Sea to Summit Ultralight Air Mat Sleeping Pad Review

Sea to Summit Ultralight Air Mat Sleeping Pad Review

The Sea to Summit Ultralight Air Mat 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 your bed at home. Weighing 13.9 ounces in a size regular, the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is also reasonably lightweight. Not that you should skimp on sleeping comfort to reduce your gear weight, but every little bit helps. I was quite surprised to discover how much of an improvement it is over a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite or NeoAir Uberlite sleeping pad for warm-weather camping.

Specs at a Glance

  • Type: Air Mattress
  • Weight: 13.9 oz / 395 g (pad only)
  • Weight of pump sack: 1.3 oz / 37 g
  • Dimensions: 72″ x 21.5″ / 183 cm x 55 cm
  • Packed size: 3″ x 6.5″ / 7.5 cm x 17 cm
  • Thickness: 2″ / 5 cm
  • R-value: 1.1 (ASTM F3340-18)
  • Material: 30/40D TPU Laminated Nylon
The Air Sprung Cells adapt to your body regardless of whether you sleep on your back or side
The Air Sprung Cells adapt to your body regardless of whether you sleep on your back or side.

Air Sprung Cells

The Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping pad is not the lightest weight air mattress you can buy and it’s not the warmest, in terms of R-value. But it is certainly one of the most comfortable ultralight pads available by a long shot. The surface of the pad is dimpled 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 one hundred and eighty-one 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 that adapts to your body shape 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. It’s completely different from the board-like feeling that you get when you lie on a NeoAir Xlite or NeoAir Uberlite Sleeping Pad. I sleep like a baby on these air sprung cells, while I toss and turn all night on NeoAir mattresses trying to get 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.

Pump Sack

The pad comes with a combination pump sack/stuff sack although you can leave this at home if you don’t mind blowing it up manually. It only takes me 14 breaths to fully inflate the pad, which has been pretreated with an antimicrobial to prevent mildew formation. The pad has a flat two-way valve so you can blow into it without losing air, bleed air out if you want to make it less firm, or open it up for rapid (near-instant) deflation. A pump sack/pack liner like the Exped Schnozzel is also compatible with the pad’s valve if you prefer to use a multi-use item to inflate the pad.

The pad includes optional velcro stickers that hold Sea-to-Summit pillows on the pad all night.
The pad includes optional velcro stickers that hold a Sea-to-Summit pillow on the pad all night.

Pillow Lock

The Sea to Summit Ultralight Pad also includes optional velcro “Pillow Lock” stickers that you can attach to the pad that will keep a Sea to Summit brand pillow in place at night. I’ve also used the Pillow Lock system with another Sea to Summit Pad, the Etherlight Insulated XT, and it works great at keeping the pillow on the pad all night. If you want a great pillow, I recommend the Sea to Summit Aeros Down Pillow (shown above), which has down on one side for warmth and cushioning.

The Ultralight Pad packs up really small saving space inside your backpack
The Ultralight Pad packs up really small saving space inside your backpack.

Packability

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight sleeping pad rolls up really thin and tight when deflated about 1/2 the length of a Smartwater bottle and the same diameter. It’s a good option if you’re trying to really shrink the volume of your gear so you can carry a smaller backpack or have less stuff strapped to the outside.

Air Temperature (F):50433629221580-7-14-21-30
Minimum R-Value11.522.533.544.555.566.5
Air Temperature (C):1062-2-6-9-13-18-22-26-30-34
Minimum R-Value11.522.533.544.555.566.5

R-Value

The Ultralight Pad has an R-value of 1.1 measured using the new R-value standard, of which Sea-to-Summit was an industry sponsor. That makes it good for air temperatures down to about 50 degrees as shown in this table, making it a summer season pad. If you want a pad that has a greater temperature range, but the same features, check out the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad which has an R-Value of 3.1, good to 22 degrees (f).

Comparable Lightweight Sleeping Pads

Sleeping PadTypeSizeWeightASTM 3340 R-ValuePrice
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLiteAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.58.8 ozR=2.3$195
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XliteAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"12 ozR=4.2$185
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women'sAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"12 ozR=5.4$175
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XThermAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"15 ozR=6.9$215
Big Agnes Q-Core SLXAir Pad20" x 72" x 4.25"16 ozR=3.2$150
NEMO Astro Lite InsulatedAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.5"18 ozR=2.6$130
NEMO Tensor Air PadAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.0"13 ozR-1.6$140
Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Pad21.5" x 72" x 4"17.3 ozR=3.2$190
Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Women'sAir Pad21.5" x 72" x 4"17.5 ozR=3.5$190

Recommendation

The Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad is a great summer season air mattress sleeping pad, providing excellent comfort for side and back sleepers, fast deflation speed, and compact storage size. It’s also a very quiet pad that won’t keep your tent mate awake at night or the other people sharing a shelter with you. If you need a pad for cooler spring or autumn temperatures, I’d recommend you get the Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad, which has an R-value of 3.1 and has have greater temperature range beyond summer weather.

Disclosure: The author received a sleeping pad from Sea-to-Summit, but was under no obligation to review it.

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3 comments

  1. I have been using the Sea to Summit ultralight insulated pad for the past several years. From the JMT to the Weminuche Wilderness and down to 5F this has been a reliable sleeping pad. The pad has been thrown down on sharp rocks for under the stars sleeping and other rough conditions. Never had a puncture and never felt a rock poking me, even though I sleep on my side mostly and roll around all night.

  2. It my very similar REI Flash Insulated 3 season (R 3.2) air mattress goes tits up (as many have from reviews I’ve read) I’ll get a Sea to Summit mattress but the next one up in R value from this Ultralight version. REI made their mattresses with licensed Sea to Summit valves so I use a Sea to Summit pump bag/dry bag which I can use if I get a StS mattress.

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