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Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad Review

Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad Review

The Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad is an ultralight and ultra-thin closed-cell foam pad which can be used to completely eliminate sleeping pad slip on silnylon and Dyneema DCF tent floors. A true multi-purpose item, this 1/8″ foam pad can also be used as a dog bed, a windbreak for your stove, a sit pad, a freezer bag cozy, camp chair insulation, a yoga mat, a nap pad, an insulated skirt, or padding for a wilderness first-aid splint, among other uses. This closed cell foam pad does not tear, does not wear, does not weaken at crease points, and does not hold dirt, water or mud. It’s pretty amazing stuff.

Specs at a Glance

Preventing Pad Slip

The surfaces of most tent floors, bivy sacks, and inflatable sleeping pads are relatively slick. Even a slightly inclined campsite can result in the pad sliding around during the night. Placing the Thinlight between the tent floor and the sleeping pad is a simple and foolproof way to completely eliminate the pad slip problem. The stuff acts like sleeping pad cement.

But there’s no need to use an entire Thinlight foam pad for this purpose. You can cut a small portion of one, say torso-sized, and lay it under an inflatable sleeping pad to prevent it from sliding on your tent floor. If you look at the specs, you’ll see that the Thinlight is shorter and narrower than most regular sized inflatable pads as well, because most people trim them for different applications before use.

Another common method of preventing pad slip is to apply dots or lines of seam sealer to either the tent floor or the bottom of the inflatable pad. Compared to the Thinlight, this is messy and time-consuming and must be repeated with every new tent or pad purchase. It also doesn’t exactly help the resale value of those items.

Foam pad to prevent sleeping pad slippage
Most backpackers cut down a Thinlight pad for specific applications. For example, Philip uses this 1.3 oz torso sized piece under an inflatable pad to prevent pad slip, as well as a sit pad.

Other Uses

As a closed-cell foam pad, the Thinlight has a variety of other common uses. Many backpackers use a Thinlight as puncture protection when placed under an inflatable sleeping pad. It also makes a handy sit pad. If you fold it over on itself a few times, the Thinlight also makes a passible pack frame, especially if your backpack has an external pad sleeve, like the ones found on many Gossamer Gear backpacks, like the Mariposa 60 or the Gorilla 40.

Some people also use the Thinlight as a sleeping pad, but I’d advise caution in doing this. This pad is so thin that it provides very little insulation value by itself or in combination with another sleeping pad. The thicker 1/4″ Thinlight Hammock Pad, which is used by hammock hangers as cold butt protection in warmer weather, is probably more suitable as a second pad. However, it also provides limited insulation value when compared to an accordion-style foam pad like the Thermarest Zlite or the NEMO Switchback, which are substantially thicker and have a measurable R-value.

Carrying

Unlike bulky accordion-style foam pads the Thinlight can be rolled up or folded as you see fit which means it can be carried in a variety of ways:

  • Inside the pack’s main compartment
  • Beneath the roll-top closure or brain
  • Vertically in a side pocket
  • Rolled-up around a trekking pole or water bottle
  • Folded into a square and carried on the bottom of a backpack

Recommendation

The Gossamer Gear Thinlight Foam Pad is a worthy companion to any inflatable sleeping pad, preventing pad slip on slippery tent floors while providing added puncture protection. Using a Thinlight in this manner also eliminates the need to apply the messy silicone stripes or dots to your tent floor or pad, that are typically required to prevent pad slip on sloped or uneven tent pitches. For those already carrying a dedicated sit pad, the Thinlight also serves as a multi-functional replacement for a negligible weight penalty. Highly recommended!

About the Author

Michael Montgomery is a Washington State native who has been exploring the wilds of the Pacific Northwest for almost 20 years. He’s a backpacking mentor and trip leader for the Mountaineers who also dabbles in photography, scrambling, kayaking, and caving. His noteworthy international trips include the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu as well as the last third of the Camino de Santiago (because there’s only so much vacation time to go around). He enjoys helping new folks get the most out of their outdoor experiences.

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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12 comments

  1. I’ve been carrying one of these for ten years. It’s a truly remarkable,versatile piece of gear.

  2. Rather than the Gossamer Gear Thinlight pad, I use their foldable, torso-length Nightlight Sleeping Pad, which works better for insulation. The Nightlight slips perfectly into the Mariposa (or Gorilla) backpack’s back sleeve, providing cushion between the hiker and the pack contents and additional structure so the pack can carry more gear comfortably. I don’t like strapping a pad to the exterior of my pack, where it can get snagged on brush. In my opinion, the Nightlight is too thin and short to sleep on alone, but it makes an excellent addition to an inflatable pad, as well as filling the secondary functions listed above for the Thinlight, such as a camp chair.

  3. I guess it’s nice of GG to sell the perfectly ordinary EVA foam pre-cut from the roll for people who can’t be bothered to go to a local upholstery/hardware/crafts store… Or not. Don’t they sell EVA foam by the yard in the US? Although I have to admit, with probable US prices per roll or yard, GG’s markup might not be too bad at all. It’s just very funny to me GG actually bothered to put a “catchy” name on a roll of EVA foam they cut from the roll…

    • I’ve not seen anything in the craft or fabric stores but never thought to try upholstery stores. Great idea. I have the GG thin light but when it comes time to be replaced I will try Frank’s suggestion.i use mine as a large sit pad and to supplement my sleep pad temperature rating. Sometimes it’s under my sleep pad, other times its on top. I’ve also used it rolled up and placed under my sleep pad to help level the ground when a flat spot isn’t available.

    • Try this place. I got mine here….http://www.owfinc.com/

    • I could be wrong, but the Thinlight feels very different from standard EVA to me. EVA foam is usually much more dense and because of that heavier and less foldable. Then again, I’m not an upholsterer or very crafty, so maybe you’re thinking of a type that’s different from what I’m thinking of.

  4. I have some 1/4 inch closed cell foam that came as packing material. Seems like similar stuff, and free.

  5. Thank you for pointing the lack of insulation: I use my foam pads as second pads under inflatables, mostly for winter / snow camping, so this would be totally useless for that purpose.

  6. I like the Mammut Alpine pad, similar, but 3.5 oz. Much more durable.

    https://www.backpacker.com/gear/gear-review-mammut-alpine-mat-ul-sleeping-pad

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