The Vault Regulars

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sleeping mat.

L - R  Std Therm-A-rest. Getting on a bit now but still a likeable mat. Weight with sac 460gr.
           TrangoWorld Skin Micro lite foam filled. Very comfy. weight with sac. 375gr.
            Big Agnes Mummy Weight incl bag 560gr.
            Therm-A-rest Neo Air. Weight incl sac 265gr.

   Like a lot of people we plunged into the market before the initial dust had settled and bought the Neo Air.
There were quite a few rave reviews and so this was the original stimulus to buy.
Within a short period of time, probably around about 7 nights use, Sheila decided that it was uncomfortable and she went back to using the Std Therm-A-Rest. Then a while later we found the TrangoWorld mat and now this is Sheila’s and possibly my favourite.

   I, on the other hand stuck with the Neo Air, not so much to do with comfort but just purely weight.
However i found so much wrong with the NeoAir in my opinion, that i wanted to find something else.
This is very unlike me as i hate spending money twice.

 What did i find wrong with the Neo Air you might ask.
Well, i keep falling off it. I turn over and away it goes. I put beads of silicon on the underside but it didn’t stop the problem.
It deflates quite considerably overnight too and i have never slept well on it.
Apart from the pack size and weight there is not much i like about it to be honest.
 I decided to buy a cheap longitudinal tube mat, something of the Multimat Adventure type. Not too expensive if i didn’t like it and at 440gr not excessively heavy either just to do a comparison test.

  But just as i was about to order it, i had been internet speaking with Maz, who’s excellent blog The Journeyman Traveller is here.
He very kindly offered to loan me his Big Agnes Mummy Mat for appraisal of the opposing tube direction to the Neo-Air. How brilliant and trusting is that. I had never met Maz and we did not know each other apart from reading each others blog.

  Having now slept on it a few times i have come to the conclusion that the vertical tubes of the Big Agnes suit me far better than the horizontal tubes of the Neo Air. I find it suits my body shape better. The air movement is better within the vertical tubes and therefore the mat rises and falls in the right places supporting me and providing a comfortable sleep.
  This Big Agnes is a mummy shaped mat tapering off quite a bit at the foot. I would not go for this style by choice, as i found my feet were on the floor quite a bit.  But i must say what a quality mat this is.

  I am now considering my options. 
Currently i fancy the Vaude Norssken which also has larger diameter tubes on the outside which, in theory should keep you on the mat better. But it is a touch on the heavy side.
Decisions, decisions.
Thanks ever so much Maz for your assistance.


tookiebunten said...

Nice post about the sleeping mats I got a loan of a POE with vertical tubes from Phil Turner and probably had one of the best sleeps, much comfier than my standard therm-a-rest. However the cost of getting that model I felt was a bit price. However I found the Alpkit Numo nearly identical if a little heavier but it is a thicker fabric. I haven't looked back since. It's a great mat to sleep on and reasonable price at £40

Alan R said...

Cheers Tookie,
That is one i hadn’t considered.

Zed said...

My yellow Karrimat, possibly 25 years old, still works well. Stinks a bit. I'd buy a new one if I could.

Alan R said...

If my old yellow karrimat didn't take up so much room i would probably still use it. In fact if i base camp i sometimes do.

Tor Magnus said...

Have you considered the Exped Synmat 7 UL? I already have a Downmat 7 and while it's nice and warm it's a bit on the heavy side.

I have to admit I never consider a night on a mat a wonderful experience sleeping-wise, however the downmat at least doesn't offend me. I'm hoping the Synmat 7 UL can be as inoffensive as it's my next planned purchase. :)

Alan R said...

Thanks for your comment. The Synmat UL7 is a definate contender. I like Exped gear it's well made.
At £75 the mat is a good price for that spec. and quality.

Anonymous said...

Alan, if you can wait, there's a new Exped Downmat UL coming out soon that will weigh c580g. It's a bit heavier than either the POE or the Synmat but it will be a lot warmer.

Anonymous said...

The 580g includes a pumpbag which can be used as a drybag BTW.

Alan R said...

I am in no rush. With the New Zealand trip coming up fast it will be March before i need to
Thanks very much for the info.

Tor Magnus said...

And the Synmat UL 7 is nowhere to be found until Feb either apparently...

What is it with producers lately? I'm also trying to get hold of two different pairs of Merrell barefoot shoes and they're both out of stock everywhere I've checked so far! (Actually 1 pair is available in the uk Merrell store, but they do the stupid "we only sell within the country" thing...) :(

Alan R said...

Hi Tor,
Yess i know what you mean. It is the same with the Alpkit Numo.
I don't understand companies, especially the big high street ones that don't ship abroad. Especially with up front payments.

Alan R said...

Just watched the YouTube vid of the Exped Downmat UL 7. Looks very interesting. And the pump bag is very handy.

Maz said...

Alan, it was absolutely my pleasure. There is no point my extra kit simply sitting in a cupboard and frankly, most people know my views on getting kit so we can review it - wherever it comes from, however we get it, we are able to provide a good service to the outdoor world by reviewing kit honestly and comprehensively. I am glad it was of use to you and I found the problem you did about the length annoying too. It's too long and too short all in one. If you're on a short mat, you make allowances. If you are on a long one, it's heavier and that is a trade-off. This fits in the middle and frankly I'm not convinced the length is useful. Good review.

David Cotton said...

Alan, a great review. As I am rather tall I find I have the opposite problem with longitudinal tubes - I slide to the top or bottom of the tent so that my head or feet touch the ends, allowing condensation or wetting to dampen my sleeping bag. Widthways beams prevents this, and I find I do not slide around much on the NeoAir.

One question I would have about all of the mats - what are their thermal qualities like? I find the NeoAir is excellent at reflecting the heat back towards my body - grasp its edge with your hands and see how it feels like it warms up. This was not the case with my old (ancient) Thermarest.

Alan R said...

Hi David,
It’s funny and i think mats seem to emphasise it more than other items but how different we all are. And it just goes to show that you have to take reviews in a comparative light. What somebody finds awful is wonderful to somebody else.
I didn’t write this post with thermal issues in mind. It was purely to see what others thought. I do not know what the insulating value is of the original ThermArest mat but i guess it must be around 2.
The TrangoWorld mat is excellent value for money with a thermal value of 3.4. The Big Agnes mat has a Primaloft filling and it says it’s range is down to 15 ℉. No thermal value specified.
The Neo Air thermal value is 2.5. But the new all season mat has now been released and has a value of 4.9.
There is plenty to consider.

Alan R said...

Thanks Maz,
It will be winging it’s way back to you very soon. Hopefully Friday. I want to get it back to you before the Christmas post rush kicks in.
Thanks again for the chance to try before you buy.

markswalkingblog said...

Alan, I have the Exped Synmat UL7 mat, which I have been very happy with. There is a review on my blog if you are interested. The POE mat I owned had two leaks in it and I know a number of people who had the same problem.

afootinthehills said...

I don't suppose Santa will bring me any of these mats, so I'll still keep using my £17.00 Alpkit (can't remember which model) and Karrimat.

Great review Alan.

Alan R said...

Thanks Mark. I have read your mat posts with interest and also like you say i have also noticed how many people have had problems with the POE, so that one is not on my list. The Kookabay mat i posted about yonks ago is still under consideration although i have not seen any reviews as yet.

Alan R said...

Hi Gibson,
Me too. There will be no mat on Christmas day. I will be having a look at the sales in New Zealand in January and see if there are any bargains I won’t hold my breath though.
Like i said to Zed, there’s nothing wrong with the old Karrimat.
If you want to try my Neo-Air (short) you are quite welcome to.

afootinthehills said...

That's very generous of you Alan. I'm not planning any backbacking trips until April but I'll bear your offer in mind.

Vertical tubes seem so much more sensible - I'm sure I'd roll off the horizontal ones!

Alan R said...

Hi Gibson,
As you will be aware by reading the comments it's not cut and dried that vertical tubes suit everybody and visa versa with horizontal.
But the offer to try will remain open and you can prove what suits you.
Just let me know, if and when.

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