Monday 10 November 2008

Andy's guide to roll mats

Roll mats play two important roles. They insulate you in cold conditions and make for a more comfortable night’s sleep. There are hundreds on offer and all are different shapes, sizes and materials. So what’s right for you, the cheap and cheerful classic foam role mat or a top of the range thermarest? Here’s a quick guide to what's out there.

1. Foam Roll mat

Price £2.95 - £9

Extremely cheap and durable these mats provide adequate insulation but very little comfort. You will feel every stone and twig through one of these bad boys. Another disadvantage is the size, as such they are often attached to the outside of rucksacks. This often means that they become prematurely worn and torn.

2. Inflatable (airbeds and lillo’s)

Price £1.99 - £22.99

The predecessor of the inflatable camping mat everyone must have mucked about with one of these on family holidays. Beats lying on the floor but have a tendency to push up unevenly and are extremely liable to burst. Airbeds are more comfortable and with a texture finished they are less likely to stick to your face. However they tend to be extremely heavy and as such are not suitable for backpacking or trekking.

3. Inflatable (thermarest)

Generic and own brands - Price £17.50 - £45.00

Thermarests - Price £29.99 - £139.99 for the XL Dreamtime

There are loads of cheaper makes and many camping stores now produce their own versions of this favorite. The more you pay the smaller your mat will pack down and the lighter it will be. Thermarest have also just introduced tougher materials to avoid dreaded leaks which is the mats biggest downfall. Before buying think about what you will use your mat for. If you are planning on lots of trekking then go for something lightweight. If you’re looking for something extremely comfortable then go for something wide, long and thick. A closed cell foam formation will give you the best protection in cold conditions as well as making the mat less liable to holes.

If you speak to anyone who has owned a thermarest or equivalent they will never go back to a foam roll mat. If you do buy one treat it carefully to avoid punctures, also it's best to store inflatable mats not in their compression sacks as this can compress their inner padding, decreasing their lifespan.


1 comment:

  1. Ive not tried a thermarest - may have to look into it. Good guide thanks for sharing.