A decked-out camping gear is all about keeping the bulk to a minimum. Which explains why people seek ultra-portable mattresses rather than bring an incredibly unwieldy sleeping pad.

If you can get past their bulk, closed-cell foam sleeping pads are actually pretty great. For starters, they’re super durable. Not only that, but they’re also really comfortable, warm, and pretty light.

Sure, they might not be as packable as other options out there, but they work like a charm. Especially this $50 sleeping pad from Nemo Equipment, called the Switchback Ultralight.

It’s not that different from other foam pads in that it congests into a voxy shape. That said, the slight differences that are here matter greatly. For example, the design. The foam bumps are arranged unlike any other sleeping pads. Here, they zigzag and jut out in a seemingly random order. However, it’s actually based on a mathematical pattern that allows the Switchback Ultralight to be thicker and pack smaller at the same time.

Nemo Equipment also gave this pad a thermal film layer for improved heat retention and reworked its proprietary foam formula to make it even more durable than other sleeping pad options out there. You’d never think a $50 item would be this well-designed and expertly crafted, and yet here we are.

So the next time you go camping, considering ditching your usual air mattress and trail the woods lugging Nemo Equipment’s Switchback Ultralight along. You’re going to have to deal with extra bulk, yes, but you’ll get a pad smartly designed for optimum outdoor respite.


Photos courtesy of Nemo Equipment