Reviews You Can Rely On

Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme - Women's Review

This pad is ultra-warm, comfortable, and made for a woman's shape, though it's a bit heavy for backpacking
gearlab tested logo
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme - Women's Review (The XT Extreme is a very comfortable and warm sleeping pad, but on the heavy side for certain kinds of extended trips.)
The XT Extreme is a very comfortable and warm sleeping pad, but on the heavy side for certain kinds of extended trips.
Credit: Jessica Haist
Price:  $219 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 13, 2023
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Comfort - 30% 9.0
  • Weight - 30% 6.0
  • Warmth - 20% 10.0
  • Packed Size - 10% 6.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 7.0

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme is the warmest women's-specific sleeping pad in our lineup. The high 6.3 R-value makes it a great choice for cold weather and winter camping. Our only hesitation is that it is a bit heavy at a pound and a half. There are larger, unisex pads that have higher R-values and are lighter; if you don't care about the female-focused features (narrower at the shoulders, wider at the hips, targeted insulation zones), then you could find a warmer, longer pad, which still weighs less. That said, the Ether Light is super comfortable and blissfully quiet. If you don't have to optimize for weight, this could be a great choice for your cold-weather camping needs.
REASONS TO BUY
Very warm
Comfortable
Quiet
Includes a pump sack
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy
Expensive
//Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 13, 2023, after our last testing cycle./

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $164.25 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$196.94 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$115 List
$113.10 at Amazon
$37.46 at Backcountry
Overall Score Sort Icon
78
85
80
71
60
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line This is a good choice for winter camping, as it's incredibly warm and comfortableA great choice for your long backpacking trips, this pad is light, compact and warmComfortable and warm, this model will have you sleeping like a baby out on the trailThis warm and comfortable model should be noted for its price and performanceIf you want a light and durable pad that you can use as a seat and won't deflate, this could be the pad for you
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest Trail... Nemo Switchback - S...
Comfort (30%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
3.0
Weight (30%)
6.0
9.7
8.8
5.6
10.0
Warmth (20%)
10.0
7.5
6.1
7.5
4.0
Packed Size (10%)
6.0
9.0
7.5
6.0
3.5
Construction Quality (10%)
7.0
7.5
7.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest Trail... Nemo Switchback - S...
Measured Weight 24.2 oz 11.8 oz 15.0 oz 25.6 oz 10.8oz
ASTM R-Value 6.3 4.5 3.5 4.5 2.0
Insulation Thermolite insulation Air and baffles Thermolite insulation Foam Foam
Thickness 4.0 in 3.0 in 4.0 in 1.5 in 0.9 in
Tested Length 66 in 66 in 66 in 66 in 50 in
Tested Width 21.7 in 20.0 in 21.5 in 20.0 in 20.0 in
Packed Size 9.4 x 6.9 in 9.0 x 4.1 in 11.0 x 4.5 in 10.5 x 6.0 in 20.0 x 5.0 x 4.0 in
Bottom Material 30D / 40D nylon 30D rip HT nylon 40D nylon 50D polyester Closed cell foam
Pump Sack Included? Yes Yes Yes No N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ether Light XT Extreme is the warmest women's model we've tested. It scores high in the warmth and comfort departments but let us down slightly in the weight category. That said, this is a common and understandable tradeoff. If you're after a pad strictly for lightweight backpacking, you'll want to look elsewhere for a lighter option. But if you're out on a long expedition that is mostly base camping in cold weather, this could be a great option for you.

Performance Comparison


sea to summit ether light xt extreme for women - the ether light xt extreme is filled with layers of synthetic...
The Ether Light XT Extreme is filled with layers of synthetic material and is a cushy 4" thick.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Comfort


We love the shape of Sea to Summit's women's-specific pads. They're “oval” shaped versus a traditional men's “triangle” shape to better accommodate extra width in the hips as opposed to the shoulders. In addition, all their pads are, on average, 1.5 inches wider than the competitors' pads (other than rectangular-shaped pads) and have that extra space near the middle of the pad for wider-hipped individuals. The Ether Light XT is even slightly wider than other models and we love it.


This pad is exceptionally comfortable and has four inches of cushion, making it one of the thickest pads we've tested. Folks who are side sleepers will like the amount of padding between them and the ground. Sea to Summit's Air Spring Cell Construction also makes the pad feel very stable when you're lying on it. We've tested other thick pads in the past that felt unstable and “boat-like”. The XT Extreme feels more mattress-like than anything else. We also love the quiet materials, which, compared to the other, lighter products we've tested, means you won't wake your tent-mate up every time you roll over — although we have heard complaints about this pad's material squeaking, we suspect that's the interface between the tent floor and the pad. We recommend putting some spare clothing or foam (or anything else you have) between your pad and the tent floor. Being able to roll over quietly often equates to a better night of sleep.

We love the shape of the XT Extreme because it's wider in the hip...
We love the shape of the XT Extreme because it's wider in the hip area to better form to a woman's shape.
Warm and comfortable, the Sea to Summit Ether Light Extreme is a...
Warm and comfortable, the Sea to Summit Ether Light Extreme is a great choice for cold weather basecamping.

Weight


We were disappointed when we discovered that the Ether Light XT Extreme weighs a pound and a half. We think this is its biggest downfall, as many of the pads in this review are much lighter (and have bigger overall dimensions) and have excellent warmth-to-weight ratios. The included pump/stuff sack weighs an additional two ounces. This pad also comes in a long size, which is 6 inches longer and 3.5 inches wider, and will add approximately another 8 ounces.


Warmth


This pad is at the top of the charts for warmth. It has a 6.3 R-value rating, which is more than a full point warmer than the next warmest pad. Sea to Summit uses layers of synthetic insulation to create this insulating warmth from the ground. In our experience, you want a pad with at least a 4.0 R-value to use when sleeping on snow surfaces, so the Ether Light XT Extreme will give you some extra buffer. However, we always recommend using an extra foam pad for insulation in true winter camping situations.


Our testers spoke with mountain guides who said that this pad could be a good option for big expeditions on the snow, such as climbing Denali in Alaska. It is a bit heavy, but the extra ounces may be worth it for the extra comfort this pad provides. After all, you will have a better time and be a better version of yourself if you're getting good sleep.

sea to summit ether light xt extreme for women - the ether light xt extreme will keep you insulated from the snow.
The Ether Light XT Extreme will keep you insulated from the snow.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Packed Size


After using the Ether Light, it's hard to get it back down to its original packed size and will take a couple of times to roll all the air out. It packs to a decent size for its weight and warmth, but with all that synthetic material inside, it's not the smallest.


Construction Quality


The Ether Light is made from a 30D/40D nylon material. This denier weight of material puts it squarely in the middle of the pack in terms of durability, and we have not experienced any issues with this product with extended use. Still, we recommend using its stuff sack and always having some type of ground cloth to protect it from getting punctured.


We like that the Ether Light XT Extreme has an anti-microbial treatment added to the internal lamination to prevent mold growth inside the pad. The included air pump stuff sack also helps to prevent moisture from getting inside since you're not blowing it up with your mouth, and moisture from your lungs won't get in. This is especially helpful in a cold-weather context when that moisture can freeze and reduce warmth.

sea to summit ether light xt extreme for women - the ether light xt extreme's included pump sack is handy to blow up...
The Ether Light XT Extreme's included pump sack is handy to blow up this thick pad. This will also help keep moisture out of your pad, which will help prevent mildew from growing.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Should You Buy the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme?


The Ether Light Xtreme is a pricey pad and is up there with the highest-priced items we've tested. While it is made from high-quality materials and is a good product, it's not the greatest value of the bunch. However, this is a great choice if you're looking for a super warm, quiet, and comfortable pad that's made specifically for a woman's anatomy. It is a bit on the heavy side and wouldn't be our first choice to take on long, warm-weather backpacking trips, but it will thrive on cold-weather trips and expeditions to snowy places, and the warmth it will give you could even be worth the weight in your pack.

sea to summit ether light xt extreme for women - the extreme packs down relatively small for how much insulation it...
The Extreme packs down relatively small for how much insulation it has, but it is definitely not the smallest of the bunch.
Credit: Jessica Haist

What Other Sleeping Pads Should You Consider?


The Ether Light XT Extreme comes in a size long, so if you're taller than around 5'5", you could consider picking that up instead. If you're going to mostly be backpacking in the spring through summer, the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated is almost the same shape, is very comfortable, and is much lighter for backpacking. We also love the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT for backpacking trips, and it's the lightest of the inflatable pads. If you're taller and are looking for an even warmer pad, there are more options for you in our all-gender review of the best backpacking sleeping pads. Women's pads typically are shorter and more insulated than the all-gender versions, but they also offer less overall variety.

Jessica Haist