The Paco Grande is the ultimate sleeping pad for serious road warriors, climbing bums, river guides, and anyone who does a lot of car camping. This indestructible 13-pound behemoth is made of a 27" x 72" x 3" sheet of super cushy foam, which is incased in an incredibly durable PVC coated material.
Of all the sleeping pads that we've reviewed, the Paco Grande is the first and only one that's actually self-inflating. Most backpacking pads simply don't have enough foam in them, or foam of sufficient density, to create enough outward force to suck air in. Unscrew the Paco Grande's two valves and watch it fill up and unroll itself!
The Paco Grande is the most durable sleeping pad we've ever tested. It makes ultralight backpacking pads, such as the Nemo Zor and Klymit Inertia, look like flimsy children's toys. Paco Pads are designed for the constant abuse of life on a river raft. Guides use the Paco Grande to pad hard places on the raft, insulate coolers, lounge on top of the raft and sleep on at night. The Paco Grande combines the durability of a closed cell pad with the comfort of a bed (almost).
In addition to being very durable, the pad's material has several other advantages: it resists spills and stains, is very easy to clean, is hypoallergenic, and doubles as an inflatable water toy. It's much more than just a sleeping pad! We used the Paco Grande to cushion furniture while moving, to sit on at outdoor concerts, and even to use as a supplementary bouldering pad for climbing.
Jack's Plastic Welding Paco Grande and Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime.
The Paco Grande is not without faults. Tall people (6' plus) will find that their toes hang off the end. (Although the company also offers a longer and thicker version of the pad, the $320 Silverback, we would prefer a slightly longer pad at around the same price point.) The Paco Grande's inflation valves are harder to open and close when compared with those on other pads we reviewed. This is annoying, but not terrible. We also found the rubbery surface of the pad to be uncomfortable to sleep directly on in hot weather. Skin to rubber surface in hot weather equals sweat. Other pads have more breathable surfaces that reduce this. Bringing a sheet with you easily fixes this problem.
Finally, the Paco's soft foam is not laminated to the outer material like most other pads. As a result it's difficult to make the pad very firm (because the shell will keep inflating, turning the pad into a big bubbly raft). The pad is more or less a big chunk of soft foam inside a burly inflatable case. You have little control over how soft or firm the pad is.
Extended car camping, river rafting.
$230 gets you the best, most durable sleeping pad on the market. JPW makes Paco Pads in a variety of sizes. They recommend the Paco Grande for car camping because it's super comfortable yet still packable.
- 1 inch thicker than the Grande
- 5 inches longer than the Grande