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Why standard rolled foam pad is bad?
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Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
It can be the air pad! on 05/29/2012 22:09:11 MDT Print View

I know some people whom I trust to care for their gear who have had inflatable pad issues. I feel lucky that so far I haven't! For those of us who can't possibly get any sleep on a CCF pad, though, we takes our chances!

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: It can be the air pad! on 05/29/2012 22:50:51 MDT Print View

Inflatables are always a liability in the desert. I do baby my gear and occasionally take an inflatable but only when I head up to the pines.

No matter how careful you are, the desert exists solely to kill you. Often the best campsites are simply those that don't have a baby cactus in them, even if that means sleeping on large cobblestones. Of course without frequent rain fall those "cobblestones" never erode into smooth river rocks and instead are covered in jagged crystals waiting to puncture a pad.

Roger also brought up a good point on temperature of air. In the desert we often see 30F+ degree swings in a day so even during cooler weather, in inflating your pad by mouth you can see up to a 10% decrease in volume or pressure over the course of a night. This often results in a flat pad and waking up chilly.

If I lived in a location with a lot more soil instead of rock, someplace that has cushy duff piles and grasses that can be easily cleaned of poky but not thorny twigs...I'd love to play with inflatable pads more. But I don't so I carry a RR SOLite and already plan that when I age and need more comfort I'll probably still keep the SOLite type CCF as a desert version of ground cloth and put an inflatable (or softer foam) pad on top to mitigate leak issues.

To the OP, if it works for you and changing your technique increases your pack weight while introducing more clearly ain't broke so no need to fix!

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: Why standard rolled foam pad is bad? on 05/30/2012 04:15:37 MDT Print View

The OP never answered back and everybody here seems to have understood it was a question of CCF vs inflatable. I saw it more of a question of cheap CCF vs a more typical, high-end CCF that costs way above the $15 he mentioned. True the "UL" mention for a 450 gr figure would be a bit misleading for a CCF pad but I'm sure you can see that announced.

If that is the case, I'd say cheap CCFs are way poorer insulators. That may or may not be important depending on temps and terrain. In mild temps and where the ground itself has some insulating layer (forest duff, thick grass...), the cheap stuff works. If it works for you, then go ahead with it.

On the other hand, the reflective layer is probably not doing much in any CCF pad, cheap or expensive.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Why standard rolled foam pad is bad? on 05/30/2012 05:18:01 MDT Print View

I assumed he meant the way they were carried. Obviously, rolled does little good just strapped onto a pack. I use a split NightLite pad, a bit more than $15 to purchase. But, by taping it back together, bumps interlocked, it *fits* into the pad holders of the GG packs and others, generally making the pad and pack a bit more comfortable to carry. (This was mentioned already.) It IS puncture proof. Thorns, sticks, etc do not make it go flat (mentioned). It weighs a bit less than 10oz(~280gram.) Has the same R value as a NeoAir. For sleeping in wooden floored shelters, I far prefer the inflatables, though. They just work better for comfort...on most ground you can shift it around a bit. Depending on my planned route I may cary one or the other or both.

I seem to remember that IR radiation acounts for about 10% of your bodies heat loss. Things like space blankets, etc, don't really do much in comparison to conduction (direct contact) or convection (direct contact with air) heat escape mechanisms. A MAXIMUM of 10% is all you can expect between reflective and non-reflective pads. And, only between you and the ground, or less than 50% of a bodies surface area to start with. This is minor. Two works no better than one.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
foam pad on 05/30/2012 07:25:21 MDT Print View

WOW! Great answers! THank you alot.

First of all, I've just wanted to know why people buy expensive pads. Now I understand, that inflatable pads are much more comfortable. And foam is not a good insulator. I'm lucky it's really warm here. At night however the temps drop considerably in desert. But still not that cold. In winter - yes. You can get soaked in rain and the winds are very strong. THere is however another danger: after rain there are floods and very strong UNEXPECTED streams that take everything with them (rocks, sand, broken trees, hikers with inflatable pads :) ...)

Didn't want to start a holy war inflatables vs foam. Just curious what are the benefits.

When I'll go hike in higher mountain terrain (Alps), I will consider inflatable pad. By now, having my 320 gram pad is enough.

Again, thank you all for so informative answers!

Inaki Diaz de Etura
(inaki) - MLife

Locale: Iberia highlands
Re: foam pad on 05/30/2012 09:28:52 MDT Print View

The most brief of summaries would be foam is actually the best thing around... if you can actually sleep well on it (many people can't)

Then not all foams are equal. I'd say it's worth investing on an expensive foam pad over a cheap one.

Inflatables are better for cushion and packed volume. Everything else is a con.

Chris Scala
(Scalawag) - F
Combo on 05/30/2012 12:20:01 MDT Print View

I use a Mariposa. 8 Section Z-Lite is my back pad for the backpack, SynMat UL 7 is inside for rest. Z-Lite comes out for naps / rest stops / back-up / an added layer under the SynMat at night for insulation and protection.

Using this method, I find neither is redundant, as they serve separate important purposes. I don't think I'd ever carry an airpad exclusively, so luckily my pack uses foam for support.

Also the SynMat is so comfortable, I would happily sleep on it outside of the woods.

Edited by Scalawag on 05/30/2012 12:22:19 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
why rolled ccf is bad on 06/04/2012 18:58:50 MDT Print View

Personally, I happen to like closed cell foam pads. My pillow doesn't fall off the pad immediately like it does with inflatables, and I don't slide off halfway through the night, either. Firm is actually more comfortable for me.

The main reason I can think of why a rolled ccf pad is bad is because it's about 20 times bulkier than the inflatable alternatives. I don't mind this usually because I just strap it to the outside of my pack, but at some point, it does get to be limiting, of how easily it is to access the inside of the pack, of how full you can stuff your backpack, and of what else you can strap to the outside of your pack.

Another problem is that you just aren't going to get the kind of warmth out of a closed cell foam pad as you can get out of something like a good 4-season inflatable. I've used both kinds and short of bringing so many ccf pads to stack that they are too big to carry, it just doesn't equal the warmth that a good 4-season inflatable can deliver for less bulk and comparable weight.

In my experience, leaks in inflatable pads are rare, easy to mend in the field, and with moderate care, they just don't happen. If you're worried, just get one made out of a more durable material.

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Re: foam pad on 06/04/2012 20:15:03 MDT Print View

"By now, having my 320 gram pad is enough. "

Count yourself among the fortunate ones that can manage to get an adequate nights sleep on a foam pad. You are envied by many, myself included. I'd kill to get a good nights sleep on a $15 indestructible pad.
I'm good for maybe 2 nights maximum on one, then the soreness and fatigue of poor sleep catches up and I'm ready to go home. So for that reason alone, I'm forced into using a NeoAir inflatable.

There's very little legitimately 'wrong' with foam, it just isn't comfortable for some sleeping positions, and sometimes low temps.

Christopher Kuzak
Pads on 06/04/2012 22:46:47 MDT Print View

Used a small Thermarest Prolite for years but recently switched back to a Ridgerest. It's bulkier, but 5 oz lighter, and I seem to sleep alright on it so far. I still remember how excited I was to get that self-inflating Prolite though.

E.L. Boston
(El_Jefe) - F

Locale: The Pacific Northwest
Why standard rolled foam pad is bad? on 06/05/2012 03:48:33 MDT Print View

Oh, you ground-dwellers and your piddly sleeping pad woes.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to get back up on my high, hammock.

Arthur Haskind
(Anubis) - F - M
Excelent thread on 06/05/2012 06:15:06 MDT Print View

I was just about to post a similar thread, and then i saw this.

i mostly hike in an alpine terrain (rocks,hard grass) and i am a long distances hiker so i am pretty convinced , after reading this thread, that reliability is more important in long distance hikes than being comfortable (the later being individual).

but my question is what i a high end closed cell foam pad? i only see blue cheap ones around?
links for examples of high quality foam pads will be appreciated.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Reply to Arthur on 06/05/2012 06:27:44 MDT Print View

The Multimat pads never seem to get a mention on BPL, maybe because they're British. I don'tknow if they're available in the States, but they can be bought from here
The Adventure mats are lighter than the ones I usually see mentioned on BPL, but my wife and I have used them below freezing with no problems.

Edited by WilliamC3 on 06/05/2012 06:33:44 MDT.

Gregory Stein
(tauneutrino) - F

Locale: Upper Galilee
Re: Why standard rolled foam pad is bad? on 06/05/2012 07:07:45 MDT Print View

If you take your hammock you narrow number of places you can hike.
What would you do in desert? Above tree line? On Mars/Moon :D

Arthur Haskind
(Anubis) - F - M
Re: Reply to Arthur on 06/05/2012 07:17:15 MDT Print View

i have checked the multimat website. those mats are very thin. i'm looking for at least 1cm.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Excelent thread on 06/05/2012 07:28:43 MDT Print View

Also, sells the Nightlite pads. These were adaptations of the older Mt Washington pads, I think. is a similar pad but a bit longer.
I recommend these two. Either has a fairly high R value for the weight. Also, the bumps relieve some pressure from laying on them, so you get a bit more from down lofting into the valleys. The big downfall is the bulk. Again, cutting with an electric knife and taping back together works to give a pretty good support for framless packs. Dual purpose, in that regard.

Only closed cell foam should be purchased for backpacking and hiking. It repells water fairly well and does not absorb large amounts...only at the edges where cells are open.

Do a google on "Foam pads for camping", lots of links for various manufaturors and pads. Many are not all that light.

Edited by jamesdmarco on 06/05/2012 07:30:39 MDT.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Re: Re: Reply to Arthur on 06/05/2012 07:43:28 MDT Print View

Multimat have a number of pads that are 1cm and more in thickness, but I don't know how easy they are to find in the States.

Matthew Nolin

Locale: New England
Multimats on 06/05/2012 08:06:34 MDT Print View

I have intrigued by the Adventure mat after seeing it on Hendrik's blog. Wonder if there are any US distributors for Multimat...

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: Excelent thread on 06/05/2012 08:09:36 MDT Print View

"after reading this thread, that reliability is more important in long distance hikes than being comfortable (the later being individual)"

I think you can still have both comfort and reliability with a two pad system (one closed cell and one inflatable). Comfort is all about the hips and shoulders (and in some situations the heels/feet) so a pad that supports those are what you need unless it is very cold or on snow.

As both a desert hiker and Eastern US off season hiker I have been very happy with my 14 oz., 36 inch long, 1.66 inch thick two pad system. No matter how careful you are in clearing your sleeping site (I consider myself pretty careful), punctures happen with inflatables unless you protect them with a non-inflatable bottom pad. My experience is you can never find the pin hole leaks in the backcountry so the idea of fixing them is not a valid one to me.

My thoughts on the pad subject here:

Edited by abhitt on 06/05/2012 08:11:18 MDT.


Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Multimats on 06/05/2012 08:25:43 MDT Print View

Hi Mathew

I purchased a multimat last year from ultralightoutdoorgear in the UK. I recall shipping was very reasonable and I think it actually took less than a week to arrive in the West coast USA. I highly recommend them for products unavailable in the USA. in the USA carries some of the inflatable multimats.

Edited by DanG on 06/05/2012 08:27:29 MDT.