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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.