woman sleeping on a Sea to Summit Ether Light XT sleeping pad specific for women.
(Photo/Kyle Rasmussen)

Women’s Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Pad Review: Side Sleepers, Rejoice!

Simple to set up, pack away, and get quality sleep on, Sea to Summit’s Women’s Ether Light XT Extreme is ideal for all the restless sleepers out there.

It’s a beautiful night in the backcountry, and you’re hoping for some restful zzz’s before heading out on your long hike tomorrow. You climb into your sleeping bag atop your sleeping pad and doze off. But you toss and turn, waking up to find your pillow halfway across the tent and an angry partner staring at you.

That is no longer a problem you need to contend with. Sea to Summit’s Women’s Ether Light XT Extreme is a 4-inch sleeping pad comfortable enough to make you forget you’re in the backcountry — complete with a pillow-lock system.

We tested the Ether Light XT Extreme pad while bikepacking, backpacking, and car camping. Here is the short and long of what we found.

In short: The pros outweigh the cons of this sleeping pad. It’s a little on the noisy side (especially for someone who tosses and turns like I do). But, it’s insulated, lightweight, efficient to inflate, holds a restless sleeper’s pillow in place, and is comfortable enough for side sleepers on any terrain.

The Ether Light XT Extreme: Insulation, Comfort, Pillow Security

Image of the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Women's version.
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

I tested the pad for about one and a half seasons, but according to the website, this pad can accompany you in three to four seasons. The Ether Light XT Extreme worked on flat grassy areas, as well as uneven dirt with occasional rocks. With a 4-inch thickness, my body never touched the ground while lying on it.

Sea to Summit uses XT Air Sprung Cell pads that differ from other pads by using air-filled “springs” or cells that resemble a pocket-sprung mattress. I found it to be ideal for those who sleep in a figure-4 position as well as on their sides or stomach (which I do!). In the past, I’ve ended up with arms and elbows off the mat. Then they get cold, and I toss and turn more.

Not with the Ether Light XT Extreme, though. I woke up feeling better than I did during my latest bikepacking trip.

Regular Ether XT vs. Women’s Ether XT

comparing the size of Sea to Summits Ether Light XT womens and regular sleeping pads.
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

Sea to Summit makes two versions of the Ether Light XT Extreme sleeping pad. One is the Extreme women’s-specific (with purple accents) and one is a regular version (with orange accents).

If you’re a side sleeper or worried about staying warm, the women’s version is amazing. The Women’s Ether Light XT Extreme version has added Thermolite insulation, which makes it a little bulkier to pack, but adds a lot of warmth. I could really tell a difference with the women’s version of this pad, compared to the Regular Ether Light XT.

The women’s-specific version is also narrower at the shoulders and wider between the hips and knees. If you’re worried about having enough space in the shoulders, get the regular version. I appreciated both, but the size difference should be noted.

Packability

Pillow lock technology on the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

Even with its 4-inch thickness and Air Sprung Cells, the Women’s Ether XT Extreme still manages to pack down pretty small. I was able to take it bikepacking in my panniers with no issue.

The Women’s Ether Light XT Extreme weighs in at 1 lb. 8 ounces. This pad is made from 30-denier and 40-denier nylon, and I found it to be surprisingly durable.

Specs

  • Design: Women’s-specific mummy
  • Size: Regular (66 in. long), large (72 in. long)
  • Materials: 30D/40D nylon with antimicrobial liquid-extruded TPU lamination
  • Claimed weight: 1 lb. 8 oz. (regular), 1 lb. 15 oz. (long)
  • Thickness: 4 in.
  • R -Value: 6.3
  • Seasonal rating: 4 seasons
  • Price: $199-$219

This pad is coated with antimicrobial liquid-extruded TPU lamination, which I found to capture dirt really easily. If that bothers you, you might want to try something else, but I felt OK knowing that it’s made from an antimicrobial material.

Pillow-Lock Technology

Summit Ether Light XT Women's version in a tent with a lantern in the background.
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

Sea to Summit’s Pillow-Lock Technology is a key feature that stands out with this pad. Using four small hook-and-loop patches, this pad holds your pillow in place similarly to Velcro.

Throughout the night, my Sea to Summit Aeros pillow didn’t move at all despite middle-of-the-night bug-bite fiascos. The only con to this feature is that it can snag your clothing if you rub up against it without the pillow in place.

Some pads include built-in pillows, but you won’t find one with the same Pillow-Lock technology. That is only available with Sea to Summit’s products.

Stuff Sack

Image of the stuff sack/pump integration on the Sea to Summit Women's Ether Light XT Extreme.
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

Integrated pumps aren’t new to the sleeping pad world. Although this one is particularly nice, as the stuff sack and Airstream Pump are connected. All that stays together when not in use. I was able to fill my pad in four pumps while inside the tent, and only needed three when I was outside of the tent (with more access to open airflow).

I also learned that the pump sack can fill my Aeros pillow from Sea to Summit as well! Bonus.

This pad isn’t leaky, either. Thanks to the pesky state bird of Minnesota (the mosquito), my partner and I spent a good chunk of our nights playing cribbage in the tent. Which also meant we were sitting on top of our sleeping pads. The Women’s Ether XT Extreme kept its air for both nights. I was really impressed with its durability.

Oepn to inflate the valve on the Ehter Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad.
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

I believe its capacity to hold air is due to a really well-designed air valve. The valve is multi-function. It offers a one-way inflate valve, a fine-tune button, and a rapid air dump valve. They are strategically stacked and easy to open and close.

The one-way valve lives up to its name even when it’s completely full of air and connects perfectly to the stuff sack air pump. Sea to Summit has found a way to truly ensure that air only goes in when you intend it and out when you intend it.

Drawback: It’s a Bit Noisy

Sea to Summit sleep system
(Photo/Katie Eichelberger)

Supposedly, “air sprung cell” pads are quieter than other air pads, which use a reflective film in their construction. But I found this design to be alarmingly loud. No one wants to be “that guy” who keeps others up because your gear is noisy. It was still quieter than my partner’s pad, but it’s something to keep in mind.

Conclusion

I’ve gone through my fair share of sleeping pads, and I think this one is here to stay! I’ll reach for it even on our car camping adventures that don’t require light packing just because of how comfortable it is. If you’re a side or stomach sleeper, you’ll definitely appreciate this pad.

Along with the two Sea to Summit Ether Light XT options (the women’s Extreme and regular Light XT) the pad also comes in multiple sizes and lengths, so you can pick the right one for you.

While pricey (MSRP $199-219), having the whole sleep system is a huge comfort in the backcountry. My Sea to Summit Ultralight Flame sleeping bag packs down small, as does the Aeros Premium pillow. At the very least, I recommend purchasing a Sea to Summit pillow to go along with this pad — you’ve got to take advantage of the Pillow Lock Technology.

Overall, I’m excited to see how this sleeping pad holds up year after year. I highly recommend it as a lightweight backpacking or bikepacking option.

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Katie Eichelberger
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You can find Katie Eichelberger within the trees of Minnesota exploring parks via foot, bike, or snowshoe — whatever feels fitting at the time with her partner and fluffy pup, Otso. She has a lot of outdoor hobbies but running, mountain biking, camping, and yoga are at the top of the list. Katie has been a Content Producer at GearJunkie for six months and is based in our Minneapolis, MN office.