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Backpacker Magazine – March 2008

March 2008 Sleeping Bag Review: Sleeping Pads

by: The Backpacker Editors

Big Agnes Clearview, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Clearview, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Diversion, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Diversion, Sethhughes.com
Eureka Rapid Air, Sethhughes.com
Eureka Rapid Air, Sethhughes.com
Exped Synmat 7, Sethhughes.com
Exped Synmat 7, Sethhughes.com
Pacific Outdoor AO-Aero Mtn, Sethhughes.com
Pacific Outdoor AO-Aero Mtn, Sethhughes.com
Big Agnes Cyclone, Heather Macarthur
Big Agnes Cyclone, Heather Macarthur
    Tags:

*=Eco-Friendly

Big Agnes Clearview
This novel see-through pad is cushy, cheap, light, and slip-proof. It packs smaller than a liter bottle, yet inflates a full 2.5 inches thick. It's not insulated, and testers split on durability, so it's best for mild temps and tent-only use. Available in rectangular and mummy shapes. Weird: Seeing your spit after blowing it up. $43; 15 oz.; 20x72x2.5"

Big Agnes Diversion*
Sleep in perfect comfort–and with a clean conscience. This eco version of BA's Insulated Air Core pad features 100-percent recycled content right down to the aluminum valve. "I've used it on pea gravel without leaks, and I felt only minimal chills on 20°F nights," said one tester. Available in rectangular and mummy shapes. $90; 1 lb. 10 oz.; 20x72x2.5"

Eureka Rapid Air
In a hurry? This self-inflater has large, dedicated inflation and deflation valves for faster roll-up. Just pop off the pressure-fit cap on the deflation valve and the pad flattens quickly. In other respects it's a standard pad: soft and comfortable. Nitpick: The included stuff bag is a tight fit. $70; 1 lb. 15 oz.; 20x72x1.5"

Exped Synmat 7
Pack this 2.75-inch-thick insulated mattress and you'll never miss your bed again. One tester even threw it down on potato-size desert cobbles and called it comfy. Synthetic insulation in the tubes kept testers warm down to freezing temps. A built-in foot pump helps avoid interior moisture buildup from your breath, but inflation was slow with the pump, so testers usually ignored it. Bonus: The cover fabric is refreshingly slip-resistant. $95; 1 lb. 15 oz.; 20x70x2.75"

Pacific Outdoor AO-Aero Mtn
Want the most high-tech sleeping pad on the block? This winter-worthy self-inflater has a layer of aerogel under the torso. Often described as "frozen smoke," aerogels have the lowest density and lowest thermal conductivity of any known solid. "On sub-freezing nights, I could tell where the gel was in this pad because it literally felt warm, not just neutral, between my hips and shoulders," said our tester. The pad is no bigger or heavier than a standard self-inflater. Just warmer and pricier. Available in both men's and women's models. $119: 1 lb. 11 oz.; 20x72x1.5"

Ultralight Chair
Big Agnes CycloneNow even ounce-counters can recline in comfort. The Cyclone chair kit is superlight, packs smaller than most tent pole sets, and proved supportive even for testers with chronic back soreness. Just slide in a half-inflated mattress, huff it up to preferred cushion, and camp comfort just got a whole lot lighter. $40; 6 oz.



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