Our take Everyone likes the convenience of a self-inflating pad, but the polyurethane foam that’s been a staple of the category for decades adds weight. Sea to Summit’s coring process removes 40 percent of the initial weight of the foam by taking triangular cuts out of the center. This leaves a continuous layer of insulation on the top and bottom of the pad, which gives you a supportive, mattress-like feel compared to air-filled pads.
The details Both the top and bottom of the foam sheet are bonded to the interior of the shell fabric, speeding the self-inflation process. “Call me lazy, but I get great satisfaction out of just opening the valve and letting the pad do all the work,” says a tester. “It inflates in just a few minutes, and then I’ll top it off with a couple extra puffs.” You can set the valve to only let air out when deflating, preventing it from re-inflating slightly while you’re rolling it up.
Trail cred “It’s not the lightest option, but I’ll take it every time because my back doesn’t hate me in the morning,” says a tester. “Plus, I can deflate the pad a little bit without feeling like I’m on an underfilled waterbed.”