Sea to Summit has elevated the level of comfort and usability of sleeping mats to the next level with their new Ultralight Mat. Their independent air sprung cell design makes for the most comfortable sleep you'll ever have, while the multi-functional high flow-rate valve makes inflation and deflation a snap. With so many other innovative features packed into this light weight sleeping mat it's an easy decision to award this product our Gear of the Year Award.
The Backcountry Skiing Canada Team.
In the fall of 2015 Backcountry Skiing Canada received the Sea To Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Mat, which is the cushiest, most insulated mat in their new sleeping mat line up. It represents a huge improvement in sleeping mat design and performance thanks to the multi-functional high flow-rate valve, and the dual layer construction which is made up of 696 independent air sprung cells. The Comfort Plus Insulated Mat is ideal for full-on winter ski touring adventures, shoulder season camping and mountaineering trips, but it’s a little overkill for multi-day summer backpacking trips. This is where their lightest mat comes in—the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat. While it doesn’t offer up any additional insulation other than the air you inflate it with, it does provide a whole lotta comfort in a light-weight, super small package. So small in fact, that it’s one of the lightest mats we’ve reviewed to date, weighing in at only 325g for the small version, 355g for the regular and 455g for the large, which is the size I will write about in this review.
The large sized Ultralight Mat easily accommodates the biggest of people without your head, feet or arms coming in contact with the cold, hard ground below. Its full dimensions of 78x198cm inflates to provide 5cm of thickness, yet easily compacts down to a measly 7.5(diameter) x 20cm. Given its diminutive size and weight the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat provides a surprising amount of comfort thanks to its 225 Air Spring Cells. A matrix of dot welds creates a series of independent Air Cells which are far more comfortable than the traditional tube style mat designs. These Air Sprung Cells also keep air from transferring from one area to another as you move, so when you move your hips your feet and head don’t bounce up as a result.
In addition to the amazing comfort, small size and minimal weight of the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat, it also comes equipped with the most advanced valve system on the market. This multifunction valve has a low profile so it never gets in the way of a good night’s rest and makes inflation and deflation simple and fast. The secret is the two flap design: Open up the first flap to inflate, or give it a little push to adjust air pressure within the mat. Open the second flap and the mat deflates almost completely within a matter of seconds (unlike its competitors). In order to inhibit bacteria growth within the mat, Sea To Summit has coated the interior with an Antimicrobial TPU. And, to prevent possible tears, they have used a super robust 40-denier ripstop nylon face fabric to ensure you get a long life out of your Ultralight Mat. Put all of these features together and you’ll see why this is easily one of the best sleeping mats found on the market today. (For specification on other Sea To Summit mats, give my review of the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat a read.)
181 Air Sprung Cells with a matrix of dot welds make the UltraLight Mat so very comfortable.
A close up view of the fabric texture, its durability and the Air Sprung Cells.
- 181 Air Sprung Cells: Formed by a matrix of dot welds and functioning like individual coils in a pocket-sprung mattress for unrivalled support and comfort.
- Single-chamber design: Made up of medium resolution Air Sprung Cells for lightweight comfort and ease of use.
- Fabric: 40-denier ripstop nylon face fabric offers the right balance between weight and durability, and a liquid-extruded thermoplastic urethane that is permanently bonded to shell fabric virtually eliminates delamination.
- Antimicrobial TPU: This treatment is added to prevent bacteria growth inside the mat caused by warm, moist air trapped inside the mat.
- Multifunction valve: This patent-pending valve provides incredibly fast and easy inflation, deflation and fine-tuning of air pressure.
- Extras: Includes stuff sack, repair kit (containing 6 self-adhesive patches), spare silicone 1-way valve insert.
The Dual valve's simplicity is genius, one tab for filling as you can see below and the second tab for instant deflation.
Push on the centre of the valve to release air from the mat and make it less firm and more cushy.
A great addition to the Ultralight Mat is Sea To Summit’s Aeros Pillow. This is a huge comfy pillow that packs down to about the size of a bagel. Since the Aeros Pillow is the size of a regular pillow you’d sleep on at home, it takes two full inflations of the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump to fill it. It measures 59.6cm/23.5” x 40.6cm/16” with a height of 13.9cm/5.5”—which is huge for a camp pillow. It weighs 130g/4.6oz so it’s a bit of a luxury item for backcountry hiking trips, but for car camping it’s right at home. It’s made of a 20 denier TPU laminated fabric and sports the same great multi-function low profile valve found on the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat. It’s easy to see why they call this pillow “deluxe” as you’ll hardly notice it’s not the regular pillow you use at home. If you are looking for something a little lighter for backcountry camping trips, then Sea To Summit also produces the Aeros Pillow Premium. This pillow is almost half the weight of the Aeros Ultralight Deluxe at only 79g/2.8oz for the regular size. Sea To Summit also sells a larger version of this pillow; Like the Aeros Ultralight Deluxe Pillow, the Aeros Pillow Premium uses the same great multi-function low profile valve. With either choice, you can’t go wrong.
Even though the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat doesn’t contain any form of insulation (other than air) it’s still a good idea not to inflate the mat with your mouth. This is because your breath contains a large amount of moisture in the form of water vapour. This water vapour can get trapped inside the Ultralight Mat, and after prolonged storage it becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria which can degrade the laminates over time. Sea To Summit has coated the interior of the Ultralight Mat with an Antimicrobial TPU treatment in order to combat this, but it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. I’d highly recommend using the Sea to Summit Air Stream Dry Sack Pump. This is a 20L Ultra-Sil Nano Dry Sack that affixes to the mat for quick and easy inflation. It only takes three full inflations of the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump to fill the mat, depending on your desired air pressure and comfort level, compared to the 15 to 20 breaths it would take using your mouth. The Air Stream Dry Sack Pump also doubles as a waterproof stuff sack which is ideal for storing clothes or electronics in your pack.
I’m 6’1” so I opted for the large version of the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat as its 198cm/78” length provides enough room for a pillow without it falling on the ground or your feet hanging off the end of the mat. It’s 64cm/25” wide, which is enough to accommodate my shoulders without my arms having to rest on the ground as is the case with the regular width of Exped mats which are only 52cm/20.5” wide. I always have to use their LW or Long/Wide mats, which provide the full 64cm/25” width that’s standard on the Sea To Summit mats.
As I stated earlier in the review of the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Mat, Sea To Summit’s Ultralight Mat also uses their unique “individual Air Sprung Cell” design, except instead of the 696 variable sized cells found on the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat, the Ultralight Mat contains 225 cells, all of the same size. While this sounds like a big difference, the level of comfort provided by those 225 cells is negligibly less. The Air sprung cells on the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat are off-set since it’s a dual layer construction, whereas on the single layer construction of the Ultralight Mat they are dot welding between each cell, since the cells align with each other. This means slightly less comfort but also no redundancy if you do spring a leak in the Ultralight Mat. Sea To Summit provides you with 6 self-adhesive patches if the un-thinkable does happen.
Each Air Sprung Cell is an independent air chamber, which means they can better conform to your body’s contours. Moving your torso around will not bounce your head up and down, as can be the case with some traditional mat designs. And, even though the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat is very thin at only 5cm/2” thick, you don’t have to worry about your hips coming in contact with the ground through the mat, as it provides enough support to keep you off the ground.
One of my favourite things (and there are many) about the Sea To Summit Mats is the multifunction valve design. It not only lets you fill the mat easily and quickly with the ability to micro adjust the amount of air at any time, but it also dumps about 90% of the air instantly when you pull the second air valve flap. Other mats like those from Exped utilize a single one-way valve for filling and another for emptying. This is fiddly and requires some effort to deflate the mats, and takes almost as long as it does to fill them. Sea To Summit has engineered the best valve system on the market; it’s a slick, low profile design that won’t get in your way no matter which side of the mat you sleep on, unlike those from Klymit.
While the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Mat is perfect for shoulder seasons and winter camping, Sea To Summit’s Ultralight Mat is ideally suited for summer backcountry trips where you need a light and compact mat. It only has an R-value of 0.7 as compared to Comfort Plus Insulated Mat’s rating of 5.0, but it also packs down considerably more than the Comfort Plus Insulated Mat, and is 435g/15.3oz lighter—which is almost half the weight. When comparing the Sea To Summit Ultralight Mat to others we’ve reviewed it’s actually the lightest one so far when you look at overall dimensions and R value. Not to mention it blows the competition away when it comes to overall comfort. Bottom line, this mat is a winner!
If you are interested in a more insulated and even more comfortable sleeping mat (but one that isn't as light and doesn't pack down as much) then give my review of the Sea To Summit Comfort Plus Insulated Mat a read here.
Price: $149.95CAN (size large)
Thickness: 5cm / 2in
Length: 198cm / 78in
Width: 64cm / 25in
Packed size: 7.5x20cm / 3x8in
Weight: 455g / 16oz (size large)
Sizes: Small, Regular, Large
R value: 0.7
Number of Air Sprung Cells: 225
Packed size 2/2
Ease of use 2/2
Quality / Price 1.5/2
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