The Thermarest Slacker Hammock Sleeping pad is a 26-ounce self-inflating pad with an R-value of 2.1. Given its weight and size when rolled up, it’s best used for hammock car camping rather than backpacking. While not as sexy as a underquilt, it’s far less expensive, easy to deploy, and perfectly sufficient for warm weather hammock camping. The Slacker Hammock Pad can also be used as a comfortable sleeping pad when you want to go-to-ground and sleep in a tent, extending its utility.
Therm-a-Rest Slacker Hammock Sleeping Pad
Ease of Inflation
Why do you need a sleeping pad or insulation underneath you in a hammock? The nighttime air is usually cooler than your body temperature. If you lie in a hammock without some sort of back insulation you’re likely to get cold at night, much like you would if you slept on bare ground without a sleeping pad. There are several types of hammock insulation solutions available to address this problem.
- Foam sleeping pads like a Thermarest Z-lite (inexpensive, bulky, awkward)
- Inflatable sleeping pads like the Thermarest XTherm (expensive, awkward)
- Down or synthetic underquilts like the Loco Libre Habanero or Hammock Gear Burrow (expensive, very comfortable)
- Hammock-specific inflatable sleeping pads like the Klymit Hammock V Pad and the Thermarest Slacker Sleeping Pad.
The Slacker Hammock Pad is fully symmetric and works well with simple camping hammocks or mosquito hammocks with integrated bug nets. It also works well if you can lie diagonally in your hammock, to get a flatter “lay,” instead of sleeping like a banana.
The pad is made of urethane foam with a durable 75 d polyester cover. Perforated channels in the foam prevent the pad from buckling when you lie on it in the confined space of a hammock. Thermarest obviously took a page out of the Klymit design playbook here, leaving gaps in the foam to reduce the weight of the pad and let it mold around your body in what they call an AirFrame design.
The Slacker Hammock Pad is 75 inches in length and 26 inches at its widest. The middle section of the pad is wide enough to insulate your butt and torso, while the tapered foot and head ends of the pad fit into the narrower ends of a gathered-end hammock. The ends taper to 16″ but have a width of 20″ where your shoulders would be positioned, providing insulation for your upper body and arms unless you have a very wide torso.
Technically self-inflating, the Slacker Hammock Pad does require a dozen breaths to fully inflate and has a standard Thermarest stick valve for this purpose. Deflation is a bit more challenging. Rolling up the pad, folding it in two, and sitting on it is the best way to compress it before stuffing it into its stuff sack. The included stuff sack can also serve double duty be used as a pillow or as a bolster under your knees to help prevent painful knee hyperextension, a common problem in shorter length, gathered-end hammocks.
The Slacker Hammock Pad provides good stability when you lie on it although it won’t flatten the curved shape of a camping hammock if you lie on it along the centerline. It does work well on diagonal lay hammocks though, especially ones that are fairly wide. It’s also exceptionally easy to use, unlike most cottage hammock underquilts which require configuring a complicated suspension system every time you use them.
While the Slacker Pad provides good three-season insulation for back sleepers and side sleepers, I wouldn’t recommend using it below 55-60 degrees at night given my experience using it and it’s relatively low R-value of 2.1 (which is the same as a Thermarest Zlite foam pad). Unfortunately, rating the temperature of under-insulation in hammocks is very subjective and there are enough individual differences between people that the only way to tell if a solution works for you is to test it out (and bring extra foam insulation along in case you get cold.)
What’s the value of the Thermarest Slacker Hammock Pad over a simple foam pad? Well it’s a heck of a lot more comfortable than a foam pad, it’s pre-shaped to fit in a gathered end hammock, wide enough to insulate your shoulders and arms, and it can serve dual use as a comfortable ground pad when you sleep in a tent. Given its size and weight at 26 oz, it is best used for camping and not backpacking, where a more compact, lighter weight insulation option is preferable.
Disclosure: Thermarest donated a pad for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
Thank you for the review, Philip. I have not tried these hammock specific inflatables, and I am curious. As you say, they are heavy. The MSRP is the same as a HG Incubator Econ 40, which I would bet is lots more comfortable than this. I fail to see it’s advantage. For someone who is cold, for an extra $20-30, one could opt for the 30 or 20 F ones, which doesn’t seem like an option with these pads.
For people considering a less pricey alternative, my wife and I found Thermarest’s foams unsatisfactory. But Gossamer Gear’s hammock specific pad has been fantastic. We shaved five inches or so off the width, and I have slept warm in it in a hammock down to 45F (never found myself at lower temps with it alone). As you say though, people’s temperature tolerance is very personal and I know I am a warm sleeper. The pad is soft and comforts to one’s shape. I use it to augment my HG 20F underquilt in the winter and I also love it backpacking under a 1″ or 1.5″ torso length inflatable to increase comfort, puncture resistance and warmth.
Have you tried any of the closed cell 1/4″ foam instead of these inflatables. How did you find the comfort compares? If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it. Lower price, lower weight, and comfy.
I think there’s lot of room in the market for multiple solutions and this is one of them. From a camping perspective, you could can use this pad with a chair kit for instance, not something you can do with the other solutions you mention. Inflatable pads are also a good solution for people who don’t want to become hammock experts and spend every waking moment obsessing about their hammock setups. They’re very different than backpackers and people who get together for hammock hangs.
I’ve tried all kids of different foam and inflatable pads with hammocks, reflectix, as well as under-quilts. Nothing is perfect. Cost, weight, and packability are all features I juggle between trips. My default system is a thin piece of GG or Thermarest Zlite foam the length of my torso as a backup for an 40 loco libre climashield UQ which I use a door mat if I don’t need it under my back.
I’m one of the few who uses a sleep pad in my hammock instead of an under quilt. The pad offers versatility. You can sleep on the ground, in a shelter, on a park bench… whatever the situation calls for.
And maybe it’s unfair, but under quilts seem unnecessarily complicated and expensive.
This particular product doesn’t offer allot of advantages for backpacking, but I’m happy to see manufacturers thinking along this line.
If you can tie your shoes, you can use an underquilt.
I guess that makes me a moron. I’ve bought 4 underquilts in my hammocking career and only figured out how to get comfortable with one on my 4th try. And I still bring a foam backup. Try being a little less prescriptive in what people SHOULD do and more accommodating to what they want to do. There’s no right way for everything. Give them alternatives. Share your experiences. Discuss the pros and cons.
Point well taken.
I agree that there is a learning curve to using an underquilt as opposed to pads. Figuring out the two suspensions to avoid drafts and take advantage of the underquilt requires playing around with it. Youtube videos were very helpful in understanding the necessary adjustments.
When I first started hammocking, I tried using a pad, and they suck. When you can get a Hammock Gear Phoenix Econ 30 for the same price as this pad, it’s a no-brainer. The only downside is that there is a month’s lead time on the quilt. As far as maybe having to go to ground, I’ve been using a hammock almost exclusively for the past four years and never have been forced onto terra firma, although I’ve hung in some pretty weird places.
Isn’t the HG Econ a top quilt…?
The HG Burrow Econ is a top quilt. The Phoenix Econ and the Incubator Econ are underquilts. One of the them is 3/4 length and other is full.
I use a Burrow Econ but mostly for sleeping on the ground.
They’re all just “Econ” versions of HG’s regular quilts, using cheaper, and a bit heavier, shell fabric and 800 fill down instead of 850.
To the point of sleeping on the ground, I hike enough “popular” trails that shelters are usually an option.
I like having the flexibility to use a shelter which is a reason I haven’t invested in an under quilt.
The only time I had to go to the ground was hiking in GC national park where I was told by a ranger hammocks weren’t allowed.
I’ve been doing a lot of multi-day canoe trips the last few years and nothing beats a hammock for that. Some of the designated camping areas are extremely well maintained, while others are in marshy muddy buggy areas. Finding a good area to pitch a tent is a struggle.
One more question about pads and hammocks. Have you tried placing pads, foam or inflatable, inside a double layer hammock? Did that work for you?
I tried it a couple of years ago on three different occasions, and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I ended up simply putting the pad on top, as I found it easier to adjust it to my lay. Wondering what your experience has been with it.
Yep. Foams works best for this, inflatables less so. But I’ve since migrated to a single layer to save weight. A double layer is probably best used for strength for very heavy people, rather than as an insulation pocket.