Produced primarily from sugarcane resin in a carbon negative process, the TwisterCane BioFoam pad is a more environmentally friendly option for those seeking warmth and comfort in the backcountry. My review:
As hinted above, the TwisterCane is constructed from EVA foam that is produced from more than 60% sugarcane resin. The process of creating the sugarcane resin actually removes carbon from the atmosphere, as opposed to other processes and materials which release, at times, considerable amounts of CO2 during production. The pad is smooth on one side, with a tire tread like pattern on the other for increased compressibility and traction. It comes in at .5 inches thick, 20″ wide, and 72″ long. It has an R-Value of 1.7 and weighs roughly 14 ounces.
The pad itself is fairly comfortable, especially for a foam based pad. The tire tread pattern provides a small amount of compressibility by creating small, material free pockets that allow the pad to squish and stretch, while also trapping warm air for insulation. This makes the pad far more comfortable than a solid foam pad as it has just a little bit of springiness to it. This springiness helps to distribute weight away from pressure points without collapsing flat. The pattern can’t be felt through the top layer of foam yet still does a great job of making small, jagged rocks and debris underneath disappear. Lumps in the ground or larger rocks will push through, but small inconsistencies aren’t a problem at all. It fairs best with back or stomach sleepers, with it not really proving a lot of form fitting and compressibility that is generally preferred for side sleeping (a thick pillow helps with this). With a bit of careful site selection and potentially a little grooming, the pad can be comfortable enough as an ultra-light, ultra-reliable solution, but doesn’t generally compare to most inflatable pads when it comes to comfort.
The better use in my opinion is to use the TwisterCane with other products. Combine this pad with an inflatable pad for some extra padding and warmth, and it becomes quite a bit more viable. While it isn’t really up to to being used on frozen ground or snow on it’s own (the 1.7 R-Value is a little low for that but I will test it this winter anyway) it adds a huge amount of warmth when being slapped on top or bottom of an already insulated air pad, or even on top of a cot or hammock, which I have used it for extensively. I also really enjoy using the pad as a general lounging device, often packing it with me on day hikes where I might find a hard rock to crash out on for an hour or two. It can be tossed anywhere, without worrying about it going flat or slipping. It’s also great for providing a nice dry surface for picnicking or resting when it is otherwise wet or muddy out. I’ve also found it being useful for car camping, laying it across the otherwise unused floor areas in my tent. It protects the floor and my knees, and makes crawling around way more enjoyable. I also tend to toss it onto picnic tables, and it does double duty as a workout pad at home. So, it has a ton of uses.
The weight and packability of the TwisterCane are both quite good. It can roll down relatively flat, (about 6 or 8 inches thick with a nice tight roll) and the weight is lower than most insulated inflatable sleeping pads. It can also be trimmed down to better fit smaller users to absolutely minimize weight, or to better fit specific uses like hammocking. The trim pieces make excellent seats and padding for other activities as well.
The pad has so far been extremely durable. I really can’t imagine how I could destroy it with normal use. Rocks, sticks, granite slabs, nothing really has a notable effect on the material. There are no signs of delamination, and even the print is hanging on. It cleans up easily too.
I really like the TwisterCane Biofoam sleeping pad. Most foam pads seem to be rather horrible for the environment, just through their manufacturing processes alone. Considering they’re generally petroleum based and require a huge amount of energy to process them, it really makes the TwisterCane look like an environmental win. Sugarcane alternatively, is renewable, pulls carbon from the atmosphere, and the rest of the plant is typically used in other industries as well (although I have no specifics on how this pad itself is made). It wouldn’t be my first choice for the best possible night’s sleep, however, it still makes a great accessory device and is a logical choice for anyone who doesn’t want to rely on plastic or petroleum for their sleep system. It is also ideal for ultra-lighters who may not want to fuss with blowing up a bag of air every night on longer backpacking outings. For those people, it is an easy recommendation.
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