Sleeping pads generally come in one of two styles – inflatable or accordion foam, the more traditional and classic of the two. The problem with the accordion foam models is that, while traditionally excellent insulators, they’re huge and bulky – the foam pads you see hanging underneath old-school backpacks as people trudge about. That’s just one of the issues Nemo helps ameliorate with the new Switchback Sleeping Pad.
New Foam Pattern For Compact Packing
For the Switchback, NEMO used a new pattern for their closed-cell foam, which features a hexagonal nesting pattern with taller and wider nodes than those used on the stalwart Z Lite Sol. This new pattern and design means better insulation and more comfort, while also allowing the Switchback to pack down smaller than your traditional accordion foam sleeping pad; while it’s actually 20% thicker than the Z Lite Sol – which means more insulation – it actually pack down an entire inch smaller when folded and compressed, allowing it to be more readily packed and carried.
At a weight of 14.5 ounces, it’s ever-so-slightly heavier than other top sleeping pads…but plenty light enough for most trips.
Super Comfortable Pad With All The Fancy Features
This pad is wicked comfortable, too. The dual-density, abrasion-resistant Axiotomic™ foam is soft and super comfortable on top, while the bottom layer is designed for durability and “resilience” over the long haul. It’s supposed to shrink and compress less over time than older foam pads, too – so you get more comfort and more uses out of this thing than ever before. The bottom layer has metalized thermal reflective film reflecting body heat back at you.
NEMO does not use traditional R-Values when measuring the insulating value of their sleeping pads, so it can be difficult to compare the Switchback head-to-head with pads from other brands. But they’ve rated for use down to 20 to 35F / -7 to 2C.
If you’re an old-school camper or backpacker who prefers a foam pad over an inflatable one, you might find the Swithback worth a shot…