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Ultra Light High Comfort Mattress Pads
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Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Ultra Light High Comfort Mattress Pads on 06/17/2007 19:04:12 MDT Print View

On my 9 day hike last year I did not get as good a sleep as I would like. The problem with a 4' sleeping pad is that to be comfortable, your head is typically on a pillow in front of the pad. An extra 8" of length would really be nice. I have considered the Woman's Prolite 4 Regular which is 5'6" long but it weighs 24 oz. The closest I could come to this comfort, after evaluating a slew of alternatives is this:

A cut-down to 58" long Texsport Dual-Foam Sleeping Pad (1.25" thick of foam) plus two Office Max Bubble Wrap Protective Packaging Wraps cut down to 20" by 36 feet (folded in 58" segments. This amounts to 2" of cushioning, and it does take a lot of space, but the plastic Package acts as a waterproof wrapping for the Dual Foam pad too. With Rubber straps, the entire thing weighs 18.4 oz, which is 6 oz less than the Thermarest alternative.

I could get by with just one bag, but I wanted the two setups to be 100% equally as cushionable, and it took two Bubble Wrap packages to get it to that identical level of cushioning.

I'm wondering if anyone else has come up with something as comfortable as a 1.5" Prolite 4 pad that weighs less than one pound and is at least 54-58" long.

I have tried the Walmart Closed Cell Foam pad, the REI Closed Cell foam Pad, the ZLite pad, the Gossamer Gear 1/8" thin pad, and nothing came identical to the cushioning of a Prolite 4 pad as did the above combination.

Yes, it is bulky, but I am going to be using a LuxuryLite external frame this year, and it is easy to strap this 18 oz sleeping pad to the top of the LuxuryLite frame.

I wish Thermarest would create a 58" long Prolite 4 pad -- I hate the huge gap between 48" and 72" (Yes, the woman's is only 66" but it weighs the same as the man's 72" pad).

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Highest comfort for lightest weight----pads on 06/17/2007 19:26:39 MDT Print View

For ultimate comfort with min. weight, it would be hard to beat Stephenson-Warmlite's DAM (down air mattress). If they made them in a shorter length, they'd be even lighter but their smallest (65" long and 22" wide) offers 3-4" of downfilled (for insulation) air-filled comfort at a weight of 18 oz. At a cost---$140.

Bill Fornshell, a frequent poster on the "make Your Own Gear" portion of this forum(forum search), made his own version at an absurdly light weight.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Highest comfort for lightest weight----pads on 06/17/2007 23:09:42 MDT Print View

Kevin, thanks for the most fantastic vendor website ad in backpacking world! Talking about getting word of mouth advertising, that ad (product display picture to be more precise) will generate a lot of interest.

Anyway, do you use this mattress? If so, does it fit in ordinary sleeping bags or do you have to order one of their sleeping bags?

Thanks again, that ad was something for sure.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
"I just visit their site for the articles..." on 06/17/2007 23:44:42 MDT Print View

Guess you could accuse me of pimping for their site. They've been an institutuion in the Outdoor Community for over 40 years.

You can use the DAM by itself with any bag although it is elegently designed to be integrated into the Warmlite bag system. I don't own a DAM but I have tried them----they are very posh. Personally, I favor very light pad systems ( I use a Torso-lite or the Gossamer Gear Nightlight pads) but then again, it doesn't require a lot of pad for me to get a good night's sleep.

John Mackey
(JohnMackey) - F
Stephenson's DAM on 06/18/2007 06:46:58 MDT Print View

I have used Stephenson's DAM for the past 4 years and have thru-hiked the Colorado Trail and section hiked 90% of the PCT with it. I use the size "60" which is 70 inches long and 24 inches wide at the shoulders. It gradually tapers down in width to be about 20 inches wide at the feet. It is 3 inches thick. My DAM and the stuff sack together weigh exactly 22.9 ounces on my scale. Since the stuff sack is necessary for this mattress in order to pump it up (blowing into the DAM with one's mouth will wet the down and ruin the DAM's insulating properties), its weight needs to be included in the calculation.

This is one of my 3 favorite pieces of gear (my Gossamer Gear G-5 pack and my Squall Classic being the other two). It is far superior to both Big Agnes' Insulated Air Core Pad and Pacific Outdoor's version--lighter, thicker, more durable, more comfortable, and warmer. It is pure ecstasy to climb on top of this pad after 12 hours of hiking and settle in for the night. I sleep on my side and I sleep better on the trail on this DAM than I do at home in my own bed.

Any negatives about this DAM? Well most ultralighters wouldn't want to carry the 22.9 ounces this pad weighs. However, this particular tradeoff is worth it to me. Comfort in camp versus comfort on the trail. Since I spend about 12 hours a day on the trail and about 12 hours a day in camp, I don't believe that comfort in camp should be ignored, especially when comfortable deep sleep contributes to a much better day on the trail. Many people also don't like the bother of having to blow up this DAM with the accompanying stuff sack. Of course I would prefer not having to do this every night in camp as well, but I've made a habit of timing myself blowing the DAM up and making a game of how fast I can do it. After blowing it up hundreds of times now, I've improved my technique so that the task is usually completed within 5 to 7 minutes.

This is a great piece of gear and it is worth noting that after 4 years of continuous use it has never developed any leaks. I don't think you can use this DAM and expect to have a base weight under 5 pounds, but I have not found it difficult to hike with it, as well as carrying the Squall Classic, and being under 7 pounds.

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Ultralight Pad Options on 06/18/2007 17:25:35 MDT Print View

Like Kevin, I use just a GG NightLight (closed cell) pad. Once in a while, if I'm stuck on bumpy ground (usually caused by roots) this can be inadequate (from a comfort standpoint). Does anyone knows of any really light air mattresses? I know the big drawback is that they don't insulate, but I could put a thin-light pad on top or bottom (adding a couple ounces and a smidge more cushion). Does anyone know what a open cell foam air mattress weighs without the foam? Is most of the weight in the foam, or the covering for the foam? Are there less durable alternatives? If there are and they are really light, it could open an up an interesting option as you could use a closed cell foam (such as the NightLight) on the bottom and then put the air mattress on top. If the inflatable breaks, you would still have the closed cell foam. To be worth it, I would think you would want the air mattress to be about 4 ounces or so.

I know there are a lot of combo mattresses out there, but most of them are relatively heavy. By the way, I think the DIY air mattress Kevin was talking about is here:
really cool as it doubles as a kilt.

Edited by rossbleakney on 06/18/2007 17:34:33 MDT.

Roleigh Martin
(marti124) - MLife

Locale: Moderator-JohnMuirTrail Yahoo Group
Re: Ultralight Pad Options on 06/18/2007 18:16:53 MDT Print View

If you want ultralight, you can get 1 or two of these:

OfficeMax Bubble Wrap Protective Packaging, 24" X 18' Roll
Item # 20882305 , Style # OM96051

The bubbles are 3/17" thick. One bag makes a sleeping pad 24"x58" of 4 layers, weighing about 4 oz. You might accidentally pop a bubble or two. It only costs $3 so you can try it out. Check out my first reply, 2 of these with the Sportex dual foam pad ends up being as comfortable as a prolite 4 pad but it is very bulky (but light) and is 18 oz versus the 24 oz of the Prolite 4 regular.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Balloon Bed and other options on 06/19/2007 13:15:32 MDT Print View

I use a Pacific Outdooor Equipment Max Compact. Basically an uninsulated mummy-shaped air mat that weighs 18 ounces (manufacturer's spec: 17 oz). It's been replaced by the Ether Compact 6, which is essentially the same product. There's a 3/4 length version as well.

Other options: there's also the balloonbed- Weighs about 3.5 ounces. I know someone here on BPL has done a MYOG version, probably Bill Forshnell or possibly Mark Verber. Try a search in the MYOG forum.

Edit: I see Ross beat me to it with regards to the MYOG balloon bed. Good on you!

Edited by rswanson on 06/19/2007 13:16:54 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Pad on 06/19/2007 13:37:44 MDT Print View

Insul Mat Max Thermo. I don't care what it weighs, it's worth it, and I'm carrying it. The balloon bed looks interesting though, but I bet you'd get pretty aggravated blowing it up every night.

Edited by skinewmexico on 06/19/2007 18:54:01 MDT.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Ultralight Pad Options on 06/19/2007 19:12:28 MDT Print View

For a night of excellent SUL sleep:

1) Take one Gossamer Gear Nightlight pad
2) Eat two Advil PM
3) See you in 8 hours!

Guaranteed better sleep than a Big Agnes Aircore or a Exped Downmat (my two favorite comfy pads).

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
How Hedonists sleep on UL pads on 06/19/2007 19:23:27 MDT Print View

The slightly less UL version of above is to take a deep swig of a good single malt scotch, like a 20 year old Talisker, before retiring, in lieu of the Advil PM. %*}

Michael Fogarty
(mfog1) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: How Hedonists sleep on UL pads on 06/19/2007 19:33:46 MDT Print View

I sleep much better now since I switched to an Isul-Mat 2.5" tubular, blow up pad.

Uninsulated is approx.16oz and 24oz for the insulated, rated at 15 deg.

If, I'm only going to do a one or two night trip, I may use, my (19.5"x59") GG Nightlight pad, along with a 2 section GG Nightlight under the torso for double the cushion.

Edited by mfog1 on 06/19/2007 19:36:44 MDT.

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: How Hedonists sleep on UL pads on 06/19/2007 21:07:40 MDT Print View

Other than experimenting with balloon beds, I have slept on the 1/4" GG pads since they came out.
Balloons between two 1/4" GG pads is what really work good.
There are 2 reasons I can do this.
One is that I never sleep at camp grounds. I always look for a cushy area to sleep, and they do exists unless your hiking on solid granite.
The other is that I push when I hike and I'm so tired when I go to sleep I could probable even sleep on that slab of granite.
Putting clothing under the arc of your back helps a lot as well.
You really just need to find a better place to sleep!!!

Edited by awsorensen on 06/19/2007 21:09:36 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Ultra Light High Comfort Mattress Pads on 06/19/2007 21:31:44 MDT Print View

If you are experiencing any signs of altitude illness, I'd advise against taking respiratory depressants (advil pm, other meds containing diphenhydramine, and alcohol) until you are symptom-free.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: Ultra Light High Comfort Mattress Pads on 06/20/2007 00:30:17 MDT Print View

My vote is for an insulated air mattress. BA or POE to save money, Warmlite DAM if you have the cash and/or need something for the dead of winter.

As others have mentioned there are a number of truly ultralight options. With any of these, I would recommend using a light foam pad for insulation if the temp is below around 55F. I found the balloonbed to be inconsistent performer.

Edited by verber on 06/20/2007 00:43:02 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Pad on 06/20/2007 07:32:27 MDT Print View

I think a lot of the ability to sleep depends less on your pad, and more on your age. I know when I was 30, I could sleep great on anything. The aches and pains of a misspent youth have really caught up to me at 50.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Lightweight but comfortable sleeping pad on 06/20/2007 10:50:42 MDT Print View

I agree with Joe, the necessary thickness of a
sleeping pad is propotional to the age of the sleeper.
If this keeps up, I'm going to have to get a taller tent
to make room for my sleeping pad :-)

My setup is a 3/4 length Insul Mat Max Thermo (15oz)
plus 24" of 3/8" closed cell foam (2 oz) for the feet.
They are so tired at the end of the day, they don't know what they're on.
Since the air mat is insulated (synthetic), this will suffice to below freezing when I add a 1/8" Gossamer Gear pad (2 oz).

john Tier
(Peter_pan) - M

Locale: Co-Owner Jacks 'R' Better, LLC, VA
Best sleep on 06/20/2007 18:38:22 MDT Print View

Take a serious look at hammock camping.... These rigs can be extremely light, very warm, compact and offer the best night sleep.... as a bonus they serve as chairs and loungers in camp... all around great answer.


Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Re: Best sleep on 06/20/2007 18:45:32 MDT Print View

Hammocks work great, I'm sure. Except where I live. I'm not carrying two trees around.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
When you can't see the forest for the trees... on 06/20/2007 19:03:07 MDT Print View

... that's hammock territory.

Aye, there's the rub ( from the perspective of 10,800 ft, in the Sierra.).

Edited by kdesign on 06/20/2007 19:04:35 MDT.