Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Big Sleeping Mat Breakdown

I am going to do something a bit different with this discussion, in that rather than my vlog being a compliment to my blog, it's the other way around.  I had so much I wanted to say about sleeping mats/pads that I found it difficult articulating it by typing it all out, so instead I just decided to just blab on and on and get it all out there.  So if you haven't already, check out my big, long, unedited, rambling video featuring all of my sleeping mats for UL wilderness backpacking:

In spite of this video being nearly 20 minutes long, I still didn't mention some other important factors related to sleeping mats.  For example, the issue of bulk, with foam taking up the most space (even the very thin ones), generally followed by self-inflating mats, and then fully inflatable pads.  However this is apparent in the video just by looking at the size of the different mats.

Another factor that slipped my mind is also how shelters play how convenient a sleeping pad may or may not be to use.  For instance, using my Nemo Zor short pad is the most easy and convenient to use together with a bivy, because it's not as thick (and thus takes up less space inside), plus is easy to slip in and out of a bivy.  Foam pads in bivies are also not as thick so they offer more space, but I have found them a bit trickier to get them inside, having to roll them out and get them in place.  

Fully inflatable, regular sized sleeping mats I have found the most tricky to get inside a bivy, because of all the space they take up when full of air.  And blowing them up while in the bivy is even trickier I have found--best to blow it up then stuff it in.  A self inflating pad, and especially a short one, from my experiences is just all around easier to slip in and out of a bivy, which is a shelter I like to use quite a bit.

Granted, I am really splitting hairs here.  The slight inconvenience of stuffing a regular sized air mat into a bivy is not a deal breaker, but I thought it was worth mentioning as a factor, especially for anyone that just so happens to find self inflating pads to be the most comfortable and/or also loves using bivies.

Finally, I like to have the important specs in one place for these kinds of discussions, so here is a full breakdown for each mat I show off and talk about in the video (in order of appearance):

  • Gossamer Gear Air Beam - 295g, R value ∼0.5-1.0 (uninsulated, so air only), size regular.
  • Generic thin foam pad - 80g, R value ∼.5.  This is the thinnest foam pad I've been able to find in Sweden (at Clas Ohlson).  I have trimmed it down to roughly 3/4 length.
  • Nemo Zor - 275g, R value 2.3, size short.
  • Thermarest RidgeRest Solar - 330g, R value 3.5, trimmed to roughly 3/4 length.
  • Thermarest Neoair XLite - 350g, R 3.2, size regular.
  • Generic "standard" foam pad (black and white) - 60g, R value ∼1.0, trimmed for larger sit mat/torso sleeping pad.
  • Generic "standard" foam pad (green) - 40g, R value ∼1.0, trimmed for small sit mat/torso sleeping pad.
  • Thermarest Neoair XTherm - 470g, R value 5.7, size regular.
So there you have it, a whole lot of detail on an key piece of backpacking gear.  As always, hope this is helpful, and feel free to ask questions and give feedback.

*The usual disclaimer: I didn't get any of these pads free.  Still not sponsored.  Still no adds on my blog or vlog.