Klymit V Ultralite SL Review: Mouthful Not Handful
Klymit V Ultralite SL may not exactly roll of the tongue, but considering its weight, thickness, and pack size, you likely won’t care what it’s called. It’s the perfect example of an ultralight sleeping pad that doesn’t skimp on overall comfort. Best of all, Klymit manages all of this without hiking the price tag into astronomical realms. Here are our impressions after a summer and fall of bikepacking campouts…
Klymit may be best known for their extraterrestrial-looking Inertia sleeping pads, two of which we reviewed here. They’re also the makers of an impressive range of sleeping bags, lightweight pillows, backpacks, and hammocks. In 2017, Klymit announced an addition to their already popular Static line of pads: the V Ultralite SL and V Insulated Ultralite SL. Like all of the pads within the series, they are designed around a unique baffle system Klymit refers to as the V-Chamber. This design is meant to increase the ability for sleeping bag insulation to loft beneath the user and to offer continuous support regardless of if you’re sleeping on your back or side. There is nothing quite like it, and considering the non-insulated V Ultralite SL packs down to about the size of a pop can, I was eager to get my hands on one this summer.
The V Ultralite SL is made of a 20D polyester material. Pair this with its deep, welded air pockets, and you’ve got yourself an incredibly packable sleeping pad that can easily be misplaced within a saddle bag, frame bag, handlebar roll, or a back pocket. It’s by far the smallest packed sleeping pad I have ever used, and that’s coming from someone who owned a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir before they were cool.
Durability wise, I haven’t had any problems, and it’s been part of my sleep kit on every outing this summer and fall, all across Western Canada and the US. I definitely wouldn’t toss it on the ground and use it as a place to sit at camp – living inside a tent or perhaps on a floorless shelter accompanied by a thin foamy is perhaps a more appropriate use. I have been using the V Ultralite SL in my MSR Carbon Reflex 1 tent, usually with no ground sheet, and have also found that it doesn’t slip and slide all over the place during the night like other similar lightweight options out there. The tent floor material likely plays a part in that, but my Therm-a-Rest NeoAir was notorious for sliding all over the place throughout the night, prompting me to add small blobs of silicone to the underside of the pad for some extra grip (shout out to Gary at Western Mountaineering for that tip!).
The unique baffle system, which is partly designed to keep the user centered on the pad, was actually noticeable. Gone are the days of slipping and sliding all over the place until eventually I’m on one side of the tent and the pad is on the other. The edge baffles, what Klymit refers to as the Side Rails, actually do provide some support and help keep everything in place. The one complaint I have is that the deep air pockets in the centre of the pad mean there is little room for error when propping one’s self up on an elbow or hand, often resulting in full contact with the ground. I suppose tradeoffs are a necessary evil with ultralight camping gear. In the case of the V Ultralite SL, just don’t expect to prop up and read a book before bed. Otherwise, I found the 2.5” thickness of the pad to be generous and comfortable when sleeping on both my side and back, even when tossing and turning.
Its R-value of 1.3 is more than enough information to know that this pad is best for summer use only, though depending on your sleeping bag, you might be able to push it into the spring and fall as well. If that’s not enough insulation for you, Klymit also makes the Insulated V Ultralite SL that weighs only 94g more but offers an R-value of 4.4 via the addition of synthetic insulation within the air chambers. Given my tendency to pack the lightest gear I have at my disposal, I found my sleeping bag to be the limiting factor on the cooler nights I spent outside this fall, not the sleeping pad.
Klymit V Ultralite SL vs. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite
Another popular ultralight sleeping pad is Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir Xlite, one that can almost always be spotted (or heard) on group bikepacking rides. Although the design and construction characteristics between the two pads are vastly different, they share similar weights and dimensions. I was an immediate fan of the NeoAir back in 2014 when I found one at my local gear retailer. The NeoAir Xlite definitely packs much more warmth than the Klymit, with an R-Value of 3.2 compared to 1.3, and without really adding a noticeable amount of weight, either, as both weigh in right around 340g.
On the other hand, the Klymit V Ultralite SL packs down significantly smaller, to 2.5” x 6.5” compared to the NeoAir at 4” x 9”, which will make it appealing to those aiming to decrease the size of their sleep system for bikepacking. The Klymit pad also inflates much more quickly than the NeoAir, another benefit of the deep baffles, blowing up completely in under 10 breaths. I’ve found the the NeoAir to deflate and roll up a bit quicker than the Klymit pad, which often requires a second roll to properly deflate. Above all else, the $99.95 price tag on the Klymit V Ultralite SL is a more affordable than the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite, which costs between $129.95 and $199.95 depending on length. There is also the known fact that the NeoAir can be quite crunchy sounding when new, and although I’ve found this disturbance to lessen over time, the Klymit pad was silent right from day one.
- Very packable design due to unique deep air pockets and lightweight materials
- Comfortable and stable regardless of you sleeping habits
- Inflates quickly
- No signs of wear or punctures
- Chance for direct contact with ground because of the deep air pockets
- Warm weather use only because of low R-value
- Dimensions: 70″ x 20″ x 2.5″ (182.9 x 50.8 x 6.4cm)
- R-Value: 1.3
- Packed Size: 2.5″ x 6.5″ (6.4 x 16.5cm)
- Fabric: 20D Polyester
- Weight: 337g (11.9oz)
- Price: $99.95
- Manufacturer’s Details: klymit.com
The Klymit V Ultralite SL is great warm weather sleeping pad that offers a solid level of comfort and stability while also raising the bar for packability for a fully featured inflatable mattress. The low R-Value may limit the useable period of the pad, but considering the low price tag, it may just leave some room in your budget to carry a lightweight foamy along to stretch its use well into the fall. Some of us won’t sleep on anything less than 2.5” thick pads, and I think the Klymit V Ultralite SL is almost as good as it gets for the price.