View Full Version : Pad Research...

02-14-2003, 11:54
Ok, I love my 3.5lb Self Inflater, but I can't see myself hauling it on a mulkti-week trip when it comes to my Long Trail Thru-Hike this summer/fall. It's also 1/4 of my dry pack weight. I've decided to do some serious looking into pad use/philosophy. If in the end Its the only comfortable pad for a good nights rest, I will be taking it. But I'd like a lighter weight option if possible. It's still my main pad for my routine weekend excursions tough.

I sleep on my back and stomach. Never my sides, so I tried sleeping on various pads in my collection and seeing where stress points were, and ways to eliminate these. Two of these pads I got for free with purchases.

Here are the pads I've tested...

Therm-A-Rest Ridge Rest 25 Closed Cell Foam Pad
Therm-A-Rest Z-Rest Full Length Closed Cell Foam Pad
Therm-A-Rest UltraLite Self Inflating Mattress
Therm-A-Rest Discovery Exporer 3/4 Length Self Inflating Mattress
Therm-A-Rest LE Camp Rest Self Inflating Mattress
Walmart "Generic Blue" Closed Cell Foam Pad

I noticed with the Ultralite self inflator, and the closed cell foam pads, that I developed stress points at my sternum when sleeping on my stomach, and at my tailbone when sleeping on my back. In addition the back of my head got sore. Due to the height (1.5") of the 3/4 length explorer, I found that when I slept on my back with my legs straight out, I developed some mild soreness in my knees. Similar to when you sit on the couch with your heels on the coffee table for too long. It goes away after an hour or so of walking, but a thorn nonetheless. I have broad shoulders, so my arms rest on the ground with all these pads. The 25" wide pads (Camp Rest and RR25) supported my arms only when rigid against my body. When relaxed my elbows rest on the ground. However I've discovered that when I wrap my temporary blanket (unzipped TNF Blue Kazoo) under my elbows, this is not a problem, and that a 20" wide pad will work just as well as a 25" pad because of this. This saves me weight off the bat. I am 6'1, and most pads are 6' long. I was duped into a 6'6" long pad because of this. Otherwise my heels or end of my head played paper rock scissors.

Ever since I purchased the Z-Rest, I was hooked on it's design, and easy packability. It required no repairs, and felt nice next to the skin. However, I'm 225lbs, and I crush the pad flat generating pressure points at the above mentioned areas. Recently a friend borrowed it, and I saw him folding it in half and using it as a chair. Duh! I was so excited that night I slept on it as a 1/2 length version. No tailbone pressure points anymore, and the sternum pressure point was radically reduced when on my stomach. It was also thin enough to negate any stress developing in my knees. Only problem is with my head, because it sticks all the way off the pad in order to support my tailbone.

Which brings me to my next experiment. I'm going to get another Z-Rest, and shorten both of them by 5 sections. When stacked, they will give me the support I need beneath my head and tailbone, and give me the benefits of the Z-Rest construction. I'm also going to take along my 6oz Therm-A-Rest pillow.

Here are my weight estimates.

Standard 14 section Z-rest weighs 15oz.
Two 9 Section Z-Rests will weigh ~19oz.
+ My therm A Rest Pillow 6oz.

Not too bad. I've just dropped 2lb from my baseweight, and gained a much more efficient pad system. Although not as comfy as my Camp Rest, it is sufficiently comfortable for me to sleep well, which is an extremely high priority on my list.

02-14-2003, 14:11
Ever tried sleeping in a hip-hole? It an old time technique (definitely not LNT) of scooping a shallow depression in the dirt under your hips so that your spine can follow a more natural curve while you sleep. Recently saw a suggestion to duplicate this with pads by putting extra layers of pad under the small of your back so that the full arch of your back is supported. Seems counter-intuitive to put extra padding away from the pressure points, but I suspect it would work.

02-14-2003, 14:52
I have been thinking about doing something like that with 2 closed cell pads ,use one pad to insulate the ground then on top of that put another pad or just a section of another pad and cut a hole in the top pad where my hip usually is. I cant sleep on my back or stomach and as luck would have it ive been cursed with bony hips so i think this might work.it could also be done with a closed cell on top of a self inflater. Only problem I see with this is the bulk. Streamweaver

02-14-2003, 16:27
Another option I was considering was to use a full length Z-Rest with a full length Big Agnes Air-Core Air Mattress. That would effectively give you over 3.5" of cushioning for just over 2lb. You need the Z-Rest because the Air Core has nothing inside it, and will keep you warm to only 40*F. The Z-Rest will give you some insulation and protect the Air Mattress. This is my backup plan incase the double Z-Rest plan doesnt workout afterall. I'll still save a pound+ over the use of my anchor weight Camp Rest pad.

I ordered the other Z-Rest today from CampMor. I'll give an update once I try this new pad system out...

02-15-2003, 09:22
You probably aready know about this, but at some point it might make sense to look at Stephenson's DAM (down air mattress) that costs around $150 (?) and requires the use of a 'pump sack' (about 3 to 5 minutes?). Everything I recall reading about it points out its warmth, comfort and reasonable weight. They come it different dimensions, so they probably have a size to fit you. www.warmlite.com is the web site.


P.S. I have just about talked myself into looking at them again...I know I have spent more than $150 trying to find a low cost, low weight and small volume solution for cold weather hammocking.

02-15-2003, 10:32
I looked at stephensons awhile back myself but I ran across a few rather unpleasant accounts of customer service problems. I also took a closer look at their web page and was a bit put off by the overall attitude displayed.Calling certain people morons on a commercial website isnt what I would consider good public relations.

While I am not privy to the whole situation and for all I know they are a decent company, but these things do raise a red flag in my mind. :confused:

02-15-2003, 10:38
Hey RH,

Just my 2 cents on what works for me after lots of expermenting.
I sleep on my sides, so this may not work for you....I use a 3/4
long Z-rest most of the time (10.9 oz); it doubles as my pack support (G-4) and a chair in camp/shelter and to use at lunch on rocks like Long Creek Falls. I also use my G-4 stuffed with extra clothes stuffed under my lower legs..eliminates knee pain and creates warmth for my feet.

During real cold weather I also carry my 3/4 long Ultralite (16oz)
to provide additional insulation. I also, have experienced a problem with pressure against the hip bones (sleeping on my sides) and I have learned to deflate the pad some to relieve the pressure but still have my Z-rest providing support under the 1/2 inflated pad.

If this could work for you...not sure?...it could bring you down to 1lb. 11 oz max for your system and provide more versatility.

02-15-2003, 10:58
I also thought of using a Therm-A-Rest pad with the Z-Rest, but I don't need any foam insulation in the air mattress because the Z-Rest provides me that. Thus an un-insulated air mattress like those made by Big Agnes does the trick, with more thickness, and rolls to the size of a water bottle. However, I still like the no-maintenance easy folding design of the Z-Rest, and hope I can make a dual stacked system work. If not, I'll be going with the Big Agnes Air Pad on top of a Z-Rest. It will weigh me down an extra pound, but still save me a pound+ over hauling my Cap Rest Pad.

03-11-2003, 14:42
Hamster, I weigh 220lbs, and was looking for a pad that would make the Thru without costing as much as Thermarest, or weighing as much as one big enough for me would. I found the Slumberjack Denali Regular to be perfect. It weighs a little over 2lbs, and inflates in well under a minute. Its dimensions are 1.5" x22"x80" I think. Its big and comfy enough for my 6' 220lb frame and it rolls up to 5". Hope this helps.:D

03-11-2003, 14:52
You may want to take into account that after a couple of weeks (or less), you will adjust to sleeping on the ground with just a single, 3/4 length (or shorter) closed cell pad. The first few nights are not super comfortable but, I've found, after about a week, or a little more, I sleep perfectly soundly. I do wake up several times, but that is due more to noises in the forest and not to discomfort. Of course, some people have differently shaped skeleta. Or, previous histories of back or hip, etc, problems. But, assuming I am a fairly normal hiker, by the time I got out of Georgia, I was sleeping well. For reference, I was 225 lbs when I did my section last spring and using a 3/4 ridgerest.

03-12-2003, 10:55
What works better for padding, z-rest or ridge rest? I too weigh in around 230 and was thinking of ridge rest (14oz) and a ultra light 3/4 thermarest for on top (16oz) Would like to drop a pound but I want to be warm and somewhat comfy.

03-12-2003, 11:57
I've found the ridgerest to be slightly more comfortable in addition to weighing (slightly) less than the Z-rest. I've spent many, many nights on a Z-rest and about 30 on a ridgerest. However, my new pack uses a Z-rest as a partial frame, so I am taking that with me on the PCT. The Z-rest was comfortable enough (barely) when I was a heavier 280.

Even on snow, I've found that a Z-rest (and so probably also a ridgerest) has more than enough insulation to keep the chill from the ground off me. Even camped directly on snow (which, though, is a fairly decent insulator) or on hard, frozen ground.

Of course, what works for me might not work for others. It might be best to start with a single foam pad (Z or ridge or other), with a thermarest (if you already have it), waiting in bounce box or at home ready to be mailed out. If you do not already have a thermarest, there are enough outfitters along the way to pick one up if the foam isn't cutting it.

03-12-2003, 12:03
My RR25 is still too thin by itself. Rolled up it's also almost the size of my entire pack. I can't imagine carrying two of them for the padding I need. The two 10 section Z-Rests I use now work excellent. I use one for a packframe/backpad and the other strapped below my pack provides a great chair without pulling everything from my pack. I can fold both of them up and pack them in under 10 seconds. Waterproof, doesn't deflate when punctured (no patch kits needed), and takes up very little room. Very lightweight too.

I still love my 3.5lb Camp Rest though...

03-12-2003, 20:59
Dirtyoldman....I've also looked at the Stephensons warmlite.com web site but didn't see the reference to "moron". Maybe they changed that or I could have missed it. I'm also interested in the D.A.M. to replace my closed cell. I'm not 200 + lbs but my OLD bones need some comfort! :D

03-13-2003, 05:56
As I understand it the person responsible for the claimed incidents was put in the back room and no longer handles customer service. The whole matter could have just been sour grapes for all I know. Its hard to tell a legit gripe from ax grinding when your dealing with the web.

I was looking at it more from the warmth aspect rather then comfort although it does seem to have both from the reviews I found.

03-13-2003, 19:38
I know exactly what your talking about..the Web and 2 nd hand info. As I'm a very cold sleeper the main thing I was interested in was the insulation value..well....and comfort. ;) My closed cell SUCKS. I've borrowed/used thermarest (can't remember which..DOH!) but wasn't impressed. Will probably go with a D.A.M.