Last Updated on 06/10/2023
In this Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Review, I share my honest opinions and experiences after sleeping on the Ether Light XT sleeping pad from Sea to Summit for a couple of weeks. You will learn the pros and cons as well as the things I liked and didn’t like while testing.
Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Air Mattress Review
In this review of the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT, I explain why I love this sleeping pad so much and how it changed my mind about inflatable mattresses.
My first impressions were of delight at the size and weight of the thing and then also curiosity about the clever inflation bag it comes in. At first, I thought the pump sack might get left at home after the initial trial run, but it works so well that now I wouldn’t want to go without it.
To inflate the pump sack, you just need to do one or two breaths into the bag to open it up (sounds silly, but it works) and then seal the top end. To seal it, you have to kind of scrunch it and roll it. Then, once you have a good grip, you can start to squeeze the air into the pad. It is much easier than inflating by mouth, and it also means your sleeping bag won’t fill with moisture from your breath, which can be detrimental to the insulation.
Having tested multiple sleeping pads in the past and currently in the process of testing many more right now, this style of dimple baffle is my favorite. They call it a spot weld with air-sprung cells, but I just call it a dimple baffle. What it does better than vertical or horizontal baffles is provide an ultra-level surface that doesn’t squash into the ground around your hips and shoulders.
As well as being as comfortable as a self-inflating pad, it is also warm and lightweight, which ticks the three main boxes for me. With an R-value of 3.2, you can use this lightweight pad in some cold climates as well as during the summer months. Something else I noticed was how quiet the material is compared to others in the same category.
If you want an ultralightweight and compact sleeping bag that is insulated and, above all, comfortable, this is the one that is at the top of its game right now.
Benefits of the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT
Here are the main benefits I found when camping with the Ether Light XT sleeping pad:
- Lightweight and packable
- Warm and Insulated against cold ground and temperatures
- Comfortable baffle design distributes weight more evenly than vertical or horizontal baffles
- Inflation sack integrated with storage sack for fast, easy, and moisture-free inflation
- The quality valve system is easy to use and hard to cause faults with
- Deep thickness so you ever feel the ground even as a side sleeper
- A pillow lock system is included to use with a camping pillow
Downsides of the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT
Here are the main downsides I found when comparing the Ether Light XT sleeping pad to other similar options:
- The inflation sack does add around 10% more weight and makes the pack size larger than it would be without it
- Vulnerable to punctures if you don’t do a proper check of the ground for thorns
- Expensive compared to similar designs
Features and Specifications
Here are the specifications and features of the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT review:
- SLEEPING PAD WEIGHT: 17.3 oz / 490 g
- STUFF SACK WEIGHT: 1.9 oz / 54 g
- TOTAL WEIGHT: 19.2 oz / 544 g
- PACK SIZE: 11 x 5 in / 28 x 13 cm (including pump sack)
- DIMENSIONS: 72 x 21.5 in / 183 x 55 cm
- THICKNESS: 4 in / 10 cm
- R-VALUE: 3.2
- SEASONS: 3-4 Season
- TEMPERATURE RANGE: 30 – 90 degrees Fahrenheit
- MATERIALS: 30/40D Nylon with extrusion laminated TPU shell
- INSULATION: Thermolite insulation, Exkin Platinum radiant heat reflective inner lining
Comfort and Support
As I have said before, I have always found self-inflating pads more comfortable and supportive in the past. Until I tried the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT air mattress. The dimple baffle system provides more balanced support, and combined with the extra deep 10 cm thickness, it feels almost like sleeping on my bed at home.
I am a side sleeper as well as someone who lays on my back and front a lot to read a book in the tent, so I need a well-rouned design to accommodate these lying positions. Even at around 70-80% inflation, my hips and shoulders never touch the floor, and I feel free to roll over as much as I like.
Because you get a more level platform to sleep on, it feels a little more supportive and firm on your legs and torso, too, so it doesn’t feel like you are sinking into the ground. I have never woken up with a bad back after sleeping on it, which is always a good thing.
The material’s surface has a kind of microfibre smoothness to it that feels very soft to the touch and not glossy at all. Glossier fabrics aren’t the most comfortable to sleep on in summer as they feel sticky against your skin and cold to the touch in winter, whereas the Ether Light XT feels luxuriously comfortable in four seasons of the year.
Warmth and Insulation
The insulation on the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT is very clever in that each air-sprung cell on the mattress is filled with an equal amount of thermolite synthetic insulation fill. It also has the internal reflective Exkin Platinum lining, which helps to capture radiant heat that is transferred through the pad from your body.
So, the Thermolite prevents convective heat loss, and the Exkin Platinum reflects radiant heat to capture the maximum amount of body heat and minimize wasted body heat. The clever people at Sea to Summit not only maximize the warmth but also pay close attention to other factors like how quiet it sounds when you roll around, how to protect the insulation from moisture in your breath, and how to keep all the insulation separated and evenly distributed.
In theory, this 3.2 R-value sleeping pad should keep you warm down to around 30 degrees Fahrenheit (just below freezing). I haven’t tested it down that far yet, but we will see what this winter brings, and I’ll keep you updated. I tested it down to 12 degrees this past weekend, and I have no doubts this would keep me warm enough well past freezing and the nice thing is it doesn’t feel too hot in summer.
Packability and Weight
At 11 x 5 inches, including the stuff sack, it is about the length of many sleeping bags when packed and so fits at the bottom of your backpack very nicely along with your other sleeping gear. At just under 500 grams, this is extremely lightweight for a sleeping pad this thick and this warm.
The pack size of this sleeping pad is good, but not great. I have a few other sleeping pads that pack down much smaller than this; however, because it has the added benefit of being insulated, I can forgive this. It is very lightweight for its R-value and also for how thick it is when inflated.
Size and Shape
You can get the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT in three different sizes. I chose the regular size, which will accommodate up to 6 feet and 55 cm wide, which is generous in the ultralight category. I really appreciate how wide it is as well as the length, which is perfect for me at 5 feet 10 inches.
The shape isn’t overly tapered like a mummy sleeping too, which gives you space to stretch your legs out as well as just roll over without falling off. As I mentioned in the comfort section above, the thickness of this sleeping pad is what attracts so many people to this pad. It is thicker than most and is as good for side sleepers as it is for back sleepers.
Durability and Construction
The more I use this sleeping pad, the more confident I become in its durability. I have seen others with the same pad being very rough with it, but I can’t bring myself to do that quite yet. I still use it outside of the tent on grass, sand, and even hard ground with some rocks.
The reason I am trying not to push it too far just yet is that 1, I just got it a few months ago, and 2, the material is very thin and lightweight, no matter how tough it is. I have no doubt that a sharp thorn or shard of broken glass would rip right through it if it caught it at just the right angle, but in terms of laying on gravel and things like that, it is perfectly durable.
While I might be a little afraid to push the limits of the durability test too far, I am not afraid to make sure the construction quality is up to scratch. I have bent, squeezed, and crawled across the pad multiple times to see if I could make any of the air cells bulge out or become disfigured, but they all feel strong and reliable.
Ease of Use and Valves
When using the AirStream pump sack to inflate the pad, there is nothing easier. The valves mate nicely together with enough pressure to keep them connected without being hard to push in or remove. It only takes a few sack fulls to inflate it fully, and then you can remove a little air if you like it a bit softer.
The valves are some of the best in the business and are very easy to use. They have a very low profile and open at two different angles, so you keep the inflation and deflation valves separate. You can let out a small amount of air at a time by pressing the valve with your finger, or you can fully open the deflation valve, which is the best way to empty all the air before packing it away.
You can use your mouth to blow it up, which wouldn’t be hard, but then you do run the risk of contaminating the internal insulation from the moisture in your breath. The pump sack is well worth its weight.
Overall, the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT sleeping pad is all that I was expecting and more. It matches the criteria I was looking for but is much more comfortable and easier to sleep on than many of its competitors. I have had noticeably better sleep on the nights I have used this vs the other ultralightweight sleeping pad I am testing at the moment.
It is incredibly lightweight, warm, packable, and easy to use, as well as deep enough for large body types and side sleepers. For the people who found out about the Ether Lite XT when looking for an insulated and thick sleeping pad that weighs less than half a kilo (that’s how I found it), this is well worth the money.
We hope you found this Sea To Summit Ether Light XT review helpful and informative. Let us know what you think or if you disagree with any of our opinions.