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  1. #1

    Default Reasons to Use/not use a Torso Length Sleeping Pad



    I want your opinions as to why you, or in general, backpackers use a torso length sleeping pad besides the weight savings? Do you use your pack for your lower half? Do you just say forget about cushion for your legs?

    What are the pros/cons in your mind for using or not using a torso length pad? I'm weighing the options for a future pad purchase. Any info is greatly appreciated. I'm 6'5'' and a tossing slide sleeper with sharp hip and shoulder bones.

  2. #2

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    I started with a torso length pad for the extra width, because I tend to sprawl when I sleep and thought the extra width would help with that. I figured I'd elevate my legs on my pack and bits of gear. In practice, I hated it, and replaced it with a more traditional long shape. The stuff under my legs wouldn't stay in place, was bumpy and occasionally noisy. Oh, the Thermarest pad also self destructed before replacement, chambers popped into adjoining chambers and turned it into a pool toy with big old random bubbles. I use a Klymit pad now.

  3. #3
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    What did not work for me years ago was going with thicker torso length pad in place of thinner full length. Despite trying several things My hips bugged me as my legs were not fully supported.

  4. #4

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    I have a torso length Prolite pad which isn't too bad for the dangling knee problem as it's thin. Even so, it's hard to decide to try and keep the knees on the pad or let them dangle off the end.

    It's okay in the middle of the summer when insulation for your feet isn't important (and can help keep you cool) and your more interested in the cushioning. Otherwise, go with a full length pad.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Less weight, less space in the pack are the only reasons I have. I've always used torso length - never slept on a full length pad, so I don't know what I'm missing.

  6. #6

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    I use a z rest I cut to torso length, primarily because I slept awful on a full length so figured if I’m gonna sleep awful may as well save weight doing it... more and more lately I value the rest and recovery more than comfort and find I do well with the pad under my upper body and nothing for knees and below. I am a side sleeper who rotates like a chicken on a spit. So I move a lot, but again I am comfortable enough. YMMV.

  7. #7

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    I've used several torso length pads. Thermarest Guidelite 3/4, ProLite small and Z Lite small, plus a Klymit Inertia XLite Recon.
    Fine for me in warm weather, and flat campsites. With pads this thin, the drop at the foot end is no big deal, assuming there even is one with a pack or sitpad under the feet.
    Different story with the thin pads on rocky and/or rooty ground, or cooler weather. I used that old Guidelite 3/4 down to way below freezing, but even at freezing, it was a "only my feet get cold" thing(and I'm an extremely warm sleeper).
    That went away instantly when I switched to a full-length insulated air mat for cold weather. Now I only(and rarely, as my Exped Synmat HyperLite is the same weight) use the ProLite small at moderate temps.
    Since I find it quite comfortable, the Klymit is awesome for hot weather. When the nighttime temps are high enough that I don't need a real bag or quilt, pairing it with a S2S sleeping bag liner makes for a <1lb sleep system.
    FB_IMG_1559754000166.jpg

    Ha! I forgot you wanted reasons. Weight and packed size are all I can come up with. I probably would not buy any of them again. Being 6'5" with bony hips and shoulders, plus an active and side sleeper all sound like good reasons NOT to. Long/wide 2.5-3" inflatable gets my vote.
    Last edited by OwenM; 07-01-2019 at 00:50.

  8. #8
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    Less weight, less space in the pack are the only reasons I have. I've always used torso length - never slept on a full length pad, so I don't know what I'm missing.
    However, I do use plenty of padding, just short! I typically use 1/2 a z-rest underneath either an air mattress or self-inflator (I have a Nemo, a Thermarest Evo-lite, and a Pro-lite, all 45" or so long). The z-rest is a convenient sit/nap pad, and it protects the inflatable at night. Even if the inflatable fails, I can get through the night and fix it in the morning.

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    OK, I'm an older guy and a sound sleep is important to me.
    So I don't hesistate to carry some extra weight to get my perfect sleep.

    Long time ago I had to share a CCF pad with my girlfriend such that I cut it in half, so we both had half a length of a pad just to survive a single very cold night.
    If it hadn't been my GF, I would not have done it, and will never do again. Had a very bad night.

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    In order to shave a few ounces, I took a torso length Prolite on the Long Trail, in place of my full length model I'd used for years. Worked fine the first few nights in my tent, but the first night in a shelter sucked. On an LT e2e, one stays in a lot of shelters, so in Manchester Center I bought a full length Neoair and used it the rest of the hike.
    Ken B
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    I primarily use a hammock, so in summer months I sometimes need just a touch of insulation but not as much as an underquilt, so I carry a torso pad. Also, because of the small size and weight Iíll carry it as a backup if Iím in an area where I might be forced to ground. For one night itís no big deal.

    An added bonus is that itís the perfect size for my daughter, so she uses it as a full length pad.

  12. #12

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    In summer weather it can be easy to fall asleep camping in a summer bag. A 3/4 torso Uberlite will work fine. Just put your feet on your pack. It also prevents anyone from taking your pack while you're asleep because your feet are on it. In a sleeping bag, I found that I sometimes couldn't tell if my feet had slipped off my pack and I couldn't look at my feet or feel feet with my hands because I was cinched up inside my sleeping bag. With a quilt it's easier to check your feet, to see if you legs are on the dirt or on your pack.

  13. #13

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    A good night's sleep is important to me, and it has been elusive until this last trip.
    I started with a regular sized ridge rest and was totally uncomfortable.
    Then I bought a short one to put on top of it to add cushion for my torso - still uncomfortable.
    Next I bought the prolite plus, and was much more comfortable, but still tossed and turned a lot.
    Before this last trip, I bought a thermarest x-lite, size large. With the added thickness came added comfort. With the added width, my elbows were supported as I read each night, providing more comfort. I tossed and turned much less on this pad, and have the best nights of sleep since I started hiking. The added bonuses are that it takes up less space in my pack and weighs less than anything else I've used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BAontheTrail View Post


    I want your opinions as to why you, or in general, backpackers use a torso length sleeping pad besides the weight savings? Do you use your pack for your lower half? Do you just say forget about cushion for your legs?

    What are the pros/cons in your mind for using or not using a torso length pad? I'm weighing the options for a future pad purchase. Any info is greatly appreciated. I'm 6'5'' and a tossing slide sleeper with sharp hip and shoulder bones.
    If you also sleep in the fetal position, in addition to side sleeping, you might be able to get by with a torso length pad from shoulders to knees, by having a pillow for your head and a probably sit pad at your feet. Some use their emptied pack. I don't think I could. Too uncomfortable.

    - with a tight fetal curl position, a torso pad may suffice even to keep your feet on. But that would be cramped after awhile, at 6'5" especially.
    - you'll probably need a pillow at your head anyway for side sleeping.

    Sit pad at feet is tricky because:
    - if it's outside the bag, it'll likely slide out of place if you toss and turn a lot.
    - if it's inside the bag, your bag may get a bit damp from condensation on the bare floor of the tent ... and your feet may get a bit sweaty, too.

    The foot drop-off from a thick torso sleeping pad would probably bother me, more than the weight/bulk savings would please me. A thin pad like a z-lite might be OK in that regard, but those are not so easy for side sleeping. You can get used to it, but it takes time, and a bit of finding the least uncomfortable positioning. In the early days/nights, exhaustion is key to side sleep on CCF. For purely back or stomach sleeping, CCF is often perfectly fine, but often a large pad is needed to keep arms and feet on.

  15. #15
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    At your height and sleeping habits, I just don't see it working comfortably I use one, but at 5'6 my knees are still on it. If they weren't, I can't imagine being able to sleep well.

  16. #16

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    While lighter weight is always good, my primary obsession happens to be ultracompact size and can do 4 nighters out of a 24L daypack. I just upgrade from a Neoair 3/4 to an Uberlight 3/4.

    The second main reason I like 3/4 pads that I just like sleeping with as much of my gear inside my solo inner net tent, and the 3/4 pad gives me a place to store my pack, or riding suit (when motocamping), as the 1/4 foot pad.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by chknfngrs View Post
    I use a z rest I cut to torso length, primarily because I slept awful on a full length so figured if I’m gonna sleep awful may as well save weight doing it... more and more lately I value the rest and recovery more than comfort and find I do well with the pad under my upper body and nothing for knees and below. I am a side sleeper who rotates like a chicken on a spit. So I move a lot, but again I am comfortable enough. YMMV.
    HAHA, rotates like a chicken on a spit!! I could not agree more about how that description matches my sleeping habits.


    Quote Originally Posted by Leo L. View Post
    OK, I'm an older guy and a sound sleep is important to me.
    So I don't hesistate to carry some extra weight to get my perfect sleep.

    Long time ago I had to share a CCF pad with my girlfriend such that I cut it in half, so we both had half a length of a pad just to survive a single very cold night.
    If it hadn't been my GF, I would not have done it, and will never do again. Had a very bad night.
    I am right there with you for carrying a little extra weight to get a great night sleep. Also, I'm happy we can finally air this grievance, haha!

    Quote Originally Posted by TX Aggie View Post
    I primarily use a hammock, so in summer months I sometimes need just a touch of insulation but not as much as an underquilt, so I carry a torso pad. Also, because of the small size and weight I’ll carry it as a backup if I’m in an area where I might be forced to ground. For one night it’s no big deal.

    An added bonus is that it’s the perfect size for my daughter, so she uses it as a full length pad.
    BOTH great pieces of info. I plan on transition to hammocking for summer camping, maybe more. A family is on the near horizon as well =]

    Quote Originally Posted by WalkieTalkie View Post
    In summer weather it can be easy to fall asleep camping in a summer bag. A 3/4 torso Uberlite will work fine. Just put your feet on your pack. It also prevents anyone from taking your pack while you're asleep because your feet are on it. In a sleeping bag, I found that I sometimes couldn't tell if my feet had slipped off my pack and I couldn't look at my feet or feel feet with my hands because I was cinched up inside my sleeping bag. With a quilt it's easier to check your feet, to see if you legs are on the dirt or on your pack.
    At least for now, I don't plan on sleeping outside some sort of net enclosure, "on the dirt"

    Quote Originally Posted by Time Zone View Post
    The foot drop-off from a thick torso sleeping pad would probably bother me, more than the weight/bulk savings would please me. A thin pad like a z-lite might be OK in that regard, but those are not so easy for side sleeping. You can get used to it, but it takes time, and a bit of finding the least uncomfortable positioning. In the early days/nights, exhaustion is key to side sleep on CCF. For purely back or stomach sleeping, CCF is often perfectly fine, but often a large pad is needed to keep arms and feet on.
    I agree with the weight savings not being worth the reduced sleeping comfort.

    Quote Originally Posted by reppans View Post
    While lighter weight is always good, my primary obsession happens to be ultracompact size and can do 4 nighters out of a 24L daypack. I just upgrade from a Neoair 3/4 to an Uberlight 3/4.

    The second main reason I like 3/4 pads that I just like sleeping with as much of my gear inside my solo inner net tent, and the 3/4 pad gives me a place to store my pack, or riding suit (when motocamping), as the 1/4 foot pad.
    I definitely store my pack inside my net with me and plan to continue doing so.


    Thanks for the replies, y'all. I ended up going with a Large/Wide NEMO Tensor Air Pad (not insulated) 76x25x3 during the recent REI 4th Sale. Weighs 17oz and clocks in at 10oz lighter, and 2inches wider than the XL Paria pad I was using. Packs down a good bit smaller too =]

  18. #18

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    It pays to be short. Love my torso length pad.

  19. #19
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    I put a variety of full-length pads on my xmas list... just in case.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    It pays to be short. Love my torso length pad.
    I'm quite literally paying for Large or Big size gear. Maybe when I'm older I'll shrink a little and won't have to get the Large versions of things...

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