Expert Review: Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad

Published on 01/30/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in July of 2022.
Robert M, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Robert M

The Ether Light XT set up inside my Sea To Summit Telos TR2 tent. All photos courtesy of Robert M.

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in July of 2022.

My take

The Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad is a high-quality and comfortable inflatable sleeping mat ideal for three-season use. It is especially well suited to side sleepers or anyone who tosses and turns during the night.

Another view of the Ether Light XT Insulated inside a tent

About the sleeping pad I own

  • Model: 2022 Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad
  • Size: Rectangular Regular Wide

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: July 2022
  • Days tested: 4
  • Pack: 2016 Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60, Large
  • Total pack weight: Approximately 35lbs
  • Used for: Backpacking
  • Where I’ve used it: Western Massachusetts and South East Pennsylvania along stretches of the Appalachian Trail.
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Summer and winter

About me

  • Height: 5’10”
  • Weight: 225lbs
  • Experience: 20+ years hiking, backpacking, and car camping.

How it performs

Comfort
5/5
Durability
4/5
Versatility
4/5
Packability
3/5
Weight
3/5

What I was looking for

As an active side sleeper, I sought a supportive and comfortable sleeping pad for three-season backpacking use. In addition, I was looking for a sleeping pad to help me sleep through the night while on the trail without constantly adjusting things.

A close up showing the PillowLock tabs

Why I chose this gear

I chose the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad because of its good balance of comfort, insulation, and weight. I also considered the Nemo Tensor Insulated and the Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated sleeping pads, but ultimately went with the Ether Light XT because of its overall good reviews and the fact I was able to purchase it on sale.

A close up of the two-way inflation valve

What I love about it

  • Durability: The sleeping pad is very durable for its weight, and the two-way inflation valve has worked flawlessly. That said, it is an inflatable pad, and I would not want to place it directly on sharp rocks or roots. It also comes with a patch kit that can be used to patch a small puncture if that were that to happen.
  • Weight: Weighting in at 1lb 6oz (630g) for the rectangular regular wide, the Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad is a reasonable weight for the comfort it provides and is a similar weight to other options on the market.
  • Insulation and R-Value: With an ASTM F-3340-18 R-Value of 3.2, the Ether Light XT is slightly less insulated than other comparable sleeping pads, but I found it completely sufficient for summer use. With the addition of a ⅛” thick foam pad (the back padding of my backpack) layered underneath, it is useable in January with overnight temperatures in the low 20s.
  • Comfort: Ether Light XT is the most comfortable backpacking sleeping pad I’ve used. With 4” of padding, I never once “bottomed out,” even when sleeping on my side. The included set of PillowLock tabs is a great addition when paired with a compatible Sea To Summit pillow, such as any of the Aeros series or Foam Core series of pillows.
  • Shape: I chose the Rectangular Regular Wide size since I am under 6’ tall and wanted the extra width throughout the entire pad length. The added comfort and support from the wide model are worth the additional 4.7oz compared to the Regular size.
  • Noise: Compared to other similar pads on the market, the Ether Light XT is a very quiet sleeping pad, and I have no problem falling asleep due to the minimal noise it makes when I move around on it.
  • Features: The Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad has several features that add value. The previously mentioned PillowLock tabs are great when paired with a compatible pillow. The included stuff sack also doubles as an inflation sack to speed up inflation and minimize moisture from breath getting inside the pad. Finally, the two-way valve makes it easy to inflate the pad and fine-tune the firmness, and it can also be bypassed to quickly dump most of the air out of the pad when packing up.
  • Ease of use: Inflation with the included pump sack stuff sack is easy and only takes a minute or two. It is also fairly easy to deflate and pack up but almost impossible to get all the air out for an easy fit back into the stuff sack.
  • Backpacking: The Sea To Summit Ether Light XT is an ideal sleeping pad for backpacking as it offers a good weight-to-comfort ratio.
  • Car Camping: While certainly comfortable enough for car camping, there are more comfortable sleeping pads available when weight is of little or no concern.
  • Thru-Hiking: Personally, I would consider the Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad for a thru-hike due to its increased comfort, but there are lighter options out there that many thru-hikers would prefer.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Other: One area where the Ether Light XT Insulated failed was the stuff sack. During my second trip with it, the stuff sack ripped along a seam while packing the pad up. I contacted Sea To Summit about this via their website and received a reply within six hours that they would send a replacement stuff sack to me at no cost.
  • Packability: The advertised packed size for this sleeping pad is 4.5”x11”, but once it's been used, it is almost impossible to compress all the air out of it to get it back to that size, and it is a very snug fit in the included stuff sack. On both trips I’ve used it on, I could pack it inside my pack along with the bulk of my other gear.
  • Mountaineering: I would not recommend the Ether Light XT Insulated for mountaineering. I feel that the 20-degree nights I tested it in pushed its insulation's limits. Something like the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Insulated Pad or the Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm NXT Pad are better options in extreme cold.

The damaged stuff sack

Favorite moment with this gear

I really enjoyed using the Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad at one of my favorite campsites along the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania and look forward to taking it out on more adventures.

Value for the money vs. other options

The Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad is priced right in the middle of other comparable sleeping pads available. Other options to consider would be the Nemo Tensor Insulated or Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated sleeping pads.

Final verdict

I have thoroughly enjoyed using the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad, and it will remain my go-to option for backpacking for the foreseeable future. The comfort provided is well worth the weight, and the well-thought-out features, such as the PillowLock tabs and two-way inflation valve, make it super easy to set up and use.

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