Expert Review: Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated Women's MatPublished on 07/26/2022 · 9 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
All photos courtesy of Hunter Reed
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2019.
The Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is a great lightweight pad for backpacking that doesn’t skimp on comfort. It is durable, warm, quiet, and easy to pack back into the stuff sack for those early morning alpine starts!
About the gear
- Model: Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad, Women’s Regular
- Size: Regular
- When I bought it: August 2019
- Days tested: 50
- Pack: Deuter AirContact Core 50
- Total pack weight: 25 lbs
- Used for: Backpacking, tent camping
- Where I’ve used it: Summit County, Colorado and Utah Mountains, Utah
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Fall, summer
- Height: 5’3”
- Weight: 115 lbs
- Experience: 25+ years
How it Performs
What I was looking for
When purchasing the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Pad, I was looking for a lightweight sleeping pad for backpacking. I had an old Therm-A-Rest pad that I used for tent camping, but it’s far too heavy to carry on any backpacking trips. I needed something that was light, since I am smaller and don’t want to carry anything too heavy. Additionally, I was looking for something that was still comfortable and not so thin that I would have a hard time sleeping either due to being cold or feeling like I was just sleeping on the bare ground.
Why I chose this gear
I bought this product because I had gone to a store to test some sleeping pads and this felt like the best one for the price. I tent camp more than backpack, so I don’t need a top of the line pad, but I did want a quality pad that didn’t make me feel like I was compromising or “just making it work” on the times that I was backpacking. This one was really light, easy to set up, and easy to pack in the included stuff sack.
I considered a Therm-A-Rest pad of a similar weight and insulation value, although I can’t recall the model name. I laid it on the ground and found out it was quite loud when I moved around on it. I knew it would keep me awake if my pad was making noise every time I moved around, so I skipped this one. I also considered the Sea to Summit Self Inflating Pad, which is just a more burly version of the one I ended up going with. I liked that it had little rubber feet on the bottom so that it wouldn’t slip around in my tent, and I liked that it was pretty thick.
In the end, I knew I was going to use this pad only for backpacking and already had a sleeping pad that I liked using for car camping, so the thickness didn’t seem like a priority over weight. Since the Sea to Summit Ultralight was lighter than the regular Sea to Summit, I went with this one!
What I love about it
- Durability: So far it has been really durable! There was one time I unknowingly set it up on some pokey plants and it didn’t pop or anything, which was awesome! I have put about 50 days on it so far and not only is it still in great condition, it has no issues whatsoever.
- Weight: This pad weighs about 15 ounces. Though there are lighter 10ish-ounce pads on the market, I didn’t find anything on my search for a backpacking sleeping pad that was lighter while also quiet and comfortable. The weight is still really low compared to many backpacking sleeping pads, and I think that other, lighter pads might not be as durable as this one has been.
- Packability: Packability is a priority for me. Over my life, I’ve shed my share of tears while trying to get a sleeping bag, pad, or tent back into its stuff sack, cursing it and wondering if the sack somehow got smaller during the night. The large sleeping pad that I use for car camping requires about 10-15 minutes of breakdown when I am putting it away. I have to roll the air out numerous times and then fold it just so it fits in its pack. This is a nuisance since many of the times I am backpacking, it’s for the purpose of getting an early start to a hike. I do not want to be goofing around with my sleeping pad for ten minutes trying to make it fit. This one has none of those issues. It is so easy to pack in and it’s really easy to deflate.
- Insulation and R-Value: The insulation value, or R-Value, on this pad is 3.5 which is suitable for fall/summer/spring camping. I have never found the insulation to cause me any issues with feeling too cold.
- Comfort: This sleeping pad is super comfortable! For as light as it is, I wasn’t sure if it would feel very comfortable or if it would be too thin, but it far exceeded all my expectations for something so light.
- Shape: The shape on this pad is really well-thought-out. It is a bit wider at the shoulders, and narrower at the foot section. It’s a perfect mix of width while still trimming weight on the foot area with the smaller surface.
- Noise: IT IS SO QUIET! Growing up camping with my dad who I swore put tin foil in all of his sleeping pads, sleeping pad sounds are something I will never allow to take another night of sleep from me. I am oversensitive about it to the point that I put my tent away from other people when camping together just in case they have a loud pad too. This one is really quiet and makes no noise.
- Ease of use: This pad is incredibly easy to use. I have never had a sleeping pad that is so quick to blow up and break down.
- Backpacking: I bought the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Pad for backpacking and it is great for that purpose! It is light without feeling like I am compromising on comfort. It packs up really small to roughly the size of a mason jar. This makes it great for packing in a backpacking bag.
- Thru-Hiking: Though I am not a thru-hiker, I imagine this is a great pad for thru-hiking. Again it is lightweight, but without sacrificing comfort. I have found it to be really durable too, which I Imagine would be a big priority for thru-hikers.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Features: The sleeping pad comes with a stuff sack that has a self-inflating feature. It’s supposed to work by using the fold-out extension on the included sack to trap air and then roll towards the sleeping pad to fill it up. This part of the sack and the inflate valve fit together to create an airtight seal. Although it’s a cool idea, I don't think it’s super helpful. It’s easy to blow this up in about four breaths, making using the fold-out extension more cumbersome than it’s worth. I almost wish this had not been included because it probably would shave off a few more ounces!
- Car Camping: I have a thicker sleeping pad that I use for car camping most of the time. For the occasional car camper who mostly backpacks, this would be a good option. For someone looking for a good, do-it-all pad for backpacking and car camping, this is also a good option! I had my car camping pad prior to purchasing this pad. Because the car camping pad is thick and heavy, I prefer to use it if I am car camping and don’t need to worry about weight. If you are looking for a sleeping pad primarily for car camping, I would recommend something thicker than the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Pad.
- Mountaineering: Since this is a 3-season pad, I would recommend a warmer and more insulated pad for mountaineering.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment with this gear was during my first trip with it. I was on a long backpacking trip in Summit County, Colorado with three coworkers. We set up our tents in the dark on the first night and I woke up to find that my pad was deflated. I was so sad since that was my first trip with it. I checked to see what had caused the deflation, only to find, somewhat amusingly, that I had not sealed the valve. The problem was user error! I blew it up and it stayed inflated until the morning. In the morning I found out everyone else’s pads had deflated in the night because of some sharp plants we had camped on. My pad was the only one that made it out okay despite there being some sharp plants under mine too. We used a repair kit for the pads to patch the holes (there is one included with this pad!). It was kind of a funny scenario because I had been so sad about what I thought was a poor quality sleeping pad–albeit only for a few minutes–only to find out everyone else’s pads weren’t quite as durable as mine!
Value for the money vs. other options
At around $130, this sleeping pad is a great value! There are a lot of backpacking sleeping pads on the market that are a few ounces lighter, but they are closer to the $200 price range. There are also a lot of heavy car camping pads that are cheaper and closer to the $70 range, but weigh closer to 2-3+ lbs. They don’t pack up very small either, and therefore aren’t something I would want to carry on the trail. There are also products like the Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Pad that shave around $20 off the $130 price, but are not as insulated like this version. Personally, I think this is the best bang for your buck because you can be confident it will work well for 3-season camping. Considering how versatile, comfy, and durable as this one is, I think it’s a great backpacking pad!
The Sea to Summit Women’s Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is a great sleeping pad primarily for backpacking! It is comfy without being too heavy, and can handle some sharp plants without popping. It’s easy to blow up and fit back in the stuff sack, and it makes no noise so you will sleep soundly through the night!