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Sea to Summit UltraLight Review

Price:   $100 List | $74.97 at Amazon
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Pros:  Lightweight, ultra packable, design feels more stable than other air construction designs, best air valve
Cons:  Not warm, dimples get dirty, not as plush as other designs
Bottom line:  Lightweight and portable, this pad is ideal for three season. extended backpacking trips.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit UltraLight utilizes the company's new AirSprung Cell design and is a great choice for warm weather trips. This pad is super lightweight and packs down to the size of a couple pop cans. When comparing full sized pads, this one is the most compressible and the second lightest of any that we've tested. The unique air valve was the best of any sleeping pad we've seen allowing for easy inflation and instant deflation. If you want an inflatable pad for ultralight backpacking, this is an excellent pick and narrowly ceded our Top Pick for Ultralight award to the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite pad because the XLite is much warmer and a tad lighter. The UltraLight is an excellent pad for summer backpacking or any instance where you want a comfortable pad without sacrificing weight or pack space. It is also a super great value because it retails for just $100 making it a full $30 less expensive than the higher scoring XLite. The UltraLight has many of the same features as the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated, which weighs 8 ounces more, costs $70 more, but is much warmer.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sleeping Pads of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 13, 2015

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For only $100, this pad packs some serious punch. The Sea to Summit UltraLight is super lightweight and packs down small enough that you'll forget you even brought it. It offers an unparalleled value for warm weather backpackers driven to shave every last ounce off their base weight.

Performance Comparison


We carried more pads than we needed into the backcountry so that we could test them side by side. Here you can see the yellow UltraLight in the foreground.
We carried more pads than we needed into the backcountry so that we could test them side by side. Here you can see the yellow UltraLight in the foreground.

Comfort


Fully inflated, the Sea to Summit UltraLight is about two inches thick, which is similar in dimension and size to its big brother (the Sea to Summit Comfort Insulated). Sea to Summit went back to the drawing board and came up with a very unique design for these pads. Most other air construction sleeping pads use either horizontal or vertical baffles. Vertical baffles often yield a bouncing sensation when you move your feet, and horizontal baffles tend to have weak edges that collapse easily. These Sea to Summit pads use dot welds to create individual pockets that successfully deal with both the issues of bounciness and weak edges. The UltraLight feels very supportive throughout the entire construction. A small downside to this design is that the dots tend to collect dirt. One sweet feature worth noting is that this pad was faster to inflate than other air construction pads in the review. A benefit of the dot welds is that they take up internal volume, leaving less pad to be inflated; 15 to 19 breaths inflate this pad to a nice firm level. The one-way valve was much easier to use than the twist valves found on all other pads. Accidentally over inflate the pad? No problem! Just press on the middle of the valve to release air and deflate the pad to your preferred level. This was our favorite valve of any pad we tested.



While the fancy valve and dot welded construction have their benefits, this wasn't the most comfortable pad were reviewed for the following reasons. First, many testers complained that the pad was "too thin." When camping on rocky surfaces or on pine cones, you'll need to inflate this pad all the way to defend against the lumps. Second, the dot welding may have helped the pad feel more stable, but many testers found it to be too bumpy. Our testers continually agreed that models with flatter surfaces, such as the Therm-a-Rest XLite were more comfortable. Third, many of our testers and their tent mates complained that this pad was noisy. While some other pads like the XLite sound "crinkly," the UltraLight squeaks nearly every time you adjust positions. In the end, we gave this pad a comfort score of 6/10.

The Sea to Summit pads have a dot welded construction that makes hundreds of "AirSprung" Cells. This was more supportive than horizontal baffle designs (see the XLite top right) but didn't feel as smooth.
The Sea to Summit pads have a dot welded construction that makes hundreds of "AirSprung" Cells. This was more supportive than horizontal baffle designs (see the XLite top right) but didn't feel as smooth.

Weight


At just 12.5 oz for the Regular, this was one of the lightest pads in this updated review, next to the Therm-a-Rest XLight that costs $30 more. If you're looking for a lightweight summer pad that'll add quite a bit more comfort than a foam pad and don't want to break the bank, the UltraLight rocks. When we slept on the pad for the first time, we were surprised how comfortable it was given its low weight and small packed size. One great thing about the low weight is that you can buy this pad for your ultralight setup, then add in a foam pad like the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol on top for a total weight of just 26 oz. This set-up would be super comfortable, relatively warm, and ultra versatile. The small version of this pad is 66 inches long and weighs 11.5 ounces.

When deflated  the ultralight is extremely supple. You can stuff this in with your sleeping bag easily.
When deflated, the ultralight is extremely supple. You can stuff this in with your sleeping bag easily.

Warmth


Use this pad in warm summer locations because when it comes to warmth, the UltraLight's scores are deflated. Without any insulation and an R-value of just 0.7, this pad is suited to summer use only. It feels the coldest of any pad in the review - simply put, if the ground is cold, you'll be cold. That said, the low warmth is the price you pay for an ultralight pad with this design. If you like sleeping in colder climates or are a cold sleeper in general, you can always add a foam pad on top. If this pad was a little warmer, it would have been a top contender against the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, which won our Top Pick Award for Ultralight trips.

Sea to Summit makes an insulated version of the UltraLight that weighs about 3 ounces more and costs $130.
Turn that grass into a plush cloud! This pad works really well when sleeping on even surfaces. It doesn't cover rocks as well as some other pads. But for the weight and packed size it's still pretty impressive.
Turn that grass into a plush cloud! This pad works really well when sleeping on even surfaces. It doesn't cover rocks as well as some other pads. But for the weight and packed size it's still pretty impressive.

Packed Size


This pad packs down ridiculously small and will disappear in any backpack. Because it is made with ultra supple material, some of our testers stuffed this pad into their sleeping bag compression sacks, further reducing the volume. When packed, this pad is smaller than a liter.

The Sea to Summit UltraLight packs down quite a bit smaller than most other products in the review. If you want the smallest pad possible and don't need extra warmth  consider this one.
The Sea to Summit UltraLight packs down quite a bit smaller than most other products in the review. If you want the smallest pad possible and don't need extra warmth, consider this one.

Durability


While it may only be made with 40 denier ripstop nylon, we didn't have any issues with this pad throughout the extent of our testing. We used this pad inside tents and as a floating raft on several lazy rivers near a couple of our campsites. We were not particularly gentle with any of the pads in this review including this one. With proper care, we expect that this pad will last quite a while. Should you run into any issues, a small patch kit is included.

Best Applications


Love long distance summer backpacking? This pad has the weight point and small packed size you're looking for without an exorbitant price tag. It is especially suited to warm climates where warmth is the enemy.

Value


For just $100, this pad falls high on the value chart. When you buy the Sea to Summit Ultralight, you'll drop weight without dropping a lot of dough. It is $30 cheaper than the higher scoring and Top Pick for Ultralight winning Therm-a-Rest XLite. When choosing between the two, consider your warmth needs first.

Conclusion


The Sea to Summit UltraLight is an excellent lightweight sleeping pad for those wanting a pad that is comfortable, supportive, and packs down really well. We found the dot welded baffle design quite interesting, but preferred pads with a flatter surface. That said, this pad takes a minimum number of breaths to inflate which was an important consideration for some of our testers. With an R-value that is less than one, if you are a cold sleeper you may want to consider buying the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated that is six times warmer and only 8 ounces heavier. Alternatively, you could add a foam pad on top for warmth in the shoulder seasons.

We used the UltraLight as much as possible during our two months of testing. It is lightweight  packs small  and is pretty comfortable. We just wish it was a little warmer.
We used the UltraLight as much as possible during our two months of testing. It is lightweight, packs small, and is pretty comfortable. We just wish it was a little warmer.
Jeremy Bauman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 21, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (3.5)

50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 67%  (2)
3 star: 33%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Sep 21, 2015 - 06:24pm
 
Pepito · Camper · Gatineau, Qu├ębec
Also, something really interesting to avoid putting all your saliva, bad breath and humidity in the pillow when inflating:
You can use the "SCHNOZZEL PUMPBAG UL M" from "Exped" to infalte it. It is the complete right fit; the Exped Pumpbag is the right tool to inflate with the valve. It will fit with just a little bit of efforts like any Exped valve and it will never damage your multifunctional valve (Probably the same manufacturer for the pieces of the 2 brands).
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   Aug 21, 2017 - 04:44pm
SeaFlyer · Climber · Winter Haven, FL
This pad is awesome for those looking for the best weight-performance ratio! I purchased it because of the simplicity of the valve design, as well as for the fact that it is extremely light weight and has a small packed size. When it first arrived, I was shocked by the size of it…just a bit larger than a beer can and unbelievably light.

When I unrolled it, and tried inflating it with just my mouth…about 10-20 breaths did the trick. But, I also tried it with my Sea to Summit pump sack, and it filled it in about 3 pumps! So, that is definitely the way to fill it. It deflates quickly, and is fairly easy to roll up…though it can be tough to get it back down to the size of its carrying bag (with patience, it can be done just fine).

I used it on a multi-day canoe trek along the Suwannee river, and the terrain there is mostly limestone, and sugar sand, so for comfort, it scored pretty high. If you sleep on you back, it's great! But, if you are like me and sleep on your side, it can be harder to get comfortable.

PROS:
-Unbelievably light
-Ultra small packed size
-Great comfort for those who sleep on their backs

CONS:
-Expensive
-Not as comfortable for side sleepers

With all the above said, I would DEFINITELY RECOMMEND this to anyone who sleeps on their back and is looking for an awesome pad, that is light weight, small, and comfortable…


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Aug 14, 2015 - 12:40pm
Nkofahl · Climber · Albuquerque
I am actually reviewing the insulated ultralight version. It is essentially identical to this pad, but slightly heavier (and warmer).

I tried really hard to love this pad, but ultimately replaced it.

The good;
This pad has probably the best valve on the market. It is a really slick design that is easy to inflate and deflates much better than the competitor's twist valves. Packing up this pad is much quicker than the pads with twist valves because of how quickly it deflates.

This pad also is super stable. I love that the little air pockets are somewhat independent of each other, so you don't feel like you bounce when your feet move and you don't feel like the edges are going to collapse when you roll towards them.

This pad is comfortable (if you sleep on your back). The insulated version is pretty warm and does a great job of keeping you off roots, rock, etc under your tent.

The Bad;

The only reason I returned this pad was because I sleep on my sides quite a bit. With this pad, it wasn't uncommon for my hip bone to fall into one of the little divots and hit the ground through the pad. If I was laying just right, and the pad was inflated really firmly, it would keep me off the ground, but i couldn't always get conditions "just right" to make this comfortable while sleeping on my side.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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