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Wide Sleeping Pad Comparison Chart

Outdoor air, beautiful scenery, and sitting around the fire at night sipping some whiskey. What is not to love about backpacking? I mean, why would I want to spend my weekend at some cushy hotel when I can be schlepping a 25 pound pack up and down mountains in inclement weather?!  Choosing between relaxing in a hotel spa or splashing in a 40° waterfall is easy; I pick the waterfall :-)

My camp in March on the Black Forest Trail, 35°F
Any pending trip makes me giddy with excitement (or maybe trepidation!), but there is one area of camping that causes me distress: sleep! Most backpackers are so exhausted by their daytime wanderings that they easily fall into blissful slumber.  Nooo, not me :(  This chickie has a long standing issue with sleep, even at home in my own bed.  Deep, peaceful sleep is an oxymoron for me.  Tossing and turning is compounded when I add in strange animal noises, not to mention the snores, midnight leaf waterings, and wind breaking of my camping companions.

Getting a Better Night's Sleep in the Woods

I mitigate my night time sleep issues with earplugs, and traded a tent for a
 backpacking hammock: a cozy and snug nest in the trees. I started with a Hennessy Hammock, and now have four hammocks. I prefer a double-layer bridge hammock to a gathered end hammock, but YMMV.  

The bridge hammocks work with my gathered end quilts, but the bridges work best with wider pads of 25 inches.  I didn't  have a pad that wide,  so I put together a little chart to help compare the wider pads.  Hopefully ground dwellers (tent sleepers) longing for a wider pad will be able to use this as well.

This isn't a complete chart; there are as many types of pads as shelters on the AT.  Instead, this is for the UL or Lightweight backpacker.  Price is also a factor; although I personally wouldn't spend $269 for the Exped Downmat UL 7 MW, I feel it's a viable weight option for some people.  Looking at the chart, you may think the Thermarests should win, hands down.  However, they are a little "potato chip" crinkly, so I suggest you visit your local outdoor sports store and try them out first.

Wide Sleeping Pads

Standard backpacking pads are 20 inches wide and 72 inches long.  For some reason most wide pads are also made long, measuring in at 77 inches.  Someone like me, who is 5'9" and just looking for some extra width, will have to suffer a weight penalty for the extra (and unnecessary) 5 inches of length.  One manufacturer has addressed this with the Exped MW, which stands for Medium length, and still Wide.

Comparison Chart of Camping/ Backpacking Pads in  a Wider Size (25-26")

And the Winner is...

I have a Thermarest pad purchased in 1991, which still works great, but it leaves a lot to be desired in comfort and weight.  So I took the plunge on a Thermarest NeoAir XLite and an XTherm, which may seem extravagant (especially since I am not a paid product endorser!).  But my husband started backpacking this year, so the pads can be used by either one of us.

The XLite is super comfortable for the weight.  One pound of yellow bliss, potato chip crinkle sound notwithstanding.  Perfect for three season use.  I can wiggle and toss and turn in my hammock without hitting the sides or getting any shoulder squeeze.  

The XTherm is absolutely, unequivocally, amazingly warm.  Did I say I like this A LOT!?  

Please feel free to leave a comment under this post;  I appreciate the feedback, always enjoy thought-provoking discussions, and can tolerate a *little criticism*, tee hee.

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1 comment :

  1. Very useful information here. I was looking for a pad wider than the standard 20 inch, but not longer than 72 that provided decent R value and this chart led me right to the Synmat UL MW. Thanks