Sleeping mat alternatives

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Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby damonik » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:45 am

Hi all,
Just finished my first overnight tour - rode the Munda biddi from Collie to Donnybrook in near perfect conditions.

Loved it, the ride was stunning and the single track through Wellington dam area was great fun to ride.

However I had a hell of a sleep on my inflatable mattress and I grew to hate my crappy inflatable pillow. I'm fairly lean but tall bloke and had a terrible nights sleep. The mat sucked and my pillow was unbearable.

What do you all use for sleeping (both pillow and mat) whilst on a tour? Why? Is it actually comfortable? Any recommendations welcomed!
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by BNA » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:17 pm

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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby rifraf » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:17 pm

My inflatable roll is no longer inflatable but I'm usually so tired at the end of a days riding that I could sleep on a bed of nails
so wont yet bother upgrading till all my other wish list is empty.
As for inflatable pillows..... I was gifted one but it lost air in the night and would give me a crook neck.
I just use my fleece jacket stuffed into my sleeping bag stuff sack.
I tried using my ortlieb water bladder but the water would get cold in the wee hours and again give me a crook neck.
I'll stick with the rolled up fleece jacket. :)
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Ronbellows » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:54 pm

I find a flannel pillow slip greatly increases the luxury of the rolled up/stuffed in fleece jacket. For a mat I use a 3/4 length thermarest for fast and light trips and I augment this with a full length strip of that bubble wrap style building insulation for longer and colder trips. This stuff is incredibly tough, makes a great seat for lunchtimes, is unaffected by rain as I can just slide it under the tent floor and makes me visible on the road due to its silver foil backing. It was also nearly free - I love it!
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby RonK » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:59 pm

The Exped Synmat UL 7 seems to get the nod atm, with Mainpeak offering prices very competitive with os sites.

Thermarest NeoAir is popular too.

No pillow for me, just a bag of clothes.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Tim » Mon Sep 17, 2012 8:17 pm

12 months ago I bought a fairly expensive Thermarest medium sized compressible pillow. At the time I thought it was a bit of an unnecessary extravagance. I (my mum) covered it with a cotton pillow case and it is as good and comfy as my favourite home pillow. I'm a sucker for comfort, especially as I get older. It has been worth every cent of its too high price tag. It is very light and takes up minimal room in the kit. Used it several times now on a couple of overnight short bike tours and for two weeks of strenuous kayak touring. I love it.
For a mat I'm still using a three quarter length Thermarest I bought in 1989 for a Great Victorian Bikeride. It has never punctured, been used hundreds of times and refuses to die. At the time I bought the pillow I also purchased a folding 3 legged stool, means I don't have to grovel around on the ground while cooking. I also have a Thermarest "armchair". The mat folds into the "armchair" and gives me back support whilst sitting on the ground, its excellent. All these comforts add a marginal amount of weight to the load, but I am happy to carry it all as they take a bit of strain off the back and knees and just provide for a little bit more comfort. I always get sore scratching around on the ground, in and out of tents, preparing meals and organising a campsite.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby KenGS » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:04 pm

I use a Mountain Designs compressible pillow and also find it very comfortable. I used to just stuff some clothes into a stuff sack can put it under the end of the mat for a bit of extra padding. My mat is a Thermarest 3/4 length that I bought back in about 1985 and its had plenty of use. Not sure what model but I think was an ultrathin or something like that. In winter I use a newly acquired Exped Downmat UL7S
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby damonik » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:11 am

Hey all,
Thanks for the replies - I've run into the exped inflatable mats on a few forums now - I quite like the idea of one of them + the pillow pump
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Baalzamon » Tue Sep 18, 2012 8:55 am

And there are a few owners in perth of said exped mats if you wanted a test/demo
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby elStado » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:03 am

Yeah I've been using a Exped Synmat UL 7 mattress while cycle touring and camping around Europe for the past 8 weeks. I have also been using the Exped inflatable pillow. Bought the mattress from Mainpeak while on sale for ~$97 which was a bargain. If you can get one from a local store at this price then go for it for sure.

My thoughts:
Pro
-Very comfortable mattress
-Super lightweight and compact
-Fast to inflate
-Easy and quick to repair small punctures
-Looks awesome

Con
-Annoying to correctly deflate and fold into the right shape to fit the bag (took me about a week until I worked it out - maybe I'm just slow)
-If you don't have a pump for it you have to be careful of mould & mildew growing inside due to moisture from your breath.. they say to use a hair dryer on cold to air it out, but I don't have one at my disposal so there's nothing I can do about it right now.
-Gets punctures easily, I got 4 in the first week of use... been ok since then though (fingers crossed!)
-Base material is really slippery, so you will slide around in your tent unless you get some silicon spots on it for grip on both the mattress and the tent floor (I only have it on my tent floor... gets very annoying unless I am on a perfectly flat spot).

All up though, I still really like it and I would buy another in a heartbeat. If you can get the Exped foam pump / pillow thing then that would be a good combination as I didn't find the pillow all that comfortable and it bounces around too much.

I also bought a Exped drysack/daypack... it's an awesome bit of kit too. I'm a bit of a fan of Exped gear now.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Baalzamon » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:06 pm

Exped downmat 9 here
Pumping it up after day riding can be fun. But love the fact it's so comfy. Packing it down is a breeze really
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Tue Sep 18, 2012 10:08 pm

I am now on my second Exped Synmat UL 7. My first one failed early on my current tour. Thankfully Mainpeak got a replacement to me in Geraldton so all good on that front.

The replacement has new graphics so may also reflect internal changes as well.

I have punctured it (mostly likely cause being a three pronged thorn I found in my tent the next morning) but even with the puncture it stays up pretty well during the night. I just give it a pump up when I get up to have a leak.

I do use the Exped Pillow Pump as a pump and pillow.

I don't have the fold up issues (surprised by that comment) or any real issues with it sliding around.

For me it is the most comfortable mat I have come across in years of bushwalking so will stick with it. Also love how light it is and how small it packs down.

Andrew


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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby damonik » Thu Sep 20, 2012 10:51 am

Thanks all - Mainpeak is just behind my office so I think I'll drop by shortly and spend some $$ :-)
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:01 pm

Looks like issues with Exped mats are more widespread ... some discussion about them at TravellingTwo

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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:24 pm

A bit more on the Exped Synmat 7 from Shane Cycles Africa

Exped Synmat 7 a luxury mat that lasted slightly longer than my Downmat did, but not alot. At around 100 nights it started delaminating, it was still useable but not pleasant by 130 nights it was un-useable. The contact with Exped proved fairly useless, they may have a good 5 year warranty but its only valid if you hand in or send your mat to one of their dealers so its fairly useless when in Africa. From Malawi that was going to cost $40 (whatever happened to land mail?). I recently had a Thermarest foam Z-Lite mat send out. From now on I’ll stick with foam pure due to durability. The Z-lite is almost a third of the price of an Exped, half the weight and alot more durable. Though I found it very uncomfortable the first week, I now sleep fine on it. The only downside of a foam mat is the bulk.


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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby RonK » Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:53 pm

The reality is that ultralite equipment is not made for continuous use, as I mentioned recently with respect to ultralite tents.
This gear is intended for hikers, and 130 nights use is far more than most ultralite hikers would camp in a lifetime.
The other reality is that gear which will last a lifetime is inevitably heavy.
That is the choice we face.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby elStado » Wed Sep 26, 2012 12:21 am

RonK wrote:The reality is that ultralite equipment is not made for continuous use, as I mentioned recently with respect to ultralite tents.
This gear is intended for hikers, and 130 nights use is far more than most ultralite hikers would camp in a lifetime.
The other reality is that gear which will last a lifetime is inevitably heavy.
That is the choice we face.


This is unfortunately true.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby damonik » Wed Sep 26, 2012 10:56 am

My new mat gets its first workout this weekend - think I'll pack the puncture repair kit for it ;-)
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby RonK » Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:59 pm

damonik wrote:My new mat gets its first workout this weekend - think I'll pack the puncture repair kit for it ;-)

Mine arrived today - I've been hanging out for several months waiting for the LW size to come into stock. It will be getting an extended test in about three weeks time, in NZ...
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby il padrone » Wed Oct 03, 2012 11:45 pm

RonK wrote:The reality is that ultralite equipment is not made for continuous use, as I mentioned recently with respect to ultralite tents.
This gear is intended for hikers, and 130 nights use is far more than most ultralite hikers would camp in a lifetime.
The other reality is that gear which will last a lifetime is inevitably heavy.
That is the choice we face.

I would suggest that any delamination of a synmat or downmat has occurred due to over-inflation or due to it being left fully inflated in the daytime (in a hot tent) when expansion of the contained air has busted the seams. Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!

A friend of mine had an undetectable leak in his downmat, and took it back to the dealer who contacted Exped, and despite it being out of the actual warranty, they replaced the mat with no questions or hassle.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Thu Oct 04, 2012 10:37 am

il padrone wrote:I would suggest that any delamination of a synmat or downmat has occurred due to over-inflation or due to it being left fully inflated in the daytime (in a hot tent) when expansion of the contained air has busted the seams. Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!


If blowing it by mouth is going to over-inflate to the extent that it delaminates then there is an serious problem with the product design :roll: Even with the pillow pump it is hard to see how they can be over-inflated to such an extent that they delaminate. If the pillow-pump can inflate them so much to cause a problem there should be clear warnings on the product, there are none to my knowledge and secondly maybe a rethink of the design is required.

In my case I didn't leave mine in a tent during the day for the simple reason that I generally don't camp a second day so that didn't cause them delaminating.

Interesting Exped appear to have changed the design of the Synmat UL7 going by the graphics on my replacement. Maybe the number of them having issues resulted in that change and yes others are reporting issues with the earlier variant too. Not aware of issues with the downmat models but.

Also it seems that Therm-a-Rest with their Neoair (which is a different design and may be considered a better one) don't seem to have the same issues; well cannot find much in the way of negative reports of any.

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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:19 am

il padrone wrote:Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!


Where do you get this advice from? I haven't found much in the way of instructions or care instructions on Exped's website so curious as to where you getting this from. The only page I have found is the FAQ page.

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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby il padrone » Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:50 pm

Aushiker wrote:
il padrone wrote:Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!


Where do you get this advice from? I haven't found much in the way of instructions or care instructions on Exped's website so curious as to where you getting this from.

The same friend of mine was given this advice by the Sydney store that sold him his Exped.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Baalzamon » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:00 pm

Aushiker wrote:
il padrone wrote:Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!


Where do you get this advice from? I haven't found much in the way of instructions or care instructions on Exped's website so curious as to where you getting this from. The only page I have found is the FAQ page.

Andrew


Ummm
How do I store my sleeping mat?

We recommend storing the mat unrolled with both valves open in a dry and cool area e.g. under the bed.

So my mat only has one valve to let the air out. Just looked at it on the website and the image there is now definitely different to mine. So it looks like the downmat has been updated somewhat. Will be interesting to see if mine has a failure of some sort now.
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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby Aushiker » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:26 pm

il padrone wrote:The same friend of mine was given this advice by the Sydney store that sold him his Exped.


Ah okay, so it is not advice from Exped.

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Re: Sleeping mat alternatives

Postby il padrone » Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:42 pm

Baalzamon wrote:
Aushiker wrote:
il padrone wrote:Let your synmat down in the daytime is Exped's advice, so follow it!


Where do you get this advice from? I haven't found much in the way of instructions or care instructions on Exped's website so curious as to where you getting this from. The only page I have found is the FAQ page.

Ummm
How do I store my sleeping mat?

We recommend storing the mat unrolled with both valves open in a dry and cool area e.g. under the bed.

So my mat only has one valve to let the air out.


All Exped mats now use a built-in hand pump with a valve for air in and a valve for air out= two valves. The older mats had a pillow/bag inflator and different valves (?). The valves are now 2-3cm diameter flat plastic openings with clip in covers.

The valves are not a perfect seal when the covers are open so this is why they suggest leaving both open to increase air flow through. Having said that I have simply been storing mine rolled in the stuff bag. I never use any mouth inflation and it is the moisture from this that will cause longer term problems, so the mat should stay dry inside, I reckon.
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