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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Kooka Bay GoosePad Winter Mat > Owner Review by Ray Estrella

Kooka Bay GoosePad Winter Mat
By Raymond Estrella

August 17, 2011


NAME: Raymond Estrella
EMAIL: rayestrellaAThotmailDOTcom
AGE: 50
LOCATION: North Western Minnesota, USA
HEIGHT: 6' 3" (1.91 m)
WEIGHT: 215 lb (97.50 kg)

I've been backpacking for over 30 years, all over California, Minnesota, and many western states. I hike year-round in all weather, and average 500+ miles (800+ km) per year. I make a point of using lightweight gear, and smaller volume packs. Doubting I can ever be truly UL, I try to be as light as I can yet still be comfortable. I start early and hike hard so as to enjoy the afternoons exploring/chilling. I usually take a freestanding tent and enjoy hot evening meals. If not hiking solo I am usually with my brother-in-law Dave or my twin children.

The Product

Manufacturer: Kooka Bay
Web site:
Product: GoosePad Winter Mat
Year manufactured: 2010
MSRP: Varies by order
Weight listed: Varies by order, my pad 27 oz (765 g)
Size listed: Varies by order, my pad 24 x 75 in (61 x 191 cm)
Thickness: 3.5 in (9 cm)
Insulation type: 750 fill-power goose down
R-value quoted: 6.0
Fill weight: 8 oz (227 g)

Kooka Bay GoosePad Winter Mat

Product Description

The Kooka Bay GoosePad Winter Mat (hereafter referred to as the GoosePad or the pad) is a down filled air mattress. As the name implies it is intended for cold weather use. While the company does have standard (if I can call their innovative offerings standard) pads ready to purchase the down pads are a custom order-to-build item, much like my down quilts. (See reviews)

The GoosePad's 70 denier nylon fabric is very dark blue (almost black) in color and I see no difference between the top and the bottom of the pad. There are seven air chambers running lengthwise through the pad.

The chambers are roughly 3.5 in (8.8 cm) wide. The pad is built with vertical baffles in what Kooka Bay refers to as "box construction".

The chambers contain 8 oz (227 g) of 750 fill power goose down. The company now offers 800+ and 900 fill power down too, which was not available when I ordered mine.

Valve works

While their normal air pads have a standard valve the GoosePad has a large-diameter nylon valve with a screw-on cap, as seen above. Inside the valve a screen keeps the down from being able to flee its nylon-walled confines. Because the valve does not fit any of the pump options available for backpackers Kooka Bay sends a PVC adaptor piece that slides inside the valve. Once in place any of my pumps work fine. (Note: during the writing of this review I contacted Kooka Bay to verify some of my facts and was alerted to some internal design changes that are taking place right now. "The goose down is now sealed within each tube of the air mat. This keeps it distributed very evenly. This also allows for a standard valve to be used".)

The GoosePad does not come with a stuff sack. I just roll mine and secure it with a rubber band. As may be seen below it makes a pretty small package, especially when compared to my other winter pads.

Roll me a warm pad dude...

Field Conditions

Since March of 2010 I have used this pad on all but a few winter-condition backpacking and camping trips. Here are some of them

I first used my new GoosePad on a three-day trip to climb Mt San Gorgonio. It got down to 15 F (-9 C) in my Vapor Light 2 tent where I was using the pad with a Nunatak Arc Expedition quilt.

I took the first cold trip in Minnesota (MN) on the North Country Trail with the GoosePad in a Big Sky Evolution five days after our first snowstorm of the year. While the snow had melted the ground was frozen and it was 19 F (-7 C) at 7:30 am the next morning when I got out to check the thermometer. I slept on top of the pad with a Nunatak Arc Alpinist quilt for this trip.

The pad was used with the same tent on about a foot (30 cm) of snow at McCarty Lake, MN off the Halverson Trail. This time I used a half-bag and my Marmot Plasma Parka to sleep on it with. Here is a picture of it before the fly went on to hide my mini sleeping bag. ;-)

mini-me lost his sleeping bag

I used it with a Bibler Fitzroy on the North Country Trail at Anaway Lake where it got down around 5 F (-15 C). I was sleeping right on the pad with the Arc Expedition quilt again

I used it with a Hubba Hubba HP, seen below, at Buffalo River State Park in Minnesota (MN). It had been well below 0 F (-18 C) the week before I was there and while it had warmed up to 9 F (-13 C) the ground was frozen hard. I used a Moonstone Cassin Ridge -20 F (-29 C) bag on that trip. I camped at this park a couple more times during the early part of the winter hitting a low of around 5 F (-15 C) for the coldest night.

The highlight of my winter was a backpacking trip to Voyageurs National Park, MN where it got down to -31 F (-35 C) the first night. I had a -40 bag over the GoosePad for that trip.

Safety yellow tent


I have been doing winter-condition backpacking and mountaineering trips since 2003, spend more nights on snow each year. The first thing I discovered was that a good sleeping pad is as important as a good sleeping bag. Maybe more so as I can always put extra clothes or my parka to add warmth to my body if needed. But the ground in winter is a giant heat-sink just waiting to suck the warmth from my tired body at night.

I have used a lot of different pads for winter and many styles do the job quite well. But as I have progressed in my winter hiking I found that I wanted to adapt the weight and volume cutting that I was doing with my 3-season gear when I was in the cold stuff too. My first down-filled pad was a huge step in that direction. When I first heard of Kooka Bay on a gear forum I contacted the owner to talk about his custom made down pads.

What attracted me at first was the weight of his pads, but when I realized that I could get a pad made in just about any size I wanted, I knew I had to get one. This is because I had made the move to quilts as they fit my side-sleeping style so well. But I was finding that a normal 20 in (51 cm) pad was not that good in cold weather as I found myself hanging off the pad where cold seeped in. A wider pad would help me stay insulated. I ordered a 24 in (61 cm) wide model and waited for it to come. (Like my custom quilts, handmade gear tends to take a while to get.)

When it showed up it was love at first night… I slept on it that evening. (My daughter called dibs the next night, my son the night after that. Emma wants one.) It should be noted that in sub-freezing temperatures moisture from my breath will collect and freeze inside my sleeping pads. Over time it will add weight to the pad and degrade the insulating ability of the pads. Because of this mechanical means of inflation must be used.

One thing I found was that it takes a lot more air to fill it than my 20 in (51 cm) pads. At home I used an electric pump but I tried the pump-sack that I take backpacking too. It took a long time. Before the first trip I decided to mod a plastic pump from one of my kids' old slumber party mattress/bag combos. You can see it sitting at the back of the tent in this picture.

Is that a plastic toy in back?

But it still took quite a while to inflate the GoosePad. During the summer I came across a device called the Instaflator (watch for review). It worked well with my 3-season pads so I tried it as soon as the temps dropped in Minnesota. It works better than anything I have ever used and fit the GoosePad perfectly without needing the adapter. Here is a shot inflating the Kooka Bay pad on a picnic table off the North Country Trail.

Instaflator to the rescue

Inflation figured out I went forth to use the heck out of the GoosePad. I spent about 14 nights on it last winter. Many nights were spent under a quilt, so I was lying directly on the pad. The nylon is comfortable although I always had a long base layer on too, so no skin-on-pad like I do in warmer temps sometimes. On these quilt-use trips the GoosePad was my sole bottom insulation. I am happy to report that I was never cold from/through the pad. Here is a shot of a quilt on it at Anaway Lake off the North Country Trail.

Ooh, safer yet...

So far durability has been great. While it has only been on bare ground once there is always the threat of pine needles even on snow. No leaks to date and I have never needed to put extra air in the pad during the night. (It does have to be topped off before bed just to deal with temperature related contraction.) While this pad works fine I very well might get one of the newer models in 900-fill down to go even warmer and lighter weight on future trips. I know my son would love to have this one as he just did his first night on snow last spring. He was on my old down pad while I was on the GoosePad in this picture here. (Yeah I know that the pad can't be seen, but Raymond really wants to be in the review;-)

Dad and Ray snow camping

Ray Estrella
I measure happiness with an altimeter.

This report was created with the Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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