Insulated Air Mattress
Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air Mattress
$170, 1 lb. 5 oz. (regular, including stuff sack)
Sizes: small (66×21.5×2.5 ins., $170, 1 lb. 4 oz., packed size 5×9 ins.), regular 72×21.5×2.5 ins., packed size 4.5×9 ins.), large (79x25x2.5 ins., $190, 1 lb. 9 oz., packed size 4.5×10 ins.)
I like to hike long days when I backpack, so I want the lightest gear that does the job. But I also like a comfortable air mat to sleep on after a 20-mile day. Those objectives of comfort and low weight sometimes conflict. But on a four-day, 86-mile backpacking trip in northern Yosemite National Park in September, I slept just about as well as I do in my bed at home on a Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated air mat, which weighs under a pound and a half and packs down to about one-and-a-half times the size of a liter bottle.
While just as thick—two-and-a-half inches—as the cushiest backcountry air mats on the market today, the Comfort Light feels exceptionally plush because of what you can’t see inside it. It employs a matrix of 324 (in the small) to 396 (in the large) air cells that move independently to conform to your body’s shape without affecting adjacent cells. Translated to backpacker-speak, that means you don’t flatten out spots under, say, your hipbones or shoulders. The Comfort Light uses a hybrid design of dual-layer construction in the torso to maximize comfort and insulation value and single-layer construction in the head and legs to minimize weight. Thermolite synthetic insulation has an R-value of 4.2 (Sea to Summit says that rating comes from an independent lab), making it good for three-season camping.
The air mat has two, one-way valves, one of which deflates it instantly, the other for inflating the air mat by blowing into the valve or using either a Jet Stream Pump Sack or, even better, a Sea to Summit Air Stream Dry Sack, a 35-liter, seam-sealed, roll-top dry bag: Fill the air mat by blowing one big breath of air into the sack, attaching it to the air mat’s inflate valve, and compressing the sack to push air into the mat. Repeating this two to three times fills the air mat, making it firm, in a few minutes. The shell material, 40-denier TPU laminated nylon, compares with other high-end, backpacking air mats, and is tougher than the 30-denier fabric used on some ultralight air mats.
While I’ll still choose my own bed over an air mat when I’m at home, Sea to Summit’s Comfort Light assures me restful nights when I’m pounding out long days on the trail.
See my other reviews of backpacking air matresses that I like and all my reviews of backpacking gear. See also my related Pro Tips articles “Pro Tips: How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “10 Pro Tips: Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.