The Pads

Feb 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

Backpacking: Cascade Designs Therm-a-Rest Ultralight 3/4 Length ($54): The Ultralight weighs just one pound (one and a half for the full-length version), 20 percent less than the original Ultralight. With open-cell foam and self-inflating air cushioning, it's more comfortable than its 3/4-inch thickness suggests. Tall folks, however, may bang their knees on the ground all night.

Mountaineering: Mountain Hardwear Highmountain 72 Pad ($60): Mountain Hardwear uses a combination of closed- and open-cell foam in its Highmountain pad to give it an impressive insulative R value of 6.75 (compared with 2.6 for most lightweight pads). Extremely comfortable thanks to almost two inches of foam, the Highmountain is tapered at the foot to save weight. Be advised: It's still a hefty two-pound, six-ounce package.
Sea kayaking: Big Agnes REM two-inch pad ($75): When the boat's toting the weight, why not indulge? Big Agnes's REM self-inflating pads are 20 by 72 inches and come in one-, 1.5-, and two-inch thicknesses. They all mate with the Cross Mountain sleeping bag, but the two-inch version feels like the finest featherbed on a gravel riverbank. At two pounds, 12 ounces, however, it's not something you'd want to schlepp in a backpack—Big Agnes makes a thinner, mummy-shaped pad for that.

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