air mattress reviews

A young boy in a sleeping bag while backpacking in Sequoia National Park.

10 Pro Tips For Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag

By Michael Lanza

Head into the mountains in summer, or almost anywhere in fall or spring, and you can encounter nighttime and morning temperatures anywhere from the 40s Fahrenheit to well below freezing. That’s more than cold enough to pose a real risk of hypothermia or, at the least, result in a miserable night for you or a partner or child you’ve taken backpacking or camping—and would like to take more. Here’s the good news: The very simple techniques outlined in this article can turn a potentially unpleasant night into a comfortable one.

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Backpackers on the South Kaibab Trail in the Grand Canyon.

The Best Backpacking Gear of 2021

By Michael Lanza

The Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Wonderland Trail. The Teton Crest Trail. Yosemite. The Grand Canyon. Glacier National Park. The Ruby Crest Trail. Yellowstone. The Wind River Range. The North Cascades. Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. The High Uintas Wilderness. The Tour du Mont Blanc. These are just some of the numerous places where I’ve tested the backpacking gear you see reviewed at The Big Outside. I treat gear roughly in places that are hard on outdoor gear and apparel so that I can give you brutally honest and thorough, field-tested opinions that help you make the best gear choices for your adventures.

And that’s exactly how I came up with these picks for today’s best backpacking gear.

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Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Mattress

Review: Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Mattress $180, 17.3 oz. (regular) Sizes: five unisex and two women’s-specific sizes backcountry.com What makes us sleep well in the backcountry? I contemplated that question after numerous, very peaceful nights of deep slumber on a river trip and three backpacking trips. Certainly, the deep quiet and being outdoors matter. …

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite air mattress.

Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
$195, 9 oz. (regular, 20×72 inches, in its stuff sack)
Sizes: small (20×47 ins., $140), regular (20×72 ins.), large (25×77 ins., $210)
backcountry.com

As I was loading my backpack at the start of a six-day, 74-mile backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, I smiled as I held the stuffed Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite air mattress in my hand; call me a gear geek, but unusually small ultralight backpacking gear just has that effect on me. One of my hiking mates glanced over and said, “Is that your air mattress?!” Yea, it’s that tiny. And if you’re serious about reducing your pack weight—as any backpacker should be—you should be taking a serious look at the NeoAir Uberlite. Here’s why.

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Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress
$180, 20×72 inches rectangular, 13 oz. (including its stuff sack)
Sizes: 20×66, 20×72, 25×72, and 25×78 inches rectangular and 20×72 mummy
moosejaw.com

As air mattresses have continued getting lighter, more compact, and more comfortable, one would think a limit has been reached on how small they can get before sacrificing real comfort. But Big Agnes has raised that bar again—or lowered it, if you will—with the AXL Air. For four nights backpacking the Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop off the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in May, and several spring nights camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I slept like a baby on this plush air mattress, while it all but disappeared inside my pack on the trail. I’ve tested and own many air mats, and I don’t think there’s another I’d now carry instead for three-season backpacking. Here’s why.

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