Among the items you carry when backpacking, sleeping pads offer an excellent opportunity to shed gear ounces and save space. With a small investment, a quality lightweight sleeping pad can make backpacking much more comfortable and trim carry weight. Enter ust, and their lightweight Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat.
The regular size Freestyle pad is an uninsulated (R-2 Value) mummy shaped air pad that weighs 17oz. and packs to the size of a Nalgene bottle. Available in two creative color options (Mountain View and Conifer), the sleeping pad comes with a stuff stack pump and small repair kit. Inflation and deflation of the pad is extremely easy, which we like in order to reduce camp set-up and re-packing time. In all, the Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat is a comfortable and affordable choice for warm season fast-packing adventures, when the objective is to move quickly with less weight.
Note: This is a sponsored post where the product was provided for review purposes. Our review of the product is independent in order to provide readers with candid gear recommendations.
Comfort & Warmth
The ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat is mummy shaped, which is an optimal design for lightweight backpacking. Mummy shaped sleeping pads reduce the excess weight of the unused areas on rectangular sleep pads. Therefore, you should opt for a mummy shaped pad like the Freestyle if you’re comfortable with less sleeping area.
Speaking of comfort, the Freestyle is a rather plush 3.5in. thick, which provides considerable space between the pad and the ground. The top of the pad is designed with vertical body map baffles, making the sleeping area a bit more comfortable. Indeed, the sleeping pad has a good amount of cushion and bounce, making shifting around very smooth. In addition, unlike other sleeping pads, the material is not crinkly, making for sound sleeping.
Do note that the ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat is uninsulated and has a claimed R-Value of 2. Uninsulated sleeping pads have significant weight savings, but tradeoff with warmth. Thus, we recommend the Freestyle for warmer season use and when fast/light backpacking is the primary objective.
Weight & Packability
The regular ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat weighs 17oz., and the short version weighs just 12oz. Indeed, the Freestyle compares well against many other uninsulated air sleeping pads on the market in terms of weight and thickness, though with a lower R-Value in some cases. For a 72in. long, regular sleeping pad, 17oz. is a good weight for lightweight adventures.
From a packability standpoint, the Freestyle packs down to 8in. x 4in., about the size of a standard Nalgene bottle. With its compact design, you’ll have additional space inside a pack for other bulkier items like a sleeping bag and tent. Further, there’s added versatility with the Freestyle’s accompanying stuff sack that can be adapted into a pump. We usually opt to save additional weight and not bring the stuff sack, but that’s a matter of preference.
Ease of Use
We were impressed by the ease of inflating the ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat. Indeed, we preferred to use lung-powered inflation over the stuff sack pump, which we found to be faster. If you do choose to the use the stuff suck pump, simply attach the pump into the sleeping pad’s valve and repeatedly gather air/roll the air into sleeping pad until inflated.
Deflation is just as simple, by pressing in the door of the single valve to release the air within the sleeping pad. The Freestyle does require a few rolls to compress and release air, which is typical of most pads. In all, the Freestyle deflates very quickly. Further, and most importably for us, it is very easy to roll back into its compact/packed state. For repacking purposes with limited hassle, this is a must-have feature in any sleeping pad.
The ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat is constructed with TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coated fabric, which is water, abrasion, and tear resistant. The fabric of the Freestyle is thin, but strong. In the event of a puncture or tear, the included repair patch kit can come in handy. The valve is also well-designed, as we did not notice any air leakage over repeated use.
We thoroughly tested the Freestyle’s durability outside of the tent directly on a ground with rocks and sticks, finding no punctures or tears. Similarly, standing on the inflated sleeping pad and adding heavier weight proved to be manageable and did not distort or cause the sleeping pad to leak. To boot, the sleeping pad is dog friendly and withstood some scratching.
The ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat retails for $59.99, which is very affordable in comparison to other sleeping pads on the market. For a packable and lightweight 17oz. construction, 3.5in. thickness, and an easy to use design, we think the retail price of $59.99 is a fair value for the Freestyle. There is a tradeoff with warmth in comparison to other sleeping pads, but that should factor into your intended use. The Freestyle sleeping pad is ideally used for fast packing, lightweight adventures in warm temperatures.
ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat
We feel that the ust Freestyle Backpacking Sleeping Mat is an air pad we would turn to for fast and light backpacking adventures in warmer seasons. The lightweight, compact, and comfortably thick design make the Freestyle a great option when you want a sleeping pad with fewer inflation and repacking hassles.
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