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Sleeping Gear The Sleeping Gear forum is for the discussion of sleeping gear (bags, mats, quilts...).


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  #1  
Old 03-29-2014, 10:33 AM
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IdahoSkies IdahoSkies is offline
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Are air mats / pads actually reliable?

I believe I am in the market for a new pad. (See my other post regarding tents and my five kids for full reference).

I honestly have not been gear shopping in a long time 10+ years, and have been happy with what I had, between the amount of time I was out in the field what I was using it for. I had been using for 10 years or so one of the original thermorest self-inflator's the blue thin "back-packing mode" of 3/4 size. A few years ago it gave up the ghost and wold not hold air despite my trying to patch it and I realized that it had not really been doing a good job for at least three to five years before that and I was just ignoring it (topping it off about three times a night).

I tried the ULA thing and used one of the cheap blue pads that was really light weight compared to my thermorest. However, with five kids, hauling seven pads (kids +parents) got really large, and my wife did felt like she neededing something more than the hard blue pad. So I started looking around and realized sleeping pad technology has undergone some serious advancements since in the last 15 years.

Before "air pads" were for car camping only. They were heavy and generally prone to leaks. They made self-inflating pads look light.

The experience of the self inflating pad leaving me high and dry (or low as the case may be) in the middle of trips has me soured a bit on inflatable pads, but the CCF pads are just so bulky.

I really like the bombproof design of the z-lite and it is a bit less bulk than rolling the pad, but there seems to be so much to gain (size and comfort) from an inflatable.

So my question is, have inflatable's really gotten to the point that they are seriously reliable in the back country?

With 5 kids I'm not made of money, but I also know there is nothing that can make up for a cranky wife who will had a bad nights sleep and now will be spending the morning wrangling kids while I get breakfast going.

I was pretty impressed by the Klymit vid of them jumping all over their product and it still holding up. So again, has sleeping pad technology really advanced to the point that an airmattress can be trusted in the back country long term?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 03-29-2014, 11:34 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdahoSkies
So again, has sleeping pad technology really advanced to the point that an airmattress can be trusted in the back country long term?
The first thoughts (answers) that come to mind are 'Yes' and 'it depends'.

Overall, the technology is a little better. But you're still putting body weight on an air mattress that's on the ground (and the ground might have sharp debris on it).

This issue raises similar thoughts and answers as the "is goose down reliable in a wet climate?" question.

I know of backpackers who had a hole in their mattress the first night of use, and others that didn't until much later or not yet.

How an air mattress performs will largely depend on which one you choose and how well you preen the area in which you use it.

My answer isn't as straight-forward and definitive as "yes, an air mattress is more reliable now and can be used for a long time without trouble." However, I feel that it's the best that I can offer - considering the variables.

There are so many gear dilemmas that we backpackers have to work out. The ccf vs air issue is one of them. Comfort, weight, bulk, hassle (or ease of use), and reliability are all factors we have to consider to make the best choice for our personal needs.

If I'm just considering bulk, the air wins over ccf. Regarding ease of use, ccf comes out on top. [et cetera]

Reality

P.S. See related thread: Inflatable Mat vs Closed Cell Foam (CCF / Solid.
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  #3  
Old 03-30-2014, 08:46 AM
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GWyble GWyble is offline
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Backpack: Mariposa Plus / REI Flash 65
Sleeping Gear: Eureka Silver City / Lafuma WnL 600
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I used to use cheapo air mattresses on scout campouts and was lucky to get a few campouts before a leak developed.

I switched to a BA Aircore for the last few years of scouts and I still use it today. Knock on wood I have had no leaks with it. I bought a 3/4 length Thermarest for my son to use and it developed a leak on the first outing. I think he stepped on it or put his knee on top of something sharp.

The one drawback to something like the Aircore is the inflation. You will get light headed airing up (5) pads. It takes me about 16 full breaths to inflate my mummy style Aircore. There is a manual pump available though.

I need something like the Aircore because I am a side sleeper. Maybe you could get Aircores or something similar for you and the wife and cheaper 3/4 length self-inflating pads for the kids. Tenacious tape is good for repairing punctures in the field. Alps sells some inexpensive self-inflating pads.

I have a Z-lite. It is a good pad but no replacement for an inflatable unless you are on very soft ground.
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  #4  
Old 03-30-2014, 10:03 AM
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IdahoSkies IdahoSkies is offline
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Thank you. I think that is what I will likely be doing (different pads for parents and kids). Some of them are carrying their own packs, so they can manage the bulk of the rolled up blue beasts for their own space. But 5 was to much on one pack. I'll have to dig up the picture somewhere. They have no problem sleeping on the ground at friend's houses, and have not expressed concern about, so the blue pads should be fine for some. Our oldest is 10 going on 11, so she will likely need one in the near future, but we'll see how long before she complains.
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  #5  
Old 03-30-2014, 01:30 PM
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badwolf badwolf is offline
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Backpack: Granite Gear Leopard 58 AC KI or Deuter Aircontact 50L
Sleeping Gear: Thermarest NeoLite XL womens, Big Agnes Roxy Ann
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I use a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. (20x60x2.5 mummy, 15-degree, 18oz) It's been great, but I do carry the repair kit just in case. Of course, that won't fix a bad valve should it decide to leak.

For me, the cushioning of an inflated pad is a "must." If I have to sleep on a hard surface, I am in serious pain in the morning.

Yeah, it might fail, but to me a closed-cell pad like a Z-Rest is already a "failed" system. For anyone that can tolerate the firmness then there's no reason to go to inflated.

Also, be aware that non-insulated air pads aren't warm! If you're not doing summer camping, you may want to get insulated inflatable pads. I use the BA system (there's no down insulation in the underside of my sleeping bag). But even if your bag has insulation on the underside, it will compress and be nearly worthless. A sleeping bag does NOT insulate against the ground. Only the pad does that.
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  #6  
Old 03-30-2014, 07:30 PM
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IdahoSkies IdahoSkies is offline
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If an insulated air core pad deflates will it still provide temperature protection from the ground temperature, or is the insulation dependent on the pad being inflated?
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  #7  
Old 03-30-2014, 10:19 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdahoSkies
If an insulated air core pad deflates will it still provide temperature protection from the ground temperature, or is the insulation dependent on the pad being inflated?

Significantly minimal. There needs to be some dead air space.

If you were in an emergency situation, you could mound up wilderness debris (e.g. leaves, boughs,...) and place the deflated mat on top of it.

Carry a repair kit or Macgyver some pine pitch glue.

Reality
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  #8  
Old 03-31-2014, 01:29 PM
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badwolf badwolf is offline
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Backpack: Granite Gear Leopard 58 AC KI or Deuter Aircontact 50L
Sleeping Gear: Thermarest NeoLite XL womens, Big Agnes Roxy Ann
Shelter: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1
 
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Location: Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdahoSkies
If an insulated air core pad deflates will it still provide temperature protection from the ground temperature, or is the insulation dependent on the pad being inflated?

Lightweight insulated pads have down or synthetic material inside. So just like a sleeping bag or jacket... air space is required for them to work.

Some pads also have heat-reflective material which still works when it's compressed. But if the ground is cold, it's not going to overcome conduction.

I'm agree with "Reality," you'd want to gather natural organic materials to put under you if the pad couldn't be inflated.
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  #9  
Old 03-31-2014, 01:43 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badwolf
Lightweight insulated pads have down or synthetic material inside. So just like a sleeping bag or jacket... air space is required for them to work.

Some pads also have heat-reflective material which still works when it's compressed. But if the ground is cold, it's not going to overcome conduction.
IMO, your first statement best applies to both a flattened (insulated) mat and a flattened mat with heat-reflective material inside. Same science is at work.

For example, lying down on a mylar blanket (or similar) will not provide anywhere near the heat reflection/retention that it will when there is dead air space.

Quote:
Reality Tip: When thinking of a "space blanket," one should apply a double meaning for "space" and be sure that there is space between the blanket (material) and the heat source.

Reality
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  #10  
Old 03-31-2014, 03:04 PM
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badwolf badwolf is offline
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Backpack: Granite Gear Leopard 58 AC KI or Deuter Aircontact 50L
Sleeping Gear: Thermarest NeoLite XL womens, Big Agnes Roxy Ann
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Location: Ohio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
IMO, your first statement best applies to both a flattened (insulated) mat and a flattened mat with heat-reflective material inside. Same science is at work.

For example, lying down on a mylar blanket (or similar) will not provide anywhere near the heat reflection/retention that it will when there is dead air space.


Reality
Yeah, and they're crinkly and noisy too
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