been used. When I tried to feel through the fabric to help determine the material being used, I could not tell if there was a seam or not. If I were to construct one myself I would use the 30d nylon for the baffles not wanting to field test the long term durability and reliability of the netting or the sewn connection between the two, while still minimizing weight. Perhaps Bender can shed some light on this.

The pad inflated great but I must admit that I had a difficult time getting it to deflate. The valve used appears to be a nylon material and is a simple barbed hose fitting with some mesh netting stretched across the internal end to keep down from escaping and a screw on cap with a gasket that has been attached with silicone. The down pods act as a very effective one way valve against the mesh and with the pad fully inflated and the cap removed, it took nearly ten minutes to deflate and I had to keep folding while laying on the mat. I did find that if I put my finger in the valve and moved it around, it seemed as though I could get a faster flow. A plus to the slow deflating is that the down should stay better put in the chambers and not want to move toward the valve end. There is no mechanism for keeping the down from migrating from one chamber to another which will happen over time and there isn't enough down in the mat to keep it in place based on friction alone as is the case in a slightly overfilled sleeping bag chamber. If the baffles are in fact a mesh material, they will help hold some of the down in place. A thin strip of open cell foam could be placed at either end and attached via the heat sealable cover. Not only would this keep the down from migrating, but it would eliminate the slow deflation by not allowing the down the clog the air valve. This would come at the expense of some weight and bulk but it wouldn't be more than an ounce. At the very least, if a small block of foam could be cut into a triangular shape and placed in the corner where the valve is located, it would significantly reduce the deflation time and add negligible weight or bulk and allow for better integration of the more typical pad valve that would integrate with all the pump sacks available on the market. If he goes into full time production I am certain he could get a very competitive price on the valves. The only other finishing touch would be to radius cut the corners slightly but it isn't a big deal - just a nice touch on a great pad. I had a Stephenson's DAM many years ago and this pad is a much more commercialized product.

All in all a very impressive pad from the ever growing cottage industry. I will be out this weekend testing the new pad and a new 14oz quilt. It may seem a bit odd to be combining a 14oz quilt with a 21.5 oz pad but it makes perfect sense to me. ;-)

Dick Beamish

Locale: Tennessee
Kooka Bay pad on 04/09/2010 16:33:49 MDT Print View

Good timing and thanks for the info. That was to be my next piece of gear, and now it will be for sure. Probably get it the end of April.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Kooka Bay pad on 04/10/2010 23:22:17 MDT Print View

I've used my Kooka Bay down mat a few nights now. I chose the 30D material for weight. In my pad, it seems that the baffle material is indeed the 30D nylon, not a mesh. One of my pads lost air over a few hours--but sometimes it lost air, and sometimes it didn't, so I'm pretty sure it was because the O-ring in the cap came loose. I re-glued the ring into the cap with SeamGrip or something, so that will probably do the trick.

My only concern is down migration. Light passes through the white material, so I can see where the down is and isn't. Right now the two chambers on the outside of the pad have little to no down in them. I wonder if I can smoosh the down around to even it out? I wonder if an overfill will prevent this?

I wonder if this would work: Have completely sealed chambers on the ends, but have sections of the baffle material be mesh so air can pass through. The holes could be small enough so the mesh wouldn't have to be bonded to the main body, just the baffle material.

Edit: With practice, the time it takes to deflate these pads decreases. It took me a while at first, but I've got it down to a couple of minutes.

Edited by T.L. on 04/10/2010 23:23:41 MDT.

Say Raow
re: two person kooka bay pad on 09/21/2010 07:01:38 MDT Print View

-"Bender's currently making me a custom 2-person model, about 67" x 44" x 2.5" down filled. It will have horizontal baffles, except for the sides which will have slightly larger vertical baffles to keep arms from sliding off the sides. Large deflation valve."

You don't have a PM set up, but if you see this, I am just wondering how that worked out for you.

I am seriously considering something very similiar.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
send him a PM on 09/21/2010 07:27:13 MDT Print View

Check again, Bradley does have his PM system up. I'm curious to see the results as well

Say Raow
re: send him a pm on 09/21/2010 11:56:15 MDT Print View

A ha, so it is set up.

For some reason I had to refresh the page before it appeared.

>> Bender <<
(Bender) - MLife

Locale: NEO
Re: Re: Kooka Bay pad on 09/21/2010 13:44:13 MDT Print View

Thank you all for the invaluable feedback! Here is what is coming from Kooka Bay.

All inflatables:
New high quality nylon in black. The material is made right here in the USA.

Down air mats: Solved down migration issues. All air chambers are internally sealed off so down can only move within its own chamber. No more "loseable" valve cap or adapters for using an inflation bag. Option for 900fp down?

New larger sizes for pillows! Thanks Jolly Green Giant :)

New website: I am working on an all new interactive website. You will be able to create a custom air mat, see the specs, compare and order.

As always our warmth ratings will be realistic! Here is what I call an R value 4 synthetic air mat. On top is a BA insulated air mat with a 15f rating. The BA is slightly heavier for the same dimensions. I'll let you decide!

More air mat dissections to come!

Edited by Bender on 09/21/2010 13:51:00 MDT.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Kooka Bay pad on 09/21/2010 13:50:12 MDT Print View

The BAs are good pads, but no wonder I got cold at 15F!

Bill Brock
(cabaj48) - MLife
Kooka Bay Pad slide....ugh!! on 09/22/2010 14:07:33 MDT Print View

How do you keep the super slippery Kooka Bay pad from sliding? I ended up on slightly angled ground a few nights ago and was frustrated beyond belief as I slid to the bottom of my bivy after a couple rolls left/right. This played out all night with no resolution.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Kooka Bay Pad slide....ugh!! on 09/22/2010 14:34:44 MDT Print View

The 30D material I had Bender make mine out of is actually very grippy against many fabrics, including silnylon.

For your case, you could paint on lines of a mineral spirits/silicone mixture onto your shelter floor or onto the pad itself.

Bill Brock
(cabaj48) - MLife
Re: Re: Kooka Bay Pad slide....ugh!! on 09/22/2010 15:00:39 MDT Print View

I was going to try dots of seam sealer.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: Kooka Bay Pad slide....ugh!! on 09/22/2010 15:16:49 MDT Print View

that would probably work as well!

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Re: Kooka Bay pad on 09/24/2010 07:45:34 MDT Print View

looking forward to your new site- your old site doesn't have any of the down configs on it

< will be needing a winter mat :)

Ultralite Hiker
(Ultralite) - F
New Site Status on 11/02/2010 10:24:17 MDT Print View

Bender, how close are you to getting the new site up?


Aaron Reichow

Locale: Northern Minnesota
Re: New Site Status on 11/02/2010 19:32:14 MDT Print View

Don't get me wrong- I'd love to see the new site... But don't let a little thing like his new website stop you from buying one of his pads.

He's been very responsive to emails and helpful in getting me the specs for the different options I presented to him- price, dimensions, R value, stuff size and weight. Longest stretch of time between my email and his reply was 11 hours (overnight!) and the shortest was 23 minutes.

After some back and forth, I pulled the trigger on two custom items- a pillow and a pad.

Mummy Pad - 60x24x2.5" - R4 Synthetic Insulation 15.8 oz
Pillow - 16” x 10” x 5" - R1 Uninsulated - 2.2 oz

Got a custom pad with the exact specs I want/need with weight that competes very, very well with anything else out there without shelling out an unreasonable amount of money.

PM me if you're curious about the prices. I'd rather not publish them publicly for a handful of good (IMHO) reasons.