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Kelty 2.5 NI Recluse Sleeping Pad : Affordable, Lightweight, Easy to Use

Kelty nailed it with its new Recluse 2.5 NI (non-insulated) sleeping pad. I’ve been testing it rigorously this summer in Colorado, and I’ve found it to be one of the best summer mats I’ve ever used.

The Recluse 25. NI pad is light, comfortable, easy to use, and it packs up into a stuff sack that’s about the same size as my down jacket. Sweet.

I recently went on a little backpacking trip with some friends, and spent the night in an alpine campsite around 12,000 feet. I unrolled the Recluse pad and was totally stoked with how easy it was to blow up. After a seven-hour hike, I was a bit winded, and blowing up a mattress with my breath at 12,000 feet didn’t sound like a great idea. Most self-inflating mattresses I’ve used don’t truly self-inflate; I’ve always had to blow air into them to get them comfy. The Recluse, however, has a little hand pump that’s built into the side of the mattress. I simply squeezed around the pump about 90 to 100 times and the mattress was ready for a good night’s sleep.

I loved how easy the pump action was on the Recluse, and I especially loved the one-way valve system-- none of the air leaked back out.

Sleeping on the Recluse is a dream. The mattress is made of big inflatable channels running from head to toe, with outer channels that are a little thicker than the inner ones. The end result is that the channels wind up positioning me in the center of the mat, so I don’t wake up in the middle of the night with half my body rolling around in the dirt. I also found the channels helped my sleeping bag breathe a little better – sort of like how backpacks are made with thick grooves along the back panel to let air circulate. 

A couple of other details I liked about Kelty’s Recluse mat: it’s waterproof, and it comes with a repair kit in case I damage it.

The Recluse 2.5 NI pad has an R value (a measurement of its insulating ability) of 1.05, which means it’s really a summer mat. A more appropriate pad for three-season use would be the Recluse 2.5 I (insulated), which has an R value of 2.52. It’s only slightly heavier (2 lbs, 6 oz vs 1 lb 14 oz) yet it packs up to the same compact 6-inch by 11-inch roll. I might just pick up the insulated version for the colder trips since I love this thing so much. (BTW, the 2.5 stands for 2.5 inches thick.)

Bottom Line: Incredibly light, comfortable, and packable sleeping pad. I’ll be taking this thing on all summer backpacking trips as well as international trips where weight and size are concerns. --N.W. (July ‘11)

BUY ONLINE: $69.95; 79.95 ( insulated model), click to shop.

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When hiking or camping, always carry the "10 Essentials":

Extra clothing, extra food and water, lighter or water-proof matches and fire starter, map in waterproof envelope, compass, pocket knife, sunscreen and sunglasses, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit, emergency shelter.

Source: Seattle Mountain Rescue and Seattle Mountaineers.