Roughing it should never involve sacrificing sleep — a soft, supportive sleeping pad turns going to ground into camping and sleep into slumber. But just like Goldilocks, you need to find the one that’s just right. Something too thick will eat up essential pack space and bog you down on the trail, while something too small will have your back, hips, shoulders reminding you of poor decisions every minute of your getaway.
Sea to Summit’s new line of inflatable sleeping mats aims to strike a tailorable balance, offering big comfort and insulation without sacrificing portability. For a recent motorcycle adventure through northern British Columbia, my bed had to fit in the panniers of my bike (without monopolizing them) and offer up a restful place at the end of each day’s dusty path. I loaded up a red, rectangular Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Sleeping Mat ($200) and was off.
Weighing in at a mere 29 ounces and squish-rolled into a 5-by-9-inch cylinder, the bed’s dimensions caused me first pleasure and then alarm. Sure, it would slide into a pannier with room to spare — lots, in fact — but how much support would it offer once unfurled? My skepticism is honest: I’m a pillow-top kinda guy, with more accumulated Marriott Rewards than lifelong seconds sleeping under the stars. That, and I’ve seen bargain-bin yoga mats with thicker padding than this thing.
Nearly 600 individual “air sprung cells” are patterned within the mat’s 72 x 21.5-inch boundary. Essentially dot-welded baffles, they’re designed to better simulate the weight-distributing tendencies of a traditional mattress and increase body contact area over traditional designs. The Comfort Plus line is also a dual-layer air mattress, employing two separate air bladders; fully inflated, it expands to the height of a proper measure of Scotch.
The Comfort Plus line is also a dual-layer air mattress, employing two separate air bladders; fully inflated, it expands to the height of a proper measure of Scotch.
The first night sleeping on the Sea to Summit mat found me on the hardened steel deck of an overnight ferry. This, combined with my disbelief in the mattress’s abilities, called for full inflation. Two separate one-way valves are dedicated to the task; I easily expanded the Comfort Plus to its full 2.5-inch potential with no need for a pump or any lightheadedness. The support was impressive. Even rolled onto my side on the unforgiving deck, nary a shoulder nor a hip made contact with the steel below. I awoke well rested, refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
The next few nights outdoors put the insulation of the Comfort Plus to the test with evening temperatures that dropped into the 30s. The combination of Thermolite insulation and reflective radiant fabrics deliver an R-Value of 5, which was enough to keep every trace of cold from creeping through and into my sleeping bag. Even on the final morning, when I awoke to a layer of frost, there was no chill to be had inside the bag. I even elected to deflate the upper layer of the Comfort Plus a touch to better mimic my pillow top and had no issues securing enough Zs to be ready to ride.
The only downside to the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Sleeping Mat is its overall width. Mid-slumber adjustments and roll-overs can prove difficult at times, as the mattress feels somewhat narrow and the ripstop nylon shell can be slippery underneath. Opting for the large version (26 inches wide) or upgrading to a sleeping bag with an integrated pad-pocket would help this immensely — of course, so would a few fewer nights counting sheep on a California King.
Available March 2015
METHODOLOGY: I sacrificed my standing reservations for pillow-topped bliss to head out under the stars. The only requirements were that my new bed be portable enough to cart around on motorcycle and not get in the way of rejuvenating slumber on a 1,000-mile off-road and camping adventure.