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Neoair vs. Space Blanket
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Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Neoair vs. Space Blanket on 04/25/2010 10:55:26 MDT Print View

I see alot of posts here claiming the reflective properties of a space blanket are insignificant, and that they are only good for preventing convective/evaporative heat loss. Yet the Neoair seems to rely heavily on reflection for it's R-value and there seem to be alot of folks who vouch for it's warmth, even though it has no insulation. So what's the verdict? does reflection work with the low heat output of the human body? would using a space blanket on top of a foam pad increase the warmth at all?

Jeff Patrick
(callmeammo) - F

Locale: Sacramento
space blanket on 04/25/2010 11:02:27 MDT Print View

For the space blanket to work, it can't be touching you. It needs a little airspace so the heat reflects instead of going through.

At Hennessey Hammocks they use a heat sheet as part of a pad system to keep the hammock warm and they have a video explaining this.

I imagine the neoair works by allowing your body heat in through the first layer and then reflecting it from the bottom layer back off the top layer and so on.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Neoair vs. Space Blanket on 04/25/2010 11:16:58 MDT Print View

Hi Adam,

I suspect most of the NeoAir's insulative value comes from the inner baffling with some small added benefit from IR reflection.

Cheers,

Rick

S Long
(Izeloz) - M

Locale: Wasatch
RE: space blanket on 04/25/2010 11:52:45 MDT Print View

I have done a fair amount of winter mountaineering and I can attest that a mylar space blanket DOES help when used as a ground sheet. Definitely helps keep me a little more warm. Just IR reflection.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Neoair vs. Space Blanket on 04/25/2010 15:25:03 MDT Print View

The only R-value from the NeoAir is the space blanket inside. The baffles are just randomized poly scrim, if you will... looks kinda like a fabric version of OSB board. Really just to hold the pad together.

People on the site rip on emergency blankets all the time, but do so mistakenly. E-blankets can provide significant insulation, tho particularly when formed into a bag. I have been in several situations using an e-blanket and have found them to be remarkably warm.

I have been researching for an article on exactly this subject. One study I found actually reported a value of up to R-6 for e-blanket. For those interested, I kinda dropped the research a while ago & will have to dig thru notes to find references, or just wait to see if article materializes.

Heat loss occurs in a bunch of ways; we all know that. Radiative heat loss in temperate surroundings ranges from 45-65%. Yup, you read that right.

As many here know, I have a NeoAir and like it quite a bit... but find that it's far too cold of a pad for temps into the low 40s or lower. I think that the reason the pad isn't as warm as numbers seem to indicate it could be is the fact that it is still mostly an air mattress and, just like a "pool toy" air mattress will still have significant heat loss via air movement thru the pad. I've been (purely) speculating that my problems might be worsened b/c I'm using a wide pad and have more open surface area. Dunno.

On the last major trip w/the pad I ended up wrapping myself in a space blanket. I gained at least 20 degrees of perceived warmth. Full circumferential wrap of the e-blanket stops the majority of radiative heat loss, sure, but also stops evaporative heat loss. Oh, no real convective heat loss then, either. But do need the full wrap. B/c my pad is a wide, I couldn't get the blanket wrapped circumferentially around the pad. I feel that enclosing it that way would make it warmer, but I don't know. Experiments to follow. Wouldn't want to wrap the e-blanket over self in sleeping bag and pad, b/c you'll get the sleeping bag nice and damp from your perspiration.

As I've said in several other NeoAir threads, it isn't a winter pad and isn't intended as such. Much data on this site re: necessary ground insulation for comfort in a variety of temps.

Food for thought.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Neoair vs. Self-Inflating Pad on 04/25/2010 15:36:57 MDT Print View

My experience with NeoAir air pad vs. REI 1.5" Lite Core self inflating pad:

1. I feel warm in my beloved MB No. 3 bag atop my REI Lite Core down to about 30F.

2. Last month, same bag but using NeoAir instead -- I could physically feel the cold permeating through all night. Luckily, it was in the mid-30's -- so cold but not deathly cold. I would NOT view this as any kind of 3-season pad.

3. Two weeks ago, switched back to Lite Core -- slightly colder temps than (2) above -- back to feeling warm again.

Edited by ben2world on 04/25/2010 15:38:40 MDT.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Re: Re: Neoair vs. Self-Inflating Pad on 04/25/2010 21:47:36 MDT Print View

Rick is right, most of the insulation comes from the air being trapped and a little is from the IR reflection. The NeoAir was a very interesting breakthrough. Previous to it, inflatable pads trapped the air with foam or down (each having their own disadvantages). Pads that have no material were extremely cold, as currents develop inside the mattress. The NeoAir traps the air with the pointy baffles. In doing so, it works like most insulation (such as a down air mattress): it uses trapped air to prevent heat loss.

Andrew Dolman
(andydolman) - M
re Brad on 04/26/2010 02:12:40 MDT Print View

Sorry Brad if this comes across as harsh but there's a lot of misinformation in your post and I'm a geek, I can't help it.


>The only R-value from the NeoAir is the space blanket inside. The baffles are just randomized poly scrim, if you will... looks kinda like a fabric version of OSB board. Really just to hold the pad together.

The baffles are actually where most of the insulation value comes from. They stop convection currents forming within the mat. The marketing on the NeoAir box is misleading, the fact that the baffles are reflective is a minor enhancement, but people love them some bending red arrows.

>People on the site rip on emergency blankets all the time, but do so mistakenly. E-blankets can provide significant insulation, tho particularly when formed into a bag. I have been in several situations using an e-blanket and have found them to be remarkably warm.

Yes, they keep you warmer when formed into a bag because they then trap air. They are also a vapour barrier so stop evaporative heat loss.


>I have been researching for an article on exactly this subject. One study I found actually reported a value of up to R-6 for e-blanket. For those interested, I kinda dropped the research a while ago & will have to dig thru notes to find references, or just wait to see if article materializes.

This is not possible unless the blanket was formed into a multilayer corrugated blanket like a Blizzard Pack, in which case it is again trapping air.

>Heat loss occurs in a bunch of ways; we all know that. Radiative heat loss in temperate surroundings ranges from 45-65%. Yup, you read that right.

Only if you've already reduced the other sources of heat loss to a minimum

>As many here know, I have a NeoAir and like it quite a bit... but find that it's far too cold of a pad for temps into the low 40s or lower. I think that the reason the pad isn't as warm as numbers seem to indicate it could be is the fact that it is still mostly an air mattress and, just like a "pool toy" air mattress will still have significant heat loss via air movement thru the pad.

Agreed, the NeoAir's baffles help, certainly better than a plain air bed, but they are not as effective as foam or down


>On the last major trip w/the pad I ended up wrapping myself in a space blanket. I gained at least 20 degrees of perceived warmth. Full circumferential wrap of the e-blanket stops the majority of radiative heat loss, sure, but also stops evaporative heat loss. Oh, no real convective heat loss then, either.

Exactly, it's the evaporative and convective (and just plain wind chill) that are the biggies. If radiative was important you wouldn't have to make sure that the gaps were filled to feel a benefit because radiative heat moves in straight lines.

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Sleeping on snow on 04/26/2010 11:04:08 MDT Print View

So taking my z-lite and space blanket will probably not suffice for sleeping on snow. I will need my BA insulated air core mattress which is rated at R-4.1. But there are other mattresses rated at 2 or 3, what is the rating considered sufficient for sleeping on snow?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sleeping on snow on 04/26/2010 12:15:50 MDT Print View

Figure out what the right pad combination is for normal non-snow sleeping, and then double that to use on snow.

--B.G.--

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
R-4.1 mattress on snow on 04/26/2010 12:30:48 MDT Print View

so for instance, i expect the coldest temp to be around 25f. my guess, this would require R-2.5 or so. Now to sleep on snow at this temp, I will need R-5.0? Does that sound right?

That means that my BA Insulated Aircore (r4.1) may not be enough and maybe i should bring my z-lite also for a total of r5.1).

I was hoping not to carry both.

Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
BA on 04/26/2010 12:36:16 MDT Print View

My Big Agnes IAC is not warm enough for any sort of snow sleeping for me, even around or slightly above freezing air temperatures. In every instance of snow either in the air or on the ground, I've woken up on the IAC after a few hours shivering because my back is cold and I can feel the heat being sucked down out of me. Even if I manage to stay warm enough, having one side significantly cooler than the other is really uncomfortable and hard to sleep with. I'm not sure I trust the R4.1 rating, or maybe it's just that 4.1 is not really enough for those situations anyway.

I tried sleeping at 30 degrees on snow with another warm body next to me, on an IAC, PLUS a 3/8" CCF on top. It definitely felt warmer than just the IAC, which was unbearably cold, but we both still woke up unable to sleep after 4 hours and had to start a fire.

Edited by dasbin on 04/26/2010 12:37:30 MDT.

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
For sleeping- Snow is snow (mostly) on 04/26/2010 13:43:35 MDT Print View

It doesn't matter much whether the air temperature is -10 or +60. Snow still melts at 32 degrees and if it's melting under you that's because you're feeding it energy.

Inflatable insulated mattresses are nice and cushy. Unfortunately when your pressure points sink in (hips, shoulders, etc)- you lose insulation under that point. I was very cold a couple weeks ago on snow with a 2" thick therma-rest. The next night I added a 3/8" foam mattress and felt 20 degrees warmer.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: For sleeping- Snow is snow (mostly) on 04/26/2010 13:49:03 MDT Print View

It's true that air temperature doesn't directly matter too much in this case. However, if the air temperature is -10 F or +30 F, then that tends to force the surface snow temperature to be -10 F or +30 F. That -10 F snow will suck the heat out of you faster than the +30 F snow.

After I've spent my first night out in the snow, I always assess the effectiveness of my sleeping pad in the morning. If there is a good melted depression where I was sleeping, then that means that my sleeping pad was not good enough. If the surface only is melted, then that is a good sign that I had enough pad.

--B.G.--

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
So one R-value is good for virtually all snow camping? on 04/26/2010 15:15:47 MDT Print View

I used my BA insulated aircore and z-lite on snow once, it felt fine in that case with the temp falling to only 35f. So this same setup should work fine even if temps drop down to 25f or 15f?

the surface of the snow I'm sleeping on should be considerably warmer than the surface of the snow outside of my sleeping area since it's insulated from ambient temps and from winds by my mattress, quilt and body. So even if it gets 10f outside, the surface I'm sleeping on is probably around 30f.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: So one R-value is good for virtually all snow camping? on 04/26/2010 15:42:52 MDT Print View

No, I don't believe so. I think you are over-simplifying snow temperatures. In some places surface snow is affected more by air temperatures, and in other places, surface snow is affected more by deep snow temperatures. The people who really understand snow temperatures are backcountry cross-country skiers and ski patrolers who are avalanche-aware. You can get unexpected temperature gradients through a snowpack, and that makes for unstable snow layers, and those lead to avalanches.

I've just found that sleeping on snow requires about double the sleeping pad that I would have used for non-snow.
--B.G.--

Adan Lopez
(Lopez) - F

Locale: San Gabriel Valley
Oversimplifying snow temperatures on 04/26/2010 16:09:10 MDT Print View

Okay, so like many other aspects of UL, a simple and reliable calculation based on conditions expected is not really possible/practical. Too many variables and too many difference of opinion.

I'll just adopt a random system like most of you veterans are using, experiment with it in the field, learn the hard way what works for me, and develop my own instict for guesstimating what might work for future trips. I'm comfortable with that. I hate math anyway!

For now I'll just take both my mattress and CCF, and if I freeze my butt off, I'll do some situps and come up with a better system next time.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: So one R-value is good for virtually all snow camping? on 04/26/2010 16:26:11 MDT Print View

Doesn't Richard Nisley have a chart for all this?

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Oversimplifying snow temperatures on 04/26/2010 16:34:54 MDT Print View

Hi Adan,

I appreciate your frustration--definitive answers aren't easy to come by considering the vast number of variables. If I may make a suggestion, select a foam pad to provide warmth and add a mattress for comfort. For me a full-length foam pad and shorty air mattress is the best cold weather system for the least weight. The downside is foam pads are bulky, even if they're light, so are bothersome to haul. But a shorty NeoAir is a tiny thing that almost gets lost inside the pack.

FWIW I find the NeoAir more comfortable and marginally warmer than the insulated BA-POE mattresses. This in one area we've seen advance a lot the last few years.

Cheers,

Rick

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: So one R-value is good for virtually all snow camping? on 04/26/2010 16:36:31 MDT Print View

Richard's got a chart for just about everything. He even has a chart about his charts. : )

I do remember Richard saying R-values are cumulative. 4.1 for the BA plus whatever the Z-lite is. You want about an R-value of 5 or greater to stop the transfer of heat between your body and the ground.

Adan, I've used a BAIAC on snow and/or down past 15 degrees. Most of those times I was a bit chilly because it was inadequate winter padding, but I was ok for a few of the times.

If you paired a CCF with a your BA pad, as long as your insulating layers and bag are appropriately rated, you'll probably be quite find in the teens and single digits. But I have no experience sleeping out when the mercury drops below about 10 F.