Sea to Summit makes some of the most comfortable sleeping pads on the market. The Ether Light XT Insulated is their lightest and thickest insulated sleeping pad yet. This new model incorporates the comfortable “air sprung cells” we love from their other pads with a lofty 4-inch thickness to prevent bottoming out. With an R-value of 3.2 and a durable build, the Ether Light will be a great fit for most 3-season backpacking trips. There’s also awomen’s-specific version that has a bit fuller shape and an R-value of 3.5. If you backpack in chilly fall and winter conditions, there’s also the Ether Light XT Extreme, which has an R-value of 6.2.
Want to see how to Ether Light stacks up against the competition? Check out our 10 Best Sleeping Pads list.
MSRP (Regular size):$189
MIN TRAIL WEIGHT (Regular size):17.3 oz.
DIMENSIONS (L x W x H): 72 x 21.5 x 4 in.
PACKED SIZE:4.5 x 9.5 in.
SIZES:Regular, Large, Rectangular Regular Wide, Rectangular Large Wide.
PRODUCT TESTED: We tested the Regular size (72 x 21.5 x 4 in.)
Ether Light Xt insulated pad Photo Gallery
INCREDIBLY COMFORTABLE –The Ether Light is dot-welded to create “air sprung cells” that are designed to mimic a pocket-spring mattress for soft support that cradles the body in a way baffles can’t. The Ether Light is comfortable like Sea to Summit’s popular UltraLight Insulated sleeping pad, but it’s twice as thick and cushy. That extra thickness means you won’t bottom out or feel uneven ground underneath the pad, for a good night’s sleep on any terrain. Very slight side rails (sides are higher than center) help keep your body centered on the pad and make sliding off less problematic. The Ether Light is a touch (1.5 in.) wider than average regular size sleeping pads, but the difference isn’t very noticeable. You really might appreciate a difference in width however, if you get one of the rectangular versions, which are 25 inches wide (5 in. wider than average).
RELATIVELY WARM –Most insulated sleeping pads are in the 3-4 R-value range unless they are highly insulated and made for 4-seasons. The Ether Light has an R-value of 3.2, which is about average. In our experience, the Ether Light is great for 3-season use with enough insulation to keep us comfortable on spring, summer, and early-fall trips. For those who need a little more protection, the women’s-specific version is a tad warmer (R-value 3.5) as well as a little wider through the hips and a few inches shorter.
DURABLE – The Ether Light feels more durable than the average lightweight sleeping pad due to it’s 40D face fabrics (compared to 15-30D on many pad models). The ripstop nylon used in the Ether Light was chosen for its ideal balance of weight to durability. Though all inflatable sleeping pads have their breaking point, the Ether Light is built to be tougher and last longer than other pads. And just in case anything does puncture your pad, Sea to Summit includes a repair kit with self-adhesive patches for easily fixing punctures in the field, plus a spare silicone one-way valve insert.
PUMP SACK INCLUDED –Since the Ether Light is such a thick sleeping pad, it takes a lot of lung power to inflate it. Thankfully, Sea to Summit includes a pump sack that’s sewn into the stuff sack to make inflating the pad much less cumbersome. The pump sack still requires you to blow air into it, but it makes each breath far more efficient. We can inflate the regular-size Ether Light easily with about 3 breaths using the pump sack, which really saves some energy. The pump sack also minimizes the amount of moisture that goes into the pad with your breath, which is especially useful on cold-weather trips when condensation is likely to freeze.
PILLOWLOCK SYSTEM – Dealing with a pillow that slips and slides out from under your head all night can be really annoying and can lead to poor sleep in the backcountry. Sea to Summit solves the problem with a simple, but effective way to connect the pillow to the sleeping pad. The “pillowlock system” consists of 4 small velcro patches that adhere to the pad and stick securely to the fabric on the back side of compatible Sea to Summit Aeros Pillows (not included). Our favorite pillow in the Aeros line is the Aeros Premium Pillow. For more about pillows, check out our Best Backpacking & Camping Pillows list.
QUICK & EASY DELFATION – The valve system on the Ether Light is one of the best on the market. Its high-volume dump-valve allows the pad to deflate quickly and the silicone one-way insert that nests inside of it makes it easy to inflate and make adjustments with or without the pump sack.
GOOD VALUE – With an MSRP of $179.95, the Regular Ether Light XT is a good value compared to some of the other top-of-the-line, ultralight sleeping pads on the market. The Ether Light costs a little less than the UberLite and XLite, and just a tad more than the Tensor on our Best Sleeping Pads List. While we prefer the features of some of these pads, the price of the Ether Light is great for a really thick, comfortable, and durable pad.
HEAVIER – The Ether Light weighed in at 17.3 ounces on our scale, and that doesn’t include the stuff/pump sack. The stuff/pump sack adds another 2 oz. bringing the total weight up to 19.3 oz. That said 19.3 oz. still isn’t too bad for a cushy air pad. The Ether Light is certainly still very reasonable for backpacking, but it’s quite a bit heavier than a sleeping pad like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite or UberLite, which weighed 12 oz. and 8.8 oz. respectively on our scale, including their stuff sacks.
A TAD BULKIER – The Ether Light is fairly compact and good for backpacking, but it’s not as compact as the NeoAir XLite or UberLite, though some of that bulk comes along with the pump sack that’s included. The Ether Light isn’t the lightest or most compact pad on the market, but if a thicker, more plush pad is what you’re after, the warmth and comfort might be worth looking past the extra space/weight it takes up in your backpack.
SLIGHT RUBBERY FEEL & SOUND – Sea to Summit claims this is their quietest sleeping pad yet. It’s true, the Ether Light doesn’t have the same crinkly sound that some pads do (like the NeoAir XLite), but it does make some rubber-squeaking noise when you move around on it. A little noise doesn’t bother us much though, and all backpacking air pads make some noise. If you’re a really light sleeper and want a pad that’s pretty quiet, check out the NEMO Tensor Insulated Pad, which is one of the quietest pads we’ve tested. Another small warning is that the surface of the Ether Light has a somewhat plasticky feeling when it comes in contact with bare skin. If you like to sleep with your shirt off on warm nights, this might not be the best option.
Sea to Summit’s Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad is undeniably warm and comfortable, with a thickness that’s much cushier than the average backpacking pad. It’s well-designed with a few features that make using it really convenient, like the “Pillowlock system” that keeps your pillow in place and a great valve for quick and easy deflation.
The Ether Light has a slightly lower price than some of the other cushy, ultralight pads on the market, plus the included pump sack adds to its value.
The Ether Light is a really nice pad, but it does have some downsides, including being a bit heavier and bulkier than the leading lightweight backpacking pads. Also, we find the Ether Light can be a tad noisy as you shift in the night (similarly to other pads), and its surface can feel a little plasticky against bare skin. That said, when durability and comfort are your main priorities, the Ether Light XT is a great option for 3-season trips.
Want to see how the Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad compares with other sleeping pads? Check out our list of the 10 Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads to get the inside scoop on products we’ve tested and used in the backcountry.
A good night’s sleep is really important in the backcountry, and we hope this review helps you get some rest out there. If you like this review, you’ll probably like this other popular CleverHiker content.
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