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Therese Iknoian

Traveler | Photographer at HI Travel Tales
Little did her parents know that a short trip to Europe in high school would launch a lifetime love of travel, languages and cultures. Trained as a news journalist, Therese Iknoian spent a decade as a daily newspaper journalist before launching a freelance writing career specializing in outdoor, fitness and training. All the while trotting the globe, her focus finally turned to travel. Fluent in German, Therese runs a translation business (www.ThereseTranslates.com) working primarily with companies in the outdoor/sports/retail industry. Also a French speaker, she loves to learn a bit of the language wherever she goes -- gdje je kupaonica? Мне нужна помощь! -- often embarrassing herself in the quest for cross-cultural communication and the search for great travel discoveries.
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Backpacking anywhere in the world is a great way to escape the everyday life on your travels. But these days there are parts of everyday life I don’t want to leave behind – like a little sleeping comfort with as little carrying weight as possible. The Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat is a superior solution that manages that fine balance between ultralight and comfort when you are traveling, by foot, by car, by plane, or however (P.S. Don’t forget the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump to inflate it, but more on that later).

The Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated Mat (regular, $129.95) is part of an air mattress line introduced about two years by the company (The line also includes heavier mats for different preferences and body types, including the Comfort Light Mat and the Comfort Plus Mat, both available in regular or insulated versions.) With a pretty small body type and frame, I can’t carry a lot of weight on my back (or neck) comfortably and don’t need as much padding, length or width in a mat. That means the Ultralight Insulated Mat was my perfect answer for a warmer late winter backpacking trip on the California Coast – my smaller female body still needs a little more insulation than others. This insulated mat has also transitioned well into spring and summer – in tents, on floors and many other travel situations when grams count. The R value is only 3.3 so you likely wouldn’t want this mat for colder campouts or winter travel use. But that depends on your cold sensitivity and lodging.

Air Sprung Cells let you rest undisturbed

The regular size (72 inches long, 21.5 wide) has 2 inches height when inflated with 181 “Air Sprung Cells” – think of them as lots of little air pillows separated by dimples. That means you don’t have that feeling of the air moving around under you when you move in the night, nor do you get sorta “tossed off” the mattress when the air moves a little too much. There are no annoying potato-chip-bag scrunchies under your body to disturb your sleep either (or the slumber of a partner in the tent or bunkmates in a hostel or hut).

Sea To Summit Ultralight Insulated Mat crossection.

One of the best parts of the Sea to Summit Ultralight Mat was its light travel weight (16.5 ounces) and its pack size of 4 inches by 9 inches. (If you don’t need the insulation, there is also an Ultralight Mat without it that shaves off about 3 ounces and packs up to a mere 3 inches by 6.5 inches. For me, choosing the insulation is part of that trade-off between comfort and weight on travel adventures.)

Valve and Air Stream Dry Sack Pump make life easy

Now let’s get to another good part: The multi-function valve makes inflation, deflation and even a little fine-tuning child’s play. And the Air Stream Dry Sack Pump is a brilliant must-have accessory too (sold separately, $34.95). This is a dry sack that weighs only 1.7 ounces. Use the 20L Air Stream Dry Sack to pack some of your travel gear, and then once at camp or other travel destination, empty it to use it as a pump.

This amazing little gizmo (fully seam sealed) inflates your mat with just a few wispy breaths – we saw one consumer review that called it “insanely well thought out” and we couldn’t agree more. No more huffing and puffing until your head is pounding. Just connect the valves, puff lightly into the sack to inflate it, roll the top down to secure it and push the air in the sac out into the mat. Do that two or three times and you’re done. Leaving plenty of time to enjoy your travels more, from the sunset to an evening cocktail!

UltraLight Mats for all!

Both the UltraLight and Comfort mats in both insulated and non-insulated travel versions come in three sizes – small, regular and large. The Comfort Plus mats are also available in a rectangular version instead of the slightly rounded and tapered type too, which may be pretty nice choices for even more travel comfort.

HITT Tip: Don’t forget your other comfy item to make your outdoors or backpacking experience a dreamy one: the Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow UltraLight, which we reviewed in February 2016. Click here to read that.

HI Travel Tales Seal of Approval for Travel Product ExcellenceYes, with lighter items that make getting to those outdoor adventures more comfortable, I’m now ready to head out more again too. That means the UltraLight Insulated Mat of course has earned the HI Travel Tales Seal of Approval for Travel Product Excellence.

 

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