Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Review
Cons: Heavy and expensive
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Comfort Plus Insulated is the only sleeping pad we tested that utilizes two entirely separate air chambers with separate inflation valves. This design does several things that boost comfort and durability. Pressure in one chamber doesn't cause bounce in the other, and springing a leak in one is trivial as there is always a backup.
If you're going to haul extra weight around on your back, it should be for a good reason. The Comfort Plus is an excellent reason to add a bit more weight to your pack, as the dual air chambers and "Air Sprung Cells" lived up to their hype. Our testers noted nearly no pressure points common with other sleeping pads as well as great breathability and warmth from below.
Why two air chambers? At first, this seemed a bit gimmicky as it is rare that our inflatable sleeping pads leak. After the extensive testing period, it became apparent why Sea to Summit utilized this design. The annoying bounce created when shifting around on a sleeping pad was almost eliminated with this design. While our gear testers don't quite understand the physics behind it, the result is a bounce-free sleep.
While we found the elliptical size and shape of the regular size Comfort Plus to be more than adequate for our 5'11" 175 pounds gear tester, there are options for smaller or larger pads and even a rectangular pad if you don't mind sacrificing a bit more weight for the extra wiggle room.
Weight and Packed Size
Sometimes innovation and build construction come at a price, and in the case of the Comfort Plus Insulated, that price is a high weight penalty. For as much love as we lavish on this pad, it's hard not to acknowledge the 28.7 ounce Achilles heel. If you're trying to parse down your kit for the maximum performance to weight ratio, this pad is a far less attractive option when compared with other pads like the Editors' Choice Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm that is a solid 10+ ounces lighter and a tad warmer. While that may not sound like a lot, the weight savings could afford you an entire ultralight shelter or a warmer backpacking sleeping bag. Additionally, you could shave an ounce by choosing a stuff sack other than the included pump sack if you don't mind blowing your pad up the old fashioned way every night.
Some will value the Comfort Plus Insulated's dual-chamber redundancy enough to justify the weight penalty, but supplementing a lightweight pad with a foam one like the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL will net you around 26 ounces with the advantage of being more versatile and more durable overall. If you're sold on the killer features of the Comfort Plus Insulated and don't plan on camping in the snow, consider the uninsulated version that weighs a more manageable 21 ounces.
The greatest thermal inefficiency of air construction sleeping pads is the convection of moving air within the pad itself. Any movement (even breathing) causes warm air near your body to mix with cold air near the ground. The dual air chambers, along with synthetic insulation, reduce this convective heat loss by keeping the warmer air trapped next to you. A reflective barrier prevents radiative heat loss.
An R-value of 5 makes this pad close to the top tier of warmth in sleeping pads tested this year as only a couple of pads had higher R-values. While the Comfort Plus was warm, it was significantly heavier and a bit less warm than our Editors' Choice sleeping pad.
Ease of Inflation
The Comfort Plus has our favorite valve system of any sleeping pad. The one-way valve fitted atop a large deflation valve makes inflation, fine adjustments, and deflation super easy, and the valves work so well that inflation or deflation is easy even when you're laying on the pad. Ten breaths on the bottom section and five on top gave us the perfect balance of rigidity and plushness.
The included stuff sack/pump sack was a bit heavy but got the job done. While we have used better pump sacks, having anything to keep from having to huff and puff is welcome. When using the pump sack, it took about the same amount of time to inflate both sides of the pad as when we went on pure lung power.
Made with 40 denier nylon, this pad was up for use directly on the ground. Throughout our testing, we intentionally slept on the ground and used the pad as a chair/couch around camp. Our far from gentle treatment revealed this pad's excellent durability. The outer fabric feels burly and ready for years of use and abuse.
While the outer construction is the same as that of the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated, we gave the Comfort Plus Insulated two more durability points because of the dual-chamber design. Those who pursue mountaineering, prickly desert environments, or extended trips in the backcountry will have peace of mind thanks to the redundant air chamber that'll get you through the night before using the included patch kit in the morning.
The hefty price tag of the Comfort Plus Insulated is balanced against an excellent set of features and progressive design. It is comfortable enough that it works well for car camping but can be thrown in your back on your next tour. For the same price, you could buy the Editors' Choice Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.
The Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated is an excellent pad if you value comfort and support over low weight and a small packed size. Across the board, innovative features make for excellent backcountry sleeping experiences on this pad. The supportive air sprung cells are nice, but many testers still prefer smooth surfaces provided by horizontal baffling. In many ways, this pad is the Mercedes Benz of backcountry sleeping pads. You get a lot of great features, and the build quality is high, but it costs a lot and isn't streamlined. Buy this pad if you value comfort, convenience, and novel features over maximum performance per ounce.
— Brian Martin