The High-Tech Sleeping Pad

Credit: Courtesy Sea to Summit

Spending the night outdoors often calls for reliable sleeping gear. Available for your trips starting in January 2015, Sea to Summit's Comfort Plus Insulated mat offers the padding of a car camping-style model, easily inflates, and rolls up small enough to carry on long routes.

RELATED: A More Efficient Car Tent

The mat is tough — made from the same stuff as an airplane slide — but it doesn't feel too slippery or tacky. “Air Sprung Cells” function like a coil-sprung mattress, individually form to your body shape, and take less air to inflate. Roll onto your side, and your hip won’t hit the ground. Even better, it includes two independent layers, so you won’t be lying on the dirt if you get unlucky enough to puncture one layer on a sharp rock or piece of glass. Where many of the mats we've tested take a Herculean effort to inflate, the Comfort Plus, which isn't self-inflating, is ready with only a few breaths of air or a stuff sack. When it’s time to break camp and deflate, all you have to do is pull the plug. On a recent camping trip in New York’s Adirondacks, we pumped up two pads in less than two minutes using Sea to Summit's stuff sack, which has a valve at the bottom that mates with the valve on the Comfort Plus. (The valve has two seals: one for open and another for when it's closed.) All we had to do was connect them, open the mouth of the sack, blow gently into it once from above, and then close and roll down the top of the sack to fill the pad. In the morning, packing up was even faster, and the rolled-up Comfort Plus easily fit in our pack at the size of a beer can.

Because of the padding, there's not as much of a need for separate mats for car camping and backpacking. And while it's not the widest one available, it’s user-friendly and doesn’t require a lot of storage space at home. Plus, it's great if you’re camping in a location where the ground gets especially cold, or if you’re camping in cooler temps. It comes in small, regular, and large (23.5-31.5 ounces). [starts at $200;]