Posted by Logan Watts
With newer, lighter, and more advanced inflatable sleeping pads being released monthly, there are still folks who swear by the old tech—folding, closed-cell foam sleeping pads. After all, foam is lightweight, cheap, and impossible to pop or deflate. Now, after nearly two decades of almost zero innovation in closed-cell foam pads, there appears to be a new contender. NEMO Equipment claims its new Switchback is 30% thicker, plusher, and more comfortable than the old standby, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite, all while packing down to the same size and weight.
At first glance, the new Switchback pad, which is the NEMO’s first closed-cell foam pad, looks very similar to the Z Lite. Like its predecessor, it features an accordion fold design and metallic film on the bottom to reflect warmth. However, it’s quite different. NEMO engineers created hexagonal nodes that are substantially larger and deeper, which they claim will trap more air between the sleeper and the pad, making it more comfortable and warmer.
The NEMO Switchback will be launching in October through REI for the holidays, then it will be available in more outlets for Spring 2019. The regular size pad unfolds to 72 x 20″ (183 x 51cm) and will pack down to about 20 x 5 x 5″ (51 x 13 x 13cm). It be available for $49.95 with a claimed weight of 14.5 oz (411 grams). The Switchback will also come in a short version, although its specs have not yet been released.