The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Karrimor Sleeping Mat.

 Before you all rush off and switch on the test card, the post IS titled Karrimor.
Now like all of you of a certain age group you will remember when Karrimor were at the top end of outdoor gear and they made stuff to last. Designed and made in good old Lancashire by people who knew their stuff.
Having a Karrimor rucksack was as good as it got and who's still got one in the loft!

 Nowaday's Karrimor is synonymous with cheap and pretty nasty low end of the market stuff having been relegated from Lancashire to God knows where in the far east. Over the years it's been quite hard to keep up with the licence agreements and who is using the name under licence or just using it anyway.
 Shying away from Karrimor branded products has been quite easy. Sports Direct/Field and Trek are the stockists in the UK.

 However, this last few months i have noticed a change, albeit a small change but a change non the less. Better quality items have been seen alongside the tat.
 Now i've heard say that in Japan the quality of Karrimor gear is up there with the best and expensive. So i can only assume that some of this better quality gear is percolating down to us.

  One of the items i have picked up recently are the drybags. They are equally as good as Expeds dry bags for about half the price. I cannot fault them.
 I looked at the new boot and shoe range and although i havn't purchased any they look a step in the right direction. (No pun intended).
 They are selling an eVent jacket for £99 in store or £89 on the web. It has a water resistant zip without a storm flap, so it's not for me unfortunately. But i tried it on and it's a nice jacket.
 I liked the design although a little on the short side but a good fit otherwise. Weight is around 400 - 450gr i suspect, nothing was printed on the tag for the weight so this is purely a guess.
 It goes to show though that you can design, manufacture and sell eVent waterproofs at a reasonable price.

 But this post was about the sleeping mat the Karrimor x-lite Inflate.

   I had to look twice when i saw this. A full length mat, 70mm thick, 6 tubes, £29.99. (Not the RRP on the tag £59.99)
 My first thought was, yes but it weighs a Kilo.
 I had a look at the tag and the weight was stated was an impressive 300grams. Was this true i thought after all it is Karrimor? Anyway i took the plunge and bought it.

 Getting home and weighing it, yes 300grams, as stated. Now the tag also says 3-4 season! Who are they kidding the Tog rating is 1.6.
 Ok, you could use it in 3 - 4 seasons but not on it's own. You would need more insulation, but i can live with that.
The material is 20denier fabric and feels just like most other inflatable mats, slippery. But no complains when cost and weight are most important to me.
 So having slept on it now for 10 nights what do i think. Well it retains air pressure as good as my Exped UL7  lite and better than my Neo-air. It moves around the tent like any other mat. The valve, although not as neat as Expeds is certainly industry standard and look the same as my ThermArests.

The tubes (6) are all the same diameter.
I would have preffered the outer one to be bigger diameter but don't forget the price.
It's comfy, easy to inflate. Deflating seems a little slow but not ridiculously so, just slow in comparion to my Exped.
 It packs up remarkably small for a full size mat and stays neatly that way. It doesn't try and unravel itself.

Would i recommend it. Yes, absolutely, with 10 nights usage, so far so good.


  1. Thanks for the heads-up on these mats.
    I have just returned from a trip where I spent a couple of not very comfortable nights on my (very old) Thermarest, so I decided to go with your recommendation - I've just placed my order on SportsDirect.

    I'll report back!


  2. Hi JJ.
    Hope you find it ok. I could have loaned you this one to have a try with. Still its not expensive is it.

  3. Interesting to see Karrimor making inroads into the better end of the market again through the XLite range.

    I think the mid to top end of the market could probably do with another player to keep everyone on their toes!

    1. Lets hope they go from strength to strength but be a bit more clear about whose making what for who etc.

  4. And of course, what you need to provide that extra insulation to bring it up to 4 seasons is an original gold Karrimat, like wot I have in the garage.
    You will remeember that i have been wittering on about the excellent build quality of my Karrimor shoes for some time, despite the failure of these bastards at Karrimor marketing to come up with any freebies. Maybe you'll have better luck!

    1. I still have some of mine left too. I did cut some of it off to make a sit mat plus other things.
      I tried KSB's years ago and they leaked badly. It was the start of the end for me.
      Karrimor, marketing, freebies! I don't think those 3 words have ever been used together before and i wouldn't expect it any time soon.

  5. A lot of karrimor can be bought at go outdoors
    That's her I bought the sleeping bags and bed mats for my kids from.

  6. @125f8.
    Yes you are right about that. Thanks for comment. Like the sunny camera setting btw.

  7. Re: mats moving around in the tent. A tip I picked up from Alan Sloman is to put some dots of seam sealant on the groundsheet in the area where your mat will go and leave them to cure in the sunshine (???!) for a few hours. This will hold the mat in place quite effectively.

    1. Hi Phil,
      Yes i read that on Alan’s blog and others. Thanks.
      I was just making the point that this mat was no better or worse than any of the other more expensive mats in the way it glides around.
      You just gave me an idea. If i silicon seal the mat to the groundsheet i wonder if it will stay in place as part of the tent. And then again if tent manufacturers had a double layer groundsheet with a valve in situ you wouldn’t need a mat at all. Just blow up the groundsheet.
      Mmm, Somebody might take me up on that thought.

  8. Thanks for the tip, Alan. My Karrimor Jaguar 65 rucksack is still going strong, but I'd assumed that modern Karrimor gear would always be bargain basement junk. Maybe I was wrong?

    1. all i would say is check them out. For the price they are worth looking at. I have/had the same assessment as yourself but was pleasantly surprised with these items. Lets hope they get more gear in of a better quality.

  9. Karrimor are back in the groove with better kit, newer ideas and a marketing push to match. The real issue is whether they can keep it up and not succumb to poorer quality kit once they sniff the profit margins. It's a cut throat business, outdoor kit, and the consumers are exacting people because they have to be. With class act European manufacturers starting to export to the UK (Norrøna, Brynje and Bergans, for example), local brands will have to keep their game razor sharp.

  10. Your right Maz, it is cut throat. Just walk round a towns outdoor shops like i do regularly and have a chat with the retailers. All finding it hard. But also they are all a bit “The same”. Same products, same prices, unless you haggle.
    I have checked out your 3 European brands and they are all top end prices. There will be people out there who will buy them but not in any great numbers i fear. If Karrimor can expand the quality products here at these sort of prices then they may get the reputation back.

  11. Hi Alan!
    Thanks for the review. Now it's been some months since the last posting, is the sleeping mat still good? Still recommendable? I'm thinking about getting one for chrismas and some drybags as well =) Found a good prices for both on
    So I'm really intressted in your input, as you know might have tried it out even more.



  12. Richard,
    So sorry i seem to have missed this comment for some reason.
    Yes i can categorically say that it has been very good and still going strong today. May 2013.

  13. Just purchased one of these today, down to just £23 (Field & Trek) cannot find a packed size anywhere though.. any idea's Alan?

  14. Not sure i understand fully Anon. If you have bought one do you not know the pack size as purchased or am i missing the point. If you are waiting for the post man then i would say the size of a pint milk bottle would be close.

  15. Hi Alan. I've been using a Multimat Superlite Air for a few years but it's sprung a leak. Been looking at the Karrimor X Lite air mat as it appears identical, amost as if it's been made by the same factory in China. How did your Karrimor mat hold out in the end, did it survive a few years use ?

    1. Hi John. Still going strong and will be used this weekend. No issues so far.


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