Backpacking Gear – Air Mattress and Pillow Replacements

When you use your gear as much as I do, inevitably it’s going to need to be replaced sooner or later. Sometimes that’s great because you can go lighter or gain improvements. Most times you already know your desired product. Other times, you know it’s gonna suck, as was the case with this replacement.

My beloved air mattress is no longer manufactured. I should have purchased a second one before they were discontinued. I’m still kicking myself for that decision. I’d spent plenty of time over the past few years following reviews, recommendations, and popular choices. This was going to have to be another compromise decision while I wait for one that meets my needs.

My preferences for an air mattress:

  • Light and compact (around 10 ounces)
  • Uninsulated  (I carry a foam mattress as part of my pack frame for insulation)
  • Side sleeper friendly
  • Minimal air requirements (I have asthma)
  • Quiet! (I’m a restless sleeper)

After much consternation, I decided on the Klymit Static V UL Pad manufactured in partnership with Massdrop.

Driven to make ultralight backpacking more accessible for everyone, we (Massdrop) teamed up with Klymit to create a full-size sleeping pad with a great weight-to-performance ratio at an incredible value. The result is the Static V UL pad, designed for camping in warmer weather. Inflatable in 8 to 12 breaths, it’s made from 20d nylon fabric with a V-chamber design and 2.5-inch thickness that maximizes comfort for back and side sleepers alike. This uninsulated pad weighs 11.9 ounces and packs down to the size of a water bottle.

This pad has the packability and ease of use that Klymit is known for, along with a few improvements. It’s the industry-standard 20 inches wide and slightly tapered below the knees to save weight. The fabric is more durable and much quieter as you move around at night than comparable alternatives. Plus, it’s dark enough to dry quickly when it gets wet. Finally, the inflation valve has been moved to the side to minimize the risk of damage and provide more comfort for the sleeper.

Specs:

  • Fabric: 20d nylon
  • Color: Dark charcoal (top and bottom)
  • R-value: 1.3
  • Inflation: 8–12 breaths
  • Dimensions, inflated: 72 x 20 x 2.5 in (182 x 51 x 6 cm)
  • Dimensions, packed: 7.5 x 3.25 in (19 x 8 cm)
  • Weight, pad: 11.9 oz (337 g)

My experience:

  • The Air Beam pad is 25″ at the shoulder. I expected the Klymit at 20″ to be too narrow; however, during my test night in the back country, I didn’t have any issues and was pleasantly surprised.
  • Inflation seemed like an issue in the field but upon home testing I found that not to be the case. My Air Beam takes about 12 breaths while the Klymit took 14 breaths. The size contributes to the extra air needed. My Air Beam is 56″ x 26″ at shoulder x 20″ at foot. The Klymit is 72″ long, much longer than I need.
  • An upgrade Massdrop failed to mention is that they’ve added non-slip beads to the bottom of the pad. My pad stayed in place during the night which I’m sure greatly improved my sleep.
  • As a side sleeper I didn’t find any negative differences between the Air Beam and the Klymit.
  • The Klymit didn’t make any noise as I tossed and turned, a HUGE bonus over many of the popular pads.
  • Through Massdrop, the pad is being sold at $49, which is a remarkable deal in my opinion.
  • On my scale the weight is 12.3 ounces vs the 11.9 marketed, a couple ounces more than I would have preferred.
  • Massdrop was also offering the Klymit pillow for $15. As my ExPed pillow popped a baffle at the end of last season and I needed a replacement I decided to give it a try. I’m thrilled to say the Klymit pillow is much more comfortable than my ExPed. Weight is .5 ounces more.
  • I dislike increasing weight, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. My weight went up 2.4 ounces for my new air mattress and pillow. I’m hopeful I’ll find a better substitute in the future.

Anyone out there good at finding micro leaks? I tried soaking in the bathtub to find air bubbles as well as using the soap bubbles method.

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