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REI Co-op Stratus Insulated Air Review

A comfortable and easy to inflate pad in a small, lightweight, and relatively affordable package
REI Co-op Stratus Insulated Air
Photo: REI Co-op
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Price:  $90 List | Check Price at REI
Pros:  Affordable, comfortable, easy to inflate, fairly light
Cons:  One-way valve not replaceable
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 2, 2021
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57
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 17
  • Comfort - 30% 6
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 6
  • Warmth - 20% 5
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 6
  • Durability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

Bargain sleeping pad options that perform in the real world are hard to come by. As a sleeping pad that rings up below a crisp Franklin note and actually delivers some comfort and warmth, the REI Co-op Stratus Insulated Air is impressive. Yes, it lacks some features you get with the no-holds-barred sleeping pads, such as replaceable silicone one-way valves, lighter-weight reflective insulations, and the like, but this pad gets the job done. Some of the highlights included the large outer rails, which keep us nestled in place, along with the soft, textured fabric, which helped keep us from sliding around when the ground wasn't perfectly flat.

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Price $90 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Affordable, comfortable, easy to inflate, fairly lightGreat value, wide, reasonably lightInexpensive, lightweight, great insulation adjunctLightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplementLightweight, extremely affordable, small packed size
Cons One-way valve not replaceableLow R-value, thinner than someBulky, loses suppleness over timeBreaks down over time, dimples gather dirt and moistureThin, comfort lacking
Bottom Line A comfortable and easy to inflate pad in a small, lightweight, and relatively affordable packageThis pad boasts an excellent value in a light and compact packageIf sleeping on ultra-firm surfaces doesn't keep you up at night this is a solid option that won't popAn effective pad that offers decent three season warmth in a very lightweight packageAn ultra light and ultra cheap option for your next backpacking trip
Rating Categories REI Co-op Stratus I... Klymit Static V2 NEMO Switchback Therm-A-Rest Z Lite... Sleepingo Large
Comfort (30%)
6.0
7.0
2.0
1
4.0
Weight And Packed Size (30%)
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
5.0
2.0
4.0
4.0
1
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
6.0
8.0
10.0
10.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
5.0
7.0
10.0
10.0
7.0
Specs REI Co-op Stratus I... Klymit Static V2 NEMO Switchback Therm-A-Rest Z Lite... Sleepingo Large
Weight 21.1 oz 17.5 oz 14.5 oz 14 oz 14.6 oz
Thickness 2.5 in 2.5 in 0.9 in 0.75 in 2 in
Claimed R Value 3.3 1.3 2 2 2.1
Length 72 72 in 72 in 72 in 75 in
Width 20 23 in 20 in 20 in 23 in
Packed Volume (L) 2.48 0.9 L 8.9 L 1.8 L 1.2 L
Breaths to Inflate 10-13 12-14 0 0 8-10
Type Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation Air Construction Closed-cell foam Closed-cell foam Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation

Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Stratus foregoes form-fitting shapes and design frills in favor of a simple rectangular shape, lengthwise tubular baffles, and some solid real-world performance at a great price. We wouldn't hesitate to recommend this pad to a friend.

Performance Comparison


The Stratus strikes a nice balance between affordability, simple design, and functionality. Ultimately, while it was solid competition for an award, it lacked the mind-blowing value we need to see for the coveted crown.

It might not be the flashiest pad around but it sure is comfortable.
It might not be the flashiest pad around but it sure is comfortable.
Photo: Brian Martin

Comfort


The simple design of the Stratus doesn't detract from the overall comfort. The highlight of this pad is the oversized outside baffles which worked well to keep us nestled right in the middle, even as we tossed about. The regular length pad was more than adequate for our six foot gear tester; while propping up on elbows wasn't very comfortable, the overall thickness is perfectly adequate for back or side sleeping. It's hard to overstate just how nicely the oversized rails work to keep one centered on the pad. The overall feeling we had while sleeping on this pad was that of being cradled.

The large rails running lengthwise worked extremely well to keep us...
The large rails running lengthwise worked extremely well to keep us centered and snug while tossing around at night.
Photo: Brian Martin

Weight and Packed Size


At 21.16 ounces, the Stratus is by no means a heavyweight, but the heft is one of its weaker attributes. While the rectangular design seems to have cut down on costs and wasted material, the overall weight suffers a bit. Pads with similar R-values and thicknesses are generally several ounces lighter than the Stratus. Another area of weight gain is the synthetic insulation used to retain heat. We've found that lighter pads generally use a reflective film to cut weight, though they are also quite loud. This is a great option if you're looking to get outdoors on a comfortable pad and aren't worried about five extra ounces.

It weighs 21.1 ounces or 600 grams. It's definitely not in the...
It weighs 21.1 ounces or 600 grams. It's definitely not in the ultralight category but has a decent weight to performance ratio.
Photo: Brian Martin

Warmth


If you noticed the R-value in the previous photo and were thinking, "I thought this pad had an R-value of 3.3", give yourself a pat on the back! REI issued a statement on their info section for this pad that many stuff sack details were printed prior to updating the new ASTM R-values were updated. This pad was tested and rated at a value of 3.3, which is great considering the simplicity and cost of this sleeping pad compared to others with similar ratings.

While we didn't test this pad in an environment below freezing, it did perform well on some chilly spring evenings using our standard 35-degree bag used while testing all sleeping pads. While some pads utilizing welded baffles seem to allow cold to seep through, the Stratus performs quite well considering the long welded baffles.

Of the multitude of bargain pads we have tested, this was one of the...
Of the multitude of bargain pads we have tested, this was one of the top performers in the warmth category.
Photo: Brian Martin

Ease of Inflation


While there are pump sacks compatible with the Stratus, it doesn't come with one included. Honestly, had a pump sack been included, it would be in the running for a great value award. Even though the pump isn't included, it's a relatively low-volume sleeping pad that only requires about 10-13 breaths to fully inflate. Out of curiosity, we snapped on a compatible pump sack and were able to inflate this pad in under a minute.

We're hoping for an executive order mandating pump sacks be included...
We're hoping for an executive order mandating pump sacks be included with all sleeping pads. Even though the Stratus doesn't have a pump sack included, it only takes a minute and a half to pump it up the old-fashioned way.
Photo: Brian Martin

Durability


Throughout our testing period, we didn't experience any durability issues. However, our pad didn't come with a replacement one-way diaphragm, which prompted us to scour the REI site to see if they had replacements. A damaged one-way valve can make fully inflating a pad and closing the valve quite difficult. Oddly, REI even noted in their questions section that they do not sell replacement one-way valves for this pad. To test what inflating the pad without this valve would be like, we used the deflate valve to inflate and discovered that this wasn't actually that bad when we pressed the bottom of the pad up into the valve to create our own stopper. REI doesn't list the thickness of the fabric used, but it feels thicker than most ultralight pads, which bodes well for puncture resistance and overall longevity.

Frustratingly, replacement one-way valves are not included with the...
Frustratingly, replacement one-way valves are not included with the pad or available for purchase. That said, we found inflating the pad via a two-way deflate valve (simulating a broken one-way valve) wasn't that bad.
Photo: Brian Martin

Value


The Stratus really is excellent value. With only a few very minor tweaks, this pad would run away with an award. If we were designing a review solely around the comfort to price ratio, the Stratus would likely take the cake. The large outer rails hugged us in a comforting way while keeping us centered and off the ground, and the 2.5 inches of baffles in the mid pad worked quite well at keeping our pointy bits off the ground.

Conclusion


The Stratus is a solid sleeping pad at a solid price. It pairs simplicity with comfort and decent three-season warmth. Even the weight of this pad isn't too hefty when considering how well it performs in other metrics. We wouldn't hesitate to suggest it to a friend that doesn't want to compromise comfort but is also shopping on a budget.

Nothing is quite as satisfying as a functional piece of equipment...
Nothing is quite as satisfying as a functional piece of equipment that doesn't blow the budget. The Stratus is a great way to keep your overall spending on outdoor equipment reasonable without sacrificing your spine or other pokey bits.
Photo: Brian Martin

Brian Martin

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