Sleeping Mats: Tech to Trail

8 thoughts on “Sleeping Mats: Tech to Trail”

  1. I was lucky enough to snap up a Comfort Light Large mat at the STS Roadshow in Sydney, but Ive just noticed the box states the R-value as 1.5 whereas your site states it as 2.5. Were you aware of the error? Which one is correct (I assume it’s 2.5)?

    1. G’Day Penelope

      You were indeed lucky to pick up one of our new sleeping mats in Sydney – the rest of the world is only just getting the first deliveries of these amazing mats! The story with R-values is this: during development, R-Values were calculated for each of the various models. We knew that the values were very conservative, but Sea to Summit always errs on the side of caution when it comes to material specifications. As soon as we had production sleeping mats, we sent them to the world-renowned EMPA laboratory in Switzerland – the EMPA computed the R-values and in many cases they increased over the originally quoted specifications. Your mat was evidently still packed in ‘old’ packaging – but you can find the correct (higher!) R-values on our website (or in Australia)



  2. Why cant I find the thickness in inches of the new sleeping mats? Am I overlooking them? I cant believe they would not put that in their specs.

    1. G’Day Kenny – thanks for taking the time to write to us about the thickness of our new sleeping mats.

      The short answer to your question is that the Ultralight mats are 2” / 5cm thick, while the Comfort Light and Comfort Plus mats are 2.5” / 6.3cm thick.

      The longer answer is that the thickness is not a factor in a Sea to Summit sleeping mat’s comfort. Allow me to explain:

      A conventional air-filled mat is constructed of tubes or baffles. With this type of construction, your weight rests on a small number of large-volume chambers, each of which flattens out to a significant degree. This is what causes the mat to feel unstable, and may result in your hips, shoulders and elbows touching the ground. So – with a conventional mat, the thickness of the mat is very important: the bigger the tubes, the less likely you will be to have ground contact, even though thicker also means the mat will be less stable.

      Sea to Summit’s mats are built around an entirely different principle. Regularly-spaced dot welds create a very large number of small cells, each of which acts like a spring in a pocket-sprung mattress. Your weight and the contours of your body are suspended on a very large number of these Air Sprung Cells. You will not ‘bottom out’ on a Sea to Summit mattress, even if you roll over in your sleep.

      If you press down on one cell, it has no perceivable effect on the cells around it. The mattress provides stable support – the antithesis of the wobbly feeling common with air mats.

      With Air-Sprung Cells, it is the number of the cells, not the thickness of the mat which guarantees you a level of comfort unmatched by any other mat on the market.

      I trust this makes sense – if you have any questions on the above, drop us an email at and put ‘Sleeping Mats – Construction’ in the subject line.



  3. Have two question- Why aren’t all the sleeping pads available in a 72×20 rectangle and is it possible to have a corresponding temperature rating for each pads R-Value? I keep looking at other manufactures R-Values and while one company’s R-5 is 15F it is 1.4F for another making it a bit confusing picking a pad and making sure I stay warm. Thanks.

    1. G’Day –

      Sorry it has taken a while for us to get back to you; we’ve had some technical issues with questions forwarded via the blog. You ask a great question (regarding R-Values and equivalent temperature ratings), by the way; so much so that I’ll put some thoughts down in a separate blog post.

      As far as making all mats available in a rectangular shape is concerned – this is in the works. From all the awards which our sleeping mat range has received (National Geographic, The Gear Institute, Outdoor / Germany, Backpacker Magazine to name just a few), an independent observer might think that we have been offering mats for years – however, this product range is still in its first season. There are many exciting developments (including rectangular mats) to come.

      R-Values and their relationship to outside temperatures is a more complex question to answer:

      – Firstly, not all R-Values quoted by sleeping pad manufacturers have been independently tested; you will find some models on the market which (if you read the fine print) have an ‘estimated’ R-Value. Sea to Summit has all of its mats tested independently by the world-leading EMPA Lab in Switzerland; the values calculated are therefore reliable.
      – Secondly, many air-filled sleeping pad constructions allow a large amount of air movement within the pad itself. The air beneath the sleeper’s torso is warmed by the sleeper’s body, but this warmth is then squeezed to the extremities of the mat where it dissipates when the sleeper rolls over. For this reason, with large tube-type constructions, the R-Value (even if it was calculated in a lab) has little real-world relevance. An Air-Sprung Cell mat is completely different in this respect: putting weight on the individual cells leads to a negligible amount of air movement within the mat, and correspondingly to much lower warmth loss.
      – Outdoor users refer to air temperature when talking about overnight lows; however the ground temperature may be significantly lower than the air temperature, and it is the ground temperature that is the key factor against which you are trying to insulate.
      – There is no scientific correlation between a level of sleeping mat insulation (an ‘R-Value’) and the air temperature, which is why manufacturers are free to quote whatever ‘temperature rating’ they like for their sleeping pads. Some manufacturers are more conservative; some are more creative in the numbers they quote. Sea to Summit has avoided ‘temperature ratings’ for its mats for this reason.

      If you’d like any further information on this subject, please shoot us an email at and put ‘R-Values / Temperature Ratings’ in the subject line



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