Author Topic: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?  (Read 17305 times)

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #25 on: July 21, 2012, 07:00:49 pm »
I'm quite happy with my Gelert 3/4 Thermarest knock-off.  The cardinal rule is to put your feet (which don't have any mattress to rest on) on your panniers, lest they get very cold.  DAHIKT.
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vorsprung

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #26 on: July 21, 2012, 07:10:39 pm »
I've completely ignored the interesting discussion on this thread and just ordered up an Alpkit Airo 180.
I wanted something light and it is the cheapest self inflating full length one (at £40) around the 500g mark
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Kim

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #27 on: July 21, 2012, 08:36:06 pm »
The Exped mats (Downmat and Synamt) work like a (really well engineered) conventional airbed, but contain a light down or synthetic foam filling, which massively reduces air circulation within the mat.  This makes them much more insulating than a simple inflatable matress.

I reckon the Downmat is utterly brilliant - it's the first thing I've seen that packs to a decent size that I (as a side-sleeper with hips and shoulders) can get a proper night's sleep on, and it's good for FYBO temperatures.  Of course, mine hasn't started leaking feathers yet, which several forumites have suffered from.  AFAIK the Synmat doesn't have this problem.


Self inflating mats self-inflate because you put energy into the system by compressing their foam when you roll them up, and they inflate when it's allowed to spring back into shape by opening the valve to let air in.  No magic involved.
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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2012, 10:21:45 pm »
I'm always that knackered after a day riding with touring gear, that my Thermarest is supremely comfortable. Good piece of kit. If you can't get to sleep on one, ride further!!
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Basil

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2012, 10:28:58 pm »
What does the panel believe is the best mattress for cycle camping?

Mrs B.  :demon:
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Kim

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2012, 10:43:05 pm »
Another popular option that hasn't been mentioned already is the 'beer mat'.  Apparently, if you consume a sufficient quantity of beer, you can get a good night's sleep with a sleeping bag alone...
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Basil

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2012, 10:45:58 pm »
Another popular option that hasn't been mentioned already is the 'beer mat'.  Apparently, if you consume a sufficient quantity of beer, you can get a good night's sleep with a sleeping bag alone...
Yeahbut, the required 3 hedge inspections at 1 a.m. 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. tend to spoil it a bit.
Quote from: Kim
And remember that friends who organise things on Facebook aren't proper friends anyway.

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2012, 10:55:03 pm »
Another popular option that hasn't been mentioned already is the 'beer mat'.  Apparently, if you consume a sufficient quantity of beer, you can get a good night's sleep with a sleeping bag alone...
Yeahbut, the required 3 hedge inspections at 1 a.m. 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. tend to spoil it a bit.
Less of a problem if you drank sufficient to have fallen asleep in said hedge to start with.
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Basil

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2012, 11:00:17 pm »
 :-X
*Admits nothing*
 :-X
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2012, 11:09:04 pm »
Another popular option that hasn't been mentioned already is the 'beer mat'.  Apparently, if you consume a sufficient quantity of beer, you can get a good night's sleep with a sleeping bag alone...
Yeahbut, the required 3 hedge inspections at 1 a.m. 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. tend to spoil it a bit.
Less of a problem if you drank sufficient to have fallen asleep in said hedge to start with.
Ah, that would cut down the weight a bit; no mat, no sleeping bag, no tent...
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #35 on: July 21, 2012, 11:27:20 pm »
1) Closed cell foam mats,like ye olde yellow Karrimat. Typically just under 1cm thick & roll up, though there is also the Thermarest Z-lite that folds concertina fashion, and has an embossed eggbox pattern that's meant to be a bit more comfortable.
Roll size about 50 x 17cm. Tough, don't absorb water, light, fairly good insulation, but not great comfort. These are the lightest, and the cheapest by some long way.

2) Self inflating mats. Ones you'd use for bikepacking are 1 or 1.5 inch thick open cell foam bonded to an airtight cover. When you open the valve the foam expands drawing the air in (top-up by mouth often required). When you lie on it, the foam prevents the rest of the mat bulging, allowing the air to keep you off the ground.
Rolls up to about 27cm x 12-13cm. If the foam is unperforated, warmth is similar to a decent closed cell foam mat, but if the foam has holes punched in it for lightness warmth suffers, so the lighter versions aren't really adequate for winter. Comfort is good if you sleep on your back or front, but if you are a side sleeper your hip can bottom out. Can be punctured (repairable), or the foam and cover can delaminate (not). If the mat delaminates, it's not much better than nothing.

3) Insulated air mats, generally 6-9cm thick.
Uninsulated air beds are cold because of convection. To prevent convection, either an insulator (down or synthetic equivalent) is added, or the air chambers are divided up into small segments by internal baffles. Down insulated mats require pumping rather than blowing to keep the down dry, and occasionally the filter that's meant to keep the down inside when you deflate the mat can leak. It's better to pump synthetically insulated mats too, but it's OK to blow up baffled mats by mouth.
Roll size is between 23x9cm for a smaller baffled mats up to 26x16cm for a larger insulated mat. Comfort is very good due to the thickness. Some people prefer the normal longways tubes over the crossways tubes of the Thermarest baffled mats. Can be punctured (repairable), and occasionally the internal baffles can fail causing bulging (not repairable, but not as much of a problem as delamination on a self inflating mat).
There are very few cheap insulated air mats around - just the Alkpit Nemo than I'm aware of,and this isn't really insulated enough for winter/early sling/late autumn use.

In the specifications, the "R-value" is the indicator of warmth, higher values being warmer*. At a temperature of about zero, and for me using a lightweight down bag & silk liner, a mat with an R-value of 2.5 (thermarest Prolite 4) is marginal, feeling cool, but not so cool I don't get any sleep. YMMV (and it generally does vary). A mat with an R-value of 5 or more will be warm enough for almost all people in all likely conditions.

If you look at Thermarest, don't ignore the Women's versions. They are about 15cm shorter than full length men's versions, but are generally warmer.

Short (120cm) mats are adequate for many people most of the time. They reach from shoulder to knee, the head's on a separate pillow, and the feet don't need very much (empty panniers or a fleece will do).

I've just ordered a Thermarest Xtherm, as the optimum combination of size, weight and warmth

[edit]
There are two versions of R-value - American, quoted above, which are measured in BTUs, square feet, hours and °F, and Euro/ISO, measured in Joules, square metres, seconds, and °C. They differ by a factor of 5.7, so R=1 (ISO) is  equal to R=5.7 (US). Usually it's fairly obvious which type of R is given.
The XTherm is doing well

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #36 on: July 21, 2012, 11:33:20 pm »
If you don't want to carry too much, Mr Ultralight Bicycle Touring reckons a piece of bubble wrap is all you need, or for a bit more luxury you could go for a balloon bed

Kim

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #37 on: July 21, 2012, 11:38:08 pm »
That's never going to work, unless you can estimate the rate at which your level of self control allows you to restrain the impulse to pop the bubbles, and pack extra to make up for bubble loss.  I expect the spare bubblewrap will take up serious volume on long tours.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #38 on: July 22, 2012, 12:50:53 am »
I've probably got enough bubble wrap to make a sleeping bag, never mind a mat, but it's all slightly popped. So I don't think that's the answer for me.
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #39 on: July 23, 2012, 12:06:44 pm »
I've just bought a Karrimor X Lit inflatable mattress from Field and Trek to try: http://www.fieldandtrek.com/karrimor-x-lite-inflatable-air-mattress-782143

It's instead of my ageing Thermarest Prolite 3 S because I wanted something lighter and with a smaller packed volume.  I'm not expecting much, to be honest, but it was comfy enough for a nap in the car park after the Mersey Roads 24 at the weekend.  Time will tell if it will be durable - the material is very thin and I think I could do with a lightweight groundsheet to go under it.  Being completely un-insulated I guess it won't be warm enough for winter, but should be fine for summer use.

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2012, 10:08:00 pm »
I went down to Cotswold Outdoor because I know they give a 15% discount with a CTC card - but I didn't use it, because I ended up buying a Mountain Equipment Helium mattress which was, apparently, reduced by about £30, making it a price twice what I had intended to pay even if still only half what some here spend. I guess I'm just a sucker for commercial opportunity.  ::-) Whatever the cost, it seems after a quick trial to be comfy and it's definitely light, though I'd probably be prepared to sacrifice a little thickness in return for some more width - I've lost, if I ever had, the art of sleeping in a straight line.

I've packed it and everything else I think I'll need in my panniers as I was intending to go camping tomorrow but now I realise I haven't booked the campsite.  ::-) Well, I'll see tomorrow. Packed kit seems surprisingly compact, way smaller than typical shopping - what have I forgotten?  :o

Edit: The thing I had forgotten was - my sleeping bag. Nothing important, then.  :facepalm:
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #41 on: July 26, 2012, 11:42:18 am »
Mostly, if you turn up on a bike with your kit, they will try to fit you in somewhere. Campsites that don't, or try to charge cycle campers the same as they do a 4*4/caravan/awning owner are run by complete gits.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

vorsprung

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2012, 11:51:44 am »
When I got the Alpkit Airo and weighed it, it is more like 700g in the compression sack
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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2012, 01:07:55 pm »
Mostly, if you turn up on a bike with your kit, they will try to fit you in somewhere. Campsites that don't, or try to charge cycle campers the same as they do a 4*4/caravan/awning owner are run by complete gits.

On my recent Ireland tour one campsite just over the border with NI quoted me £26 for one night. As it was early in the day I cycled on and ended being directed to a small farm where the owner directed me to a nice grassy part to camp. He looked at me most indignantly when I offered payment.
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Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2012, 02:36:32 pm »
I reckon you should be getting an en-suite shower and breakfast included in the price for £26!

I remember two cycle-camping expeditions of bygone days (1990-ish... ) with a mate, once we camped behind the pub in Aust (no, I wasn't living in Bristol then!) for £1.50, the other time we made our way to a campsite marked on the OS map somewhere on the edge of Salisbury Plain and found it was totally occupied by Boy Scouts! Apparently it had belonged to them for a zillion years and shouldn't really have been marked on the map at all - but they let us stay there for free and gave us a cup of tea in the morning.  :thumbsup: <moan>I suppose now that would against the law.</moan>

When I got the Alpkit Airo and weighed it, it is more like 700g in the compression sack
It does say on their website "Real World Packed Weight (gr) 653" although what that implies about their other quoted weight is perhaps best left to the imagination.
I do not ride a great big Mercian, gangster tanwalls, fixed cog in the back.

vorsprung

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #45 on: July 26, 2012, 03:11:06 pm »

When I got the Alpkit Airo and weighed it, it is more like 700g in the compression sack
It does say on their website "Real World Packed Weight (gr) 653" although what that implies about their other quoted weight is perhaps best left to the imagination.

It "feels" light however
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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #46 on: September 27, 2012, 08:42:19 pm »
Our Exped DownMats (new in May 2012 to replace our first set) have started to fail again - small amounts of feathers flying out with each deflation. I contacted Exped USA, who are based up the road in Washington, and they've agreed to replace them immediately, even before seeing them. And they've sent us a pre-paid FedEx label to cover the cost of postage. Their customer service is outstanding. It's a shame their mats aren't as durable as we'd hope. Hey ho, let's see how Exped DownMats Mark III stand up to the job Down Under. If this set fail, it may be time to consider less comfortable, more durable alternatives. (Scary thought.)

Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #47 on: September 28, 2012, 09:32:51 am »
That's why I got a Synmat UL, because of reading of yours and others experiences...

David Martin

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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #48 on: September 28, 2012, 10:44:07 am »
This one was a bit bulky..


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Re: Which is the best mattress for cycle camping?
« Reply #49 on: December 25, 2012, 04:50:08 pm »
Well, I've had the chance to compare an Alpkit Numo with a Phat Airic this week. I have to say I prefer the
Phat Airic. IKept losing the pillow with the Numo, but it is very comfortable. For touring ,I'd be quite happy to take one. It is very noisy though.