The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dead Chuffed with Cascade

When the ThermArest Neo Air first hit the UK it was a bit of a sensation to say the least. A massive leap forward. Sheila and I both bought one in the small version. Since then we have seen an amazing revolution in sleeping mat weights, warmth and packability from lots of OEM’s. On the down side there have been durability issues and with the NeoAir we had the deflation issue.

Sheila’s mat has always held air content with very little change in comfort even when temperatures fell during the night. The slight reduction in pressure was negligible.
Mine on the other hand suffered badly. Being almost completely flat after a nights use.

I tested it in the bath to find out where it was leaking but i never found a puncture of even the smallest proportions. 

In the mean time we fell a bit out of love with the horizontal tubes because we found it quite easy to slide off the mat. I tried a number of mats with vertical tubes and preferred the support they gave. There definitely isn’t as much movement of the mat when the tubes are vertical imo.

Sheila actually found that her hips were sore in the morning when sleeping on a tubed mat, any tubed mat and eventually she decided to try a Trangoworld micro lite foam self inflating mat. This proved a success and she still prefers it although a little heavier.
She sold her NeoAir.

My NeoAir was relegated to the museum of hardly used equipment. Stored in a wardrobe in the spare room. It must have been there now for a good 3 years maybe. It was only recently when changing the room around that we had to empty the wardrobe and the NeoAir saw the light of a new day. I thought it a crying shame that such a good bit of revolutionary kit was now a discarded bit of old plastic. I was considering throwing it out or reusing it in some way or other, anyway i inflated it hoping that it had matured with age and had self healed its leaking wounds. It hadn’t, it just arched against the wall all sad and empty in the morning.

Then a couple of weeks ago i was having a chat with a member of staff in the Cotswold shop and i mentioned about my Neoair. He said he remembered sending quite a few of the early ones back  to the factory because of a fault and he suggested i email the company about it. I must admit that i didn’t hold out much hope as it’s a few years old although it probably has only about 10 nights usage all in. I should have looked into sooner i know that but i sent an email to Cascade. Well they could only say “no” at worst couldn’t they.

I was very quickly contacted by Ciamha at Cascade in Ireland. She told me that the mat would be evaluated and if it could be repaired it would cost £15. If it was beyond repair it may be replaced depending on the evaluation. 
Now as i wrote above, the mat’s condition was not an issue, and i couldn’t find a leak as to why it was deflating. So i was absolutely over the moon to receive a reply from Ciamha that Cascade are going to replace the mat FOC. Even after all this time.

What can i say except “Now that’s what i call going the extra mile service”. I will get the use of my mat back. I will have a light weight option without spending more money. I am so grateful to Cascade and my contact Ciamha for doing this and i am very pleased i had that chat in the Cotswold shop. 

Just thought i would share the experience.


  1. Hopefully Mike may read this Alan, his mat appears to be pregnant?? My NeoAir does appear to slightly deflate overnight. The biggest issue I have though is blowing the darned thing up, it makes me giddy. Quite good on snow and ice though.

    1. Hi Dawn,
      All air mats will deflate a degree overnight as temperature drops and the air cools. Wo ho, you can’t beat a bit of giddy.
      I darn’t say what i think about Mikes mat except he needs to get it looked at!

  2. Well that's what I call service! I only have two inflatable mats, a Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Wms and a Therm-a-Rest Prolite XS. They have performed well but still I tend to drag a CCF mat as well - I just don't have enough trust in the inflatable mats. In the summer months my go-to combination is a thin, lightweight CCF mat and the Prolite XS (it is short but so am I, too - both my head and buttocks are on it -, it's light in weight and takes little space in the backpack).

    Do I remember correctly that you had a weird bubble on one of your TAR Prolites?

    1. Hi Maria,
      Yes you are correct. My TAR mat developed a pillow where no pillow was intended. Unfortunately this defect grew too large to be of any use and it went in the bin.
      Very wise taking a CCF mat as well as the air mat. I also take a piece of 3mm thick mat that really is good insulation, only weighs 100grams, it gives the air mat some protection from ground sharp objects that could penetrate the tent groundsheet. It is actually made to insulate wood flooring and is available from DIY stores.
      Here is a link so you will know what i mean, you do get lots for the money.

  3. Hi Alan
    Yep I had an issue with an early neoair as well...Cascade replaced it with a Neoair Xlite. Excellent service. Amongst so many poor companies Cascade stick to there word and in my experience always have. Top Marks!

  4. The excellent Cascade lifetime guarantee - I'm about to call on it for the 4th time, with another delaminating Neo Air (that'll be the 'pregnant' issue dawn describes). Quite why I didn't send it back last May (rather than waiting for a month before I need it) I don't know!

  5. 4x Gayle! That’s a bit of a let down. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Weibull charts of failures, it makes me wonder at what point a product gets withdrawn.

  6. That is great service Alan, but on the other hand when you hear of numerous failures and durability issues you have to ask yourself why such kit gets sold without proper testing and importantly why do people still buy this stuff.

    It also begs the question who tests kit nowadays and whether the so called testing is genuine. At times we seem to be in an age of looks over function and theoretical advantages over genuine gains and durability. Take Gayles experience for instance, how can a company be seen to have a good product when you have to replace a mat for the fourth time.

    I have just done some so called testing for an outdoor product. There has been no attempt to ask me for feedback, other than that volunteered by me. In my naivety I expected a feedback form and perhaps a usage log to show the kit has been tested, but nothing has been asked of me. The response to issues I have found has been of the "well others are doing the same and we have only had a limited number of issues" attitude.

  7. All good points David. It would be interesting to know what has caused the failures percentage wise. It can be very easy to damage an air mattress in the outdoors. It could be sharp heather, a thistle spike or the zip pull on your trouser rear pocket and everything in between. Manufacturing defects whether production or design is something different. At the end of the day we need to take more care with air mattress than we do over say CCF. When you consider it all in perspective I think we are quite lucky that Cascade do off us an excellent guarantee.
    I used to get gear clinic forms but they are becoming few and far between these days as gear companies tend to use our blog sites as good value advertising.


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