GEAR:30 Podcast - Episode 2: Therm-a-rest Sleeping Pads & More

GEAR:30 Podcast - Episode 2: Therm-a-rest Sleeping Pads & More

Welcome to the GEAR:30 Podcast! 

This daily podcast explores outdoor adventure gear, trip reports, and interviews with athletes and industry professionals. 

Greg [00:00:00] This is Episode 2 of the Gear 30 podcast. On today's show, we discuss new gear that's coming out next year from Thermarest and a few other brands. 

Greg [00:00:22] You're listening to the Gear 30 podcast. A community. You could even call it a support group for people addicted to outdoor adventuring and all the gear that goes with it. There is no shame here. In spite of what your spouse or partner may say, we believe it's OK to own 5 tents, 7 backpacks, and 18 jackets. Our slogan, inspired by the great Explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, is, "there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate gear." So if you're an aspiring outdoor adventure, a mountain guide, or anyone in between, you're in the right place. 

[00:01:16] Welcome to the Gear 30 podcast, where we just talked about all things outdoor gear and outdoor adventuring, so I'm joined today by Brandon and Chase. Chase is our head buyer for gear 30. Gear 30 is now a shop in Ogden, Utah. And so today we're gonna be talking about some of the new gear that's coming out for next year. And because Chase is the head buyer, he gets to go travel around to and to various trade shows and he gets to see all this gear a year in advance for the most part. And so he actually just just last week was at the one of our local trade shows, the WWSRA. And he got to meet with a bunch of different outdoor companies and see their new gear. So just want to ask you, Chase, of all the gear that you saw, how the companies that you met with. What were some of the things that stood out to you? 

Chase [00:02:12] It's kind of hard to narrow down, you know. 

Greg [00:02:15] Well, first of all, I guess maybe what were some of the brands that you met with them that you saw? 

Chase [00:02:20] Okay. Yeah. So, we went with Norrona. If you guys aren't familiar with Norrona, look them up. They're an awesome company making some of the most bomber. Everything from shells to cool lifestyle pieces. 

Greg [00:02:34] Yeah. I would say probably if there's a company out there that can compete with Arc'teryx as far as quality craftsmanship and stuff, they may be the only one that I know of that that are quite on that level. 

Chase [00:02:46] Yeah, I completely agree. And it's Euro. So you know me. I like the euro stuff. 

Greg [00:02:52] I don't know why, but I like Scandinavian gear, whether it's good or not. I just kinda like it. 

Chase [00:02:57] I'm right there with you. I love it. So, we met with Norrona, jet boil, Danner, Thermarest, Rab, another company that I am a huge fan of. Icebreaker, Salewa. The list goes on and on and on. It was three days we met . . . We had about 30 minute break all three days. It was just back to back to back appointments. So I was busy, but a super fun. And I just got a geek out the whole time on gear. 

Chase [00:03:30] That's one of the companies that I was really impressed with was Thermarest. I mean, back in, I think it was '04 when they kind of like made a huge push and everyone was super stoked on Thermarest. 

Greg [00:03:43] The Neoair was brand new. 

Chase [00:03:45] Yep, the Neoair, which is still a staple in their line. 

Chase [00:03:48] And then it seems like since about '04, they've been making the same seeming pad. They did release the Uber light last year, but, other than that, they haven't done a lot. And this next season, next summer, summer of '20, they've got, they changed their valve system. It's a lot easier to fill up. And then everything comes at the pump sack now, which is kind of almost a standard in the industry. So I just think they're finally doing things that all the other air-inflatable pad companies out there have been doing for a while. 

Brandon [00:04:22] What's a pump suck? 

Chase [00:04:23] All righty. So, a pump sack . . . 

Brandon [00:04:26] It sounds like one thing, but it could be another. 

Chase [00:04:28] You're right. Okay, so the pump sack is . . . it's basically . . . It looks like a dry sack that you'd take on the river. Got a little bit of a little valve in it and you just blow into it and the whole thing, this pump sack inflates and then you roll that air into the sleeping pad, and it takes about . . . the old system, I'd say take how many breaths, how long would it take to blow up one of those stinkin Thermarest pads?

Greg [00:04:56] Now I always get dizzy and pass out, so it takes me . . . 

Chase [00:04:59] After a long hike, yeah, you pass out by time it's blown up, so you forget how long it took. But now I mean you can do it and you blow into that thing four times and you can inflate the whole entire pad. 

Brandon [00:05:09] You guys are weak. 

Chase [00:05:09] Sorry we're not all like Brandon. 

Greg [00:05:12] I know Brandon,. You you just got like . . . 

Chase [00:05:17] Lungs of steel . . . 

Greg [00:05:18] Yeah . . . godly cardio over there. None of the rest of us can . . .

Brandon [00:05:22] Ha ha! There's a guy named Lance Armstrong. I'll introduce you to him. He and I are on the same . . . were on the same . . . were on the same. . . steroids. And so we were able to, uh, blow up a Thermarest pad pretty fast. 

Chase [00:05:37] So you either get a pump sack or you get on Brandon's cardio program and you can blow it up in about the same time.

Greg [00:05:42] A little bit of blood doping will get you there real quick. So those pump sack things though . . . I remember back in the day, back in the early 2000s when I was working at a shop, we carried Exped pads and they were down-insulated. And they were the first ones to do the pump sacks because you couldn't blow into them with your mouth because it would get moisture in there and ruin the down. So you had to use a pump sack. And that was the first time I was introduced to it. And I thought they were kind of a pain. Like I had a Exped pad. I'd pump it up with the thing, and I they were kind of a pain until one day, I'm trying to remember who it was. One of the sales reps introduced me to the proper technique of filling up a pump sack. You have to hold the hold the opening of the bag open about six inches away from your mouth or maybe maybe nine inches away and just blow toward the toward the bag and the whole bag will fill with air. If you put it up to your mouth there or whatever, then you're not really getting the benefit. But you, six inches away, you blow until the whole big bag fills with air and then literally like two or three bags full of air will fill up your pad and it goes super quick. Once I figured that out . . . 

Brandon [00:06:54] Is someone pumping up a bike bike over there?

Chase [00:06:57] I don't know. We've got a squeaky little pump going on over there. Probably the rental shop blowing up some paddle boards. 

[00:07:03] Yeah, we are at GEAR:30. No, that was a good point because I. I thought the same thing. Like what's the difference? But if you hold the bag, what, six inches away from well whatever there is to one breath out. It'll fill that whole bag up. Which is, it's weird. 

[00:07:18] Science. 

[00:07:19] It's the I mean it's a little bit of air from your mouth but it's all the other surrounding air that kinda gets pulled into it as well. So there's there's your tip for the day. 

[00:07:30] You have a little thing - do da do do do, Tip of the day! Greg's tip of the day. Greg, you need your own . . . It's Greg's tips

[00:07:39] Greg's tips of the day. 

[00:07:41] We'll work on that. It's episode 2. We're still early. We'll figure these things out as we go. 

Chase [00:07:46] I expect of a few of these gear tips throughout these podcasts. 

[00:07:50] So the Thermarest pads are kind of getting up with the times now. My experience with thermarest since the Neoair came out is Neoair was the lightest, warmest pad on the market. Back in the day, back in like 2003, 2004, 2005, somewhere in there. And other companies started coming out with air filled pads. But what I found is whenever I'd sleep on, I'd get cold. But the thermarest ones, I always stayed warm. So for a long time, there were other pads that came out, you know, Klymit, Big Agnes, and, uhh, well there are a whole bunch that are out now. But early on it was kind of Klymit, Big Agnes, some of those that started doing air-filled pads. And I found that even though those others were just as light and cheaper and stuff, I just would freeze sleeping on those. And so I stuck with the Neoair for a really long time. Now, that's not really the case. Most of those companies have have caught up. I still don't think they're, personally don't think they're quite as warm as the Thermarest, but they've caught up. They're warmer now, they're lighter and and Thermarest really didn't innovate much. They sort of eventually got left behind over the last five years. 

Brandon [00:09:05] So Chase who who in the industry pushed Thermarest to innovate. And I know we sold a lot of Nemo last year.

Chase [00:09:12] Yeah, I think Nemo's a definitely a big one to push the innovation. A lot of people hadn't heard of Nemo. They're still a smaller-ish brand. They're out of New England area. New England Mountaineering, that's what the name stands for. And they have, in my opinion, the last several years they've pushed the industry as far as inflatable stuff goes. They start off with inflatable tents. That was like one of their staples. Didn't quite take off like they were expecting. 

Greg [00:09:44] Big Surprise. 

Chase [00:09:44] And now their two main focus is our sleeping pads and tents and lightweight. And they've really been innovating a lot. Their pads are fairly warm. I still think Thermarest gives him a run for their money as far as the warmth. 

Greg [00:09:59] Warm to weight and warmth is probably still better than Thermarest. 

Chase [00:10:02] So, they are fairly warm. I slept a lot on my Nemo pad and I really enjoy that thing. But I mean, it's good to see someone really put a fire underneath Thermarest. 

Brandon [00:10:12] And it's interesting you said that. I forgot that Nemo started off as an inflatable tent company. But, do you remember . . . uhh,  I just had it in my head. Klymit. Klymit started off is a thermal regulated vest  and jacket. 

Greg [00:10:26] Right. 

Brandon [00:10:27] Until their pads took off. 

Greg [00:10:28] Right. Yeah. They they would fill their jackets in their clothes with with noble gases to insulate because it was a better insulator than down and stuff like that. That obviously didn't take off. 

Brandon [00:10:39] And it's a great idea on paper right. Yeah. It's a good enough idea to start a business with. And then the business still around. It's just that it's not time for that yet, I guess. I mean why does . . . why do some things catch on and go and then. And then inflatable tents just bomb. Somebody thought it was a good idea at some point. 

[00:11:00] Yeah. You know. I don't know. I think I tried and true polls just kind of. 

[00:11:05] Yeah. I mean I think there's a lot of advantages and disadvantages to it and it's more expensive if you don't have the the economies of scale helping you out on the price. And it's too expensive and it's something new that people are uncomfortable with because new is kind of scary for most people. And it seems like with a lot of outdoor companies that innovate, they have to really try to push those innovations for a while. Takes a while for the public in general to kind of catch on and get warm up to the idea. I know Kelty did air inflated tents like family tents for a while. They may still I'm not sure. Nemo, of course, did the air inflated tents. And and there there've been a few companies over the years that have tried it and then pull back from it. I think for them it's not that it was a bad idea necessarily. It's just they were losing too much money while they were trying to get people kind of warmed up to the idea that eventually they just stopped. 

Brandon [00:12:02] So innovate, but not too much. 

Greg [00:12:06] It goes in steps. There's a reason why Apple and all these other cell phone companies, each time they come up with an out with the new phone, it's like a few small steps better. First of all, they make more money off it. And second of all, if you take go from iPhone one to iPhone ten. Well, I don't know. They're not that much that would that might work, but. 

Brandon [00:12:30] Yeah. But if you go from flip phone to iPhone 10, then you're like, whoa! 

Greg [00:12:34] Yeah, it might blow people's minds. And yeah. You go from an $70 phone to a thousand dollars phone and without those steps there, that's little bit much anyway. I think that's part of it. I don't necessarily know the air-filled poles are, I mean . . . 

Brandon [00:12:52] Ever a good idea? 

Greg [00:12:54] I don't know about ever. But like all those family tents for Kelty, they were heavy, like heavier than just or at least as heavy as doing normal poles because to to reinforce those air poles so that you don't get punctures and stuff like that, it had to be pretty heavy. And you're trying to save weight, and that was part of the reason why Nemo did it. Hey, let's save some weight and we won't break poles and stuff like that. But then you get a puncture in the air chamber or whatever, then there's problems and stuff. So I don't know. It's not a bad idea, but I don't know that it's quite there yet. But anyway, one company we talking sleeping pads, one company that makes some really cool pads that got a lot of press for a while was Sea-to-Summit. 

[00:13:42] And, you know, I think Thermarest has always been the leader in pads. I mean, before . . . years ago, they had like 90 percent market share or something ridiculous. They don't have nearly that now. And there's been, you know, between Big Agnes and Nemo and Sea-to-Summit and some of these others, they're kind of given Thermarest a run for their money. But I think Thermarest is still probably the leader, so it's good to see them innovate. But are there pad's still crinkly? 

Chase [00:14:14] Yeah, they they still have that . . . 

Brandon [00:14:15] That's a funny question. 

Chase [00:14:16] That they still that thermal lining in there. I don't think they are as crinkly as they used to be. And I think as you sleep on them more and more, they get less and less crinkly. But there's they're still using the same technology that they've been using for a long time. So it's still you can still hear it in there. I don't think it's near as bad as it used to be. You know,. 

Greg [00:14:37] That's the thing. You know, the Nemo pads. I don't personally think that Nemo pads are quite as durable as the Thermarest pads. I think they . . . I I've punctured multiple Nemo pads. I think they're comfy, but I've left holes in quite a few. Seems like my Thermarest pads hold up a little better. I think the Thermarest pads are warmer for the weight. But the Nemo pads are quiet and they're soft and they're comfy and. . . Same with big Agnes. And so I think that's where . . . we sell more Nemo pads and Big Agnes pads and we do Thermarest, right? 

Chase [00:15:12] Hands down. 

Greg [00:15:12] And I think that's the biggest reason. 

Chase [00:15:13]  I think one of the problems I mean, I was talking to Bryden. He's our friend that just got done with the PCT and he's going to be doing this CDT next week. He starts next week. And it seems like his most common failure on the Thermarest is the valve. That's where most of his problems stem from. And with his new valve Thermarest has put in . . . 

[00:15:31] I see what you did there, he did there . . . .  Valve stem from . . . I have to explain it. 

Greg [00:15:41] Missed that one. 

Chase [00:15:43] So it stemmed from that valve, you know. But this new valve system that they have, I think is going to take care of a lot of those problems. And so I think we're gonna see Thermarest repairs and warranties and stuff like that, problems go down even more in the future. 

Greg [00:16:00] What other cool gear did you see? 

[00:16:04] See, I do think the Nemo again is stepping up their game. They get lighter and and warmer. Big Agnes's releasing a cool . . . they have this awesome one man ultralight shelter and the name is escaping me, but it comes in. I think eleven ounces and a trekking pole tent. Most spacious one p sub one pound trekking pole tent I've ever seen. It was awesome. It's definitely I think it's going to be on my list. Is something to try out next year. Yeah. Give a little demo. They also have a three door tent to person thedoor tent and they thought I mean we have the debate of a one door tent or a two-door tent better? They said screw it, we're gonna make a three door tent and it's still pretty lightweight so you can choose how you want to sleep. I mean, all right, whatever. Yet three vestibules, three doors, whatever floats your boat. 

[00:17:02] Greg, what are your thoughts on trekking pole tents and durability and stability. 

Greg [00:17:06] I love them. I love them. As long as you're in a place where you can stake them down, so they actually stay up. Like, if I'm going to the desert, I usually take a freestanding tent. You know? I've even taken trekking pull tents into the desert and you just find rocks to pile up to hold your tent up and stuff. But, you know, if you're not in the mountains anywhere where you can stake them down. I don't see any reason not to use them. I love . . . Save weight. They can be very spacious, I think Bryden. And when he did the CDT,  or not the CDT, the PCT, didn't he use a trekking pole tent? He used a Tarp Tent, right? 

Chase [00:17:45] Yeah. 

Greg [00:17:46] So that probably had . . . 

Chase [00:17:47] No, sorry. He used a big agnes, a Copper Spur Big Agnes. 

Greg [00:17:51] Oh, did he? 

Brandon [00:17:51] Yeah. 

Chase [00:17:52] Yeah. 

Greg [00:17:52] Okay. He has a tarp tent now. 

[00:17:55] He has a Tarp Tent now. Yeah. He just actually got a new Nemo for. . .  He's gonna be using three tents on the CDT. He's going to be rotating out three tents. He's trying out . . . Yeah. He's got the Hornet elite from Nemo, the Hornet 1 P from Nemo, Tarp Tent and then one or two other tents, I'll have to ask him what he's using. 

Greg [00:18:12] Yeah. I'm excited to hear how that goes because I've never done a long distance to hike like that, be able to see the how they hold up over that much abuse. 

Brandon [00:18:23] One the one piece of equipment, one brand, the one company. He will defend his life with because of that trip. Because it saved his life. Is Western mountaineering right. Yeah. Which we'll get into later. But yeah,. 

Chase [00:18:38] Jumping back to that tarp tent, he's I went and did some backpacking with him in Canyonlands with him three or four weeks ago. They had a Tarp Tent on there that his friend had taken the whole PCT and the AT with that one Tarp Tent. And now Bryden's been using that Tarp Tent. I mean for a tent, I think it's twelve ounces and it's got,  pushing in six thousand miles on it. So it's they they hold up. 

Greg [00:19:03] Yeah, absolutely. One of the brands of tents that we carry here at the store that is my favorite brand is Hilleberg. They're not as light obviously as the tarp tent or Big Agnes or some of these other brands. What I love about them is they are built to last generations. And so for the last 10 years that I've been backpacking with my family, taking kids and stuff like that, 7 years, I guess. I've been using a Hilleberg because I feel like if I took little kids and a dog and everything in some of these ultralight big Agnes tents, probably wouldn't last more than a year or two. And the Hilleberg now that I have is going on seven or eight years and, seven years probably. . . 

Brandon [00:19:50] They have a new trekking pole tent coming out next year. 

Greg [00:19:54] Hilleberg does? 

Brandon [00:19:55] Yeah. 

Greg [00:19:55] Oh, sweet. 

[00:19:57] It weighs eight ounces. 

[00:19:59] Well, there you go. 

[00:19:59]  No, not . . . It's pretty. Do you remember what it weighs? 

[00:20:01] No, I don't. 

[00:20:03] It's the new . . . I sent it to Bryden. 

[00:20:05] Is it single wall or double? 

[00:20:07] It's the double. 

[00:20:08] Oh Wow. 

[00:20:09] Double. Multiple functionality to it. I think it's I think it's I don't know if it was much over a pound or. . . But it's a trekking pole tent, so . . . 

[00:20:22] Sweet. What I've been using. I've been using a four-person Hilleberg Nallo GT, which is a four-season tent. But I can . . .

[00:20:30] It's a house. 

[00:20:31] But I can fit my whole family and dog in there, plus all of our gear. And it's seven pounds. So it's not the lightest thing. But for four people, that's actually not too bad. So anyway, I'm excited for the ultralight gear that's coming out. I just find for myself back when before I was married, I used all that stuff. Now that I'm married, kids and the dog taking the whole family backpacking, I have to carry a little bit heavier gear to hold up a little better. 

Chase [00:20:58] Now, I'm kind of in the exact opposite stage. I'm switching over trying to go as light as I can. 

Greg [00:21:04] Cool. Well, I think that'll wrap it for this episode. I'm sure that will have a lot of opportunities to talk about all the other gear that you got to see. You're gone to outdoor retailer this week. 

Chase [00:21:15] Yep. Fly out tonight. 

Greg [00:21:16] So you'll get to see tons and tons of other cool gear.  We're excited to hear your report. I'm excited, too. All right. We'll see on the next steps. 

Chase [00:21:27] See you out there. 

[00:21:34] Thanks for joining us today for the Gear 30 podcast. Gear 30 is a specialty outdoor retail store at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Ogden, Utah. Like us on Facebook, follow and interact with us on Instagram @gear_30 and visit our website for amazing deals on the best outdoor gear around. That's gear 30 spelled out Don't forget to subscribe to this podcast. Leave us a review comment, ask questions and participate. 




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