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Sea-to-Summit Women’s Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad review

Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad
The Sea-to-Summit Women’s Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is a 66″ x 21.5″ inflatable sleeping pad that is 2 inches thick and has an R-value of 3.8. Weighing 13.8 oz, it is a very quiet and comfortable pad, with individual “air sprung cells” that conform to your body like a spring mattress. It also has a flat valve that can be inflated by mouth or with an included pump sack (weighing 2.5 oz more) and an optional pillow attachment system which adds even more value to a really great sleeping pad. If you’re looking for a quiet and durable sleeping pad that’s rated for three-season use, check this one out.

Specs at a Glance

  • Sleeping pad weight: 13.8 oz (actual)
  • Pump sack weight: 2.5 oz (actual)
  • Sleeping pad + pump sack weight: 16.3 oz (actual) – mfg spec is 15.9 oz, so slightly heavier
  • R-value: 3.8
  • Dimensions: 66” x 21.5” for a regular size (a large 72” x 25” is also available)
  • Thickness: 2”
  • Insulation: Synthetic insulation (Thermolite) hollow-core crimped fibers, reflective Platinum
  • Shell material: 30/40D ripstop nylon

Men’s and Women’s Sleeping Pads

Before I received this pad, I had no idea that there were separate men’s and women’s sleeping pads available. But it makes sense. Women tend to be shorter than men, so they can benefit from carrying smaller, lighter weight sleeping pads. They also sleep “colder” than men, in part because they weigh less, so they need more insulation from the cold ground and pads with higher R-values.

For example, while most regular-sized men’s (unisex) pads are 72″ long, Sea-to-Summit’s regular women’s sleeping pads are 66″ in length, although they also have longer sizes available. The R-value of the S2S Women’s UL Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is higher than its male (unisex) counterpart at R=3.8 instead of R=3.3 for the unisex pad. S2S’s women’s pads are also a little narrower in the shoulders and wider in the hips and knees than their (male) unisex counterparts to account for gender differences.

The Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad has 174 air-sprung cells that mold around your body for all-night comfort

Comfort, Noise, and Durability

The Sea-to-Summit Women’s Ultralight Air Insulated Sleeping Pad is 2 inches thick which I found comfortable although I think I would have appreciated another 0.5 inch of depth. A significantly heavier person might need to inflate the pad to the point of being very firm so as not to bottom out on the ground or buy one of Sea-to-Summit’s thicker insulated air pads, like the 4″ thick Etherlight XT that Philip swears by.

The pad has 174 air cells that mold around your body when you lie on it, making it really luxurious to sleep on. It’s also a very quiet pad that doesn’t make the loud crinkling noises that have plagued the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir pads. That’s because it’s insulated with synthetic fibers and not the crinkly aluminized chambers inside NeoAir pads.

The pad’s valve is also very different than the stick value used on NeoAir pads. It’s a multi-way flat valve that can be opened wide for rapid and complete deflation, it has an inflation mode that won’t deflate between breaths, and a tiny button to release air if you’ve overinflated the pad and want to make it softer. Flat values are used by the majority of sleeping pad manufacturers, including Exped, NEMO, Big Agnes, and REI because they’re simpler and don’t break like stick valves since they’re flush with the surface of the pad. They’re also much easier to integrate with pump sacks, which I explain next.

Sea to Summit pads come with a stuff sack that doubles as a pump sack to inflate the pad

Optional Pump Sack

The S2S Women’s Ultralight Insulated Air Pad comes with a stuff sack that can be used to inflate the sleeping pad. While this adds 2.5 oz to the weight of the pad system, it is SO worth it. The pump sack is seriously clever and really worth it to save you from huffing and puffing. Inflating a sleeping pad by mouth can also reduce a pad’s R-value by introducing moisture and mold growing spores which will eventually break down the pad fabric, making the use of a pump sack preferable.

You don’t blow directly into the pump sack to avoid introducing water vapor from your breath into the sleeping pad. You blow at it, and the drier surrounding air gets pulled into it. I’d never used a pump sack before but having one that is so tightly integrated with my sleeping pad is a huge win. Once you try it, you’ll wonder how you lived without it. It gets even better. If you turn the Pumpsack inside out, you will find a smaller valve connector that is compatible with Sea to Summit’s inflatable pillows! The whole set up is genius. Even my engineering husband was impressed.

The women’s ultralight insulated sleeping pad includes an optional pillow attachment system

Pillow Attachment System

Sea-to-Summit includes an optional pillow attachment system with their sleeping pads that I can also recommend. It includes four adhesive patches with a velcro-like surface that will hold a Sea-to-Summit Pillow on the pad so it doesn’t wander off at night. If you don’t own a Sea-to-Summit Pillow, they also sell a 1 oz Aeros Pillow Case that will work with a third party pillow or that you can simply stuff with extra clothing to make one. As I said, this is a totally optional add-on, but if you’re a pillow person like me, having one that stays on the pad all night is a huge win that adds a lot of comfort to your sleep system.

Comparable Women’s Sleeping Pads

Make / ModelGenderPriceR-ValueWeightDimensions
Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated AirWomen's$1403.813.8 oz66" x 21.5" x 2"
Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated AirUnisex$1403.314.4 oz72" x 21.5" x 2"
Sea to Summit Etherlight Insulated AirWomen's$2004.214.8 oz66" x 21.5" x 4"
Sea to Summit Etherlight Insulated AirUnisex$2003.815 oz72" x 21.5" x 4"
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLiteWomen's$1603.912 oz66" x 20" x 2.5"
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLiteUnisex$1703.212 oz72" x 20" x 2.5"
REI Flash InsulatedUnisex$1003.715 oz72" x 20" x 2"
Exped SynMat UL SUnisex$1493.314.6 oz64.2" x 20.5" x 2.8"
MassDrop x Klymit Ultralite VUnisex$604.417.7 oz72" x 20" x 2.5"
Klymit Insulated V UltraliteUnisex$1204.415.9 oz72" x 20" x 2.5"

There are only a few women’s sleeping pads available today, primarily from Sea-to-Summit (which has the best selection) and Therm-a-Rest. I’ve also listed several unisex pads for comparison, so you can see how they compare. In terms of value, the women’s pads generally trump those made for men in terms of their R-value. If you’re male, you can often get a warmer pad by buying one made for a woman, if the size fits you. This is a fairly common thru-hiker backpacking hack actually.  Of course, it also begs the question of why manufacturers just don’t make their pads based around women’s needs and sell those to men, since there is a certain redundancy in selling a lower function pad when one would do.

Recommendation

The Sea-to-Summit Women’s Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is a great sleeping pad that’s comfortable and quiet to sleep on, easy to inflate with an included pump sack, and available with an optional pillow attachment system that you will immediately improve the quality of your sleep. While you can discard the add-on pump sack and pillow attachment system and use the pad by itself, their combination makes for a very clever, comfortable, and compelling sleep system that may just transform your camping experience.

About the author

Wanda Rice has been backpacking since the late 1980’s. She has climbed the New Hampshire 48, the New Hampshire 48 in winter, the New England 67 and is working on the New England Hundred Highest and the Four-Season 48. Wanda also teaches for the Appalachian Mountain Club’s (AMC) Mountain Leadership School, the AMC New Hampshire Chapter Spring and Winter Schools as well as the AMC NH Winter Hiking Series. She leads day and overnight trips for AMC NH year-round and loves mentoring new leaders. She is a gear junkie, a self-proclaimed Queen of Gear Hacks and loves sharing her tips and tricks with others. Wanda lives in southern NH and is looking forward to moving closer to the mountains in the next few years.

Disclosure: Sea-to-summit provided a sleeping pad for this review.

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16 comments

  1. I would be interested to know how this compares to Nemo Tensor Insulated pad.

    • It’s hard to tell because Nemo does not put an R value on their sleeping pads. We recommend that you wait until next year when they adhere to the new r-value sleeping pad standard before buying their pads or ones from big Agnes so you know what you’re getting. Any temperature ratings they cite before then are very suspect and probably based on male oriented formulas. Nemo also doesn’t make women’s pads. Surprising really.

      • How about comfort wise, to lay on, are they similar?

      • Having owned a Nemo pad I don’t recommend them. Mine was plagued by holes that would not hold a patch. I tried several things after the Nemo patches peeled off with no luck. I would never dare to carry one on a hike.

  2. Phil, do you ever grab the wrong tab in the middle of the night while trying to release a little air? I think I might put a small piece of cord on the correct tab so I don’t grab the wrong one. (again!)

  3. I’ve used the woman’s version of sleeping pads for years–save an ounce or two, and have a warm mattress.

  4. All of Sea to Summit Women’s pads are also great for their large option which is 25″x72″ which is not a pad measurement you usually find. For a man around 72″ gives you a bit more warmth and width without unnecessary length.

    • Exactly. I’m 5’7″, so this size is perfect for me. And as an added bonus, the women’s versions are warmer than the men’s versions.

    • I’ve been doing the same thing lately. I have a S2S Women’s Ultralight Insulated Air mat, 25×72. It fits perfectly in a couple of my shelters to allow a pillow to rest on the shelter floor rather than on the mat, which is my preferred placement. And the pillow doesn’t move around all over because it is “trapped” between the mat and the shelter wall.

      • From your reply and some of the other comments, I wonder why the manufactures don’t offer that size more often. I never considered a Neo Lite because I like the 25″ width but don’t need a 78″ length.

      • I’m with you! Even at 6’2”, I have no need for a pad longer than 6’.

  5. It would really make sense if, in this particular gear item, the companies made unisex based on women instead of men. Sounds like a lot of guys go for the better size & R-value.

  6. If the listed stats are correct, I’m not sure the Etherlight isn’t a better choice. An extra 2″ depth of cushion and very little weight difference. A cost increase though…..
    Have you slept on the Etherlight?

  7. My First Therma Rest cost me less than $25.00 how greed has changed the Market so…. Especially when made in China for next to nothing…..

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