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More About Paco Pads

If you are vacillating about which pad to buy this may help. Sure Paco Pads are a little more expensive that others, but they have the best track record of any pad on the market. The customers who use them put them through every extreme, from arctic cold, to searing desert heat. Add up longevity toughness and comfort, and it equals value. It is a hard combination to beat.

Paco Pad Specifications
Paco Pads are designed for use in some of the toughest environments. We once called them Grand Canyon Pads, because the lack of sand in the Canyon made it important to have a pad that can be used on the flat rocks. Then we found that our customers really liked them for trips in Alaska where there is a lot of glacial river Cobble. The extra dense foam really helps smooth out the rough spots in the ground. Before the advent of Paco Pads, I would spend about a half hour smoothing out the sand under where I was going to sleep. Still I would always wake up with a sore hip or back. We continually get comments like "Paco Pads are the best friend my back ever had".

The combination of a waterproof cover coated with vinyl and the high density, firm foam is the secret to the success of these pads. Small, Full, Guide and Super pads use a 2070 grade foam. Silverback and guide pads use a 2030 grade foam. The first two numbers designates the density of the foam. There is 2 lbs per cubic ft of foam density. This is more than double the density of most garden variety hardware store foams. The density of the foam is what will give the foam resistance to set, or permanent deformation after rolling many times. The second number means that it will take 70 lbs of force to compress a cubic foot of foam to 3/4 of its original thickness or down to 9 inches. These are standard foam measuring and grading rules. The 18 oz PVC coated Polyester cover also adds a measure of firmness to the pad by distributing some of the load over a larger area. Since 1989, unlike our Chinese competitor, our foam has been made without CFC's, and is environmentally friendly in it's production.

Performance is measured by more than how well one sleeps. A Paco Pad cover (PVC coated polyester) has increased friction between the nylon of the sleeping bag, and the pad cover. This helps keep a camper on the pad. I have had a number of customers reflect on how often they must get back on their other pad at night. All you need to do to the pad to get ready to sleep on it is open the valve and wipe the sand dirt or water off. It is already waterproof, and it needs no cover. It takes no time for it to dry. On colder trips, we have often stood behind our pads and curled them around the fire to heat them up before we lay down on them next to the fire. We have never been concerned about where they lay, except for cactus or thorns. Even if a hole is in the pad it still works provided that the foam inside is dry. They never need extra air to make them function. I have had customers bring pads back for repair that have 5 years of commercial use and have had the valves missing the entire time. (we use a stronger valve now)

One of the great selling points of Paco Pads for river runners was the fact that they did not need to be rolled up. When they are unrolled, they are as functional in the day time as they are at night for sleeping. To illustrate this point, consider a raft that has a lot of coolers, and ammo cans and stuff in the cargo area. This stuff can clank around, and a passengers fingers can get smashed or even cut off if they end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Paco Pads not only cushion the passengers, they also keep them from getting stuck where they don't belong. Add to this the insulating factor that pads provide on a raft and there is a great benefit to a ice chest's ability to hold ice. We have even rolled up beverages inside them and kept things cold inside a rolled up pad for the entire day. On our long Grand Canyon private trip it is fun to watch the evolution of a raft rig. On the first day a raft will be rigged so that all the stuff can be secured to the boat. By the second or third day, the passengers have figured out how to rig the boats so that the pads are actually elaborate lounge chairs. There is a lot of heavy snoozing that can go on during the day, and they figure out how to make it work well fast. There has been a lot of peanut butter and jelly smeared on Paco Pads. They work well as a place to set up lunch, and help to keep food bits off of the beaches. They can be simply rinsed off in the river. It is a good idea to wash them with soap and water occasionally so that rodents do not get the idea that they are something to eat in the winter while they are in the garage.

Who uses Paco Pad
Almost every western river outfitter who does multi day trips use Paco Pads for their customers. Those who still use cots on the Grand Canyon have guides who prefer Paco Pads. There is a growing number of Mountain Bike outfitters who use our pads too. The number of car campers and kayakers is growing also. Many eastern outfitters offer these at their base camps. They are in Nepal on river trips, and on treks, in the Serengetti on wildlife safaris, and In the arctic on dog sled adventures.

Our first and best customers were the river outfitters of the Grand Canyon, Utah Deserts, and Idaho Mountains. Of course this is where I spent my river running career, and I could see the application. Over the years, we have built custom pads for many different niches. Dee Holiday of Holiday River Expeditions is one of our earliest and best customers. His super sleeper pads have evolved into a pad that can be used as a chair around the camp fire. Grand Canyon Expeditions issues Paco Pads to their guests, and have large pads that cover the entire back section of their Grand Canyon rigs (37 ft long) for safety, comfort, and insulation from the hot metal frames. (Grand Canyon temperatures can go over 125 degrees, and metal frames can get very hot.) Arizona Raft Adventures uses our pads as cooler covers. These are custom made to fit over large ice chests, and have flaps that help retain the ice. Wade Falaney uses Paco Pads on the Tincanabits Taxi. This is a big Aluminum Jet boat that shuttles river passengers off of lake Mead. Chilkot Guides use these pads in Alaska on the Tatshenshini, and Alsek rivers in Alaska.

Some of our more exotic customers are Tusker Trails Safaris, who use them in Africa because they still function if punctured with thorns. They even pack them to the top of Kilamanjaro. Arliegh Jorgenson uses them on his sled dog journeys into the Northwest Territories in Canada. There is a growing number of motorcyclists (bikers) who are using Paco Pads. Hunters find that Paco Pads can be thrown into the back of a pickup truck. Snow Rain and Mud does not bother them, and precious dry cargo area does not have to be saved for a bulky piece of foam. In fact we always tie them on top of the roof racks on the Jeep so that we can have more space inside the car.

Crazy things that can be done with Paco Pads
I have had customers snow shoe up into the mountains, and use their pads as toboggans on the way back down. In fact my little girl and I always take a pad when we go tubing. they are a lot of fun. I have worked on my car numerous times on top of a pad. Sure beats being in the gravel, or worse yet in the snow. They make putting tire chains on tolerable sometimes. I have used them for packing furniture, windows, and other fragile materials. We have customers who purchased Paco Pads instead of a bed, and spent their entire college careers on them, definitely the vagabonds dream come true.

How long do they last?
I am not sure. We know of pads that were 10 years old that were used almost every day, that had to be replaced because the PVC coating was worn off of the top, and deteriorated by the sun. I also know that there are pads that are still being used by river outfitters that are over 15 years old. I can never keep one that long. I always end up giving them to someone who really deserves it, or trading for something. Dutch ovens, our business logo, and beer on day 18 of a Grand Canyon trip are some of the more memorable trades.

I am constantly amazed at who our customers are, and why they use our pads. I am sure in the years to come we will find more stories about how they are used.

After living with Paco Pads for the past 19 years, it is hard for me to go anywhere without them. If you have a good story about Paco Pads I would like to hear from you. Please write to me and I will put your story on our web site.


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