When you’re getting into the outdoors and experiencing nature for the first time it can be quite overwhelming, especially when there are so many different outdoor brands around offering lists of product specifications and technical jargon. It’s very easy to believe that you need to spend a bunch on gear in order to have a good time in the outdoors but that is definitely not the case.
In this review I will take a look at a couple of budget friendly options for adding to your sleeping system, whether you’re brand new to camping or just want to save some money without compromising on quality. These products are both at the lighter end of the scale so will also be good for people looking at wanting to reduce pack weight on a budget.
Firstly, I would like to discuss the main pros and cons of the two main types of sleeping mat, the foam roll mat and the inflatable mat. If you’re looking for both a price and weight saving, then a foam roll mat is always going to be the lightest sleeping mat available. An inflatable mat will provide extra comfort but they are generally more expensive on average and even the lightest inflatable mat will be heavier than most roll mats. Which you chose will depend on the amount of comfort you personally require for camping. There is no right or wrong answer here and as with many things in the world of camping, your kit is personal to you, so you must choose what you feel happiest with. Both these products are most suitable for spring and summer camping but can be used into the autumn comfortably if paired with something like a reflective foam mat to boost the heat retention in your sleep system.
Forclaz Inflatable Trekking Matress – Trek 700 AIR Short
R Value: 1.6
This item is the best bang for your buck in terms of weight and price when it comes to inflatable mattresses. You can go slightly cheaper with a £19.99 short mat by Vango, but gaining an extra 240g in weight. So far the Trek 700 has proven to be a great option, although not without its drawbacks.
The positives for this product are numerous. 360g is extremely light for an inflatable matress and its packed size is very small, making it ideal for backpackers having to hike any distance with their kit while also providing a bit of extra comfort. The small pack size makes it an affordable and compact item for family trips and the mat will provide kids with a comofrtable nights sleep, the shorter mat length being no issue for smaller people to sleep on. It has been durable in my testing so far, dealing well with woodland and moorland wildcamping, so a campsite will provide no challenge for this robust little piece of kit if you’re not the sort of person who willingly camps out in the middle of nowhere. It’s very quick to inflate and blows up to full in a few good lungfuls of breath, so setting up your sleep system won’t take long with this mat in there.
A small number of downsides are present, as there are with any product. It is a three quarter length mat, making it potentially unsuitable for taller people and anyone who requires the full comfort of body length mat. A full length version of this mat is available for £34.99 and 150g heavier. It has exactly the same R value as the short mat and should be essentially the same product, just slightly larger. I have not tested that version personally so I cannot fully vouch for it, but so far anything I’ve bought from Decathlon has be great quality.
Superlite 8 – Review version by OEX
R Value: 1.3
The Superlite 8 is one of those products that’s sold by a couple different sources under slightly different names, but it’s all the same product. I got my version for £11 from Blacks in the UK and it is OEX branded. It is unfortunately, out of stock on Blacks, Millets and Go Outdoors at the time of writing, potentially due to supply issues during the pandemic. Most versions of this product you will find online are Multimat branded and a bit more expensive. You can track it down for under £20 on websites like outdoorgear.co.uk.
The price, weight and comfort balance with this particular mat is excellent. You can absolutely go cheaper and lighter that this mat, but the foam thickness with the Superlite 8 just makes for a better nights sleep for minimal extra pack weight. A good night sleep in the outdoors can make the world of difference. This product has so far seemed durable and held up well on the moors. Great for backpackers who don’t feel they require the additional comfort of an inflatable matress and handy for things like your DofE kitlist.
A foam roll mat is obviously less comfortable than an inflatable mat and might not be suitable if you’re a side sleeper, but if you generally sleep on your back or front then a foam roll mat might be a good choice.
Extreme Budget Options
Forclaz Trekking Foam Mattress Appenaz M100: £4.99
Gram-counter Gear Featherweight Evazote: £19.99
There’s no need to rush into a choice when it comes to picking your camping gear and there’s certainly no need to feel innadequate because you might not have the best brands in your kit. The important thing is getting out there and having a go, so if buying a £5 sleeping mat allows you to do that, then so be it.
I hope this quick review and breakdown has been useful for you! Be sure to check back for more gear reviews and other adventures!
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