A gear review

posted Dec 4, 2016, 9:32 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated May 31, 2017, 12:08 PM ]
Every once in a while, someone ships us a free sample of backpacking gear and asks us to give them our opinion of it.  A company called Survival Hax sent us a self-inflating sleeping pad and asked us to tell them what we think.

Self Inflating Sleeping Pad  Survival Hax Sleeping Pad                                        



So here's what we think. 

Right now, we use NeoAir mattresses as our primary sleeping pads, and under that we put an old Z-rest closed cell foam mattress for extra padding, extra insulation, and just a bit more protection against the NeoAir springing a leak.  We like this system a lot, because it is really quite comfortable, and the total weight is well less than two pounds all up.  Of course, this set-up costs about $175 a person, so it's not cheap.   The Neo-Airs fit in our packs easily, and the Z-Rests get tied on top for that festive look every backpacker needs.

So we tried out the Survival Hax sleeping pad.  It's about the same size as our sleeping bags, when it's all rolled up, so it would sit nicely in the bottom of our packs next to our sleeping bag.  That's bigger than our NeoAirs, but way smaller than the Z-Rests.  But it also weighs as much as our sleeping bag, darn close to two pounds, so that's pretty heavy for a single pad.  And at $40, it's a lot less expensive that what we use. 

The two pads we currently use weigh less than this together, about 26 ounces, so the Survival Hax , at 31 ounces on our scale, does add weight to your pack, which is never a good thing. 

Of course, we don't make our decisions based solely on weight.  If we did, we would sleep on the bare ground and not carry any pad at all.  And we are way too old to do that.

So how does the Survival Hax measure up as a sleeping pad? 

Update:  The last time we used this pad (and the second time we had ever used it) we blew some air into the valve and the outside cover popped off the inner foam, making a big balloon shaped bubble in the mattress.  The only way we could still use it was to let most of the air out of it, and that left it being pretty flat.  Not much of a performance record, given that we hadn't used it much at all.  We're going to reduce our overall rating for this thing to: not recommended unless it's free.

When it's fully inflated, it's about an inch think.  Thinner than our two-inch NeoAir, and for our old bones, we think it's not quite thick enough.  It inflates easily, and it wasn't hard to add a few puffs of additional air to give it a bit more loft--although only a few puffs would fit, and the instructions clearly warn against over inflating it.   Rolling it up is a piece of cake.  P makes a point of fitting every tent, sleeping bag, and air mattress back into the original packaging...and this one was easier than most.  It comes with a handy little elastic band that makes it really easy to get back into the stuff bag...which is nicely sized.  Too many OEM stuff bags are made too small.

On bare ground, it seems to keep us slightly off the ground, so that's a good thing.  Nothing worse than a pad that still gives you bruises every morning from a few hard spots.  But we can't say that it is the ultimate in comfort.  It might work well for younger hikers who have more forgiving bones...and who don't mind a pound of extra weight.  And with the foam inside, it probably gives us a touch more insulation than the NeoAir alone. 

Then again, for $40, it might also fit the budget of those who think that spending $150 for an air mattress is more than they can swallow.  Given that we spend at least 25 days a year sleeping on the ground, the NeoAir costs us something like $2-3 a day for sleeping comfort.  Well worth it in our minds.

But we now have a pad that we can offer to those who join us for a backpacking trip, and don't have their own gear.  That's nice.  And this one should cut down on the envy our daughter expressed on her last trip, after sleeping a night on a 1/2 inch blue foam pad.  She rolled over onto our NeoAirs the next morning as she was getting dressed, and accused us of sleeping in luxury.  The Survival Hax pad would have limited her complaints to a mere grumble....