Best Lightweight Inflatable Sleeping Pads

posted in: Articles | 2


submit to reddit
Delicious Save on Delicious

ProLite Gear views the sleeping pad as an integral part of your sleep system. With a good inflatable sleeping pad augmenting nighttime thermoregulation, you can then carry a lighter weight sleeping bag. Heat loss to the ground is one of the main issues causing a cold night’s sleep. Sleeping pads in years past have often been bulky, uncomfortable, and heavy. Recent advances in technology have largely alleviated this and for that, we are thankful. A good night’s sleep is not only pleasant, but provides for an overall improved wilderness experience. The staff at ProLite Gear have whittled down a myriad of sleeping pads currently available in the market to a select few top performers and have presented them here for your comparative convenience.

Notes on R-Value

While there is no industry-wide standard for testing R-Value, we’ve found that the manufacturers’ tested values are relatively accurate. Individual sleeping comfort varies with hydration, nutrition, fatigue, inflation levels, etc and can therefore impact the perceived warmth and comfort of a mattress. As a baseline we recommend an R-Value of approximately R-5 or higher for a winter mattress.

Mechanics of Heat Transfer

There are 3 primary forms of heat transfer that impact the performance of a sleeping pad. The first is Conduction, which is the transfer of energy between objects that are in physical contact. Inflatable pads combat conduction by creating a large air space between the ground and the person sleeping on the pad. The second form of heat transfer is Convective heat transfer, often referred to simply as Convection. Convection as it relates to inflatable sleeping pads is the transfer of heat from one place to another by the movement of air. Designers of sleeping pads combat convection based cooling by using baffles or air cells in the pads, or by introducing synthetic or down insulation to interrupt the movement of air within the inflatable sleeping pad. Lastly, designers can look at Thermal Radiation, which is energy(heat) emitted by user as infrared waves. Product designers are starting to take advantage of materials and baffle designs that reflect these infrared waves back to the user to increase the effective warmth(thermal resistance) of sleeping pads.

Premium Performance Award Winner

Premium Performance AwardThe Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm was given the Premium Performance Award due to its superior Warmth-To-Weight ratio. Weighing just 15 ounces(430 grams) the NeoAir X-Therm has a r-Value of 5.7. Nothing else comes close to providing this level of thermal resistance at this weight. The Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm achieves this while only being 2.5 inches thick. To reduce the effects of convection cooling Thermarest engineered over 100 individual cells within the pad, greatly reducing the size of individual air spaces within the pad, and the convection currents that occur in each cell. This is referred to as their Triangular Core Matrix™. The Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm also uses Reflective ThermaCapture™ technology to reflect the infrared rays emitted by the body back to the users, resulting in a warmer, more thermally efficient sleeping pad.

Best Value Award Winner

Best Value AwardThe Thermarest NeoAir Trekker was given the Best Value Award due to its overall balance of warmth, weight, durability, comfort, and cost. At $130 the Trekker is not the least expensive of the pads tested. However, pads that were less expensive did not score well on either warmth(R-Value) or were much heavier than the Thermarest NeoAir Trekker. The NeoAir Trekker uses the same Triangular Core Matrix™, and Reflective ThermaCapture™ technology as the X-Therm, but uses heavier 50D Polyester fabric on the top, and 75D Polyester on the bottom of the sleeping pad.

Lightweight Sleeping Pad Review Videos

Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm Review
Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm Review
Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite Review
Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite Review
Thermarest NeoAir Trekker Review
Thermarest NeoAir Trekker Review
Big Agnes Q-Core SL Review
Big Agnes Q-Core SL Review
Big Agnes Double Z Review
Big Agnes Double Z Review
Exped SynMat UL 7 Review
Exped SynMat UL 7 Review
Exped DownMat Lite 5 Review
Exped DownMat Lite 5 Review

Related Articles and Videos

How To Repair Inflatable Sleeping Pads
How To Repair
Inflatable Sleeping Pads
How To Store Inflatable Sleeping Pads
How To Store
Inflatable Sleeping Pads
How To Use Closed Cell Pads with Inflatable Sleeping Pads
How To Use Closed Cell Pads with
Inflatable Sleeping Pads

Product Review Grid

PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT PRODUCT
PRODUCT NAME Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm
Thermarest NeoAir X-Therm
Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite
Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite
Thermarest NeoAir Trekker
Thermarest NeoAir Trekker
Exped SynMat UL 7
Exped SynMat UL 7
Big Agnes Q-Core SL
Big Agnes Q-Core SL
Big Agnes Double Z
Big Agnes Double Z
Exped DownMat Lite 5
Exped DownMat Lite 5
REVIEW READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
READ
REVIEW
AWARD Premium Performance Award Best Value Award
PRICE (US $) $190.00 $160.00 $130.00 $165.00 $140.00 $80.00 $115.00
Verified Weight 430g/15oz 350g/12oz 480g/17oz 454g/16oz 480g/17oz 480g/17oz 595g/21oz
THICKNESS 6cm/2.5″ 6cm/2.5″ 6cm/2.5″ 7.112cm/2.8″ 9cm/3.5″ 10.16cm/4″ 5cm/2.0″
R-VALUE R 5.7 R 3.2 R 3.0 R 3.1 R 4.5 R 1.5 R 4.1
DIMENSIONS 20 x 72” / 51 x 183cm 20 x 72” / 51 x 183cm 20 x 72” / 51 x 183cm 21 x 72” / 53 x 183cm 20 x 72” / 51 x 183cm 20 x 72” / 51 x 183cm 21 x 72” / 53 x 183cm
PACKED DIMENSIONS 9 x 4” / 23 x 10cm 9 x 4” / 23 x 10cm 4.5 x 9” / 11 x 23cm 9 x 4” / 23 x 10cm 4 x 10” / 10 x 25cm 4 x 10” / 10 x 25cm 5 x 10” / 13 x 25cm
INSULATION TYPE Reflective ThermaCapture™ with Triangular Core Matrix™ Reflective ThermaCapture™ with Triangular Core Matrix™ Reflective ThermaCapture™ with Triangular Core Matrix™ 60 g/m² Texpedloft microfiber X-Static synthetic insulation N/A 650-fill Duck Down, 3oz / 85g
SHAPE Mummy Mummy Rectangle Rectangle Rectangle or Mummy Mummy Rectangle
BAFFLE ORIENTATION Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Vertical Omni Omni Vertical
PUMP Yes, stuffsack style** No* No* No* No No Yes, 2oz / 57g
TOP FABRIC / BOTTOM FABRIC 30D High Tenacity Nylon / 70D Nylon Soft Grip 30D High Tenacity Nylon 50D/75D Polyester 20D Polyester Superlight nylon rip-stop top and bottom Superlight nylon rip-stop top and bottom 75D Polyester
STUFF SACK INCLUDED YES YES YES YES YES YES YES
WARRANTY Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
2-Year Limited
Lifetime
Limited
Lifetime
5-Year

(Specs above are all based on 72” / 183cm length mattresses. Smaller and larger versions are also available in these models)

*can be purchased as an aftermarket accessory, but is not necessary for inflation
**included but not necessary for inflation

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you for taking the time to put this information together. I find your review process very beneficial, and appreciate the more technical details you include in the video reviews.

  2. Anonymous

    Well explained as usual. Thanks for the review!

Leave a Reply