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Help me choose an sleeping pad
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R Petrelli
(rydia131) - F
Help me choose an sleeping pad on 12/08/2012 17:36:13 MST Print View

Ok so i just need a hand trying to decide on a sleeping pad. I need to buy one for my wife and I and the only thing I know is we need inflatable pads. We bought z-lites to just get out there and get going but were both side sleepers and I know theres something more comfortable out there. Problem is im indecisive and theres just too many good products out there. I dont backpack with anyone other than my wife so we dont have anyone to compare notes with. Theres an REI close to us but its hard to just lay on a pad and know your making the right choice. The most important thing for us is bang for our buck. I just want a pad I can enjoy for a few years. I dont do any winter hiking at the moment but if I do in the future I figure i can just double up with the z-lite. If theres any info that I need to give that I havent let me know. I will have money by the end of the month and want to pull the trigger. Help me out! Thanks!!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Help me choose an sleeping pad on 12/08/2012 17:49:15 MST Print View

I've been using Prolite for a couple years. I tried Ridgerest before but it's just too firm. I sleep on my side with Prolite comfortably. Almost as light as alternatives.

Prolite has this problem of delaminating. Maybe after 100 nights. Maybe if you avoid pressing on it with concentrated load like hand or knee it would last longer. Maybe buy it at REI so you can return it. Therma-rest also has good return policy, but a little less convenient.

R Petrelli
(rydia131) - F
Help me choose an sleeping pad on 12/09/2012 07:14:03 MST Print View

Ive been looking mostly at the neoair and trekker. I thought the trekker was cheaper and more durable and might be a good first air pad. But then theres the qcore and exped mats which get great reviews. Also is there any of the really cheap pads that are worth getting? Such as the rei insulated pad or the BA insulated pad? Thanks!

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Syn UL 7 on 12/09/2012 07:24:53 MST Print View

I've gone through a long list of pads, starting with the Prolite 3's, then the Prolite 4, and then to the NeoAir. I am a side sleeper and a big guy and the NeoAir was a huge improvement but as I get older I find that the extra weight of a thick pad makes a huge difference in how well I sleep. I've finally found my sweet spot with the Exped Syn UL 7 L/W. I am 6', 250 lbs so a smaller size might work for you. The extra weight has been worth it for me.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Try to "pick three" on 12/09/2012 07:53:08 MST Print View

Nowadays we live in a world saturated with too many choices. Back when Therm-a-rest came out with their " inflatable mattress", a person only a handful of options, each one being vastly different from the next (closed celled pad, open celled pad, nothing, or a T-rest.)

In the remodeling world I work in, I try to reccommend clients hone in on trying to "pick three" instead of trying to pick one. (This especially works well for all the choices required in remodeling a kitchen.)

Try to find the three pads you think you and your wife may like, and then go from there. Perhaps bring up the "three" in this forum for some advice which may help you find "the one." Remember that more expensive pads do not mean they are all that more comfortable. Given your intended use, your "ideal" pad may likely not be the most $$.

And at least REI will alway be there for you if/when you need to return them if they don't work for you. Like hiking footwear, trying out a pad in the store won't go too far in helping you know you've made the best choice.

Finally, you and your wife may not have the same solution.

Good luck!

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
re: Help me choose on 12/09/2012 08:24:09 MST Print View

As a side sleeper too I only use pads that are thick now. I only own one that is less than 2-1/2" now and it is just a loaner.

For a single pad that will take you from early spring to late fall while still being light weight I would suggest the NeoAir All Season for you two. The rectangular shape lends itself to attaching for double-wide couples use and the material is beefier than the XLite and more comfortable to lay on.

I have a detailed review of it here:

Good luck with the search,

Edited by rayestrella on 12/09/2012 08:24:41 MST.

Joe S
UL 7 on 12/09/2012 10:29:47 MST Print View

+1 on Exped UL 7. Most comfortable night ever.

Phillip Asby

Locale: North Carolina
Depending on how much you want to spend on 12/10/2012 09:43:04 MST Print View

I have an Alps Mountaineering lightweight series self inflating pad that is pretty comfortable and was very affordable. It isn't the smallest or lightest (they make an ultralight pad same thickness but shave some weight with a tapered shape and some additional cutouts in the foam) necessarily but it is affordable, has proven to be quite durable and I paid well under $40 for mine (includes a repair kit and a decent stuff sack). A friend has two of them as well (popular among scouts) - and they've really held up.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Re on 12/10/2012 13:32:12 MST Print View

+1 on Thermarest NeoAir, I love mine. I sleep on it on the ground, in a hammock, in my living room, at my buddies' place, and when I go to my family's house. I prefer it to some real mattresses.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
ProLite on 12/10/2012 16:33:57 MST Print View

Like Jerry I love my ProLite mattress. It replacied an ancient Thermarest Lite, which also had foam cutouts to reduce weight.

I tried a NeoAir but didn't like the noise and the longer inflation time and effort. Plus, at 9,000 ft. goint to bed at 70 F. and waking up at 35 F. or 40 F. meant the NeoAir had lost at least 1/3 of its volume. Ret'd it to REA and went back to the Prolite.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Help me choose an sleeping pad on 12/10/2012 16:56:46 MST Print View

Try the Nemo Zor Short. Mine came in at 9oz for 48" - lighter than the Prolite, and warmer, per BPL testing. I've liked mine so far, with no problems at all. It packs up quicker and inflates quicker too (probably because of the way it's cored).

The NeoAir was heavier, more expensive, noisier, harder to blow up, and uncomfortable due to the 2.5" drop-off at the arms (too narrow). The NeoAir short isn't even an option, it's 48" length and 2.5" leg drop-off is uncomfortable for most people, including myself. Also, the convection issue (every time you move) makes it colder than it's R-rating.

Add a GG sitlight or similar for the legs, to the Nemo Zor Short and you have full-length coverage for less than the weight of a NeoAir regular, without the hassle.

Edited by lindahlb on 12/10/2012 17:01:16 MST.

John G
(JohnG10) - F

Locale: Mid-Atlantic via Upstate NY
big agnes on 12/10/2012 17:13:14 MST Print View

My wife and I have had very comfortable sleep on the big agnes insulated air core. Cost was $80-90 at REI. Takes about 3-5 minutes to blow up depending on whether you take a break in the middle out not.

I can sleep on a 1.75” self inflator as comfortably, but my wife can't. The self inflator is more than a pound heavier, but more convenient.

If you try to sleep on the pad on your kitchen floor a couple of days in a row, you'll be able to tell which is comfortable enough for you.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: ProLite on 12/10/2012 17:15:14 MST Print View

Like Eric I used the Prolite to replace an older Therm-a-rest, a Guide Lite. That still works, but it's so heavy. I guess the reason it has lasted so long is that it's so heavy.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
Exped UL 7 on 12/11/2012 05:10:58 MST Print View

+1 on Exped UL 7 L/W (Downmat): I am 6'1, 200lbs and I sleep on side, back and front and it works for me. It is pricey but it is warm, light and comfortable. My biggest complaint is the time and effort it takes to deflate and pack up.


Edited by miku on 12/11/2012 05:14:02 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Another vote for Exped on 12/11/2012 11:00:10 MST Print View

I'll add another +1 to the Exped Syn Mat UL7 from another bigger guy (215 lbs) who is a side/stomach sleeper.

I previously had a NeoAir (1st gen). It was an improvement over the previous mats I had owned (including Big Agnes IAC and a Thermarest Prolite), but I still couldn't get a good night's sleep on it. Between my arns falling off the sides and the crinkly noise, I just seemed to struggle with getting comfy for the night.

I recently decided I wanted to find something better. The light weight of the newer NeoAir mats tempted me but comfort was more important than weight so I decided to try the Syn Mat UL7, size Med. which I found on sale. Initial verdict? I'm very happy. It appears to be worth the couple ounce penalty compared to the comparably sized NeoAir for a good night's sleep so far.

The shape and direction of the pontoons seems to keep me centered on the pad better and the top material is much more comfortable to sleep directly upon. I haven't pushed the limits on the comfort range of the given R-value yet, but I hope to do so soon. Oh, and it's way easier to blow up/deflate than the NeoAir mats.

Ryan Dorn
Delimas on 12/11/2012 21:57:25 MST Print View

I've been a long time NeoAir user and have absolutely loved it.

BUT, my hiking buddy gave me a Big Agnes Q-Core and it is by far the best pad I have ever used as a side sleeper. Unfortunately, it weighs 29 ounces, so I have to decide whether the comfort is worth carrying twice the weight. It goes against everything I believe in as someone who scrutinizes every gram, but I just sleep so much better on it.

R Petrelli
(rydia131) - F
Exped Synmat UL7 on 12/12/2012 08:39:54 MST Print View

Ive looked alot into the exped synmat UL7 and liked alot of things about it. But when it comes to that price range I feel like I would rather wait to try the BA QCore SL pad that will be coming out this spring. My biggest issue with that pad though is I really didnt want to spend that much. I would probably buy two of whatever pad I decide on so that my wife has one and roughly $320 is a tough pill to swallow. Any good experiences with cheaper air pads? Most notably, the neoair trekker, REI stratus, BA insulated or the nemo astro. Thanks for all the help and I really liked the suggestion to limit my choices down to three and go from there!