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

This versatile sleeping mat is super comfortable and a great choice for all your backpacking needs.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $190 List
Pros:  Comfortable, quiet, lightweight
Cons:  Expensive, heavier than the NeoAir XLite
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 23, 2019
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 8
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Durability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 8

Our Verdict

We were excited to see that Sea to Summit has rolled out a comprehensive line of high-quality, women's specific sleeping mats. We were especially intrigued to discover the Ether Light XT, which seemed exceptionally light and warm for such a thick and comfortable looking product. We were not disappointed, and the Ether has become our favorite new backpacking product, stealing the Editors' Choice Award from the NeoAir XLite Women's. With a few little extras that put this product a neck ahead of the former winner, we love the shape and comfort of this pad, not to mention the quiet materials that elicit zero crinkling space blanket noises. We were willing to overlook the Ether's few extra ounces penalty in exchange for a more comfortable, peaceful sleep, and extra warmth for those chilly spring or fall nights.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $190 List$159.95 at REI
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Pros Comfortable, quiet, lightweightVery light, super compact, comfortable, versatile, warmer than normal XLiteComfortable, warm, durableLightweight, small packed size, included pump sackComfortable, good valve system, warm
Cons Expensive, heavier than the NeoAir XLiteEdges collapse when weighted, noisy, expensive, delicate materialsHeavy, expensiveNot as comfortable as Ether Light and same weight, thinHeavy and bulky
Bottom Line This versatile sleeping mat is super comfortable and a great choice for all your backpacking needs.This super light and compact sleeping pad is a great choice for someone looking to got fast and light.This unique, comfortable sleeping pad is a great choice for 4-season camping and wins our Top Pick Award!This lightweight sleeping pad is relatively comfortable, but we think it's a Jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none.This comfortable and warm sleeping pad with unique "rails" that will cradle you when you sleep is a great value.
Rating Categories Ether Light XT Insulated NeoAir XLite Comfort Plus Insulated Short Ultralight Insulated Co-op AirRail Plus
Warmth (25%)
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8
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Comfort (25%)
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8
Durability (10%)
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Weight (25%)
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Packed Size (15%)
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6
Specs Ether Light XT... NeoAir XLite Comfort Plus... Ultralight Insulated Co-op AirRail Plus
Measured Weight 15 oz 11.8 oz 26.3 oz 14.6 25 oz
Thickness 4 in 2.5 in 2.5 in 2 in 1.5 in
Width 21.5 in 20 in 21.5-17 in 21.5 in 23 in
Type 3.5 season 3 season 4 season 2.5 season 3 season
R Value 4.2 3.9 5 3.3 5.2
Packed Size 11 x 4.5 in 8.27 x 3.94 in 11.81 x 5.12 in 4 x 9 in 9.84 x 5.51 in
Tested Length 66 in 66 in 66 in 72 in 66 in
Bottom Material 40D nylon 30D High Tenacity Nylon 40D Ripstop Nylon 40D nylon 75D Polyester

Our Analysis and Test Results

Our favorite product from Sea to Summit's new women's line has turned out to be our favorite product of all and takes our Editors' Choice award. It is slightly warmer and much more comfortable than the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite and has more plush features like a one-way valve and stuff sack pump for easy inflation. All Sea to Summit's sleeping mats come with an attachment system for their proprietary pillows as well, a bonus. We think the extra ounces you'll be carrying will be made up for with quality night's sleep on the trail. Not to mention the quality of sleep of your tent-mate because you won't be sleeping on a bag of Sun Chips.

Performance Comparison


We love how thick the Ether Light is  and unlike the Big Agnes Q Core you don't feel like you're on a boat. It is very stable.
We love how thick the Ether Light is, and unlike the Big Agnes Q Core you don't feel like you're on a boat. It is very stable.

Warmth


On the warmer end of the pack in terms of warmth, the Ether Light XT has a cozy 4.2 R-value, meaning you can stretch this model from early spring to late fall and stay comfortably insulated from the cold ground.


Slightly warmer than the average lightweight sleeping pad, Sea to Summit has added extra insulation to its women's model. They use "Thermolite," which is a high loft fiberfill material, which seems to pack down very small but has excellent insulating qualities. We wonder if these pads should be stored uncompressed so as to not permanently compress this insulation's loft. The Ether Light is only .3 R-value warmer than the NeoAir XLite, but not as warm as the luxurious REI AirRail Plus, which has an R-value of 5.2 - the warmest we tested.

Comfort


For a lightweight backpacking pad, we are pleasantly surprised by how comfortable this product is. Its ample four-inch thickness kept us elevated well off the ground, but we also didn't feel like we were on a boat. This metric tipped the scales for us when deciding if the Ether Light should steal the award from the NeoAir.


The Sea to Summit Ether Light and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite. The Ether has stolen the title of Editors' Choice from the NeoAir because it is quieter and more comfortable.
The Sea to Summit Ether Light and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite. The Ether has stolen the title of Editors' Choice from the NeoAir because it is quieter and more comfortable.

We love the NeoAir; it's so light and small, making it an excellent choice for backpacking (however, the reality is that it's still not that comfortable, and it is noisy). You do get used to the noise, and it does seem to diminish over time, but it often leaves you feeling self-conscious when sleeping next to someone and you want to move around.

The author getting cozy for the night on her Ether Light pad.
The author getting cozy for the night on her Ether Light pad.

The Ether Light has solved that problem! Its materials are quiet because it uses a different type of insulation - not a space blanket material.

We appreciate the thought that Sea to Summit put in designing a women's specific shape. Their pads are wider at the hips which makes them very comfortable.
We appreciate the thought that Sea to Summit put in designing a women's specific shape. Their pads are wider at the hips which makes them very comfortable.

We also appreciate the thought that Sea to Summit has put into the shape of their women's pads. These mats are oval shaped and are wider at the hips, making them feel wider in general and more comfortable, not like you're precariously teetering on top of your mat. The men's versions are more of a triangle shape; wide at the shoulders and tapering down, which makes a lot of sense.

Durability


Not the most durable of the bunch, the Ether Light's 40 Denier materials are still pretty durable compared to most light backpacking pads.


The Ether Light XT is reasonably durable as far as we can tell and slightly more durable than the NeoAir's delicate 30 Denier materials. Sea to Summit's valves also appear to be durable, as they're plugs you can pull out or push in, with no twisting required. We appreciate that all Sea to Summit models come with repair patches for punctures and an extra piece for the one-way valve in case you lose it.

We like Sea to Summit's valve system. It is easy to use and seems durable.
We like Sea to Summit's valve system. It is easy to use and seems durable.

Weight


The Ether Light falls behind the NeoAir in this metric, weighing 15 ounces. It's not the lightest product of the bunch, but also far from the heaviest.


We wish the Ether Light could shed a few ounces. As it stands, it's the third lightest product in this review after the NeoAir's unbeatable 11.8 ounces, and the Sea to Summit UltraLight, which only weighs .4 ounces less, but comes in a slightly smaller package.

The three Sea to Summit mats we tested. From bottom to top: Comfort Plus  Ether Light XT and Ultralight Insulated. For how much slimmer the Ultralight is  it only weighs .4 ounces less than the Ether.
The three Sea to Summit mats we tested. From bottom to top: Comfort Plus, Ether Light XT and Ultralight Insulated. For how much slimmer the Ultralight is, it only weighs .4 ounces less than the Ether.

Weight is a fundamental metric for a backpacking pad, and we believe that the Ether Light is a compromise between that ultralight product, and getting a good night's sleep. It is still less than a pound, and we think it's worth the extra weight. We did notice that the included stuff sack (that also acts as a pump) weighs two ounces on its own. If you're counting ounces, we would leave that at home to save weight, even though it's convenient not to have to blow it up with our lungs, especially at altitude. You can slide this rolled up pad into a jacket sleeve to protect it from pokey things in your pack instead.

Packed Size


Still a small package compared to most, the Ether is not the smallest of the bunch.


Because this sleeping pad has substantial insulation compared to ones with the smallest packed size like the Big Agnes Q Core SLX and NeoAir, it doesn't pack down quite as small.

The Sea to Summit Ether Light (left) and NeoAir (right). The NeoAir definitely packs down much smaller.
The Sea to Summit Ether Light (left) and NeoAir (right). The NeoAir definitely packs down much smaller.

You can reduce bulk (as well as weight) by leaving the included stuff sack at home.

Sea to Summit's Ether Light XT (left) and Ultralight Insulated (right). The Ultralight has a slightly smaller packed size.
Sea to Summit's Ether Light XT (left) and Ultralight Insulated (right). The Ultralight has a slightly smaller packed size.

Best Application


We think this is a great choice for straight up backpacking. It's light enough for any trip, long or short, but maybe not the best for something like ultralight fast-packing. The Ether Light XT Insulated Women's will provide you with quiet, quality sleep out on the trail. You can stretch the seasons of this warm pad from early spring to late fall; pair it with a foam pad like the Z-Rest, and it's good through the winter.

Value


Sea to Summit's products are high quality, and they also come at a high price. The most expensive product in this review, the $190 price tag made us pause. If you're feeling like treating yourself, the Ether is a decent value because of all the reasons we've outlined above. If you're looking for something geared more towards car camping or short backpacking trips, we'd recommend checking out our Best Buy Award winner, the REI AirRail Plus Women's. The NeoAir also retails for $30 less.

The Ultralight (bottom) and Ether Light (top). The only advantage we can see of the Ultralight is that it's $60 less. Otherwise  we think the Ether is far superior.
The Ultralight (bottom) and Ether Light (top). The only advantage we can see of the Ultralight is that it's $60 less. Otherwise, we think the Ether is far superior.

Conclusion


We love this sleeping mat. It stole the title of Editors' Choice from Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir because it is more featured, comfortable, warm, and quieter than the NeoAir. It is slightly heavier than the NeoAir and more expensive, but we're willing to overlook these small blemishes in exchange for that very comfortable night's sleep in the backcountry; your hiking partners will also thank you for a quieter night in the tent.


Jessica Haist