A good night's sleep starts with a good mattress. This is true at home but even more so outdoors! There's a lot to consider when choosing a sleeping pad (comfort, warmth, ease-of-use, durability, packability, price...) and with so many options on the market, the decision can quickly get overwhelming. We carry two styles of camp mattresses and we want to make the decision easy for you. Let's get to it: Flex™ Mattress vs. Light Mattress—Which one is best for you?
Though they're different in many ways, they do have several similarities. Such as...
Both our Flex™ Mattress and Light Mattress have a full R-value of 5 for EN-matched performance of your sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are tested using an R5 mattress, so the stated temperature rating is ONLY accurate if you use an R5+ insulated sleeping pad. If you don’t have a R5+ insulated mattress, the EN rating of your bag goes right out the window and you’ll find you’re only warm at temperatures significantly above the listed sleeping bag temperature rating.
The Flex™ and Light both feature our reversible valve. One side keeps air in as you're inflating it and also has a slow-deflation "button" to get the comfort level just right. When it's time to pack up, pop the whole valve out for instant deflation, the flip it and re-insert it to keep the air out as you're packing up.
Included Inflation Dry Sack
Speaking of inflating your mattress... long gone are the lightheaded days (more like daze) of blowing up your mattress by breath. Both of our mattresses come with an Inflation Dry Sack for quick & easy manual inflation and it doubles as a waterproof storage bag to keep your sleeping pad dry.
Photo by Mason Strehl.
Now let's dive in to the key differences...
So like we mentioned above, both the Flex™ Mattress and Light Mattress provide an R-value of 5, but the insulation used to achieve that foundation of warmth differs between them.
The Flex™ features horizontally-cored foam insulation. The foam insulation not only makes for a silent night at camp as you move around, but horizontally-cored foam completely eliminates the cold spots found on most vertically-cored mattresses.
The Light Mattress is filled with 180g of fully-baffled synthetic insulation for all-season warmth. And no crinkly chip bag sounds here. (If you know, you know. Or if you don't... your camp neighbors probably do!) Fall asleep and stay asleep on a warm, quiet mattress filled with real insulation.
The Flex™ Mattress's 4-way stretch fabric allows it to “flex” (see what we did there?) with your shape and movement, so the top feels softer and more supportive than other mattresses, even at firm air pressures.
The Light Mattress has a 20d polyester taffeta shell that's comfortable and soft enough to sleep on directly while still being durable and lightweight, making it the ideal mattress for backcountry trips. That leads us to...
Starting at 1 lb 5 oz, the Light Mattress is great for backpacking. Light in your pack, comfy in your tent. The Flex™ start at 2 lb 2 oz but go up to 3 lb 11 oz for the largest size. While it's definitely still suitable for backpacking, for backpackers that prioritize weight the Flex™ Mattress is more of a car camping mattress. You can decide though!
Similar to the weight differences, you could probably guess that the Light Mattress is more compact than the Flex™. A comparison of the full line up can be seen above next to a standard size Nalgene bottle as a reference.
Flex™ Mattresses start at $129. Light Mattresses start at $189.
Photo (left) by Mason Strehl. Photo (right) by Avery Rosenthal.
The Flex™ Mattress is the ideal mattress for the camper that prioritizes comfort. It has the most familiar feel to a mattress you would use at home. If you don't like the "bouncy" feel of a typical air mattress, then the supportive Flex™ would be a great choice for you!
The Light Mattress is the most comfortable and warm lightweight backpacking mattress. With its compact size and low weight, it's the perfect choice for those that backpack often but still want something comfy.