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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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