Gear Review: Sea to Summit Women’s Ultralight Sleeping Pad Review

If you’ve spent any time around my blog, you are probably familiar with the fact that I have long been on the hunt for a new sleeping pad. Last summer, in preparation for my seven day thruhike of the High Sierra Trail, I finally pulled the trigger and upgraded my sleeping pad to the Sea to Summit Women’s Ultralight Sleeping Pad.

Below find my review after sleeping on this pad for eight nights this summer. Spoiler alert: I really love it and would highly recommend!


SPECS:

ALL SPECS FOR REGULAR SIZE
WEIGHT: 16.9 ounces
R-VALUE: 3.5
THICKNESS: 2 inches
WIDTH & LENGTH: 5.5 ft. long; 21 in. wide at shoulders, 20 in. wide at hips
PACKED SIZE: 9.5 X 5.3 inches
PRICE: $139.95


WHAT I ABSOLUTELY LOVE:

THE WEIGHT:

Weighing in at 16.9 ounces – roughly 1 pound – I’m very happy with the weight of this pad. The pad definitely lives up to its ultralight label, and the weight fits in well with the rest of my ultralight setup. You can get lighter pads (the neoair weighs in at 12.5 ounces), but I was willing to add on a few extra ounces to make sure I had a durable and comfortable pad (see below).

THE DURABILITY:

With an ultralight sleeping pad comes the issue of durability – are the materials so ultralight that they puncture easily? Will they stand the test of pine needles that inherently make their way into the tent? Will I wake up at 3am on the ground with no willpower to blow it back up?

I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the quality and durability of the material of this sleeping pad. I’ve never once thought that there was a possibility that it might pop. For as light as it is, the material is incredibly sturdy. – it is so nice that I don’t have to worry about whether it’ll deflate in the middle of the night.

THE SIZE:

One of the things that I hated about my previous pad was how big and bulky it was when it was rolled up. It seriously took up like half of my backpack! And unfortunately, when I bought it online, I couldn’t tell how big it actually was when it was rolled up. But you know what they say – no risk without a little reward… and I was rewarded! This is way smaller than I was honestly expecting. Despite the picture above, I’d say that it is the same size as a nalgene bottle, but skinnier. Very pleasant surprised and it fits very well in my backpack!

THE COMFORT:

One of the things that I do not think that I’m willing to sacrifice to go ultralight is comfort. If it is going to feel like I am sleeping on the ground, what is the point? Upon my first blow up, I was very VERY impressed at how comfortable this pad is! Even when I’m sleeping on my side, I don’t touch the ground… something I can’t even say about my old, non-ultralight, super bulky sleeping pad. I don’t know if the little cross-stitched pillow pattern is what makes this so comfortable, but it is thick and comfy af. No sacrifice here!

THE ROOMINESS OF THE STUFF SACK:

Whenever I buy something that comes in some sort of stuff sack, I’m always afraid of the possibility that I will not be able to get it back into said stuff sack. This was no exception. Fortunately, the stuff sack is SO ROOMY and every single time I’ve fitted the pad into the sack (even on my most lazy, horribly rolled mornings) with ease. There are multiple inches of space surrounding the pad inside of the sack – I honestly can’t imagine how you could possibly roll the pad so that it couldn’t fit into the sack. The extra space is so appreciated, Sea to Summit, especially since a little extra space in the stuff sack won’t impact the weight much at all.

THE PILLOW ATTACHMENT:

I can’t really speak to this yet, but with the sleeping pad comes a pillow attachment, so if you have a sea to summit pillow, it attaches to the pad and doesn’t go drifting in the middle of the night. I can see myself absolutely loving this, because I typically put my pillow in the hood of my sleeping bag to keep it in place, and therefore use the ability of my sleeping bag hood to keep me warm. I’m not ready to purchase a new pillow yet (my current pillow works fine and I’m trying to budget here), but I’m excited to try it out when I finally do get a sea to summit pillow!


WHAT HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE IMPROVED:

THE WARMTH: For sleeping pads, this has a lower R-value than most. Now, what is R-value, you ask? The R-value measures the pad’s ability to resist heat flowing through and out of the pad. How much insulation a pad has directly correlates to how much heat it loses. Therefore, if you have a higher R-value, the pad is essentially more insulated, can resist heat loss to the ground better, and overall keeps you warmer. The R-value for this pad is 3.5, which is good, but would probably not be warm enough for four-season backpacking. That being said, out of the eight nights that I have used this pad in the backcountry, I was only ever cold once – on my first trip in the Sierras in early June. This, however, was a very early season backpacking trip for the Sierras, so while I wish the R-value was a tiny bit higher, I really don’t think it is going to be an issue for me, and if I ever feel like I need some extra insulation (for a late-season or winter backpacking trip), I’d be perfectly happy bringing my thermarest z-lite accordian pad to put this pad on top of.

THE WAY THAT YOU INFLATE IT:

This might be a controversial take, but I don’t love the way that you inflate this. Essentially, the stuff sack turns into a balloon that you blow into, and then you push your air into the sleeping pad. This ensures that no moisture gets into the pad itself. Now, the reason that I don’t love it is because it doesn’t have any sort of “self-inflating” contraption to assist you in blowing up the pad (for example, my previous pad had a valve that would keep the air in as you were blowing, so when you came up for more air, nothing would escape). After I’ve just made the final push to my campsite, the last thing I want to do is blow up my sleeping pad all myself, and it can be a little exhausting after a day’s work on the trails.

HOWEVER, I do understand that a “self-inflating” mechanism would also cause the pad to weigh more, SO in reality, I think that I’m happy with it as is. I would just prefer the perfect mechanism that weighs 0 ounces but also blows up my pad for me so I don’t have to do any work – is that too much to ask for?!

ALSO, this is my first pad without a self-inflating piece, and when I look up reviews of other ultralight pads, people give rave reviews about the balloon-stuff sack-hybrid. I guess most UL pads make you blow straight into the pad, which seems like even more of a bitch than blowing into my stuff sack? Which is why I’ve labeled this as my controversial take – because I’m not sure if I’d even be “not loving it” if I had tried a different kind of UL pad first.

TL:DR – I don’t love the way that I blow the pad up, but it sounds like there are worse options out there, so I will happily live with my pad. Also I’m very good at rambling on with my thoughts.


ADDITIONAL FAQ:

Is this pad noisy?

A fun fact about me is that I’ve never been relaxed in my entire life (reference anyone?) – no, but really. I will never buy a piece of gear without absolutely fawning over every single review that I can find. One of the reviews I saw for this specific bag said that it sounded like a chip bag whenever you moved on top of it. As soon as I saw this review, I immediately texted my best backpacking buddy and asked her how she would feel about a chip bag sleeping pad and she said that she would kill me in my sleep if it was noisy. Rightfully so, I was terrified to have my inaugural use with her in the same tent, but fortunately it wasn’t loud at all! Honestly it was just as loud as any of my other blow-up sleeping pads. You can hear some rustling, but it isn’t loud enough to the point of being annoying. Whoever left the chip bag review was wrong. Sorry not sorry.


Overall, I’m incredibly happy with my new sleeping pad and would recommend it in a heartbeat! There isn’t a single thing that I actively dislike about the pad. Great for being more conscious about your weight without having to sacrifice the important things, like durability or comfort. 10/10!

Do you have this sleeping pad? Let me know in the comments what your review is!

Happy hiking, and happy sleeping!

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