Switching to a shorter torso-length sleeping pad is a good way to reduce the weight of your ultralight backpacking gear because your legs don’t need the same amount of insulation as your core in three-season conditions. If you have a short torso-length pad 36-48″ in length, you can usually rest your feet and legs on top of your backpack and spare clothing at night and stay perfectly warm. How much weight can you save by switching to a shorter pad? Let’s say you have a 6′ long inflatable pad that weighs 12 ounces and you replace it with one that’s 4′ long and weighs 8 ounces. Four ounces is a pretty significant weight reduction with very little loss of comfort.
Here’s a list of short sleeping pads to give you an idea of the type of savings that are possible if you were to buy a shorter-length foam pad, a self-inflating sleeping pad, or an inflatable one.
|Short Ultralight Sleeping Pads||Type||Length||R-Value||Weight (oz)|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite S||Inflatable||47"||4.2||8.3|
|Therm-a-Rest Prolite XS||Self-inflating||47"||2.4||12|
|Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol S||Foam||51"||2.0||10|
|Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest Sol S||Foam||48"||2.1||9|
|S2S Ultralight SI||Self-inflating||49"||2.6||13.9|
DIY Pad Shortening
If you’re willing to gamble on modifying a self-inflating pad or an air-inflatable one that you already own, there are also lots of videos online that explain how to shorten such pads using a pair of scissors and an iron. Here are a couple of good ones that I recommend:
- How to Cut and Reseal a Klymit Static V Ultralight Sleeping Pad by John Abela
- Trimming a NeoAir Xlite by Neemor
- How to Cut and Reseal an Original NeoAir by Steve Evans of Suluk46 (a classic)
- How to Shorten a Full Length Self-Inflatable Mattress by Erlo Brown
In addition, don’t overlook the option of switching to a cut-down closed-cell foam pad, like the accordion-style folding Therm-a-Rest Zlite favored by many long-distance hikers because it’s so durable.
Updated Dec 2022.