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Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Using aerogel technology from Aspen Aerogels, Pacific Outdoor Equipment launches what could be the warmest sleeping pad ever.

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by Mike Martin | 2006-08-10 03:00:00-06

Overview

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 1
The Pacific Outdoor Hyper-High Mountain Pad (atop a stack of less interesting yellow pads).

Are you a cold sleeper? Planning a winter mountaineering expedition? Used to doubling your pads up to stay warm on snow? Pacific Outdoor Equipment has changed the rules of the game. Using aerogel technology developed by Aspen Aerogels, they are beginning production of the warmest sleeping pad currently available to backpackers - probably even to car campers! All at an astonishingly low weight.

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 2
Torso area showing the hourglass shaped self-inflating region.

The Hyper-High Mountain Pad is a full-length hybrid pad consisting of a sandwich of a bottom layer of EVA foam throughout, an aerogel layer in the torso and foot regions, and a top layer of self-inflating foam in the torso area with polyethylene over the leg half and around the perimeter.

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 3
Foot area (ignore those yellow pads again).

It's the aerogel layer that sets this pad apart from all others. Only 7mm thick, it imbues the pad with a claimed R-20 R-Value. That's not a misprint: R-20! Aerogels are solid, silicon-based, open cell, nanoporous materials that have a very high proportion of free void volume, giving them extremely low densities and thermal conductivities. (Some aerogel materials are up to 1000 times less dense than glass, another silicon-based solid.) Aspen Aerogels has taken this NASA technology and developed a flexible insulating material that's very light and very warm for its thickness. This product is the first application of this technology in a sleeping pad.

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) - 4
Side view showing the EVA (pink), PE (gray), and self-inflating (red) layers. (The aerogel layer is internal and not visible.)

For ultralight backpackers, the Hyper-High Mountain Pad could become “the” winter pad. But at 21.5oz, it's overkill for most other uses. However, the technology is compelling - Pacific Outdoor Equipment will hopefully introduce an entire family of pads using it. For example, a torso-length, non-inflatable, R-5 pad might weigh as little as 4oz.

To put the claimed R-20 R-Value in perspective, excluding car-camping monsters, the thickest closed-cell foam and self-inflating mats are less than R-4, while 3.5 inch thick down-filled inflatables that weigh over 2 pounds are still less than R-9. An R-20 pad is a furnace for your backside! If testing confirms the claims, this pad could allow you to drop half a pound from your winter sleeping bag weight and still stay just as warm. We'll let you know if the pad performs up to its claims in an upcoming review.

Specifications and Features

  • Dimensions: 20x72x1.5 in.
  • Polyethylene upper layer around perimeter and legs
  • 13mm thick EVA lower layer
  • 7mm Aerogel mid-layer in torso and foot areas
  • Claimed Weight: 21.5oz (609g)
  • Claimed R-Value: R-20
  • MSRP: $165

Citation

"Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)," by Mike Martin. BackpackingLight.com (ISSN 1537-0364).
http://backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/pacific_outdoor_equipment_hyper_high_mtn_orsm06.html, 2006-08-10 03:00:00-06.

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Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006) on 08/11/2006 00:29:44 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper-High Mtn (Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2006)

Dan Healy
(electricpanda)

Locale: Queensland
Aerogel pad on 08/11/2006 07:35:39 MDT Print View

Interesting… a full length pad for 600ish grams that is well suited to snow camps… not bad… as noted in the blurb a ¾ thinner pad would be brilliant or even just a thinner full length pad for winter… and the bling value would be brilliant!!

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Pad useful for frameless packs? on 08/11/2006 08:40:31 MDT Print View

Any feel, based on what you've seen at the show, as to how these pads would function as a virtual frame in a frameless pack?

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Pad useful for frameless packs? on 08/11/2006 09:36:24 MDT Print View

Glenn, it would have to be a big pack. This is a long (78") and pretty thick (1/2" to 1.5") pad.

Glenn Roberts
(garkjr) - F

Locale: Southwestern Ohio
Can pad be cut down? on 08/11/2006 10:59:23 MDT Print View

I didn't think to ask with the first question: can this pad be cut down to 3/4 length, or would that delaminate things? (I have no experience, even browsing in a gear shop, with POE pads - thus the apparently ignorant question.)

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Can pad be cut down? on 08/11/2006 12:10:11 MDT Print View

Yes, it can. The aerogel is only found in the torso and foot area, not in the legs. Of course, every snip of the scissors to eliminate any aerogel section of the pad would result in the rapid emptying of your wallet.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Use with air mattress on 08/12/2006 13:24:39 MDT Print View

This sounds like truly a miracle of modern technology! I also would like to see a simple foam pad containing Aspen Aerogels. That would serve the minimalist backpacker but if produced in a 20"x72" pad it could be used in conjunction with an air mattress type pad. That would really help those of us that don't have such young bones anymore and relish the comfort of the air mattresses but then have to deal with there lack of insulation. Yes, there are down and other high loft options available in air mattresses but they add weight and cost for only a little benefit when compared to what Aspen Aerogels seem to promise.

It sounds as if these pads could be produced with different percentages of Aspen Aerogels and could essentially be "rated" to a temperature like sleeping bags are! That way, winter camping wouldn't require a stack of pads for insulation.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
aerogel in self-inflatables ? on 08/12/2006 16:13:41 MDT Print View

Any idea on how the aerogel influences the packing volume of a sleeping pad and if it is feasible to expect self-inflatable pads with this technology?
About those uninteresting yellow pads in the picture, are these also new (but less (r)evolutionary) ? Last year, POE had the Max Thermo Lite but only in full length. Any info about a 3/4 length pad?

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: aerogel in self-inflatables ? on 08/14/2006 16:00:08 MDT Print View

Tom-

The yellow pads are from POE's "AO" series (previously called "max thermo-lite") that have a self-inflating center with a bermed "air-loft" perimeter. They have long, regular, and 2/3 length men's versions, as well as regular and petite women's versions in their 2007 catalog. Both 3 and 4 season versions of each pad are listed. No word currently on availability.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: aerogel in self-inflatables ? on 08/14/2006 17:36:26 MDT Print View

Thanks Michael,
do you have any idea about the weight of those AO/Max Thermo Lite pads, specifically the 3/4 length? I think last year, BPL showed the full length pad with a weight of 19 oz. (which is lighter than a full length prolite 3)
I know these pads aren't as interesting as the aerogel pads but my old T-a-R Ultralite started to delaminate a few weeks ago so I'm looking for a new light, compact self-inflatable and I hope the 3/4 AO pad is even lighter than a 3/4 prolite 3.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: aerogel in self-inflatables ? on 08/14/2006 20:30:31 MDT Print View

>> do you have any idea about the weight of those AO/Max Thermo Lite pads...

The claimed weight for the 66" AO-LITE is 13oz. The 48" four-season AO-MTN is 18oz. (Note that these figures are from a pre-release catalog -- I'm not sure why the pads are different lengths. Maybe a typo.)

Edited by MikeMartin on 08/14/2006 20:31:03 MDT.

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
POE new All Out sleeping pads on 08/16/2006 14:02:49 MDT Print View

While these pads are certainly not as exciting as the new aerogel pads, I guess the new All Out Lite and Mtn are still worth mentioning for those who prefer self-inflatable pads and aren't sure of torsosized pads.
The lightest of these pads (which was previously known as Max Thermo Lite) is the All Out Lite 2/3 weighin 13 oz which is exactly the weight of the T-a-R Prolite 3 3/4. As far as I could find out, the foam pattern and fabric in these All Out Lite pads are identical to those used and praised in the Torsolite which, if true, should mean a firmer, warmer pad for the same weight and perhaps at a lesser cost than the Prolite 3.
Availability could be as soon as November 1st 2006.

pack nwcurt
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: POE new All Out sleeping pads on 08/16/2006 15:38:03 MDT Print View

Tom,

Where did you find the information on these pads? POE's website doesn't seem to mention them yet.

Thanks for the heads-up!

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: POE new All Out sleeping pads on 08/16/2006 16:47:05 MDT Print View

After seeing those "uninteresting" yellow pads on the pictures of the new aerogel pad, I've got some info about them here and some other from a mail to POE. Although not revolutionary, I think these pads could be more interesting than previously assumed. For a lot of people who prefer the comfort and compactness of a self-inflatable but want the lightest weight, the only option at the moment seems to be the Prolite 3. POE already has the Max-lite which should have similar properties than the Torsolite (except from the size ofcourse) but it's a bit heavier than the Prolite 3. Now there seems to be a pad which could outperform it in every way, even weight.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Re: POE new All Out sleeping pads on 08/16/2006 17:48:24 MDT Print View

>> After seeing those "uninteresting" yellow pads...

Tom, you've got me regretting my choice of words. ;-)

I think POE makes some of the best pads in the industry, and I certainly didn't mean to disparage their AO series. It's just that we had to sift through literally thousands of new products and choose what to comment about for our show coverage. The Aerogel pad is revolutionary technology and gets the headline for the moment.

Cheers,

-Mike

Woubeir (from Europe)
(Woubeir) - F - MLife
Re: Re: POE new All Out sleeping pads on 08/17/2006 03:16:52 MDT Print View

Michael,
don't worry. Given the introduction of the aerogel pads, I fully understand that almost every other sleeping pad has now become kind of uninteresting. And you can't cover all the gear, that'sz for sure. But use of your word uninteresting made it a bitt easier for me to explain what I wanted to know.
It's also pure coincidence that my sleeping pad has given up on me and that I'm looking for a new one. So new sleeping pads got some extra attention amidst all the new gear at this show.
POE is little known and hard to find in Europe and although there are some alternatives they tend to be (a lot) heavier than the Thermarests. These AO pads seem to be the only pads which can compare with the T-a-R Prolite pads on a weightbasis (and outperforming them in any other way ?).

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
PAC pads on 12/10/2006 23:16:52 MST Print View

After doing a thorough search and not finding the pad anywhere, I wrote PAC.

Case Carpenter informed me that the didn't expect shipment to their warehouse before Dec. 15th.

I'm hoping that the pad's street price is substantially less than the MSRP of $165.

A.J. Lacomba
(ajadkbot) - F
Re: PAC pads on 12/19/2006 12:21:33 MST Print View

Just placed my order by phone at Summit Hut. It's not listed on their website yet. It took some time for them to find the item, however they have it in stock and I should have it by the end of the week. Now to plan my next winter adventure.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: POE Aerogel Pads on 12/19/2006 16:23:45 MST Print View

Congratulations A.J.

We will be looking forward to a full report!

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
POE and Summit Hut on 12/19/2006 17:10:08 MST Print View

The Hyper-High MTN pad is not in stock at Summit Hut yet but they will order it direct from POE who does have them in stock. POE then does a drop shipment to the buyer. They are $165 plus shipping etc.

If you talk to Summit Hut ask for Bri, she has all the answers.

I may order one to try on the colder part of my upcoming hike.

Brett .
(Brett1234) - F

Locale: CA
re:aerogel pads vs. reflectix on 12/19/2006 19:53:23 MST Print View

If this aerogel refers to Silica aerogel, the highest insulation value I can find for this material from manufacturers is R10/inch. You can get that by laying down two sheets of Reflectix for a few bucks, and much less weight. Top it off with the BMW Torsolite or a MontBell UL 90cm for comfort if you wish.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Building_insulation#Typical_R-values_per_inch_of_thickness
My system is an evazote 1/4" and the MontBell UL pad; R4.7

Edited by Brett1234 on 12/19/2006 19:54:08 MST.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: re:aerogel pads vs. reflectix on 12/19/2006 20:53:30 MST Print View

Hi-

A couple of random comments....

The material used in both the Toasty Feet footbeds and POE's Hyper-High Mountain pad is made by Aspen Aerogels. Their website states indirectly that their 2.0mm thick Pyrogel 2250 material is used in the footbeds. This material has a claimed thermal conductivity of .107 BTU-in/ft^2-hr-degF, giving it an R-Value per inch thickness of R-9.35, or overall R-0.74 at 2mm thickness.

The Aerogel used in POE's pad is proprietary but of a similar but thicker material. (I'll comment further in an upcoming review of the Hyper-High Mountain pad. Gotta prolong the suspense a bit...)

Reflectix depends upon a radiant barrier effect for much of its insulating value and thus can only achieve reasonably high R-values when adjacent to a dead airspace. Lying directly on two sandwiched sheets with the bottom in direct contact with the ground will not be much more effective than the same thickness of bubble wrap.

Cheers,

-Mike

Edited by MikeMartin on 12/19/2006 20:57:36 MST.

A.J. Lacomba
(ajadkbot) - F
Hyper-High Mtn Pad R value on 12/21/2006 10:05:17 MST Print View

>The Hyper-High MTN pad is not in stock at Summit Hut yet
>but they will order it direct from POE who does have them
>in stock. POE then does a drop shipment to the buyer.

Now I know what they were doing while I was on hold all that time ;) In one of my e-mail exchanges with POE, I has asked about the R value of the pad. Following is the response I received:


"The Aero Gel material has an R value of ~ 13.5 which the manufacturer measures in thermal conductivity.
That material sandwiched between the EVA bottom and the Open Cell Foam insert bumps the R value up to ~ 19 to 20 altogether."

For cold winter conditions I normally use my TR Prolite 4 and a cheap blue foam pad from Walmart. The Prolite 4 is nice for three seasons, however for me it was insufficent for cold weather (around 0 deg F) sleeping alone. Besides being a little lighter than my Prolite 4, the POE Pad will allow me to bring one less item with it's associated weight and perhaps more importantly bulk.

eric levine
(ericl) - F

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: Hyper-High Mtn Pad R value on 12/26/2006 23:27:01 MST Print View

I ordered my POS aerogel pad yesterday, and will also post my impressions after I get a good cold weather outing in.

I'm a cold sleeper and am making the purchase to hopefully turn my 3 1/2 season feathered friends bag (overfilled snow bunting ~0 to -5 deg.) into a full-fledged Colorado/Wyoming winter bag. Since I'm not a big cold weather winter camper, the purchase of a limited use -20 to -30 deg. bag at $600-$700 doesn't have much appeal.

My winter padding system right now is either a full length zrest with Gossamer's 3 section nightlight, or a Thermarest full length explorer pad with the Gossamer.

I've been using the aerogel toasty feet pads with my moon boots for snowshoeing with pretty good results.

William Kline
(BillyBob58) - F

Locale: SE US
R-value over rated? on 05/25/2007 11:24:11 MDT Print View

I can't wait to see a full review here at BPL. I read some reviews at another place,and at least one of those reviewers thought the R rating was highly suspect. During the field testing, one person notice some melting snow under the pad after sitting on it for a good while. This led to his best effort at "scientific" comparison tests. The Hyper pad out performed his r-2.2 pad and his r-4.7 pad. However, the r-2.2+r-4.7 added together significantly out performed the hyper. He ended up guesstimating an r-value of 6.8 for the hyper pad. Which is still pretty good, but only about a third as good as rated. I hope his testing proves wrong! Time will tell.
Bill