Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Review | 2020

Ether Light XT Insulated Pad Review

Sea to Summit brought the new Ether Light XT Insulated Pad to the market in 2019, and we put it to the test. This impressively lightweight pad comes in at just 17.3 ounces with a super thick 4 inches. The Ether Light comes in multiple sizes: regular and large (mummy shaped), rectangular regular, and rectangular large.

As we field tested this pad, it quickly became evident that the Ether Light XT was going to be a favorite. At the end of our testing (and after testing a lot of pads) the Ether Light was so impressive that it took home our Backwoods Best Ultralight Pad Award!

Check out our other sleeping pad review for more ultralight (and comfort) pads we reviewed!

Ether Light XT Review: Edge To Edge Stability

The Sea To Summit Ether Light XT gives you fantastic edge to edge stability, especially considering that it’s 4 inches thick. When you get a 4 inch thick pad, it’s easy to have edges that collapse, but not with the Ether Light XT. While the edge to edge stability isn’t quite as good as the other Sea to Summit Pads we’ve tested (Check out our other sleeping pad review) it’s still extremely good and doesn’t leave you feeling like you are going to roll off the pad when you get close to the edge. Given that it is an incredible 4 inches thick, this is awesome!

Ether Light XT Review: The Feel

Sea To Summit Ether Lite XT insulated pad

The Ether Light XT gives you a cushy and relatively quiet night’s sleep (for an ultralight pad). It’s similar in feel to the other Sea to Summit Pads we’ve tested, but slightly noisier. Being 4 inches thick, you do get a very slight waterbed feel, but it’s far less than I expected. Those air sprung cells give this pad excellent stability.

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I found the material to be a little slick, particularly when the temperatures drop, as my sleeping bag tended to slide on the pad at little. This is a common issue with an air mattress and certainly nothing worse than any of the other pads I’ve tested. A pad attachment system or pad straps for a quilt (or finding a flat camp site) solve that issue.

On one occasion I was on an incline (the ground seemed to be pretty flat when I set up the tent, but wasn’t) and I found myself and my sleeping bag sliding downhill throughout the night. To be fair, it was just a poorly selected camp sight, but that sometimes happens in the field. Occasionally in the backcountry you have to choose between two bad options for a campsite.

Ether Light XT Noise

The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT does have a little noise. While it’s nowhere near as loud as the Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite, it’s not as quiet as some others I’ve tested. The noise the Ether Light Pad gives you is more of a rubbery sound rather than the potato chip bag crinkle you get with the X-Lite. The Ether Light XT is slightly noisy though, so don’t expect it to be totally silent. Given that fact, this is one comfortable pad, which more than makes up for the little bit of noise you get!

Filling the Ether Light XT Sleeping pad

Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Pad

The Ether Light XT comes with an integrated Air Stream Pump Sack, which makes filling the Ether Light a breeze. It takes only 3 pumps to fill the regular size pad. I love that the stuff sack the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Pad comes with doubles as a pump sack. It can be a chore to blow up a pad after a long day of hiking, so the ease with which the pump sack makes filling the pad is a welcomed bonus.

Ether Light XT Review: Warmth Test

Ether Light XT Pad

The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated has an R-Value of 3.2 with its Exkin Platinum insulation. Given its weight and thickness, that’s impressive. I’ve used this pad with a quilt while down into the 30s and been toasty warm. Once it dropped to the upper 20s (in a sleeping bag) I started to feel the cool air coming from the ground slightly, so for me that was about as cold as I’d want to use this pad in. I’ve found all the Sea to Summit Pads I’ve tested to be very accurate in their R-Value ratings.

Ether Light XT Review: Durability

The Sea to Summit Ether Light XT is made of 30D / 40D nylon face fabric and has held up well so far. I did manage to puncture the Ether Light on one of my trips, but the hole was clearly from a sharp rock. I patched it up with the included kit and it was good to go and has worked perfectly ever since. I will say the the patch job was extremely easy and fast. Locating the puncture hole can be a challenge at times, but once located, it was a super fast fix.

Sea to Summit Pillow Lock System

Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Pad

The Ether Light XT comes with an optional pillow lock system that is compatible with all Sea to Summit pillows and really any fleece style pillow for that matter. This system is similar to Velcro and keeps your pillow from getting away from you at night. I found that I really liked this system as it worked not only with Sea to Summit Pillows that offer the pillow lock system, but it also worked well with any pillow that is covered in a material that will stick to velcro.

I’ve always had a problem with my pillow getting away from me at night, so this Pillow Lock System was a huge bonus for me!

My ratings for the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Pad

Overall Ranking
Backwoods Best Ultralight Pad - Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated
Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Pad

Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Review Conclusion

The Ether Light was so impressive in its comfort, weight, features and usability, we’ve crowned it as our “Backwoods Best” ultralight pad. The Ether Light XT packs down very small, is warm relative to its R-Value rating, includes an awesome pump sack, and features Sea to Summit’s pillow lock system, which I found very helpful in keeping my pillow from getting away from me at night. If you give the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT pad a try I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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Use Code “SleepingMat15

Buy the Ether Light on Sea to Summit

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4 thoughts on “Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Review | 2020”

  1. You might want to a look at the woman’s version of this model (long version) and curious what you think? I think it’s a better pad for ether gender 🙂
    I have no idea why but the woman’s version has a higher R rating of 4.2, weighs 18.7 oz. (long & wide) and it’s supposedly a little quieter than the mens version. Lastly, the shape in the long & wide version (72″ x 25″) has a different cut and to me the shape is more practical for someone with large shoulders or a side sleeper.

    Too bad these are not widely available.

    • Thanks for the suggestion! It’s not uncommon for companies to offer the same product in a woman’s version with higher R-Values as ladies tend to sleep a bit colder than guys(generally). Good idea though if you wanted the extra R-Value etc.

      • Just thought should I should let you know that with new 2020 R value ASTM standards, the published R value for this pad in this article have changed even though the thermal properties of this pad are still the same. These new numbers might be helpful for future readers of this article in the coming years who would be comparing it to other pads.

        The new 2020 R value for the mens SEA TO SUMMIT Ether Light XT Pad has been reduced from 3.8 down to 3.2 R value.

        The new 2020 R value for the woman’s version of Ether Light XT Insulated pad has been reduced from 4.2 to 3.5 R value.

        • Thank you for the info! I’ll update the review to reflect the new information. Those new standards weren’t in effect when the article was written, but now that they are, I’ll make sure the information in the article is correct! Thank you!


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