Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Review
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Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated
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|Pros||Comfortable, pump sack design, quiet, relatively light||Superior warmth, small packed size, light||Lightweight, warm for the weight, packs small, comfortable, versatile||Great value, wide, reasonably light||Lightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplement|
|Cons||Expensive, not as light as some||Narrow, expensive||Expensive, edges not as stable as other pad designs||Low R-value, thinner than some||Breaks down over time, dimples gather dirt and moisture|
|Bottom Line||A comfortable and lightweight inflatable model that is well suited for a variety of adventures||A true jack of all trades sleeping pad with a highly effective updated valve system||This model boasts a big weight savings, is comfortable, and provides great all around performance||This pad boasts an excellent value in a light and compact package||An effective pad that offers decent three season warmth in a very lightweight package|
|Rating Categories||Sea to Summit Ether...||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir...||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir...||Klymit Static V2||Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...|
|Weight and Packed Size (30%)|
|Ease of Inflation (10%)|
|Specs||Sea to Summit Ether...||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir...||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir...||Klymit Static V2||Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...|
|Weight||18.83 oz||18.2 oz||16 oz||17.5 oz||14 oz|
|Thickness||4 in||2.5 in||2.5 in||2.5 in||0.75 in|
|Claimed R Value||3.2||6.9||4.2||1.3||2|
|Length||72 in||72 in||72 in||72 in||72 in|
|Width||21.5 in||20 in||20 in||23 in||20 in|
|Packed Volume (L)||2.28 L||1.8 L||1.8 L||0.9 L||1.8 L|
|Breaths to Inflate||15-20||15-20||15-20||12-14||0|
|Type||Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation||Air Construction/Baffled Insulation||Air Construction/Baffled Insulation||Air Construction||Closed-cell foam|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT stands out as one of the most well-rounded of the lightweight sleeping pads in our fleet. While there wasn't one metric where it beat out the rest, it manages to balance weight with three-season warmth, alongside a surprising level of comfort.
The Ether utilizes large quilted baffles throughout the entire pad. These are quite similar to the uber comfortable dual-chamber Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Pattern, but about twice the size per baffle. The highlight of this baffled quilt pattern is how effective it is at absorbing the annoying bouncy feeling we all know well when using tubular baffled air pads. One gripe was the relatively collapsible sides. While absolutely not a dealbreaker, having slightly larger outside air chambers could go a long way to reducing the feeling of rolling off/collapsing the sides when rolling around near the edge.
Weight and Packed Size
At 18.83 ounces, the Ether Light weighs just about the same as the top scoring pad. The tradeoff, however, is that the X-Therm has an R-value of 6.9, versus the 3.2 offered by the Ether. Even if you paired the Ether with a foldable foam pad, you still wouldn't be at that burly 6.9 R-value. The four inches of loft is actually quite impressive when considering pad weight, as other pads boasting four inches of cushion are significantly heavier.
With an R-value of 3.2, the Ether is nestled at the low end of three-season rated sleeping pads. To be honest, the warmth was not extremely impressive. It would be difficult to convince us to take this pad out late in the shoulder seasons for fear of a chilly and unpleasant evening. That being said, we found spring through fall temps to be quite manageable with our 30-degree sleeping bag and only our ground plastic and Ether between us and the ground. There wasn't a design flaw or weakness to speak of; our conclusion is that 3.2 is just a little underpowered for stretching three seasons.
Ease of Inflation
The Ether Light has a fantastically clever pump sack/stuff sack combo, with instructions printed on the outside of the stuff sack making opening and inflating the pad quite user-friendly. Without the instructions, it may take a moment to get things sorted out but we found it to be intuitive and quick either way. Without the pump sack, it took us several minutes to fill the large volume. Needless to say, we only inflated this pad with lung power once. The pump sack is a tidy design and when used as instructed (poofing breaths of air into the top of the sack), it performs surprisingly well. We were able to inflate the pad in just a few minutes. Considering the truly large air volume, this is pretty dang good.
While the men's version of this pad is still going strong, the women's version, comprised of the same materials, has a slow leak. This isn't the most alarming news, however, as anyone who has used an air pad for any length of time has likely patched multiple leaks. The valve system is comprised of heavy and chunky but pliable rubber, giving it a very durable feel. Another important note is that Sea to Summit respects its customers enough to include a spare one-way inflation diaphragm!
We've struggled to find a Sea to Summit product we don't like. The Ether Light XT is no different. This is a well-rounded pad with solid performance — as a relatively lightweight pad. If you're in search of something to satisfy a wide variety of trips, destinations, and ground composition, this is a solid value for money. While lacking in warmth and a bit heavier than some of our award winners, this pad is a bit more comfortable compared to our top scoring pad.
The Sea to Summit Ether Light is a fantastic sleeping pad. While most pads we tested had one or two metrics in which they performed fantastically, there was usually a larger trade-off. The Ether Light XT combines three-season warmth, a high level of comfort, and unique and easy inflation — all in a relatively light package. If you're willing to supplement this pad with a foam under pad during colder months, it could truly be the all arounder in your equipment closet.
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