Getting a good night sleep for me while backpacking is essential for me to have a great experience. I feel refreshed in the morning to get back on the trail as well as have the energy to last all day. In this article, I am going to do a side by side comparison of three lightweight air sleeping pads: The Klymit Static V, the Big Agnes Air Core SL and the Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite.
Each one of these pads had their strengths and their weaknesses. I have enjoyed many nights on each of them and have found reasons to why each one of them would works well in different circumstances. I will start off with the Klymit Static V.
Klymit was founded in 2007 and brought a new innovation to the outdoor industry. They developed a vest that you could fill with Argon gas to adjust and regulate how much insulation was needed. Divers had been using this technology for years in wet suits to stay warm but Klymit was the first to bring it to the outdoors. They didn't stop there though; they then created Inertia X Frame sleeping pad using body mapping technology to cut down the weight of the pad. I did a review of that pad back in 2011 which you can read here. If you have never heard of them, I would suggest checking them out and seeing what other new and innovative products they have came out with.
The Klymit Static V isn't their newest sleeping pad but for this side by side comparison it is the closest to the rest. Klymit uses body mapping technology in this pad to maximize comfort and performance. The one thing I noticed about this pad was how easy it was to blow up. Yes this is not a self-inflating sleeping pad; none of these pads are in this review. You will have to blow all of them up. But it only took me 21 breathes to fill it up to capacity. I am sure there are many people who can do it in less and it will take others more but 20 breathes is pretty sweet.
The Static V is 2.5 inches thick when inflated, but packs down small when not in use. I never pulled out a scale but it weighs 18.1 ounces. The most impressive thing about his pad is the width. I have talked with many people that hate how narrow some sleeping pads are. The Static V is 23 inches wide, which is 3 inches wider than the other two regular size pads. This gives you a little more wiggle room and will help you stay on your pad all night long. Also this pad seemed to be made with the toughest material. I felt that you could easily sleep on the ground and not worry about ripping the pad.
The air valve on the Static V is a little different than the other two pads. Klymit calls it an easy-to-use push valve and for most it was. One of our testers wasn't a fan of it at first but eventually got use to it. But at $59.95 you cannot beat the price for this sleeping pad. It is almost half of the cost of the next pad. This is the perfect pad for someone who would like to get a sleeping pad that packs small at a great price. This is also perfect for those that love a wider pad.
The next pad is the Big Agnes Air Core SL. Big Agnes started back in 2001 making great products for the outdoors. I remember the first time I saw a sleeping bag from Big Agnes that had a sleeve for a sleeping pad and no insulation on the bottom. I remember thinking, what a great idea!
The Air Core Superlight is new for 2013 and has been a enjoyable pad to sleep on. Coming in at 3.75 inches thick, it is an inch thicker than the other two pads. Which make it ideal for those that like a little more cushion. You have the ability to adjust the air level in this pad to give you a little more customization. This pad also has a nylon rip-stop top and bottom that was tough. As I have mentioned in previous reviews my kids are some of the best durability gear testers in the world. They thought when I blew the pad up it was a mattress to jump on. Luckily it held up to a 2, 4 and 6 year olds abuse.
Being a little thicker pad this did take a little more air to blow it up. It took me 37 blows to get this pad filled up. As Big Agnes says the "V" shape does conform nicely to your body for a comfortable night's sleep. The dimensions on this pad are 72" long and 20" wide. It weighs 17 ounces and rolls up to be the smallest in diameter among the three. I have been amazed each time that I have rolled it up at how small it goes. Retail on this pad is $99.95.
Therm-a-Rest has been making pads since 1972. They definitely have many years of experience under their belts. Therm-a-Rest was the first company to create a self-inflating air mattress, which truly revolutionized the camping sleeping experience. Over the years they have created many great pads and this year they introduced their first sleeping bags, helping them round out the outdoor sleeping experience.
The NeoAir XLite is the lightest of the pads. The regular size weighs a mere 12 ounces and the long only weighs a pound. I was truly surprised by how light this pad was. I didn't cut into this pad to see what was on the inside but it sounds to be made out of something straight from space. I am sure it is the reflective layers that help "recycle body heat" but whatever it is, this pad is light. The fabric seems durable enough and I never experienced a rip or hole but I was a little more cautious where I would place this pad.
The regular size pad is 2.5 inches thick and 20" wide by 72" long. But I actually received the long version of this pad which is 23" wide and 77" long. It took me exactly 37 blows to fill this pad up as well. Which means the regular size would be quicker to blow up. One thing I have noticed about this pad though, is that it doesn't seem to require as much air for a comfortable night sleep. The first night that I slept on it, I made some adjustment throughout the night to get it just right. When I woke up in the morning, I was surprised at how low the pad seemed when not laying on it but how comfortable it was. Also if you are planning on using this pad in the spring and fall it has the warmest R-Value at 3.2 of the three pads. This pad retails for $159.95.
These three pads definitely have earned my respect for creating a great night's sleep while in the backcountry. Each of these pads came with a patch kit, just in case you pop a hole. This will ensure that you can still get a good night's rest. Also each one comes with a stuff sack so you can keep it all contained. One thing that I noticed about all three of these pads is that they do make more noise than your traditional foam pad. This didn't bother me while sleeping but one of my tent buddies did mention the noise in the morning. I am guessing because he didn't have a good pad like me!
• The Klymit Static V is definitely worth the money at $59.95 and for those that like a little wider pad.
• The Big Agnes Air Core SL is the thickest of the pads and gives you a little extra cushion.
• The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite was the most comfortable and lightest of the pads but also the most expensive.
If you would like to learn more about each of these pads, I have written a more in-depth review of each pad. To check out the review click on the name of one of the pads below.
Product provided for free by the manufacturer for review purposes.