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Sleeping pads
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Tyler Anselmo

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Sleeping pads on 01/28/2014 11:05:50 MST Print View

I'm transitioning over to quilt use this backpacking season, and I sold my big heavy Insulated Air Core to drop a lot of weight off my pack. I've never used a quilt before, so i'm not exactly sure what the best practices are when it comes to sleeping pads. I also will be switching over to a frameless backpack, since my base weight is pretty low, and doesn't warrant the use of a heaving pack. I normally end up sleeping in shelters( required in most places), but I do occasionally sleep in my tent. Due to a lack of funds, I don't have the money for winter gear, so most of my camping is between May- Late September around the Smoky Mountain area. I'm trying to decide which pad would be best for me, and then what size. I'm about 5'8" on my best day, and usually sleep on my stomach or back. I was thinking about the Thermarest prolite in either a small or x-small, what do you guys think, or should I look elsewhere?

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Sleeping pads on 01/28/2014 11:24:49 MST Print View

The Prolite series offers warm, comfy pads, period. Affordable too! If you go short, I recommend a sitpad of CCF for the feet.

I use a quilt and usually a frameless pack as well and I prefer a NeoAir - original, Xlite, or XTherm are all GREAT. REI's upcoming 20% off sale and Gear Swap on this site are good ways to find good deals. is good too.

Joe A
(dirtbaghiker) - M
pad on 01/28/2014 12:18:23 MST Print View

I use a quilt also. I personaly ditched the blowup pads for a Gossamer Gear Nightlight torso length pad, and I couldnt be happier. I also use a frameless pack,ULA CDT pack, so this kind of makes up the back panel frame when I pack my pack. Its comfy to sleep on, makes no noise, wont deflate, simple to set up and fast and easy to break down and pack up. If you want added warmth or cushion, you could also use a small size therm-a-rest Z lite SOL pad under the GG Nightlight torso. That too folds up and fits into my pack along side the GG pad. I love how these pads work and I can set up my quilt and bivy and break it down so much easier and quicker now. No more PITA blowing up an airpad..and worse yet..having to deflate the SOB and roll it back done with that.

Edited by dirtbaghiker on 01/28/2014 12:32:37 MST.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Stomach sleep on 01/28/2014 12:37:22 MST Print View

If you're sleeping on your stomach (as I do when i sleep at home), you'll want an air pad, not a self inflating. I've tried sleeping on my stomach on self inflating pads, but I end up waking up in short order with my chest aching or some part of my body falling asleep.

This doesn't happen when I use an Airpad, like the Exped UL7, or my older BA IAC.
You can slightly underinflate the air pads for maximum comfort while still keeping yourself off and insulated from the cold ground. Not much to work with when using a 1-1.5" self inflator.

Joe Lynch
(rushfan) - MLife

Locale: Northern California
another xlite vote on 01/28/2014 12:56:19 MST Print View

I'm very happy using a Thermarest Xlite. I'm a side sleeper and sleep much better with it than the Thermarest Prolite I have. I can get by with the Prolite though.

Edited by rushfan on 01/28/2014 22:29:00 MST.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - MLife

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Stomach sleep on 01/28/2014 13:22:50 MST Print View

I find the ProLite Plus series to be comfortable for back, side, or stomach sleeping. The normal Prolite, however, is not comfortable enough for stomach sleeping for me.

At your height, get the small and save on weight/bulk.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Pads on 01/28/2014 13:36:12 MST Print View

I am a quilt and inflatable pad user and carry a frameless pack. I tend to move from back to side to stomach and repeat all night. I have purchased and used just about every pad out there and heartily recommend the exped ul series ans the xlite/xtherm.

One thing that I would tell you as a quilt user is that if you have a narrower quilt I would opt for a wider pad, and if you have a wider quilt you should be OK on a reg width pad.

I currently use an exped downmat UL7 regular and large xlite. The xlite/xtherm pads are about 23" at the widest and taper from there. There is such a small weight penalty between the reg and large that I would go wide on the Neoair pads. The exped reg is a full 20" and doesn't collapse when you get near the edge.

The exped is the same weight as the large xtherm and the large exlite is some 4oz less. On paper the xtherm should be more durable with the 70d bottom but I have not had any problems with any pads other than an insulmat max a number of years ago.

Tyler Anselmo

Locale: Smoky Mountains
sleeping pad on 01/28/2014 15:35:18 MST Print View

Thanks everybody for weighing in on this one. From what i've gathered the prolite will get the job done, but it's not the most comfortable, and the NeoAir will be the most comfortable (however you have to blow it up). This is a tough decision for me, because I've found a brand new NeoAir original in size small for $100 flat, and the prolite in size small is still $60. I guess it's best to just bite the bullet and spend the extra $40 or so for a lighter, and more comfortable pad.

Edited by anselmot on 01/28/2014 18:52:11 MST.

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
prolite on 01/28/2014 17:47:33 MST Print View

I own a prolite and do not find it comfortable. I've been eyeballing the xtherm and it will probably be my next pad.

Edited by osb40000 on 01/28/2014 17:48:59 MST.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
new xlite small on 01/28/2014 17:58:50 MST Print View

Tyler, if you hold out, you should be able to find a neo air xlite small for about $100 either on great swap or with sales/coupons. Its lighter than the older ones & maybe warmer

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Exped comes with a schnozzle bag!! on 01/28/2014 18:20:51 MST Print View

My downmat UL7 is my new favorite pad...I am 5'7" and I have the small...only my feet hang off the end and it's perfect for me. The best part, other than the warmth in all weather, and the comfort as a side and stomach sleeper, is the schnozzle bag that it comes with! No more blowing up a mattress with my lungs...that bag inflates it in less than a minute. And no effort at all on my part.

Love it!!

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Exped ul7 down mat on 01/28/2014 20:39:30 MST Print View

REI shows the small exped downmat UL7 on sale for $149.95 - out of stock but can be back ordered.

Maxwell Walrath
Downmat Lite 5 on 01/28/2014 21:10:30 MST Print View

With not winter camping often, maybe the Downmat Lite 5 is worth a shot? I'm in the market for a pad myself and have been trying to figure out which Exped I'm getting (having narrowed it down that far), and the 5 looks like it could be a winner for me. Higher R value than a symmat UL7...heavier by about 7 ounces and packs bigger, but it is warmer and only $99 for a medium. (I'm looking at the LW, the weight/size/price penalty for being bigger can suck)

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Sleeping pads on 01/28/2014 21:15:49 MST Print View

Can't say enough good things about my Exped SynMat UL7. It's 72" long by 20" wide, and weighs 16oz. The tubes at the edges are wider and help keep me from rolling off. I'm 5'10" and skinny, and roll all night long. Like Jen, I'm a huge fan of the Schnozzel pump-bag. It pulls triple-duty as a pump-bag, pack liner, and pillowcase. I throw in 5 to seven partially inflated ziploc bags, roll the edge a few times and clip it closed... perfect pillow!

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Why is having to blow up an air pad always treated like such a big deal? on 01/29/2014 01:16:52 MST Print View

Does anyone else think that concerns about having to blow up an airpad are over exaggerated?

I've never understood why this is such a talking point with air mattresses. It's two minutes (max) of your time for a great night's sleep.

Why is this such a big deal to so many people? I really don't get it.

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Full of hot air on 01/29/2014 02:57:15 MST Print View

I guess I am full of hot air, because I never understood that either. My 20"x72" neoair takes about 15 full deep breaths to inflate and about a minute if you are in a hurry. I find inflating it a complete non issue.

Now mats with down in them, I can see where moisture from breath is an issue.

There are a lot of other issues where folks fuss and I fail to understand. The other one that especially puzzles me is people complaining about the horrible roar of some stoves. I always thought of it as a comforting sound and missed it when I went to a silent alcohol stove. It is one of the thing I liked about my old SVEA 123, back in the day.

Edited by staehpj1 on 01/29/2014 03:03:18 MST.

Tyler Anselmo

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Exped mats on 01/29/2014 04:44:13 MST Print View

A lot of you keep mentioning how much you like your Exped mats. Is there something i'm missing here? they all seem to weigh over a pound, and cost way more than thermarest or some of the other brands.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Why is having to blow up an air pad always treated like such a big deal? on 01/29/2014 04:52:34 MST Print View

Ha, ha. Mostly, because the hot air is escaping all the time.

It *is* a PITA on longer trips. I use an old (origonal) NeoAir medium. Blowing it up every night, then emptying it out every morn are painfully boring. In all cases it takes about 2 minutes to get it out, unroll it and blow it up. Or, crack the valve, let it go flat, then go take a pee in the morning...a minute seems like a half hour. Bad? No, I still use my NeoAir, but it *is* anoying. After 2-3 weeks it gets old.

For about 5-6 years before they released the NeoAir, I used the NightLite, cut down to 5 - 10.25" sections or ~52". This worked OK for sleeping on the ground, but, my bones started complaining about the shelter floors. I still use this on backwoods trips, where shelters are not usually found.

About that time I was trying quilts. I found them to be very drafty, mostly because the pad was not adequate to completely cover the ground. Old GVP style was to use your pack as part of the padding, the but/torso pad for the rest, with a seperate pillow. A bag was needed to make this work. With the NeoAir, you can slip your feet inside the quilt, wrapping it around the rest, pretty much stopping most of the cold drafts. But, YOU NEED A GOOD PAD. Theory dictates that your ground insulation (compressed in a bag, non-existant in a quilt) mostly comes from your pad. For three seasons, you need about an R2.5-R4 below you. On a hard floor, I need about 1-1/2" of cushion. In winter, you need about an R5 or a bit more. If you use a quilt, you need a pad that will stop drafts the full length of your body. The Neoair has horizontal baffles that can let in drafts with a quilt and is not my first choice for a winter pad. It only has an R2.5 or a bit more anyway, soo, it is not my first choice for winter pad. It works well for three seasons or 4 seasons with a bag and ground cloth.

Before I had the NightLite, I used the old GuideLite. It worked OK for stuff, but was heavy at 2 pounds. Before that it was the old military pads...wider at 24" but only a 1/2" thick at 28oz. Before that was the old rubber pads, quite heavy at 2.5pounds for 60". Several others were used with no real savings, too thin, too much heat loss, or something.

The success of a quilt is dependent on the type of pad coupled with it, in my opinion. (If you toss and turn, it might never work well for you, but I am ignoring that.) To me, you cannot mention a sleep system, without also mentioning the pad and head covering you use. For example: A 30z quilt coupled with a BA pad that weighs 1#11 and a balaclava that weighs 2.3oz is not all that great. A VersaLite at 2#2 and a neoair at 13oz would be a better choice for carry weight down to about 20F. So, it depends on what your system is and how you plan on using it.

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
REI Flash pad on 01/29/2014 08:04:47 MST Print View

You wanna look for the Synmat UL7, those are the lightest for the warmth by Exped. I love mine. Also, a cheaper alternative is the REI Flash pads. They use the same flat inflate/deflate valves as the synmat (possibly made by Exped for REI or licensed) but use not durable 30D fabric. They're mummy cut to save weight and come in around 1# for a regular and 1#1oz orfor a long with an R value of 3.2. Much cheaper at ~$100.

I have both and they're both nice. Use the Flash in harsher terrain when I want to spare my Exped.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 01/29/2014 08:05:45 MST.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Sleeping pads" on 01/29/2014 10:34:30 MST Print View

Here's another big +1 for the schnozzle. Great for what it's designed for AND it really does work as a dry bag/pack liner. Plus it keeps the moisture from your lungs out of the inside of your pad.

Hey my spell check is recognizing 'schnozzle'!