For much of this year, I was using the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm NXT, which was the most expensive sleeping pad I’ve ever purchased.
But it hasn’t been the most comfortable, so on a chilly December wild camp, I tested its competitor; the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme sleeping pad.
This is my honest review, I’ll also compare the two pads so you can make an informed decision about which best suits your needs.
- High R-Value at 6.2.
- Durable and well-made.
- At 10cm, it’s 2.5cm thicker than the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm.
- Air sprung pockets for extra support.
- It’s a better pad for side sleepers who will find it more comfortable than the NeoAir XTherm.
- The price. While slightly cheaper than the comparable Thermarest, it’s still one of the most expensive pads on the market.
- Its thermal R-Value 6.2 rating is dwarfed by Thermarest’s XTherm at 7.3.
- While still lightweight, it’s not ultra-lightweight and comes in at around 63% heavier than comparable Thermarest NeoAir XTherm pads (comparing their regular sizes).
- Pack size: This isn’t a small sleeping pad, and it took up nearly twice as much space as the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm.
Key Specs: At a Glance
The important stuff:
- R-Value of 6.2.
- 10cm thick.
- Air sprung pockets for support.
- Pack sizes: 17.5 x 24cm (Reg) and 18.5 x 28cm for all other sizes.
- Pump sack included.
- Dimensions: Reg: 183 x 55cm. Large: 198 x 64cm. Rectangular Reg Wide: 183 x 64cm. Rectangular Large: 201 x 64cm.
- Weight: Reg: 720g. Large: 950g. Rectangular Regular Wide: 950g. Rectangular Large: 1050g.
- Pillow Lock: Velcro which holds the pillow in place (sold separately).
Photos of the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad
What I Liked About This Sleeping Pad
Comfort: While thickness isn’t everything, it does help to provide cushioning, which is crucial for a heavy-side sleeper such as me. This pad was significantly more comfortable than the NeoAir XTherm; the difference was like night and day. I can’t tell you if that was due to the extra 2.5cm thickness or the air spring pockets (probably both), but I appreciated the extra padding for my shoulder and hips and I couldn’t feel the ground underneath, despite it being uneven.
Easy to Inflate and Deflate: I found the pump sack easy to use and it inflated the pad quickly and with far less effort than by mouth. The sack was larger than Thermarest’s, so it filled the pad in less time (4-5 pumps).
The packed Sea to Summit pad is twice as large as the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm NXT pad
Quiet: The material used in the construction isn’t particularly noisy and is comparable to most other sleeping pads. I didn’t wake up in the night due to noise issues, which has happened on older “crisp packet” type thermal pads I’ve used.
Warmth: This pad’s R-value is 6.2, which is far less than Thermarest’s NeoAir XTherm’s 7.3, but the truth is any value over 6 is suitable for cold weather camping in sub-zero conditions, and I’ve taken both pads out in snowy weather and felt safe and warm on both.
Pillow Lock System: The Ether Light XT Extreme has velcro near the head area, which secures the Sea to Summit pillow and stops it slipping off the pad. I really liked this feature as I turn a lot in the night and found it works very well. I had a better night’s sleep due to this feature and woke up without a sore neck. On my Thermarest, I was constantly waking up as my pillow was moving around and even falling off the pad).
Choice of Sizes: The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme comes in several sizes and also in a rectangular shape, which I recommend for those who turn alot in the night.
Where This Pad Could Be Improved
I prefer the Ether Light XT Extreme pad as it’s more comfortable but some things could be improved:
Pack Size and Weight: It’s nearly double the pack size and 62% heavier than the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm pad, despite only being 2.5cm thicker and not quite as warm.
The Valve: It has a basic valve that is light years behind the WingLock valve on Thermarest’s pad. It works but if you want to adjust the pressure of the pad, it’s not as easy to use as Thermarest’s WingLock which offers more control.
Thinner Material on the Base: The Thermarest NeoAir XTherm has 30 denier material on the top and 70D on the base and this extra reinforcement protects from scuffs and tears. The Ether Light XT Extreme has 30D on the top and only 40D on the base, so it offers less protection.
Do I Recommend The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Pad?
I 100% recommend this pad to side sleepers and those who appreciate a little extra thickness in their sleeping pads. I found it significantly more comfortable than the Thermarest, but there are a couple of compromises, most notably the pack size and weight.
The lower R-Value will only be significant for those who intend to take the pad to extreme climates.
Back or front sleepers may be just fine on the Thermarest pad, which has the advantage of being much smaller and lighter when packed away, making it the better choice for those who prefer ultra-lightweight gear.
As for me, I’m overweight and a side sleeper, so the Sea to Summit pad is the best choice for me.
Alternatives to Consider
About Daniel Woodley
This review of the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme sleeping pad was created by Daniel Woodley, aka The Bald Scrambler.
From walking along beaches and kayaking down rivers to making his way up mountains and even jumping out of planes, Daniel has a love of the outdoors, but scrambling is his real passion.
Daniel Woodley aka The Bald Scrambler