You’ve heard people “trash talk”? I’m about to “tush talk.” There is a lot of good advice about fitting your boots and layering your clothing, but there is little information on one topic that is dear to my bottom—comfort and insulation.
Years ago I discovered a wonderful canoe knee pad at REI that measured 9″ x 12″ x 1/2″ that was so lightweight that I brought it with me backpacking and day hiking. It was the perfect size for a seat pad as it fits in the lid of my backpack and fanny pack making it handy enough to use at any stop.
Why a seat pad? Am I such a prima donna that I need to coddle my behind with a cushion? Well, I must admit that while it is nice to have that cushion, it is not the primary reason for the pad. There are actually several reasons for a seat pad. Here is mine.
The main reason is for insulation. I hike in an extreme environment. The desert is scorching hot during the summer months and, believe it or not, very cold in the winter during the evening hours. As when you are sleeping and use sleeping pads, insulation is very useful while seated. A seat pad can keep you comfortable while taking breaks or eating meals.
Sitting on hot rocks during a hot hike does little to refresh a body. That little extra separation from the heat of the ground helps a body stay a little bit cooler. The same goes for the cold ground or picnic table seat. Have you ever sat down for dinner shaking from the cold while trying to eat? By having the pad insulate you from the cold surface, you might actually enjoy your meal!
Another use for the seat pad is obviously comfort. Face it, the ground is hard! It is so nice to soften it up a bit. I have used a seat pad for nearly as long as I’ve been backpacking, and I cannot imagine being without it. It simply makes the trail a more enjoyable place.
Another reason for a seat pad is protection. Here in the desert that often means protection against prickly things. It is often said that in the desert everything either “sticks, stings, bites or eats meat.” I assure you, it makes one very careful when they sit down! Closed-cell foam provides excellent protection against these things.
And finally, there is one more use that is quite handy and can actually help lighten your load. I’ve mentioned on my Sleeping Pads page how much I love my Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad. While they are heavier than a closed-cell foam pad, in my opinion, their comfort makes them worth carrying. However, there is a trick that allows you to have your cake and eat it too.
Over the years, I’ve heard recommendations for lightening your load by using a 3/4-length pad for your torso and clothing at your feet. I’ve always found this method lacking in actual use. However, if you take a 3/4-length Therm-a-Rest (or other inflatable) pad and then get a larger seat pad to use under your feet; you’ll have the best of both worlds. You can even use Velcro® to connect the two together so they don’t slide apart while you are sleeping.
Unfortunately, REI quit carrying the canoe knee pad. No other closed-cell foam pad came close to offering the same level of comfort, protection, and lightweight that this pad did. I became obsessed with looking for a replacement. Then out of the blue, the makers of the Outsak® came out with the Adventure Seat®.
I could not believe my luck. First of all, to realize that I was not the only one who saw the importance of a seat pad, and secondly, to see that they had four different sizes to fit different needs! They are all super lightweight closed-cell foam with a Cordura® Nylon cover and features that my canoe knee pad never came close to offering.
The sizes are as follows:
- Large: 11″ x 16″ x 1/2″ – 4.90 oz
- Medium: 10″ x 14″ x 1/2″ – 3.75 oz
- Small: 9″ x 12″ x1/2″ – 3.10 oz
- Youth: 7″ x 11″ x 1/2″ – 2.30 oz
I love these pads and highly recommend them. They are extremely well made and have some nice features besides being a comfy seat pad. They have a loop for attaching to your pack, or like me, attaching them with a small ‘biner in camp so they don’t blow away. Also, they have a reflective tape that is very effective at spotting them with the slightest light. I didn’t realize what a nice feature that was until I was looking for it at dusk with my flashlight!
Besides hiking, you can actually use these around the home. They make great knee pads when working in the garden or around the house. I love having items for multiple purposes!
The company, Simple Outdoors Solutions, is registered with the BBB and Ethical Arizona and makes their gear in Flagstaff, Arizona—definitely Made in America. The seats are available on their site and locations listed there as well.
Final Notes – Prepare for Your Hike with the Essentials Checklist!
Be sure to prepare well for your hiking in the Grand Canyon. Throughout the late Spring to early Fall, the temperatures can be really hot. Be sure to bring plenty of water and emergency gear. We’ve just released the day hiker’s essential checklist. Be sure do to your own research as well!
Updated Sep 6, 2023 with day hike essential checklist.