- Closed Cell Foam or CCF
- Self inflating pads
- Air pads
I have tried 2 of the categories, and have yet to test out CCF. However the pluses for CCF are without a doubt one of the biggest pluses for all ground pads. They cannot deflate, because they do not require any air inflation.
Above are two examples of CCF. The Gossamer Gear thin light pad is grey. The Thermarest Z lite pad is orange and folds instead of rolls.
In the middle of the road there are the self expanding pads. These pads are filled with open cell foam. So when you unroll them and open the air inlet nozzle they begin to expand inside. This draws a good portion of the air needed to inflate them. However, this could take a few minutes depending on what type of pad, and how long it has been rolled up. You might have to give a few breaths after 20 minutes just to top it off and make sure it is firm. But we are talking 3 maybe 4.
On the other hand, if you want what is considered the maximum in sleeping luxury, combined with the maximum ultralight and ultra packable design, you need to consider air based sleeping pads. They pack up very small, and they are extremely comfortable when sticks or rocks are poking you in the back. I currently have the Neoair regular. I like it... in fact I love it... however, there are drawbacks. I have suffered from numerous air leaks and punctures and have lost most of the faith that this design is reliable in a thru-hike type scenario.
In the end, I have decided to use the Neoair despite its shortcomings. However, I am going to upgrade to the newest Neoair that has a much heavier duty material and construction. It is called the Neoair Trekker and I just purchased it today. Here is are 2 links, one to purchase and one to a German review with upclose photos: