It’s surprising how persistent our bad associations with air mattresses are. I can tell someone I’ve been living on the road for a year and a half, sleeping in my truck during rain and snow and they won’t even bat an eye. But add in that I’ve slept on an inflatable pad for most of that time and they suddenly look at me like I need to be institutionalized. Of course, from most people’s perspective, I can understand why. They envision family holidays at their Aunt Julie’s house, waiting an eternity for the pump to inflate the mattress, only to lose half the air in a panicked rush while trying to screw on the cap. Memories of being bounced around by their partners at every slight movement flood in, and then they recall the inevitable droop, that slow deflation which becomes more and more pronounced until your hip eventually kisses the cold hard ground below.
Fortunately, for my health and sanity, this is nothing like the experience of sleeping on Sea to Summit’s Comfort Deluxe S.I., a pad I had the pleasure of testing over the last year.
About the Pad
The Comfort Deluxe was designed to epitomize the luxury camping pad. It’s 4 inches thick to provide plenty of depth and utilizes internal foam walls for strength. Delta core technology helps keep pack size down and decreases the weight without reducing overall comfort. The interior is insulated, giving it an R-value of 5.2, placing it at the edge of the four-season segment. The exterior is coated in a velvety smooth 30D knit polyester fabric, and a self-inflating multi-function valve system makes for easy inflation and deflation in minutes. The total weight is 3 pounds, 8 ounces, and the whole thing packs down to roughly the size of a camp chair.
I find there are varying levels of sleep comfort while camping. There are the basics; unacceptable, uncomfortable, livable, and good. But then there’s sneaking your sleeping pad into a friend’s house rather than using their guest bed good, and that’s where the Comfort Deluxe S.I. falls. While 4 inches of mattress may not seem like it would justify skipping out on a real bed, Sea to Summit will have you reconsidering. Their use of foam and insulation is spot on, providing an ideal level of support without making the mattress too firm or soft. I found I was able to run lower air pressures in the mat to allow my body to sink in, creating a cradling effect without my hips or sides sagging down to hit the ground. At 6’4” and 220 pounds, that’s no small feat.
The Delta Core technology is about more than support and comfort, though. By removing triangle-shaped tubes of foam throughout the mattress, it reduces the overall foam by 40 percent, making it lighter and more packable. This still doesn’t make the pad small, and other pads like the Nemo Roamer pack more compactly despite being larger, but I find it to be reasonable for the comfort you receive in return.
Speaking of comfort, the 30D knit polyester fabric was a fabulous touch. For starters, it eliminates that annoying crackling and rustling sound so many camp pads have. I guess some folks might be into the noise of crumpling chip bags while they’re trying to sleep, but I’m definitely not one of them, so I appreciate Sea to Summit’s forethought. The fabric is also anti-slip, and just soft enough to be comfortable without being so soft that it easily gets dirty or looks worn. I was surprised by its durability, despite some pretty egregious abuses of the pad. I did eventually poke a hole in it—the result of a cactus spine stuck in the carpet of a borrowed Land Rover—but after a quick patch it has been good to go ever since.
The insulation level was perfect for year-round camping in my vehicle, though calling this pad a true four-season piece of kit is stretching it a bit. REI, for example, classifies it as three-season, as its R-value of 5.2 is in the middle range of pads the retailer sells, which varies from 1.0 (lightly insulated) to 9.5 (well insulated).
There’s no arguing that this pad is easy to use though. Sea to Summit did an excellent job mitigating the usually painful process of inflation by using a multi-function valve and self-inflating foam. In other words, you won’t be sitting around camp huffing and puffing in an attempt to blow the thing up; just release their valve and let the pad self-inflate over a few minutes. I find that one to two breaths to top it off is ideal for me, while my lighter friends prefer to seal it up with no additional breaths.
This valve isn’t without fault, though. While I like the convenience, I found that the single valve can be problematic when looking to make adjustments to pressure in the middle of the night. Often when I would only want to remove the top cover to add or release a bit of pressure, I would accidentally pull the whole valve open releasing all of the air at once. This is a bit of a let down when all you want to do is go back to bed.
Several sizes are available, including regular wide (72 x 25 x 4 inches), long wide (79 x 29 x 4 inches), and a double (79 x 51 x 4 inches). For those who don’t want to do the math, the regular pad comes in at exactly 6 feet long and a hair over 2 feet wide. That width is more than adequate, but the length is a bit short, in my opinion, as even people who aren’t abnormally tall will want space for their pillow. For this reason, I’d recommend the long wide if possible. Prices vary depending on where you buy this pad, but MSRP for the regular wide, long wide, and double are $180, $210, and $300 respectively.
All things considered, I am thrilled with the performance of the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe S.I.. While there are many great luxury pad options on the market right now, the pad offers a nice balance of function and features without gouging you on price, and for me that makes it a winner.
You can learn more on their website, seatosummitusa.com.