Sleeping pads come in all shapes and sizes and many have very polarized opinions on what works best for them. For me, I’m fortunate because I find more comfort in CCF pads than just about anything else which allows me to save some money and weight while gaining a product nearly indestructible and very thermally efficient. I think my only gripe is that they simply don’t pack small which is actually a pretty big irritant.
For three-season hiking, my preference is for the CCF pads by Gossamer Gear. There simply isn’t anything lighter that gets the job done as effectively. As it gets colder, instead of adding another CCF or bringing something like BPL’s Torsolite which I find laughably small, I elect to use the Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest (torso-size of course). For a nominal gain in weight from the Gossamer Gear pads, I get an R-value at 2.6 which is really the best bang for the weight and size. The Ridgerest Deluxe comes in at at R-Value of 3.1 which is perfect for snow camping.
Well, as released during the 2010 Outdoor Retailer show, Therm-a-Rest is smartly using a technology which made their NeoAir inflatable mattress so infamous in 2009 – a reflective "radiant barrier" layer which will reflect the users body heat back to them thereby keeping them warmer. This is the same principal used in the New Balance Fugu jacket I mentioned earlier this month. If I were a betting man, I'd buy stock in this technology as I fully expect for it to make its way into clothing options at all levels for outdoorsman. After all, why not add a simple no-weight barrier to boost the warmth of anything. It could even be put inside a tent to absorb heat on one side and reflect it on the other...imagine that...a "warm" tent at no appreciable weight gain. How great would that be? Stevenson's Warmlite as been marketing that for years. Think long and hard about this wonderful advance in technology folks...
In July 2010, the RidgeRest and the bigger RidgeRest Deluxe will both be treated with an aluminized surface which will increase the R-value significantly. For example, in the Deluxe it will be increased from 3.1 to 3.5 with no weight gain. This is 13% warmer than previous versions and represents a significant leap and intelligent use of technology to offer you and I a better night of sleep on cold nights and on cooler surfaces.
This is one of those purchases for me which will be a no brainer. The regular size (20”x72”) will come in at 1lb 3 oz at $40 and the large version (25” x 77”) will come in at 1lb 10 oz for $55. Course, cutting them to size will make them anywhere from 7-16 oz for the average person, an industry-leading weight for a great ground insulating product.