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Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not?
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Leslie Erickson
Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 11:46:37 MDT Print View

My inflatable sleeping pad is finally starting to leak at a seam, so I'm debating about another one or to go with a non-inflatable. What are some ideas and recommendations?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 11:53:24 MDT Print View

Going back to non-inflatable? Good luck!

What with aging and all -- many of us start off with the oh-so-light blue foam -- then "graduate" to self inflating -- and finally to air pads. Unless it's a patch of soft sands -- I can't even picture myself on a blue foam pad anymore. Sigh...

But maybe you are still young -- in which case -- go for it. A non-inflatable pad is that much simpler and more durable.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 11:59:39 MDT Print View

Don't get me wrong, I like sleeping on them, but I rarely carry inflatable pads on long trips; I don't trust them and don't like the feeling of having to baby them...and wouldn't want to be stuck for multiple nights without a pad if a fix doesn't work.

CC foam is just so easy, I like being able to throw down anywhere as well as sit on it for dinner. I sleep well enough on them as long as I make a depression for my hip. Also makes you have to be a bit smarter about site selection, which I enjoy.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
foam pads on 03/11/2013 12:02:53 MDT Print View

The standard Ridgerest has yet to be improved upon in the world of foam pads. Get the thicker version and cut down to torso size.

For me inflatable pads are an occasional, necessary evil. When I know I'll be camping in designated sites in the nearby national park, with the consequent rock hard dirt, I bring the Prolite. When I'll be able to choose my campsite and thus pick a softer bed I bring the Ridgerest.

Leslie Erickson
Re: Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 12:05:01 MDT Print View

Ben - Not so young any more. I'm hiking the JMT in July and I worry about the pad springing a leak. Don't want to get caught without a pad at all. But I love the cushion. Ugh. Decisions.

Leslie Erickson
Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 12:08:33 MDT Print View

Craig and David - I'm thinking this might be the better choice because of reliability and versatility while I'm on the JMT. But I hate to give up the cushion. So model suggestions? I'll check out the one you mentioned David, but any others to consider?

Jan S
Air mattress on 03/11/2013 12:09:34 MDT Print View

You change comfort for the security that you'll wake up exactly as uncomfortable as you were when you went to sleep. I admit as a side sleeper I found those thin self inflating mattress thingies worse then a foam pad. Things like Synmats or NeoAirs are a different matter though. They do provide real lightweight comfort – until they break of course. Given the choice between one of them and a foam pad I'd be very reluctant to take the foam pad. I don't sleep really bad on the foam pads though and I also prefer hard beds.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 12:16:12 MDT Print View

Hi Leslie:

I started hiking in my 40's and used blue foam for the first few years. It was fine at first -- then I started feeling aches and one arm or the other would go numb on me -- disrupting my sleep time and time again. It finally occurred to me that I needed to go up a rung on the comfort (and weight) ladder -- but the exchange of much more relaxed sleep was well worth it.

Go for the foam -- if you can. But remember that your's is a long trip. If you won't truly feel comfortable, then IMO, it's much better sticking to a self-inflating or air pad -- spending an extra minute on site inspection before plunking down, and simply stashing a repair kit -- glue and adhesive patches.

Edited by ben2world on 03/11/2013 12:18:45 MDT.

Leslie Erickson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 12:26:47 MDT Print View

Thanks Ben. I am a side sleeper, so the inflatable has been good. The one I have now was inexpensive and I used it probably 50 nights before it started leaking - on a seam no less so I can't figure how to repair that. I can't even find the leak. I just woke up on the ground. The second night, I woke up and reinflated it during the wee hours and slept the rest of the night on it fine. Perhaps a better one would last longer?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Sleeping Pads - Inflatable or not? on 03/11/2013 12:30:28 MDT Print View

"Perhaps a better one would last longer?"

I believe so -- else there would be a heck of a lot more bitching here about mishaps -- but we don't really see that, right?

At the risk of stating the obvious -- buy quality -- then carefully inspect and test at home. Barring the odd lemon that even the best brands are susceptible to -- a quality pad, properly cared for, should provide a few years of service.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Bring thin foam pad for backup on 03/11/2013 12:45:02 MDT Print View

One option would be to bring a 1/4 inch thinlight or sulak type pad for both protection and small insulation value if you do get a leak. I think the Sulak ones are waterproof so can also serve as your ground sheet.

Herbert Sitz

Locale: Pacific NW
combo of inflatable and foam? on 03/11/2013 12:46:17 MDT Print View

Last year I used a Gossamer Gear Nightlite torso (foam pad) over one of their full length 3/16" rolls of foam. That worked okay. I think the pair weighed about 7 ounces.

This year I think I'm going to combine a Neoair small (47" long and 9 ounces) with the GG Nightlite (or maybe a cut-down Ridgerest or Zlite). The Neoair goes from my head down to lower thighs, the foam will be under my feet and calves. I like the idea of having foam that's big enough for my torso if the inflatable part fails, plus I like to have the foam anyway to use in my backpack's foam pocket to add structure. I think the Neoair/foam combo will weigh around 12 ounces.

The Neoair I got recently is old "rectangular" version that's an ounce heavier than newer version. Campmor still has some available at decent sale price of $80:
Neoair Small at Campmor for $80

Leslie said, "My inflatable sleeping pad is finally starting to leak at a seam, so I'm debating about another one or to go with a non-inflatable. "
Don't most inflatable pad manufacturers have lifetime warranty, so you can send back and have repaired if you can't fix a leak? Not ideal, maybe, but better than scrapping your current pad.
[EDIT: I just checked a couple manufacturers and they have "limited lifetime warranty". This would not cover fixing things like a leak from a puncture, but seems like it would cover repair of a leak from a failed seam.]

Edited by hes on 03/11/2013 13:16:17 MDT.

Leslie Erickson
Re: combo of inflatable and foam? on 03/11/2013 12:58:26 MDT Print View

Greg and Herbert - those seem like really good suggestions - combining the two. I'll also check into the warranty on my current one. Thanks so much for the ideas!

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
jmt on 03/11/2013 13:21:45 MDT Print View

I have multiple fractures in my ribs and I'm a side sleeper.

I use a THERM-A-REST - RIDGEREST SOLAR, large (so my arms have pad under them)
that I cut short to save on weight, 3.5 R value so it's warm.

I also bought on sale a small xlite thermarest pad which I cut and sealed with my iron
just 25 inches by 20 inches, it weighs just 4 oz and I can inflate it to used under my shoulders.

So I get the best of both worlds, with the RIDGEREST SOLAR I don't have to worry about leaks and with the xlite I get some cushion for sleeping on my side.

Peter Sustr
(czechxpress) - F - M

Locale: Boulder
first inflatable on 03/11/2013 13:39:51 MDT Print View

I just ordered my first inflatable pad ever this morning. I've always slept on a 3/4 length CC foam pad which was the backing for my pack as well. I'm hiking the CDT this year and figured that for some many miles and how important a good nights sleep will be I needed to upgrade. Not happy about the weight penalty but, it will be my luxury item. I went with the Nemo Zor pad short. At only 10 oz it was the longest, thickest, and lightest inflatable pad I could find.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
inflatable on 03/11/2013 14:45:11 MDT Print View

I don't see myself ever going back to a ccf pad, to augment r value w/ an inflatable-yes, to replace not likely

I do carry a couple gram repair kit in the unlikely event it were to go, but knock on wood three years going strong on my neoair w/ nary a leak

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: inflatable on 03/11/2013 18:16:08 MDT Print View

I found the Ridgerest Solar to be more comfortable than the normal Ridgerest - it has more cushion in it. Neither is as comfortable, however, as my "self-inflating" pad, a Nemo Zor. I have never tried the Z-Lite CCF pad though.

If an inflatable pad gets a leak, how reasonable is it to count on repairing it in the field? It seems my chances of finding the leak and successfully patching it in the dark are pretty slim.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: inflatable on 03/11/2013 18:29:18 MDT Print View

I haven't had to patch my neoair (knocking on wood :)), but have repaired numerous other inflatables in the field- sometimes it's a very slow leak and those can be hard to find, the good news is it's a very slow leak and you can blow the pad back up :) if it's much of a leak, pouring water over an inflated pad should produce noticeable bubbles at the leak site

there are dozens and dozens (100's??) of inflatables that have lasted the entire length of the PCT, CDT and AT- if a person is overly worried about a leak then by all means sleep on a ccf, just don't poke me when I'm sleeping like a baby on my inflatable

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Icky flat pads... on 03/11/2013 18:37:18 MDT Print View

While I wish to have the skeleton of a 22 year old, alas I do not. There is absolutely no way no how I could ever sleep on the ground anymore without an inflatable.

As the previous posters mentioned...good luck with that!!

I'm taking my exped downmat UL7 with me on the jmt...and hopefully, one day, on the pct. Along with a patch kit.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Thermarest Prolite on 03/11/2013 22:22:38 MDT Print View

I love self-inflating pads and dislike Neo Air mattresses.

My current summer pad is a Prolite and it is warm to well below freezing.

I have a thin (3/16") closed cell foam pad cut from underlayment flooring foam I can put under my Prolite if I expect continual cold temps.

I REALLY want a self-inflating mattress made with Aero-Gel to go with my Unobtainuium hiking poles to complete my high tech gear.