It’s not often that a product comes along where after one use, you immediately describe it as a game changer. The new Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated mat combined with the updated Aeros Ultralight pillow is exactly that.

I have a few issues with many lightweight air mattresses that I’ve used before (which covers most manufacturers) -

  1. They aren’t supportive enough especially near the edges so I fall off. The way to avoid this is with a larger mat which immediately increases the weight and pack size plus it reduces space in my shelter.
  2. I move from my back to my side during the night and find that when the mat is soft enough to be comfortable, if I roll over my hip, knee or elbow hit the ground through the mat.
  3. They’re not as warm as the R-value suggests (excluding the Thermarest Xtherm which is super warm).
  4. They are noisy due to the internal construction and/or insulation – this doesn’t bother me but fellow campers or bothy folk complain.
  5. I wake up with aches, pains and a stiff back (mostly my age but the mats don’t help).

I can say with confidence that the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated has answered every one of these complaints.

Comfort, comfort, comfort

Without doubt this sleep system combo is the most comfortable I’ve ever used. After 20+ nights on the new Ether Light and Aeros combo I simply cannot fault them.

It’s true that the Ether Light XT Insulated isn’t the lightest or smallest packing mat but its 10cm deep and still under 500g. I’m happy to carry an extra few grammes for bed time bliss.

Their 10cm depth with almost no sacrifice in additional weight is probably the standout feature of the Ether Light mats. Combined with a clever structure they are exceptionally comfortable and supportive.

Features

A quick run through of the key features I appreciated –

The included pump sack/ stuff bag is a bit heavy but it works well and cleverly is reversible with a smaller connector on the inside to pump up the pillow.

The double valve system with an inner valve for inflation and a larger outer valve for deflation works well. When you want to break camp the mat goes down quickly and there’s no waiting for it to deflate. The inner valve allows for fine tuning of the softness at night.

The structure of the mat is reminiscent of a proper mattress with a dimpled. It’s extremely supportive so if you move the mat is stable and transfers your weight perfectly. I suspect that the dimples also trap air when a sleeping bag is on top which aids the insulation.

On the subject of insulation, this mat feels much warmer than other mats with similar R-values. Even on cold frosty nights it kept me completely warm and isolated from the cold ground.

Pillow Lock

Sea to Summit has solved another camping conundrum. How to get your inflatable camping pillow to stay where you put it? The pillow might start the night in your sleeping bag hood or strapped to the mat but it’s rarely still there half way through the night. The new Pillow Lock system is so simple I can’t believe no one did it before but credit to Sea to Summit for being the first.

The new Sea to Summit mats come with little stickers that you can apply to a location marked on the mat surface. The upper side of the stickers are a low profile Velcro type surface. The base of the updated Aeros pillow has a soft felt surface which locks onto the stickers. It’s very straightforward and works perfectly. The hooks seem to be non-aggressive to anything other than the base of the pillow, I had no issue with anything else getting caught on it.

I have now enjoyed many wonderful sleeps with my pillow staying exactly where it’s needed. No more chasing it round the tent at night. Awesome.

If you want the most comfortable lightweight backpacking mat available then look no further. Don’t forget to add a 2019 Aeros Ultralight pillow which completes a brilliant sleep system.

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