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neo + closed cell or insulated mat?
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Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/25/2010 19:54:08 MDT Print View

for winter use I'm considering simply adding a close cell foam mat (GG Nightlight or similar) to my Neo

option 2 is a dedicated winter pad like a exped 7 or similar

clearly buying a nightlife would be significantly cheaper, I'm thinking it should yield (w/ the neo) roughly a r value of 5, the exped 7 is closer to 6

weight wise I'm looking at neo + GG @ ~ 25 oz, exped 7 ~ 31 oz

expected night time temps roughly 0-20 F


carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Kooka Bay SAM or DAM on 09/25/2010 20:08:48 MDT Print View

I have a NeoAir short and combine it with a thin CCF in easy conditions. I am not sure how low I can be comfortable with this as the weather is not very cold yet. I would like to be comfortable at 25 degrees and from the research I have done here I don't believe I have enough R-value. I just received a short syn air matress from bender at 13 oz which should have a 4 R-value. His DAM was one ounce heavier with a 6 R-value but requires a pump if you don't use your lungs.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/26/2010 08:14:05 MDT Print View

I just got a Neoair and a CCF pad from GG. In the Denali light article on BPL they mention they used a Neoair and a blue foam pad. If it's passable on Denali I figure it'll work for conditions around here okay. If it works out well for me I will also be taking the combo to Denali in 2012.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/26/2010 08:18:28 MDT Print View

The Neo is still pretty new -- so few reports on Fall / winter use. I bet people will be trying it out in combo with other pads this coming Fall.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
denali on 09/26/2010 15:00:39 MDT Print View

I'l have to read up on the Denali trip :)

I've had mine (neo) to 30-32, that's about the max comfort level for me w/ that pad- hoping that adding a 3/4" closed cell gets it close to 0

Aaron Martray

Locale: Katabatic Gear
neo + blue foam pad on 09/27/2010 14:28:35 MDT Print View

I've had good results with a blue foam pad from REI on top on my neoair. This setup has been good for me on snow in the lower teens using a quilt style sleeping bag. I expect it to be good down to at least 0°F but I have not tested it that low yet. I think the key is to use the cc pad on top of the neaoir. My blue foam pad cut full length and mummy shaped is 5.5oz. + neoair = 19oz.

Edited by amartray on 09/27/2010 14:29:17 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
neo on 09/27/2010 17:10:56 MDT Print View

Aaron- thanks, good to hear it's at a minimum good into the teens

I had read that you want the closed cell on top (vs bottom); at first it was counterintuitive (to me anyways), but upon explanation it made sense

how long is blue pad? it's pretty light :)

Hikin' Jim
(hikin_jim) - MLife

Locale: Orange County, CA, USA
Re: neo on 09/27/2010 18:57:13 MDT Print View

So what's the theory behind putting the CCF on top of the Neoair instead of underneath?


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: neo on 09/27/2010 19:04:05 MDT Print View


The Neo is basically an uninsulated air pad. While it boasts a reflective surface, the effectiveness is limited.

If you lay your air pad on top of your blue foam, cold air around will still cool down the air pad.

OTOH, if you put the blue foam on top -- then it's that much farther away from the cold ground -- and the foam is not nearly as affected by the cold air around. So a better set up.

Edited by ben2world on 09/27/2010 19:04:59 MDT.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"neo + closed cell or insulated mat?" on 09/27/2010 19:10:01 MDT Print View

I've seen quite a bit of discussion on this topic.

I had my Neoair on top of a 1/2" CCF pad down to around 10 degrees and it worked great. I was in a RAB 10 degree bag.

I also had the Neoair on top of the CCF with a GoLite 20 quilt in the low 20's and was just on the edge of comfortable, but fine from the bottom up.

Based on those experiences, it doesn't seem like it really matters that much.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
on top on 09/27/2010 19:14:20 MDT Print View

from Roger Caffin (and echoed by others)

"The best reason for putting the CCF at the bottom is to protect the air mat from punctures. Good logic there, but irrelevant in the snow.

The best reason for putting the CCF on top is because an air mat such as the NeoAir will lose a bit of heat out the sides where the CCF is missing. This could be significant for an AIR mat, but does not apply to the foam-filled air mats"

Nick Truax
(nicktruax) - F

Locale: SW Montana
neo + closed cell on 09/27/2010 19:19:29 MDT Print View

Had my neo short w/ GG 3/8" on top down to the low teens (Fº) last winter on snow. All was well. My lady had the same setup but w/ a neo med and sleeps colder than me - she had no complaints.

Edit: If you can hold out till early 2011, exped has a new UL synmat 7 coming out. Specs for the small:

440g/15.5oz, 163x52cm/65x20", R-Value 3.5

Edited by nicktruax on 09/27/2010 19:33:30 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: "neo + closed cell or insulated mat?" on 09/27/2010 21:32:01 MDT Print View

I queried Cascade Designs on this, and their opinion is that you'll get a warmer combination with the Closed cell underneath and the NeoAir on top.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/27/2010 21:38:25 MDT Print View

At 18* F and shivering, I tried the foam pad both ways--underneath and on top. It seemed slightly warmer with the pad on top. It was only a 1/8" pad, and not nearly enough!

I personally found my insulated air pad (POE Ether 6) far more comfortable and a lot warmer. The NeoAir went back to REI. YMMV, of course.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: neo + closed cell on 09/28/2010 07:10:58 MDT Print View

Nick- good info

on the new exped, not sure if a r value 3.5 is going to be enough for "winter"- the weight looks good though :)

Mary- I think the r value for 1/8" is ~ 0.5, the GG nightlight is 6 times thicker w/ a r value of ~ 2.3- so it should boost warmth quite a bit more

I've got a 1/8 thinlight (2 oz) that I could break out if I anticipated even colder nights- maybe the 1/8" bottom, neo and then the nightlight- a neo sandwich :)

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/28/2010 09:44:15 MDT Print View

I wouldn't begin to consider the Neo/ccf for temps 0-20. Waaayyyy too cold. Figure a questionable R2.5 w/a thinlight R1 or so (ridge rest 2.6). I wouldn't want that much air under me in temps that range. Definitely recommend going for a down mat.

Actually, for temps around 0F I prefer the Downmat 9, R8... very legitimately. A warmer pad can make a huge difference in cold temps, and might even allow you to use less on top.

Might check out Kookabay, pretty sure you could get a down air mat lighter that way. Might ask him to overfill it.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/28/2010 10:19:28 MDT Print View

I think NeoAir + foam is more versatile.
I use a NeoAir Short + GG ThinLight in temps down to freezing. In cold temps, I'd use NeoAir + thicker foam.
I'm a huge fan of carrying a light foam pad, rolled on the outside of my pack, so that I can access it all day. I use it as a sit mat on gravel, wet ground, snow, or sharp rocks - both for comfort during meals and to provide some butt insulation during cold weather. An inflatable pad (NeoAir, Exped, etc) doesn't really serve that purpose because 1) I don't want to put it on sharp rocks and 2) it's packed inside my pack, so not readily available during the day. For me, the 2 oz weight cost of the ThinLight is worth it for that purpose; the additional insulation it provides while sleeping is a bonus.
If you want an accessible closed cell foam pad anyway, independent of insulation for sleeping, then go with NeoAir+foam. In this sense, the NeoAir+foam is much more versatile than carrying one heavier inflatable pad.

Pad attached on the outside of the pack:

Jim using the ThinLight during lunch on top of a rocky peak:

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
versatility on 09/28/2010 12:58:07 MDT Print View

Amy- I whole heartedly agree that it's much more versatile (much cheaper too if you already have the neo air :))- sit pad/kneel pad is very handy- even more handy w/ snow

Brad brings up the counter point I guess I was pondering- is it doable for winter?, not talking artic temps, but could occasionally see the 0 mark

Evan McCarthy
(evanrussia) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
"neo + closed cell or insulated mat?" on 09/28/2010 14:15:09 MDT Print View

Oh boy. I used just my Neoair all last winter (without any other accompanying pad), including down to 0, and didn't realize how much I was pushing it. I definitely had some nights that were more uncomfortable than they had to be. I guess this year I'll add a closed cell pad and call it a day. I feel pretty convinced that the extra R rating from the closed cell, either on top or below, should make 0-22 doable. Or maybe I'm just in for some more discomfort.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: neo + closed cell or insulated mat? on 09/28/2010 14:56:35 MDT Print View

I don't find an insulated pad remotely limiting... I carry a 12 x 20 inch scrap of foam pad to use as a sit pad, can double it over if needed, adds an ounce or two to the pack. And I sleep plenty warm!

There's an old thread floating around referencing R-value of pads as related to sleeping bag temp ratings. Short version: a 20*F bag is typically rated assuming R 5 under you in pad warmth. If you want to get to 0F, you should shoot for a warmer pad.

I'm not saying it isn't possible to use a Neo in winter, but for most people in most cold conditions it simply isn't adequate. If you do use such a pad in cold temps, you frequently have to (dramatically, IME) overdress and overcompensate with sleeping bag.

It is much, much easier to sleep warm with a pad warm enough for the temperatures. I lived in temps (yes, outside) ranging from roughly 20 below 0F to 20F (and up, later in the season of course) and had the, um, chance to experiment quite fully with the range of options. I would strongly recommend against a barely adequate pad combo for temps that low. A warm pad can make all the difference in those temps...

Another tidbit: your pad can account for ~35% of your insulation at night (back sleepers in particular).