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Sleep mat systems
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Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
Sleep mat systems on 10/03/2007 18:18:18 MDT Print View

What is everyones prefered choice. Do you go with just a foam pad one from GG or do you combine things such as a torso pad with a thin foam pad, or is it c, a full on air pad where weight got thrown out the window. Just curious because I am trying to re-vamp my system but want something that will work and keep me warm and get under the 13oz window (my current winter system) Thanks in advance

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: "Sleep mat systems" on 10/03/2007 18:36:19 MDT Print View

I use an Exped downmat 9. I am a cold sleeper who camps in temps (so far) down to -10 F. I can't tell you what a difference it has made. Heck, I sleep better now outside at 20 degrees than I do in my bed inside.
I went from a Thermarest ProLite 4 to the Exped and I have never looked back. The extra weight is way worth it, at least to me.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Sleep mat systems on 10/04/2007 12:09:54 MDT Print View

I'm a pretty cold sleeper and I've found that a warm pad is even more critical than a warm bag. I may overdo it a bit, but I use a Exped Downmat short with a thick, full-length foam pad (probably the equivalent of the thickest GG pad). I love the combination of full length foam for warmth and a 3/4 or torso length pad for a little warmth boost and extra comfort.

That combo is really warm and allows me to carry a lighter bag. I also do the foam pad with a Torsolite occasionally.

Good luck!

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Downmat 7 short on 10/05/2007 10:38:04 MDT Print View

I have the same system as Doug above. A downmat 7 short has kept me warm and cozy during the worst my winter throws at me. I used to use 2 full length foamies and I tried the DM7 just for kicks -I'll never go back.
As Doug said, I can actually bring a lighter bag because of the mat...I feel absolutely no cold through it.
If I'm going really light in winter, I would use my 1/8" thinlite with an inflatable torsopad.
My DM7 weighs in at 24oz, including the stuffsack/pump...sleep like a baby.

Edit: Hmmm, 13 oz. - for a winter system, that's pretty darn good if it's keeping you nice and warm - what does it consist of? My thinlight @ 1.85oz. and my Montbell 90 @ 9.8oz. would bring you in at 11.65oz. However, my MB90 is new so i haven't had it down in the lower range.

Edited by Steve_Evans on 10/05/2007 10:41:53 MDT.

David Wiesenfeld
(davidwiesenfeld) - F
RE: Sleep mat systems on 10/05/2007 11:49:25 MDT Print View

I am also interested in this discussion. I was using a closed cell foam pad that is made of 4 10x20 3/8 inch sections and 3 10x20 1/8 inch sections and is accordioned together with duct tape. This works well as the frame for the GG Mariposa and SMD Essence, but I did not sleep very well on it and I have since started using a Jam2, which doesn't need the same frame rigidity. So I started using a full length, 10 year old "ultralight" thermarest. This is fine, but it is definitely heavier than my buddy's Prolite 3. So I'm thinking of getting a new pad and saw the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Ether Thermo 6, which is an insulated inflatable air mattress similar to the downmats being discussed, except with synthetic insulation.

The insulated air mattresses seem to have similar weights to thinner (1") self-inflating mattresses but with higher R-values. So why are people using self-inflating pads when they can get a thicker, warmer pad for the same weight and bulk?

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: RE: Sleep mat systems on 10/05/2007 12:14:24 MDT Print View

David, I've been asking myself that same question. The answer is, "good marketing," I suppose.

I get by in winter by using the P.O.E. max thermo 3/4 length (inflatable with synthetic insulation). On top of that, I add a 1/8" GG thinlite and for my legs I add a trimmed down 1/4" foam pad. All comes in under 20oz.

Of course, the inflatable goes with me no matter what season it is. My bones and the ground don't get along at all!

Edited by mad777 on 10/05/2007 12:15:03 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: RE: Sleep mat systems on 10/05/2007 14:59:51 MDT Print View

> The insulated air mattresses seem to have similar weights to thinner (1") self-inflating mattresses but with higher R-values. So why are people using self-inflating pads when they can get a thicker, warmer pad for the same weight and bulk?

If you are comparing self-inflating mats with ones you have to blow up, then the answer is fairly simple. At the end of a hard day many people just don't have the energy to blow up a DAM, let alone two DAMs. In addition, blowing them up can make your head swim! So my wife, who sets up the insides of our tent each night, definitely prefers the self-inflating ones.

David Wiesenfeld
(davidwiesenfeld) - F
Re: RE: Sleep mat systems on 10/05/2007 18:50:07 MDT Print View

I never really thought of self-inflating mattresses as being very good at self inflating - I always blow mine up - but I suppose a 2.5" thick air mattress with no foam to start the job would take a lot more wind. It's good then that I am full of hot air.

I think that DAMs require a pump of some sort to inflate since it is better to avoid the moisture that is present when blowing up an air mattress. What about for a synthetic fill air mattress (SAM)? The POE air mattress says it doesn't require a pump. Is that wishful thinking? Would I need to inflate it with non-lung air to get the full insulation value out of the synthetic fill?

Sorry to hijack this thread with questions about the technicalities of insulated air mattresses.

13 ounces for a winter pad system seems very light. I've been looking at R values a bit, and while I'm not sure exactly what they mean it seems that an insulative material has an R value/unit length, and that R value is linear with pad thickness. So for the pads on, say, Gossamer Gear's website, the insulation value of the normal foam pads is 3.6R/1". So the 1/8" pad is .45R, the 1/4" is .9R, etc. (doesn't quite work since the 3/8" is 1.42R instead of the expected 1.35R, but maybe it's a slightly different type of foam).

I think, once we calculate the overall R value for a pad (R/Thickness * Thickness), we can simply add the R values of two pads stacked on top of each other to get the total R value for the pad system (so a Torsolite, with an R value of 3.5, on top of a 1/8" Thinlight, with an R value of .45R, would give insulation of 4R in the torso and .45R under the legs). Does this make sense? I'm kindof thinking of it as serial impedance for an electrical circuit. Except with heat.

Anyway, if this thinking is sound perhaps it would be useful to figure out what your needs for winter torso and leg insulation are (the R values for your 13 ounce system, taking into account whether you feel cold when using it), and then try to piece pads together to get the insulation you need for as light as possible.

Comparing full length pads: The POE Ether Thermo 6 has a torso R value of 7.8 and a R value of 6.8 for the legs (if the REI website is to believed). It weights 21 ounces, so we if assume an R of 7, this is .333R/ounce. The Exped Downmat 9 has an R value of 8 and weights 32 ounces, giving .25R/ounce. The Gossamer Gear Thinlight 3/8" pad has an R value of 1.42 and a total weight of 5.5 oz. This gives .26R/ounce. So it seems that DAM/SAM are roughly equivalent to certain types of foam pads. But both seem to be superior to self-inflating pads on the R/ounce front (POE AO Mtn: ~.16R/ounce, Thermarest Prolite 4: ~.13R/ounce).

Other types, like the Nightlight pad, have higher R/ounce values (.65R/ounce in the case of the Nightlight).

So it looks like the best system, from an insulation standpoint, would be to combine foam pads with high R/ounce values to get just the insulation you need in the torso and legs. And there is no inflation necessary. But a DAM or SAM would fold up way smaller and would provide some cushiness to boot, which I like.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: RE: Sleep mat systems on 10/05/2007 19:39:01 MDT Print View

Just like David said, an Exped Downmat requires a special stuffsack/air bladder to inflate the pad. I've always found that I can gather the energy to inflate the pad (about 3 minutes) because I know the sleep payoff is huge -even when I'm completely exhausted.

At extreme altitude I love the fact that I don't get lightheaded with this pad because it requires zero blowing.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
My 2 mat system on 10/06/2007 15:20:04 MDT Print View

I use a RidgeRest mat under a 3/4 length reg. older Thermarest. The Thermarest has a homade polyester cover to which I sewed Velcro fuzzy tape to the foot end.
Then I glued hooky Velcro to one end of my closed cell foam sit pad & stick it on the Thermarest at night.That way my sit pad doubles as a foot to my 3/4 length Thermarest.

BTW I've never weighed this system and likely won't. I don't wanna know. It's on a pulk, not my back.

Edited by Danepacker on 10/06/2007 15:23:49 MDT.

Douglas McCoy
(dmccoy) - F

Locale: Spokane Wa
My system on 10/07/2007 02:02:16 MDT Print View

My system I am talking about is the MB UL 90 @ 10oz and a 1/4in GG Thin Light pad @ 3.5 (ok so its 13.5 and not 13) and my pack at the foot making up the extra needed length. It all goes inside my TiGoat UL bivy and I use a -3C (27F) bag, combined with some "long John top and bottom" I have been able to push it down to about 10F or so with just a tarp as my shelter, I suppose I could get a little further down in temp if I was inside a fully enclosed shelter. I am planning some more "severe" winter camping this winter and thus will probably have to buy at least a 15f bag so I can take the temps into the 0 range and also I have a fully enclosed tent now as well so I can still be safe at a lower temp range. Its not a winter tent though that will have to come when I have an extra gazzillion dollars laying around, might try one of the snow pymid tarps from like BD or MH to see how they do.

Edited by dmccoy on 10/07/2007 02:04:25 MDT.

Jeffrey Snyder
(jeffsnyder) - F
R values are additive on 10/24/2007 15:36:58 MDT Print View

David, I too figured that R-values should be additive. I searched on google and found a study that does conclude this. The study was for carpet and foam padding under carpets.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Re: R values are additive on 10/29/2007 10:28:56 MDT Print View

As long as the loft isn't compressed, which does happen with the ultralight insulations like down or most synthetics, made to be compressible.

Paul Tree
(Paul_Tree) - F

Locale: Wowwww
Re: My system on 10/29/2007 10:30:22 MDT Print View

I vote AGAINST the BD Mega Light in tough conditions.
The Golite Hex3 is supposed to be good, never seen it though.

Chad Ellertson
(NorthernLights) - F

Locale: Superior Hiking Trail
Prolite 4 on 12/13/2007 07:36:58 MST Print View

Prolite 4 regular 3.2 r value. I love it, weighs a lot (24 oz) but I think its worth it. If its really cold I stick a torso closed foam pad under me. I have tried the prolite 3s with a full length Z rest, and that works but I'm not going to spring for another system that is heavier than a prolite 4 when that works. I think when you're winter camping and hiking, weight goes out the window to a point. I try and keep a low pack weight, but being comfortable and safe is more important to me.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Winter "3 mat system" on 12/28/2007 21:44:50 MST Print View

I forgot to say on my post above that for winter camping I use 3 mats. (Summer is just a full length waffle-cut foam Light Thermarest.)

1. 3/4 length regular Thermarest
2. "1/4 length" closed cell foam SIT PAD for cooking, eating etc. (that Velcros to the bottom end of the 3/4 length Thermarest).
3. Full length RidgeRest under the 3/4 - 1/4 pad combo

I glued the Velcro on the ends of both the 3/4 and 1/4 pads using "Shoe Goo".


Edited by Danepacker on 12/30/2007 10:33:51 MST.

Matthew LaPatka
(gungadin) - M

Locale: Pittsburgh, PA
Stephenson DAM on 12/28/2007 22:36:00 MST Print View

For my winter pad system, I use a Stephenson DAM (70") which is a superbly warm mat to sleep on. It isn't cheap ($150), but it keeps one amazingly warm and comfortable. I looked at the Exped mats, but they seems skimpier on down that the Stephenson. Like the Expeds, you don't blow them up but use a stuff sack to pump it up. While that takes a couple of minutes, it makes a world of difference in warmth and comfort. I have never slept as warm or comfortably with a self-inflator or other pad. They aren't light, but in the winter when one needs a lot of insulation to be safe, I will take the DAM. In addition, I bring a 35" piece of 3/8" Thinlite from Gossamer Gear for a backup. The Stephenson is durable (especially for the 19 oz. weight of something so comfy), but when it is
-10F, I would rather not take risks.
Actually I just used my Montbell #0 bag, DAM, and Golite Hex last night. It only got down to about 10 degrees, and I was actually a little too warm. I had to unzip my bag and strip down somewhat. While the Montbell and DAM are pretty new, the Hex has been a trusty companion on many trips, especially in winter. I love that tent, and it has truly been a lightweight, sturdy, floorless shelter for winter use.

Edited by gungadin on 12/28/2007 23:02:14 MST.

Forrest G McCarthy
(forrestmccarthy) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Try using a foamy over an air mattress on 12/29/2007 21:14:18 MST Print View

If you haven’t tried using your foam mat over your preferred air mattress- try it. Your in for a treat, it is much warmer.

I used insulated air mattresses for many years and have given up on them completely. This includes both Thermorest style mats and down insulated air mattresses. I found Thermorests too heavy and that they eventually leaked. Besides the expense of down insulated mats, I don’t like using a bag pump, nor am I convinced down makes the mat significantly warmer.

I currently use a 2/3 length InsulMat un-insulated air mattress (12 oz). I then use a thin lightweight foamy over the air mattress. The 2.5 inch air mattress mediates conduction. The foamy mediates convection (through the air mattress). It is a light, compact, warm, and inexpensive system. I have used it when snow camping for the last few years. I have tested it while guiding Denali. Even at 17,200 feet I slept great.

The only place (I am aware of) you can get the shorter version of The Ether Compact InsulMat is at Pacific Outdoor Equipment makes them specifically to be used as floors for Alpacka Rafts. They cost only 40$.

I have found when inflating air mattress with lung power, in severe cold, moisture inevitably condenses inside the mat. This moisture then freezes creating sharp ice crystals that create tiny leaks. This phenomenon is a good argument for using a bag pump instead of lung power.

Edited by forrestmccarthy on 12/29/2007 22:21:06 MST.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: RE: Sleep mat systems on 01/05/2008 19:30:42 MST Print View

If you & your wife find it too much to blow up the sleeping pads, that's fair enough. However, it surprises me since I have never considered the 20 or so puffs it takes for me to inflate my inflatable pad (now known as the Ether Thermo 6) as much of a bother after hiking all day. This pad doesn't use a separate pump of any sort. The benefit of that pad is THE MOST comfortable pad for a fairly small volume penalty, but larger weight penalty versus a closed cell foam. Just another view on that point.

I have been trying to rework my pad system to get lighter. I got GG Torso length NightLight to go with my Mariposa, but am finding that lacking in comfort when sleeping in shelters on the AT. I toss during the night and have problems sleeping on my shoulders for very long with a foam pad. I've had less problems in summer on nice duff.

The Ether Thermo doesn't work as well as a frame in my Mariposa, but it's fairly small in volume. Regardless, I haven't been able to justify bringing both pads. I'm not happy about that, but am leaning toward taking the Ether next time as a luxury item to give it a second try. I might then use the full length ThinLight as a frame.

If I were to do it again, I would get the uninsulated version (Ether Compact 6), and then bring along a thin closed cell pad (ThinLight cut to size) for added warmth in the winter. That thin pad really keeps things much warmer than the insulation in my pad and makes it more versatile throughout the year.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
My winter sleep mat system on 01/22/2008 11:16:48 MST Print View

1.Space Blanket UNDER tent floor (also prevents snow from melting under my body)

2. RidgeRest full length on tent floor

3. Regular Thermarest on top of Ridgerest

Has worked fine (in a tent) in -5F with a -25F windchill.


Edited by Danepacker on 01/22/2008 11:17:30 MST.