Home / Gear Reviews / Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad Review

Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad Review

manufactured by :
Philip Werner
Version:
1
Price:
99.95

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On October 6, 2015
Last modified:October 28, 2015

Summary:

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is quick to inflate and deflate, folds flat and compactly, and is covered with dimpled air cells that are especially comfortable for side sleepers who want a sleeping pad that adapts to their curves like their mattress at home. Weighing just 12.5 ounces in a size regular, the Sea-to-Summit Sleeping Pad is also seriously lightweight. Not that you should skimp on sleeping comfort to reduce your gear weight, but every little bit helps.

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Pad has a dimpled surface that is especially comfortable for side sleepers.
The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Inflatable Sleeping Pad has a dimpled surface that is especially comfortable for side sleepers.

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is quick to inflate and deflate, folds flat and compactly, and is covered with dimpled air cells that adapt to a sleeper’s curves like the mattress of their bed at home. Weighing just 12.5 ounces in a size regular, the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight  Sleeping Pad is also seriously lightweight. Not that you should skimp on sleeping comfort to reduce your gear weight, but every little bit helps.

Let’s take a closer look at this inflatable sleeping pad. I was quite surprised to discover how much of an improvement it is over a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad for warm weather camping.

Closeup of the air sprung cells
Closeup of the air sprung cells

Air Sprung Cells

The first thing most people notice about the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is its dimpled surface which has been designed to mimic the spring-like action of the mattress springs that you have in your bed at home. Called “air sprung cells”, the Ultralight Sleeping Pad has close to two hundred interconnected cells that conform to your body shape, regardless of whether you sleep on your back or on your side. This provides a more form-fitting sleeping experience than baffled inflatable pads which tend to have a much stiffer or harder feel.

The difference is immediately noticeable when you lie on the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad, which cradles your hips and shoulders. While the pad is thick enough, at 2.0 inches, to prevent you from feeling most irregularities on the ground, you’ll hit rock bottom if you put all your weight in one spot in the pad, like when you kneel on your knees or prop yourself up on an elbow. That part is not so comfortable.

The inflation valve has two caps. When the top one is open, you can blow air into the pad without it leaking back out.
The inflation valve has two caps. When the top one is open, you can blow air into the pad without it leaking back out.When the inside cap is opened, all of the air in the pad rushes out, deflating instantaneously.

Inflation Valve

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad has a flat two-way valve for inflation and rapid deflation. Flat valves like this, that are flush with the surface of the pad, tend to be far more durable than valves that stick out from a pad and are welded on along a side seam.

The valve has two positions:

  1. When the outer cap is open you can blow air into the pad without it coming out. You can also press a small bladder in the middle of the valve to vent air and adjust pad firmness.
  2. When the inner cap is opened, the pad deflates almost instantaneously, without the need to roll it up multiple times to force the air out.

Those are both very desirable properties for an inflatable sleeping pad.

Storage Size

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight sleeping pad rolls up really thin and tight when deflated, but then again it has no insulation inside, so you’d kind of expect that. Still, the pad is highly packable, which is a nice perk for a pad that adds so much comfort to your sleeping experience. When rolling up the pad, it’s best to fold it into thirds, long ways, before rolling the pad up. It’s plenty tough, so there’s no need to store it in a stuff sack in your backpack.

Sea-to-Summit Jet Stream Pump Sack
Sea-to-Summit Jet Stream Pump Sack

Accessory Pumps

Sea-to-Summit sells the add-on Jet Stream Pump Sack, weighing 1.6 ounces, for inflating the Ultralight sleeping pad, which serves double duty as a small roll top stuff stack for your pad. But it’s so maddeningly slow to use, requiring 30-40 pumps to inflate the pad, that you’ll probably opt to inflate it by mouth in the end. You can get away with this because the inside of the sleeping pad is coated with an anti-microbial agent that prevents mold and bacteria growth that can develop over time when you blow most air into an inflatable sleeping pad.

Inflating the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad with an Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag
Inflating the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad with an Exped Schnozzel Pump bag

Another option, which I discovered purely by chance, is to use an Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag, weighing 2.5 ounces, to inflate the Ultralight Sleeping pad because its valve adapter is perfectly compatible with the flat Sea-to-Summit inflation vale. The Schnozzel is a very lightweight 45 liter roll top pump sack that can double as a pack liner. It only takes one point five (1.5) bagfuls of air to completely inflate the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight sleeping pad with the Schnozzel, which can do also waterproof your gear and clothing.

Recommendation

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is a real advance in inflatable sleeping pad comfort, providing fast deflation speed, compact storage size, and side sleeping comfort. My only concern with the Ultralight pad reviewed here is its R-value, which is quite low, at just 0.7. If you plan to use this pad in cooler spring or autumn temperatures, I’d recommend you get the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad, which has an R-value of 3.3, and will have greater utility outside of hot summer weather. While it’s significantly heavier (15.5 ounces) than the Ultralight Sleeping Pad reviewed here, it uses the same flat valve and air sprung cell technology, providing durable comfort for backpackers and campers, alike.

Likes

  • Packs small and very flat
  • Very rapid deflation
  • Air sprung cells provide excellent comfort for side and back sleepers
  • Flat air valve is more durable than valves that stick out and are welded to a side seam
  • Good value for the price.

Dislikes

Manufacturer Specs

  • Sleeping Pad type: Inflatable
  • Shape: Mummy
  • Gender: Unisex
  • R-Value: 0.7
  • Dimensions
    • Small: 66 x 21.5 x 2 inches
    • Regular: 72 x 21.5 x 2 inches
    • Large: 78 x 25 x 2 inches
  • Weight
    • Small: 11.5 ounces
    • Regular: 12.5 ounces
    • Large: 16 ounces

Disclosure: Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) received a sample Ultralight Sleeping Pad and Jet Stream Pump Sack from Sea-to-Summit for this review. 

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38 comments

  1. Great to see a new innovation in sleeping pads.

    How durable does it seem compared to other sleeping pads. I suspect not as durable as Neo trekker, but maybe as durable as the other Neoairs?

    Also, I’m a big fan of the Instaflator. It’s light, quick and easy. I had it with me on a group trip and when others saw how fast and easy I blew up my pad, they all had to use it.

    • I thought so to. That innovation has forced Therm-a-rest to respond with a fast deflation pad which will be coming out next year,

      Durability is a very hard thing to measure in any unbiased way. I think this pad is puncture resistant, but I wouldn’t recommend using it as a trampoline.

  2. Thanks for the review, it looks like this pad has very good features.
    The “R” value however is pretty low, which does limit its use in full summer only, probably a bonus when is really hot and you don’t want the sleeping pad to retain your body heat .
    But for a decent range of usable temperatures (=seasons), it seems that for the same weight, and maybe same packed size, the NeoAir is still hard to beat

    • Unless you think the NeoAir is as comfortable as a plywood board and you;re sick of how long it takes to deflate in the morning.

      This sea to summit is about 1/3 – 1/2 smaller than an xlite, but again, it has no insulation inside.

    • I’ve got about 20 nights on my Sea to Summit Comfortlite Insulated.No concerns with durability, so far. Only issues is that it when I move in my sleep, it tends to be noisy with my body rubbing against it. I do like the Exped bag to inflate it, though. It deflates in about 1.4 seconds as long as you are laying on it when you pull the plug. I’ll trade the weight penalty for the increase in R-value.

  3. I have the large neoair which takes forever to inflate and deflate. A few months ago I just happened across the instaflator on youtube. Works great and for 3.95 you can’t beat it. 5.95 for shipping so I bought 2, though I’ll probably never need the extra one. Takes a little less than 2 full bags to fill the pad. Not sure how to make the connection to the Sea to Summit valve though. I also have the Sea to Summit air pillow which uses the same inflation valve Philip shows above. Sooo much preferred over the black twist cap of the neoair.

  4. My NeoAir is noisy and I like it that way. I want people to be uncomfortably aware of which sleeping pad i’m using. Does this sleeping pad have the same feature of being unreasonably loud?

  5. I have a Sea to Summit inflatable pillow, which is great. But, air leaks out. I have to blow it up several times a night. I suspect the valve, which I see is on this pad, too. Have you had any problems with air leaking out overnight with this pad?

  6. Thanks for the review. I just bought the Comfortlite Insulated pad, hoping for all the things you gave as “likes.” It does have a higher r-value and weighs more (but still comparable to the NeoAir All Season) and felt more comfortable in the store. I considered the Ultra light insulated version, but as a side sleeper, I tended to feel my hip hit the ground after a few minutes – so I opted for the Comfortlite, which is a bit more supportive. (The higher r-value was a nice bonus.)

    My only dislike so far is that the Comfortlite insulated won’t fit in the Jetstream stuff sack. On the other hand, the stuff sack does hold a pair of fleece sleeping socks and my spare clean socks just dandy, so I guess it all works out in the end. I’m anxious to give it a try in the field.

  7. The real question is how do you like the Bitter Springs tent? I’ve used one on my summer solo trips and have really liked it. Are you going to post a review?

  8. TAR Xlite is the pad to compare all other against, and for a reason, it is the best. I don’t need rapid de-flation, I use the mostly deflated pad as a frame in my UL pack. Noisy? not at all, if you don’t carry some decent ear plugs you need to get some. I love new tech and I would love to see something better than the TAR Xlite but this isn’t it.

    • Yes, I am surprised by the slow deflation complaints. I open the valve, lie down on the pad, get up, roll up the pad. Never considered it an issue that the air didn’t whoosh completely out on its own.

      I am waiting for for an Xtherm in large torso size, myself. Now that they’ve made a rectangular Xtherm Max, it can’t be too far behind.

  9. Do you think if you used a closed cell foam or reflectix pad underneath this one, that would that help improve the R-value at all?

  10. Just took one of these out in late September in Maine. I agree with your assessment. Much better than the neo air for me. The extra 1.5 in width allows me to keep my arms on pad when back sleeping. I actually slept through the night on my back on e night! The best nights of sleep I have had. I used a gossamer gear 1/8 in thin light pad underneath for protection and an increase in R value up to about 1.2 I was concerned about the minimal R value but was fine down into the upper 40s. The texture of the pad fabric is much more pleasing to me than the Neo air. I will be looking into the insulated version for colder trips.

  11. I use Large mats because I dislike having my elbows slide off the sides while lying on my back–especially under a quilt that doesn’t hold my arms in place. The Exped rectangle is the best at this by far, being 26″ wide with large side baffles. But my Downmat is heavy and has horrible older-style flat valves.

    I’ve been using a NeoAir, but the claimed 25″ width only applies at the head. The elbow region is much more narrow. And while this new Sea To Summit design looks intriguing, the tapered shape means it will behave like a NeoAir, I assume.

    What size is your sample, Philip? Large? Do your elbows slide off the sides?

    Sea To Summit makes a rectangle “Comfort Plus” mat with a double layer of chambers! If one side goes flat, the other side stays up, which is a very nice feature. It is also MUCH warmer (R 5.0) but it is twice as heavy. Hmmm…comfort carrying vs. comfort sleeping…which to choose!

    http://www.rei.com/product/882035/sea-to-summit-comfort-plus-insulated-rectangular-sleeping-pad

    PS–I love the Thermarest valves because they are so easy to feel in the dark, and there is no question which way is OPEN and CLOSED. And the NeoAir deflates in less than a minute, so no big deal for me.

  12. So rather than using the exped, there is a sea to summit product specfically designed to fit the valve, its called the airstream dry sack pump.

    • It’s called the jet stream and it’s covered in the review. Not worth $30 and very slow to inflate,

      • Actually, mia and Phil are both right. Sea to Summit makes two pumps: the small Jet Stream and the larger Air Stream. Using the inherent logic of “Oooohhh, shiny…” I ended up with one of each.

        The Jet Stream is described in the review. Some, but not all, of the pads will stow inside it as a stuff sack. My ComfortLight Insulated 72″ pad will not. So much for obvious double use – unless you use it to store some socks or small items (not waterproof; it has a porous bottom so it will reinflate between pumps.) It’s slow, hard work: the low volume of the sack means about 50 pumps to inflate the pad.

        The Air Stream is a 20-liter dry bag with a one-way valve in the bottom (and a seal to close it off, so you actually have a functioning dry bag. I store my sleeping bag in it – actual double use!) To use it, you connect the valve to the pad, fluff the bag to trap air in it, roll the top once to trap the air, then press. About three bags will inflate it fully. Then, if you wish, you can close the valve, trap it about half full of air, roll the dry bag closure about a third of the way, and voila! – you have a really cushy air pillow. (I lost count – is that triple use?)

        I don’t have enough experience with them to say for sure, but I’m leaning toward the Air Stream as my go-to pump.

      • I just got back from leading a beginners’ overnight trip – perfect place to test the Air Stream pump bag and new Comfortlite insulated pad. It was a rainy hike in, so I used the pump bag as a dry sack for my sleeping bag. I don’t know if it meets the standards for kayak dry bags, but it worked great in rain. (Yes, after I set up my tent, I let it sit out in the rain for a few moments, on purpose, just to see.)

        The pump also functioned great as a pump (two and a half bags were all I could get in – the back pressure stopped me from overinflating it, which is a nice little design feature, too.) And, yes, it was a comfortable pillow, though air tended to seep out over time – I almost reinflated it around 4am, the decided just to put it on top of a fleece jacket.)

        The pad seemed OK, too. At first, lying on my side, it felt somewhat uncomfortable around my hips. Then, I noticed that I’d forgotten to take off my shorts, which had a belt – I think it was the belt that was creating the discomfort. By the time I fell asleep, it was at least as comfortable as the NeoAir All Season it replaced. I didn’t wake up sore anywhere, but I didn’t notice it being “Hey, this is really nice” comfortable. The thought I did have was that both the NeoAir and Comfortlite come in second behind the Big Agnes Q-Core or Q-Core SL pads for comfort. Those are plush, but you pay for that plushness in headroom: since the Q-Cores are an inch or more thicker than NeoAir or S2S pads, you are an inch or more closer to the ceiling when you sit up.

        The easy deflate was convenient. Very convenient. I really liked that.

        So, it will definitely replace my NeoAir pads (which will turn into loaner gear for these beginner trips.) Will it replace the Q-Core SL? The jury is still out.

      • After a couple more nights on the Comfortlite, I had concluded that the Q-Core SL is my preferred pad: higher r-value, lower weight, and more sink-in comfort than the Comfortlite.

        Then I saw that REI is currently offering an Exped Winterlite Downmat for sale with $50-60 reduction in price. Further investigation revealed that it weighs 16 ounces (4 ounces lighter than Comfortlite, 1 oz. lighter than Q-Core SL), has an r-value of 7 (s-e-v-e-n), and includes a Schnozzle inflatore bag. Additional further investigation will have to wait until the FedEx guy stops at my house. However, I’ve used other Downmats (including the Downmat 7 with the built-in pump) and found them both warm and comfortable; I rejected them only because, at 2 pounds or more, they were too heavy to carry in my pack. I’m anxious to spend some time on the Winterlite.

        While the Sea to Summit offerings are new and shiny, I’m becoming less and less convinced that they represent a true improvement. Instead, they just seem to be another take on a familiar theme. Are they functional? Yes. Should you consider them? Yes – go to the store and lie down on one, but also try out the other models, and then pick the one that seems best suited to your personal needs.

  13. I have the Neo-air x-therm in a large size. Is there anything comparable to it yet when it comes to a cold night?

    • Probably not, no. For the warmth, it’s about as light as you can get, but it’s spendy. You’ve got weight, warmth, and price — to reduce one and keep one the same, the third will have to move towards the negative. You can go warmer for about the same price by going with an Exped DownMat, but you’ll increase the weight. Or you can save some bucks and keep the weight down by looking at a Nemo Astro Insulated Lite (what I’m leaning towards) but it probably won’t be as warm. If you’ve got the money or already have the pad, the XTherm is pretty much the sweet spot.

  14. Ridiculously toasty, for winter: Big Agnes QCore insulated, on top of a silvered closed cell foam pad.

  15. I recently purchased the Regular size of the Sea to Summit ultralight and have been disappointed to find that the actual weight is 14.6 oz on my scales. That’s quite a bit out from the quoted spec.

  16. Just heading off on a bibbulmun 4 day hike. Temperatures down to -1 Cel. My walking companion has just purchased this sleeping pad hoping it will help him sleep better. will be interested in how he finds the cold and noise issues with this pad. Well me, I seem to be able to sleep anywhere on anything.

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