Reviews You Can Rely On

How We Tested Sleeping Pad for Women

By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor
Friday June 11, 2021

Our test team included a host of hardcore ladies and a few gentlemen who put these pads to the test all over the country while on climbing trips in the Alaska Range, thru-hiking the entire Pacific Crest Trail, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim, and backpacking portions of the Sierra High Route and John Muir Trail. This gave us ample opportunity to test these pads in all kinds of conditions, from snowy slopes to hard granite slabs to prickly desert landscapes. After hours of exploring, relaxing, and socializing, we assessed each product based on six different metrics that we choose carefully.

This is a very comfortable and warms sleeping pad, but too heavy to...
This is a very comfortable and warms sleeping pad, but too heavy to carry on extended trips.

Warmth


We spent most of our time testing during the Spring, Fall, and Summer, but also did the work to sleep on each during the coldest of seasons. After sleeping out, we were able to determine where we felt cold or warm, and where less insulation was noted. We also look at the construction of each to see where each is reinforced with more (or less) material.

The NeoAir XLite will keep you warm and cozy, especially when paired...
The NeoAir XLite will keep you warm and cozy, especially when paired with a warm sleeping bag.
Photo: Ian McEleney


Comfort


We did a lot of sleeping, lounging, and reading on these pads. Ultimately, the ones that we reached for to set up on the grass, over sandy desert terrain, and on most of our trips, were those that felt the most comfortable. We also noted if each made a sound with movement, and which felt the closest to our mattresses at home.

The three Sea to Summit mats we tested. From bottom to top: Comfort...
The three Sea to Summit mats we tested. From bottom to top: Comfort Plus, Ether Light XT, and Ultralight Insulated. For how much slimmer the Ultralight is, it only weighs 0.4 ounces less than the Ether.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Durability


We set each up in tents and on different surfaces. We rolled them up, tossed them around, and even let our dog tromp around on em' when fully inflated. We also assessed the materials of each, the seams, and the inflation mechanism for longevity.

Our furry friend helped us test the ProLite Plus' durability.
Our furry friend helped us test the ProLite Plus' durability.
Photo: Jessica Haist


Weight


Simple! We weighed each pad to see how many extra ounces it'll add to your backpacking set-up. We also took into account included accessories like pump and stuff sacks.

Our testing fleet. The REI Trekker (previously tested) and Sea to...
Our testing fleet. The REI Trekker (previously tested) and Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI had the largest packed size and the NeoAir has the smallest.
Photo: Jessica Haist

Packed Size


After rolling each up, we determine how much room it takes up in our packs. This information is critical for those that appreciate a super packable and ultralight set-up. We also note which are the bulkiest and are best left in the car.

The AirRail Plus does not come with any kind of inflation sack, but...
The AirRail Plus does not come with any kind of inflation sack, but it is mostly self-inflating and has a one-way valve. It usually needs a few more breaths to be fully inflated.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Inflation Method & Accessories


We evaluate the inflation method. Is it actually "self-inflating" or do you need to dizzily blow into the mat to get it fully inflated. We also note any extra features or pumps that it comes with here.

Although it is a "self-inflating" model you still need to put a few...
Although it is a "self-inflating" model you still need to put a few breaths into the ProLite Plus.
Photo: Ian McEleney