Goldilocks and the Six Sleeping Pads
It’s November and fall has finally arrived in East Tennessee. That means I have been itching to get outside, and try to sneak hikes or even overnight trips into my busy schedule. Last week Isaac and I hiked up to the fire tower on top of Chilhowee Mountain in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s just a 15- minute drive from our home, up a treacherous mountain road to Foothills Parkway, a famous scenic route through the park.
Unfortunately, we’ve run into a dilemma.
I have had a bear of a time finding the sleeping pad that is just right (sorry, not sorry). In the past three months I’ve tried six different sleeping pads. Six. As of right now, I still don’t have a pad that I like. I’ve been using a $7 blue foam pad from Walmart, which I briefly mentioned in my last post. It’s not much better than sleeping on the ground. Not having a sleeping pad means that our backpacking trips have been put on a temporary hold, and we can’t take advantage of the perfect weather.
Sleeping Pad Failures
- Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol (Short)
- Klymit Insulated Static V
- Klymit Static V2
- Klymit Static V junior
- Walmart Foam Pad
- Klymit Static V
My sleeping pad journey started with a Z-Lite Sol, which I purchased from REI almost a year ago. Before then, I had been borrowing random sleeping pads from friends. The Z-Lite is a classic, and I liked the easy setup and lightness of it. But after a three-night backing trip at Panthertown Valley over Labor Day, my back told me that we needed an upgrade.
I did some research and decided that this pad seemed like a good choice. I had not bought my new five-degree sleeping bag yet, and because I am generally a cold sleeper I decided to go with a pad that had a high R-value (check this link to learn about R-values). The Insulated Static V has an R-value of 4.4, which is pretty good. I ordered directly from Klymit, and got the pad in a little under a week. It was comfortable, but the large size caused me to return it. When rolled up and put into the stuff sack, the Insulated V was about four inches by six inches. That’s just a bit larger than a standard Nalgene bottle. This plus the fact that it weighs over a pound led me to decide I wanted something significantly more compact.
Next I purchased the Static V2. I decided to stick with Klymit because I really like the combination of reasonable prices and great design that the brand offers. I did, however, order through Amazon because I found a better deal there. The V2 was great, and I would have kept it if it wasn’t for one fatal flaw… It was really crinkly! Isaac used this pad on a trip with his friends and told me that if I brought it on the AT he’d probably kill me. Obviously, the pad had to go. I returned it to Amazon and kept looking.
After I bought my Zpacks five-degree sleeping bag, I thought that maybe I didn’t need much insulation. Klymit pads are a bit long for me, and I sleep with my feet on my pack, anyway. It seemed logical to go with a shorter pad, so I tried out the Static V Junior. This pad is probably my second least favorite, behind the crappy blue foam pad from Walmart. The Junior would probably be a good summer pad if Klymit had stuck to its usual valve. Unfortunately, this pad has a valve on each side of the pad, with one to inflate and one to deflate. I found this awkward and the pad I received did not hold air. I also found that my feet were cold in even in my very warm sleeping bag with my feet on my pack.
No. Just no.
After all of these failures, I decided to go with the original. Isaac uses a regular Static V and it has done exceptionally well. It’s made of 75 denier polyester, so the pad’s durability is far superior to most others on the market. The valve is fairly intuitive and Isaac’s has never lost air. I ordered one from Amazon for a little cheaper than they are on the Klymit website, in this discontinued camo color (it was the cheapest option). Unfortunately, on both of the nights that I used the pad it lost a significant amount of air. I woke up entirely on the ground on the second morning and decided that it was definitely not working. I contacted Klymit and they have agreed to send me a new Static V.
Hopefully, the new Static V will be the answer to all of my prayers. I’ll keep y’all updated. Until then, happy hiking.
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