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Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Review

A comfortable and lightweight inflatable model that is well suited for a variety of adventures
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated
Photo: Sea to Summit
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Price:  $180 List | Check Price at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, pump sack design, quiet, relatively light
Cons:  Expensive, not as light as some
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 5, 2021
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 13
  • Comfort - 30% 8
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 7
  • Warmth - 20% 6
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

It's no mystery; we generally have high expectations for Sea to Summit products, as they are typically well made and offer great functionality in the field. The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated absolutely lived up to our expectations. It's well rounded in comfort, weight, warmth, and offered a unique stuff sack/pump sack combo that functions well. While the Ether Light isn't quite as light as other highly rated pads, it provides a silent (crinkle-free) night's sleep, which ultralight pads just can't do. The Ether was edged out for any awards, as it was a bit heavier and offered a bit less warmth than the heavy hitters.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
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$63.71 at Amazon$46 List
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Star Rating
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Pros Comfortable, pump sack design, quiet, relatively lightSuperior warmth, small packed size, lightLightweight, warm for the weight, packs small, comfortable, versatileGreat value, wide, reasonably lightLightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplement
Cons Expensive, not as light as someNarrow, expensiveExpensive, edges not as stable as other pad designsLow R-value, thinner than someBreaks down over time, dimples gather dirt and moisture
Bottom Line A comfortable and lightweight inflatable model that is well suited for a variety of adventuresA true jack of all trades sleeping pad with a highly effective updated valve systemThis model boasts a big weight savings, is comfortable, and provides great all around performanceOne of the best values in sleeping pads in a light and compact packageAn effective sleeping pad that offers decent three season warmth in a very lightweight package
Rating Categories Ether Light XT Insu... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Klymit Static V2 Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...
Comfort (30%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
1
Weight And Packed Size (30%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
2.0
4.0
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
10.0
Specs Ether Light XT Insu... 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 2.6
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.

Performance Comparison


An all-around decent sleeping pad that has a boost of comfort...
An all-around decent sleeping pad that has a boost of comfort without weighing down your pack. What's not to like?
Photo: Brian Martin

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.

Thick quilted chambers not only kept us lofted above rocks and roots...
Thick quilted chambers not only kept us lofted above rocks and roots but did an excellent job controlling the annoying air pad bounce when we shifted.
Photo: Brian Martin

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.

There are likely hundreds of pads out there that weigh less than the...
There are likely hundreds of pads out there that weigh less than the Ether. There are certainly very few that offer comfort along with the weight savings.
Photo: Brian Martin

Warmth


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.

We found this pad to be most appropriate for our lighter-weight...
We found this pad to be most appropriate for our lighter-weight endeavors that don't require puffy down coats and four-season tents. The Ether was at home on chilly evenings above freezing.
Photo: Brian Martin

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.

The combo stuff sack/pump sack was fantastic. While there is always...
The combo stuff sack/pump sack was fantastic. While there is always the potential for these ideas to fall short, this combo is tidy and functional.
Photo: Brian Martin

Durability


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!

Chunky valves and a proper repair kit gave us the confidence we need...
Chunky valves and a proper repair kit gave us the confidence we need when taking a pad out for multiple nights in a row, when we absolutely don't want to be sleeping on the cold hard ground.
Photo: Brian Martin

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

We loved this sleeping pad. It is light enough to bring along on...
We loved this sleeping pad. It is light enough to bring along on some fast-moving summer pursuits and lofty enough to keep you up off the cold hard ground.
Photo: Brian Martin

Brian Martin