Sea to Summit UltraLight Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers 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
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Sea to Summit UltraLight
|Price||$109.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Lightweight, ultra packable, design feels more stable than other air construction designs, best air valve||Superior warmth, small packed size, light||Lightweight, warm for the weight, packs small, comfortable, versatile||Comfortable, dual air chambers are redundant, quiet, warm, stable, and supportive||Lightweight, good for three season use, packs small, comfortable|
|Cons||Not warm, dimples get dirty, not as plush as other designs||Narrow, expensive||Expensive, edges not as stable as other pad designs||Heavy, expensive||Lightweight material isn't very durable|
|Bottom Line||Super lightweight and packing up small, this model is an ultralight option when warmth isn't an issue||With a warmth to weight ratio that is off the charts, this is one of our favorite pads of all time||A comfortable, lightweight, and versatile sleeping pad that has withstood the test of time||Ideal for folks who think sleeping pads cannot provide mega comfort; prove them wrong||Ready for all adventures, this versatile model doesn't disappoint|
|Rating Categories||Sea to Summit UltraLight||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite||Comfort Plus Insulated||Q-Core SLX Insulated|
|Weight And Packed Size (30%)|
|Ease Of Inflation (10%)|
|Specs||Sea to Summit...||Therm-a-Rest...||Therm-a-Rest...||Comfort Plus...||Q-Core SLX Insulated|
|Weight||12.5 oz||18.2 oz||16 oz||25.5 oz||22.2 oz|
|Thickness||2 in||2.5 in||2.5 in||2.5 in||3.25 in|
|Claimed R Value||0.7||6.9||4.2||5||3.5|
|Length||72 in||72 in||72 in||72 in||72 in|
|Packed Volume (L)||0.8 L||1.8 L||1.8 L||3.1 L||1.5 L|
|Width||20 in||20 in||20 in||21.5 in||20 in|
|Breaths to Inflate||15-19||15-20||15-20||25-30||15-20|
|Type||Air Construction/AirSprung Cells||Air Construction/Baffled Insulation||Air Construction/Baffled Insulation||Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation||Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation|
Our Analysis and Test Results
For the price, 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.
Fully inflated, the 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 unique design for these pads, as 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 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 for 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.
At just 12.5 ounces for the Regular, this was one of the lightest pads in this updated review, next to the Therm-a-Rest XLight, which costs 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 it for the first time, we were surprised at 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 ounces. 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.
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 best suited for summer use. 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 three ounces more.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
The Sea to Summit UltraLight is an excellent lightweight sleeping pad for those wanting an option that's 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.
— Brian Martin