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Sea to Summit UltraLight Review

Lightweight and portable, this pad is ideal for three season extended backpacking trips
Sea to Summit UltraLight
Photo: Sea to Summit
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Price:  $110 List | Check Price at REI
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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
Manufacturer:   Sea to Summit
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 18, 2020
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61
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 13
  • Comfort - 30% 6
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 9
  • Warmth - 20% 1
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

The Sea to Summit UltraLight utilizes the company's new Air Sprung Cell design and is an excellent choice for warm-weather trips. This pad is super lightweight and packs down to the size of a couple of 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. The UltraLight has many of the same features as the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated, which weighs eight ounces more and costs more, but is much warmer.

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Pros Lightweight, ultra packable, design feels more stable than other air construction designs, best air valveLightweight, good for three season use, packs small, comfortableGreat value, wide, reasonably lightInexpensive, lightweight, great insulation adjunctLightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplement
Cons Not warm, dimples get dirty, not as plush as other designsLightweight material isn't very durableLow R-value, thinner than someBulky, loses suppleness over timeBreaks down over time, dimples gather dirt and moisture
Bottom Line Lightweight and portable, this pad is ideal for three season extended backpacking tripsA great three-season pad that doesn't weigh you down or sacrifice comfortOne of the best values in sleeping pads in a light and compact packageIf sleeping on ultra-firm surfaces doesn't keep you up at night this is a solid option that won't popAn effective sleeping pad that offers decent three season warmth in a very lightweight package
Rating Categories Sea to Summit Ultra... Q-Core SLX Insulated Klymit Static V2 NEMO Switchback Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...
Comfort (30%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
2.0
1.0
Weight And Packed Size (30%)
9.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
1.0
6.0
2.0
4.0
4.0
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
10.0
10.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
10.0
10.0
Specs Sea to Summit Ultra... Q-Core SLX Insulated Klymit Static V2 NEMO Switchback Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...
Weight 12.5 oz 22.2 oz 17.5 oz 14.5 oz 14 oz
Thickness 2 in 3.25 in 2.5 in 0.9 in 0.75 in
Claimed R Value 0.7 3.5 1.3 2 2.6
Length 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in
Width 20 in 20 in 23 in 20 in 20 in
Packed Volume (L) 0.8 L 1.5 L 0.9 L 8.9 L 1.8 L
Breaths to Inflate 15-19 15-20 12-14 0 0
Type Air Construction/AirSprung Cells Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation Air Construction Closed-cell foam Closed-cell foam

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.

Performance Comparison


We carried more pads than we needed into the backcountry so that we...
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.
Photo: Jeremy Bauman

Comfort


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.

The Sea to Summit pads have a dot welded construction that makes...
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.
Photo: Jeremy Bauman

Weight


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.

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

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 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.

Turn that grass into a plush cloud! This pad works really well when...
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.
Photo: Jeremy Bauman

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...
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.
Photo: Jeremy Bauman

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 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.

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

We used the UltraLight as much as possible during our two months of...
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.
Photo: Jeremy Bauman

Brian Martin