air mattress reviews

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra air mattress.

Review: Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra
$100, 1 lb. 6 oz. (regular, with stuff sack)
Sizes: petite ($90, 66x20x3.5 ins.), regular (72x20x3.5 ins.), long ($110, 78x20x3.5 ins.), wide regular ($130, 72x25x3.5 ins.)
backcountry.com

The ultimate measure of an air mattress comes at the moment when my family discovers it—and when my wife and kids saw the new Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Ultra, they all wanted to sleep on it. I used this air mat for two nights backpacking in the Panamint Range of Death Valley National Park in May, and I (reluctantly) shared it with my family while camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve and on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument, and I haven’t found an air mat for backpacking that’s more comfortable and this compact.

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Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV Air Mattress

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV air mattress.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV
$180, 1 lb. (regular, with stuff sack)
Sizes: regular (72x20x2.5 ins.) and large ($210, 77x25x2.5 ins.)
moosejaw.com

Who enjoys blowing up an air mattress? At the end of a full day of backpacking, it always seems to take more breaths than you have left in reserve. Therm-a-Rest solves this problem with its SpeedValve, a large, fabric tunnel that draws in surrounding air when you blow into it, making the inflation process significantly faster and easier. After using the lightweight and compact Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite MAX SV on family backpacking trips in Utah’s Dirty Devil River canyon and while car-camping in southern Utah in late March, backpacking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains in August, and on an 80-mile, five-day backpacking trip in the North Cascades National Park Complex in the last week of September, and my 15-year-old son sleeping on it for three nights on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip through Lodore Canyon in Dinosaur National Monument, I give it high scores for comfort and convenience.

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Near high base camp below Mount Whitney's East Face.

Review: Gear For Climbing Mount Whitney

By Michael Lanza

For our spring ascent of the Mountaineers Route on California’s 14,505-foot Mount Whitney—highest peak in the Lower 48—my 15-year-old son (in lead photo, above, approaching our high camp below Whitney’s East Face) and I used technical gear that you would use on many classic snow and glacier routes up peaks from Cascade Range volcanoes like Shasta, Hood, and Rainier to Mount Olympus, the Tetons, and the Alps. Here are my from-the-mountain observations about the gear that got us up and down Whitney, including backpacks, a mountaineering tent and boots, climbing hardware, super warm sleeping systems, and technical apparel.

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Gear Review: Exped SynMat Hyperlite Air Mattress

Exped SynMat Hyperlite with Schnozzel Pumpbag UL.
Exped SynMat Hyperlite with Schnozzel Pumpbag UL.

Insulated Air Mattress
Exped SynMat Hyperlite
$169, 14 oz. (medium, including stuff sack)
Sizes:
Medium (72×20.5×2.8 ins., packed size 3.5×7.5 ins.)
Medium wide ($179, 72×25.6×2.8 ins., packed size 4×7.5 ins.)
Long wide ($189, 77.6×25.6×2.8 ins., packed size 4×8 ins.)
moosejaw.com

How light and compact can an air mattress get and still deliver a comfortable night’s sleep on the ground? Under a pound for a full-length, insulated air mat, I discovered after using the SynMat Hyperlite on backpacking trips on the 34-mile Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon, the 41-mile Timberline Trail around Mount Hood, the 34-mile Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park, and a weekend of camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve.

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Gear Review: Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air Mattress

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air Mattress
Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air Mattress

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.)
moosejaw.com

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.

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