If you’ve ever done any serious trekking with a heavy pack strapped to your back, you’ll know that a sturdy frame can help better distribute the weight over your body. But it’s a Catch-22 since the frame adds weight as well—unless it’s mostly made of air like Klymit’s new inflatable Air Beam.
Made of a lightweight fabric, the miniature air mattress weighs just 2.4 ounces which is less than half of what a rigid plastic frame does. But when inflated using an included hand pump—which can be left at home to further maximize your weight saving—the $50 pad helps transfer heavy loads on your back to your hips for increased comfort, prevents objects inside a lightweight pack from poking you, and in a pinch can even serve as a minimalist air mattress. And unlike a rigid frame, the Air Beam can flex along with a hiker so it keeps providing support even when they’re in an awkward position like bending over to tie their boots, or pretending to play dead to fool a bear. [Klymit via The Gear Caster]