sleeping pad

OutdoorsmanLab Ultralight Sleeping Pad

I bought the Ultralight Sleeping Pad by Outdoorsman Lab for cycling across the United States. There were 4 reasons why I choose this particular pad, 2 properties which I can stay with, and 4 reasons why I’m sending it back.

Why I choose it

#1 Red color. Not self-inflating

Never ever I would buy self inflated stuff for traveling. The problem is, if you even manage to deflate it, it takes much more time to squeeze and pack it. Any second you take a break while squeezing (yeah, this job is exhausting, you need to be strong to deflate self-inflating pad), your pad will try to inflate back.

It’s not a problem to take a few deep breaths and inflate a pad in a minute.

#2 Built-in pillow

Many carry air pillow in their backpacks, but not me. My backpack on Appalachian Trail through-hike was 17 lb (7.7 kg) including food and 2L of water, so no space for stupid pillow. Also there is a well-known challenge to stay on your pad during the night and not next to it. Sliding pillow would duplicate the trouble.

Built-in pillow can bring a real comfort to tenting without extra costs, weight, and room.

#3  Cellular surface

I often find myself in the morning not on the pad, but next to it. It happens all the time with striped mattress, if stripes are widthwise.  If stripes are lengthwise, I can’t sleep on my back with bending legs as they just slide and straighten out.

I believe that cellular surface prevents sliding from the pad to the ground.

#4 Price $38.97

This price is good for the inflated pad of 22.6 oz (0.64 kg).

What I can stay with

#1 No insulation

I probably can stay with no insulation because I don’t tent when temperature is below 40F. I didn’t try yet as my pads always were insulated.

#2 Weight

22.6 oz is not heavy, but not ultralight at all, if to compare with, for example, Term-a-rest pads. It’s just compromise to not paying over $100.

Why I’m sending it back

#1 It’s very soft even when fully inflated

It means I will sleep on the ground

#2 The pillow is in the same level with pad

The pillow is not separated section of the pad, so you blow them together from one spot. The head puts enough pressure to blow the air out of the pillow to the entire pad by the law of communicating vessels, so the pillow doesn’t fulfil its role.

#3 The pump

Even if pump could be fixed and start working, I want to keep everything as simple as possible. No ways I can pump it inside my tiny tent, where I hardly can even sit. To avoid punctures, I can’t pump it in the ground either. I never set my tent barefoot, and I don’t want my dirty shoes to pump the pad. Usually the weather conditions and the kind of a surface are far from being ideal, and the best option is when the pad is hanging from your mouth while you are blowing it.

#4 Too big

As mentioned in #3, the best option is when the pad is hanging from your mouth while you are blowing it. On that reason it’s difficult to manage the pad, if it’s longer then you.

My pad is 77 inches. and 12 extra inches is a pain. Amazon didn’t give me the length options which are on the company website. Even if it did, it won’t help, as it still would be t inches extra. The length of 47 won’t be enough, as on my experience, the pad should not be shorter then you.

I hope this review will help not only hikers and cyclists in their choice, but also outdoor companies to improve their gear.

Lena Faber used to work as a journalist at a mainstream Russian newspaper, she wrote books for a major publishing house, and directed her original concept on Drive TV in Russia. In 2009, she moved to South Africa and taught at the University of SA, where she took up running competitively and won a silver medal at the World Masters Athletic Championship. She has also won an international photo contest and had a photo exhibition of her work. In 2014 she decided to try fast long-distance hiking and started with the Appalachian Trail where she earned a trail name "Brave" from other hikers. She has also cycled US Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, as well as other parts of the world. Still hiking and cycling somewhere.