Sleeping pad comfort experiments and comparisons

Discussion in 'Sleep Mats' started by tom, Feb 14, 2021.

  1. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    Locking back with nostalgia and longing to the days when I could and would get a good night sleep pretty much anywhere. On top of rolled out sleeping bag on a pavement in Iran, or on the bare ground in some desert, on railway station platforms, or forest floors – we never had anything to sleep on (did sleep mats even exist back then …?). But these days, I'm much more sensitive and for my big trips, weight is a major issue as it limits how much food I can take. And as said earlier here, TAR mats are the worst IMO.

    I’ve been experimenting a bit recently in the ongoing search for comfortable sleep pads. Not much concerned with overnighters or short trips, but mainly with hikes that take a couple of weeks. With the current lockdown, our roof terrace made for test nights under stars – who would have thought...

    I noticed that comfort breaks down into different parts: my Exped AirMat HL M Regular (uninsulated, 310gr) is the most comfortable UL mat I own to lie on - but wakes me up and disrupts sleep when turning (which I do a lot) more than my other pads.

    The alternatives are my to-go-to pad for some years now - the STS (yellow) uninsulated UL Sleeping Mat (shortened to 110cm @268gr) and secondly, on @Arne L. 's recommendation, my new Exped FlexMat Plus (shortened to 107cm @235gr). I combine the Exped FlexMat Plus with a 145cm x 48cm piece of cheap Hong Kong double sided alu foil folding mat (53gr including a 34cm pocket at the foot end which can be filled with extra clothing, a sit mat etc for cushioning) to fit my size (5'10'').

    IMG_20210212_154650_1.jpg
    Pocket at the foot end which can be filled with extra clothing or a sit mat etc for cushioning
    IMG_20210212_154718.jpg

    To my surprise, I cannot tell which of the two is more comfortable to lie on. But the Exped FlexMat Plus seems the least sleep disruption when I turn. Which is great in some ways - similar comfort but no inflating-deflating hazzle, no puncture worries, almost same weight (the STS needs a 35gr silvered foam peace for insulation underneath) and instant access to stretch out on breaks during the day - but more bulk to carry of course.

    And then I thought how the overlap torso section lends itself to “layering” – why not add extra clothing or a down jacket in-between the two? A test night proved that everything stayed in place overnight – bingo…! Obviously, there won’t always be extra clothing for every night but a bit of extra comfort for some nights is nonetheless welcome on a thru-hike.

    Temperature wise, the Exped FlexMat Plus / alu foil folding mat combi (with a small CF sitmat in the foot end pocket as pictured) proved comfortably warm at present sub zero temps (under a 20 degree zpacks quilt zipped up to the hips as I always do in colder temps). No notable difference between nights on Exped AirMat HL or my STS (both with a alu foil foam mat underneath and a torso piece of 3mm CF on top).
    gixer, Arne L., rikdon and 4 others like this.
  2. Dave V

    Dave V Moderator Staff Member

    I contemplated using a foam mat last night but decided against it in the end. Sometimes I sleep well on them, other I don't at all.
    tom likes this.
  3. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    Those aluminized mats are quite comfy I find. Of all the mats I have, they have the best feel to lie on.

    Often, I'll find a nice grassy pitch thats really flat and comfy and just sleep on the foam mat/ leaving my inflatable mat still packed up.

    A combo of my folding dimpled mat and a windscreen reflector type is surprisingly good.
    tom likes this.

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