As gear companies incorporate the latest technologies to add comfort, warmth and z’s to our nights spent in the wild, there’s no reason why your sleeping mat can’t rival your own bed these days (and slip easily into your backpack). But which one? In this sleeping mat review we took a real world look at what’s out there so you can sleep easy.
With temperatures in August dropping to around 3 degrees celsius, it presented a great opportunity to put 5 of the top sleeping mats on the market to the test:
Nemo Insulated 20R Sleeping Mat
Given the size of the mat packed down, I was very impressed by the sheer size of my mobile mattress, once I’d repeatedly emptied the contents of my lungs through the air-trapping dump valve. Dizzy, but impressed.
8.9 cm thick, 51 cm wide and 183cm (!) long – she sure was a beast to look at once fully unleashed. For a vertically challenged man like myself, I was excited to hop into bed with it.
I had the mat laid out rather unconventionally inside my Hennessy Hammock, so on a cool night it was imperative to have reliable insulation to save frozen buttocks. God bless PrimaLoft. This synthetic alternative to down allows for a temperature rating of between -4 and -9, which is, well, comforting to know. The grooves are also lateral, ensuring that I wasn’t suffocatingly cocooned inside my hammock. They’ll stop you slipping down a slope too.
The Nemo Insulated 20R just feels sturdy and durable. At 755g, it may not be the most super lightweight mat on the market but it’s easy to use, packs down well and even comes with a built in (mini) pillow to supplement your own.
Sea To Summit Ultralight Regular Sleeping Mat
After six hours slogging up a mountain with a backpack that weighed nearly a third of me, I was pretty ready for a good night’s sleep.
The Regular Sea to Summit Ultralight Sleeping Mat weighs an undemanding 395 grams, so it fit easily into my backpack alongside my tent and sleeping bag.
I didn’t have too much energy left so thankfully the orthopaedic sleeping mat was easy to inflate. I undid the top cap and blew into it, fully inflating the mat in about a minute of huffing and puffing. The mat fit well into my hiking tent with room to spare.
This was my first time sleeping on an inflatable mat so I was pretty excited to try it out. When I camped for three weeks in the US wilderness last year, my hiking buddy and I lay a foam mat we bought from Target and cut in half (yes we’re cheap backpackers!) under our sleeping bags. This was certainly a step up in the world.
In comparison to the improvised mat, the Sea to Summit alternative was absolute heaven. Despite its lightness, it does surprisingly well in the comfort department owing to its 181 independent air sprung cells that do indeed support the body’s contours as promised.
I was on slightly sloping ground but the mat stayed in place all night and I also didn’t slip on the laminated nylon surface of the mat.
The temperature dropped to about 3 degrees overnight and we woke to a misty morning in Rum Jungle. While I was comfortable on the mat, it was pretty cold due to the lack of insulation and I woke up a lot of times from the cold seeping up from the ground.
This mat is definitely perfect for the warmer months, but with an R-value of 1.1, not in the saddle of a 1354 metre mountain in the first week of spring.
** This mat is part of the Sea to Summit sleeping mat range, which includes warmer models.
Klymit Insulated Static V Lite
I know I’m an adult now and being afraid of the unknown and my unrealistic imagination when camping at night shouldn’t be an issue. But I’m going be real with you, it still does, and the way I deal with it is by going to sleep straight away so my blissful dreams can take over. For this to happen I need to be comfy and warm. The Klymit Insulated Static V Lite sleeping mat provided the quick escape from reality that I needed by having these essential qualities.
Made to the length of 183cm, it was definitely long enough to sleep my whole body, and this cushiony ‘bed away from bed’ even accommodated for me to sleep on my side with my knees tucked up. My favourite position however, was lying stomach down so I could get the extra warmth from the mat. The R Value is 4.4, which is above the recommendation for campers who sleep cold, generally being us ladies!
All in all, I had a pretty top-notch sleep, but if I’m going to be honest I always do. But, and there is a but! My nifty little Garmin watch tracks my sleep levels and recorded that I had five hours of deep sleep out of nine and half hours! I have never slept this deep before and this is way more (three hours more to be exact) than I have ever had in my own comfy bed at home. This little bad boy wraps up so small, weighing in at 556g it really helps keep my pack weight down. I would 100% recommend this to anyone who craves a good night sleep after a hard day’s hike.
Sea To Summit Comfort Plus S.I.
Nothing beats getting out into nature when the weekend comes around. Gone are the days where an overnight hiking trip meant rolling up your half-inch thick foam mat and roughing it for the night. Leave that mat for your yoga class!
The Sea To Summit Comfort Plus S.I. sleeping mat packs comfort and functionality into a small, lightweight package. Weighing in at approximately 900 grams (regular size), it only makes up a small fraction of your overall pack weight. It won’t take up much room either, packing down to a mere 27 by 15cm.
When I first got my hands on the Comfort Plus SI (Self Inflating) I assumed that it would be quite thin when inflated, judging by its packed size. I was a happy man to discover that it inflates up to a thickness of 8cm. Inflation took only a few minutes, most of which was spent chatting away while the self-inflating core worked its magic. The one-way top up valve made it very simple to inflate the mat to a comfortable level.
My main concern for the night ahead was whether or not I’d wake up cold. I didn’t know at the time, but the Comfort Plus SI has an insulation R Value of 4.1 meaning it’s suited especially for winter camping. I was toasty warm all night, so getting out of bed at 4:30am the next morning for sunrise was no easy feat.
In terms of comfort, the name says it all. I was very impressed. The mat held its shape well and didn’t appear to lose any air during the night. Although the foot-end of the Comfort Plus SI is fairly narrow, I personally didn’t have any issues. If you toss and turn a lot during the night then this mat might not suit you. A wider, fixed-width option would be more suitable. Furthermore, packing the mat back into its bag took some effort – it’s a tight squeeze!
Overall, the Sea To Summit Comfort Plus S.I. is a great all-purpose option if you want a good night’s sleep in a small package.
Thermarest Neo Air Xtherm
I couldn’t be more stoked when I saw how compact the Thermarest Neo Air Xtherm was. I originally had a larger mat and straight away was drawn to the space I would save by using the Neo Air, leaving more room for camera gear and food in my trekking bag. At 430g it was also very light for its huge R-Value of 5.7.
Compared to some of the other mats, the Thermarest required a lot more breathes to fill it completely up with air. On use, there was an immediate effect as I tested my warmth with and without the mat. When I didn’t have the mat underneath my sleeping bag, my back and legs were cold but as soon as I lay on the mat there was an immediate sense of warmth. This was fantastic as I was camping without a tent.
The Thermarest’s overall size (once inflated) is fantastic as it covers from head to toes and the width allows you to move from side to side easily without coming off the mat. I found it so much easier to sleep with the mat under my back, it provided great cushioning through the individual ridges that run across the width of the mat.
Packing up the Thermarest was very easy. It took less than a minute to release all of the air, fold and place the mat inside the compact carry bag. I was stoked to see that an instant field repair kit along with instructions was included alongside the mat in case I sprung a leak.
Overall, very warm, very light and would highly recommend.
Choosing a sleeping mat depends largely on where you’re going to be using it, your budget, and how much of a gram-counter you are. Extra weight is usually due to a larger size (good if you like to move around) and better insulation. Insulated mats can usually be used year-round but you’ll be lugging unnecessary grams in the warmer months.
One thing’s for sure, every single one of these sleeping mats will knock your dumb blue closed-cell foam mat for six. Treat yourself.