sleeping pad reviews

A young boy the morning after sleeping under the stars at Precipice Lake, 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.

Read on10 Pro Tips For Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite air mattress.

Gear 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.

Read onGear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Air Mattress

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.

Read onGear Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

A backpacker on the Tonto Trail on the Grand Canyon's Royal Arch Loop.

Ask Me: What ‘Luxury’ Backpacking Gear Do You Carry?

[Note: I received the two similar, reader questions below about choosing which “luxury” items, like camp chairs and sandals, to carry when backpacking—ML]

Michael,

I really enjoy your reviews and articles. I’m 52 and enjoy backpacking in the Southern Appalachians, typically 10 to 15 miles a day, and head out around eight times a year. I carry around 20 pounds in my Osprey Exos 58. I have the EMS Velocity 1 tent, Thermarest NeoAir all season air mattress, MSR PocketRocket with Titan Kettle, and The North Face Gold Kazoo bag. So I travel pretty light.

I currently use the Therm-a-rest Z Seat Pad, but have been considering stepping up to the Crazy Creek Hex 2.0 Original Camp Chair weighing in at 21 oz. Do you think it would be worth the extra weight to go with the chair? At the end of the day it sure would be nice to kick back in it rather than leaning against a tree or rock while sitting on the Z pad.

Best regards,
Pete
Charlotte, NC

Read onAsk Me: What ‘Luxury’ Backpacking Gear Do You Carry?

Gear Review: Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Air Mattress

Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL
$120, 1 lb.
One size
klymit.com

Air mattresses for backpacking vary significantly in a few ways: comfort, price, weight, and packed bulk—and you often pay more for better comfort or low weight and bulk. But the Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL bends that rule. So I took this relatively affordable air mat on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, and camping in Idaho’s City of Rocks in spring, to see whether sleeping on it proves as sweet as its price.

Read onGear Review: Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Air Mattress