New entry-level mats bring recent air-pad advancements to the masses

Check out new sleeping pads heading to retail for 2014.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2013 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show July 31 – Aug. 3. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Two inches may not sound like much — until it’s all that separates you from the cold, hard ground. Now, sleeping pad manufacturers are helping gateway consumers upgrade to the lighter air-pad category with more entry-level options.

Exped adds a slew of new synthetic-insulation options to its Downmat line. “Synthetic lets you blow into the pad if you need to,” said Nick Swan, customer service representative, as moisture from breath won’t hamper its performance, and it comes in at a lower price point. The Synmat Lite 5 (MSRP $89), a 24-ounce, 2-inch-thick pad, sports vertical tubes with thicker outer tubes designed to cradle the sleeper.

Therm-a-Rest debuts its new WaveCore technology in the NeoAir Venture WV (MSRP $70), which includes only a single layer of horizontal wave baffles to reduce material and cost, but provide moderate insulation (R-value of 1.8) versus an uninsulated pad.

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Kelty, Big Agnes and Eureka also target the sub-$100 air-pad category. The Kelty PDSI (MSRP $79) has a “bio-mummy” shape that mimics the body of a side or back sleeper to save weight (total weight: 23.5 ounces) and has triangular air pockets. It’s also available in a three-quarter length (MSRP $69). The Big Agnes Double Z Air Pad is 4 inches thick, but only weighs 18 ounces in the 72-inch length. Stabilizer construction distributes weight evenly. Eureka’s Singlis UL (MSRP $59) is a 2.8-inch-thick, uninsulated pad that weighs in at 15 ounces, including its integrated hand pump.

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On the premium side of the spectrum, Exped’s Synmat 12 (MSRP $199) targets paddlers and base-campers with its luxurious 4.7-inch thickness and R-value of 6, yet packs down small enough for comfort-craving hikers to stash in a backpack, too. Therm-a-Rest adds several updates to favorite pad designs with the NeoAir Trekker (MSRP $129) and NeoAir All Season (MSRP $159). They employ reflective interior layers to capture body heat. The new Trekker shaves 3 ounces (to 17 ounces) and ups the R-value by 50 percent (to 3) over the previous model, thanks in part to a lighter, 50-denier top fabric.

The latest pads at Nemo Equipment also lose weight with the introduction of 20-denier fabric to the top. The 16-ounce, 3-inch-thick Cosmo Air Lite 20R (MSRP $140) sports a smaller foot pump with a single valve. The Astro Air Lite 20R (MSRP $110) is even lighter at 13 ounces and employs a blow inflator. Both also come in insulated versions.

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--Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

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