Some of you might have had the privilege of sleeping on the hard ground in your life, I know that I have and still do occasionally. The older I get the more I dislike it, heck the older I get the more experiencing the “outdoors” from a $500K RV hooked up to power and internet seems appealing. The good news is that I don’t own a rig like that so roughing it in some capacity will always be part of the plan.
Recently I was contacted by my friends over at Sole Labz, they wanted to know if I would review one of their air pads. I figured I would give it a go since there would be a few times in my near future which would demand that I actually use the thing, this versus a living room review and thoughts based on theory instead of practical application. Insert the Alps Mountaineering Lightweight Air Pad. From their website:
When you’re away from home and want some added comfort to your cot or sleeping bag, try an ALPS self inflating air pad. With the lightweight series, the pad will inflate and deflate quickly with the jet stream foam and roll up compactly to fit into the stuff sack. The top fabric is tough, lightweight Ripstop and the bottom is polyester taffeta. Another benefit of adding an air pad is that it will help keep you warmer… essential to a well rested night.
A free stuff sack, compression straps, and repair kit are included with every pad… something many other companies make you pay extra for.Features
- Jet Stream Polyurethane Open Cell Foam
- Faster Inflating and Deflating
- Diamond Ripstop Top Fabric
- Strong and Lightweight
- Polyester Taffeta Bottom Fabric
- Durable and Abrasion Resistant
- Non-corrosive Brass Valves
- Long-term Durability
Why an Air Pad?
Quite frankly, sleeping on the ground sucks. There are plenty of air pads out there, my personal one which I keep in my survival bag is about half the size of a 1 liter bottle when put away so it doesn’t take much space. The Alps version is larger but both get me up off the ground which is more comfortable and in cooler temps (which I did experience) can keep me from losing body heat.
I was able to use the Alps air pad for two nights when out doing some camping. Temps were unseasonably cold so what I believed would be acceptable (Jungle Snug Pack + Alps Pad) turned out to be woefully inadequate. Temps were near freezing and I was hurting for certain.
My first night I laid the pad out on the ground and simply put my sleeping bag on top of it. I recall it taking a while for me to blow up, to the point that my jaw was getting tired. Slight inconvenience but not a game changer. My next observation was how narrow the pad seemed to be, I did not have my other one out for comparison sake but from looking at the Alps model I knew even attempting to turn on my side in the night would have me off of the pad. The pad was comfortable enough during the first night but as stated, the near freezing temps made for an uncomfortable sleep.
The second night I punked out and decided to sleep in the back of my truck with the seats folded down. I placed the Alps pad on top of the seats and it obviously was a more comfortable experience than the previous night on the ground, but it was still very very cold. I did not run the truck during the night, the whole carbon monoxide thing…but the pad did fine.
- The price is right, around $25 (as compared to $100 for the other pad I own).
- It looks nice and the material is easy to clean.
- It does work in that it was more comfortable than the ground itself and did help me retain whatever body heat I was able to generate without it getting leached away.
The Not So Good
- It is very narrow, I found myself constantly rolling off the side of the pad throughout the night, you had to twist in place to go from one side to another.
- It is large, even when completely rolled up and stowed. Not sure if I would strap this thing to the outside of a pack because it certainly would not fit inside one. Additionally I had trouble getting all of the air out of it in order to fit inside the provided stuff sack.
The Bottom Line
For $25 you really can’t beat it. It’s not as great as some of the more expensive models out there but better than nothing at all. My recommendation? Save your chips and get something in the $100 range, buy once cry once.