Foam sleeping mats

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
Cyclewala
Posts: 170
Joined: 7 Nov 2019, 11:07am

Foam sleeping mats

Postby Cyclewala » 18 Jan 2021, 2:36pm

I'm looking to buy my first proper sleeping mat (preferably foam). I have a basic foam one from Decathlon and it was fine on a warm July night in France, but don't think it'll cut it in cooler climes.

I know blow up ones are comfier, but for touring I want reliability and simplicity. My research points me towards Thermarest Ridgerest and Exped Flexmat. I'm looking for a good 3 season one that'll creep into 4 season at a push - but no Everest base camp quality required. So, something with an R rating of 2.5-3.5 should be adequate.

I generally sleep ok - that is, after a day's cycling I'm knocked out.

What puts me off the above foam ones is the bulk. Ideally, I'd like something that meets the above criteria but is more akin to the rolled up Karrimat or Biomat of old. Do foam mats like these exist?

BTW - although I said I'd prefer foam, I am willing to consider air ones if reasonable defence can be made. I just read too many stories on here and in other places about leaks and punctures to feel comfortable (sic). I'm aware repair kits can be carried but it's one more thing to worry about.

Many thanks in advance.

Jdsk
Posts: 5934
Joined: 5 Mar 2019, 5:42pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby Jdsk » 18 Jan 2021, 2:53pm

Cyclewala wrote:...I am willing to consider air ones if reasonable defence can be made. I just read too many stories on here and in other places about leaks and punctures to feel comfortable (sic).

We wouldn't be without our Therm-a-Rest inflatables. Two main reasons: comfort and the ability to turn them into seats with decent back support. No punctures yet.

Ours are full length but having read some other opinions I'd consider 3/4.

Jonathan

User avatar
NATURAL ANKLING
Posts: 12504
Joined: 24 Oct 2012, 10:43pm
Location: English Riviera

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby NATURAL ANKLING » 18 Jan 2021, 3:17pm

Hi,
The likes of old Karrimor (yellow 12-15mm thk) have been replaced by millets etc.
I think 15mm is about as thick as you need.

I use a cheap 4mm one for summer but I just bought a 6 mm one as the 4 was cold for sub 10C.
Despite the 4mm ones selling for 99 p in pound shops type shops they are now about £6 upwards (ebay)
Bulky yes but ultra reliable.

My 6mm thk rolls down to 120 mm dia, and is 500 x 1800 mm, 160 grams with a plastic tube so you can roll it up tight and neat.
4mm one was surprisingly comfortable on concrete in the summer devon.

If you sleep easily then you only need to think about insulation qualities.

I suffer from facet impingement and damage to my sacrum, I need to do daily physio and exercise three times a week not to suffer too much from crushed nerves in my back.

But when I toured around devon and cornwall spending six nights in bus shelters, 4 on concrete floor and two on wooden benches, I did not have any trouble with my back, I did not sit at all, at home the story is so different....................

P.S. If you suffer cold feet then consider a full length.
Last edited by NATURAL ANKLING on 18 Jan 2021, 3:18pm, edited 1 time in total.
NA Thinks Just End 2 End Return + Bivvy
You'll Still Find Me At The Top Of A Hill
Please forgive the poor Grammar I blame it on my mobile and phat thinkers.

User avatar
simonineaston
Posts: 4159
Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: ...at a cricket ground

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby simonineaston » 18 Jan 2021, 3:17pm

it goes like this: when you are young you have rubber bones and can sleep on the floor I did, then when you are older you think wait a minute I can afford stuff I'll buy a sleeping mat, then when you are promoted (or rob a bank it doesn't matter which) you can buy a posh insulated superlight jobbie and bingo you are dead comfy - until something happens to your million pound posh jobbie that then you realise you've got so soft that you can't sleep in the floor without one anymore!!
(rides: Brompton nano & ever-changing Moultons)

Cyclewala
Posts: 170
Joined: 7 Nov 2019, 11:07am

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby Cyclewala » 18 Jan 2021, 3:41pm

Well, I'm not a young 20 something but neither am I a cranky old codger.

Cycle touring and particularly, cycle camping involves a degree of hardship. I'm looking for that in-between ground between absolute luxury and outright hardship.

I'm not restricted by budget, but as a Yorkshireman, I want value for money.

F70100
Posts: 119
Joined: 4 Dec 2013, 10:33am

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby F70100 » 18 Jan 2021, 4:45pm

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated sleeping pad is advertised as having 2 separate layers of interlocking air chambers to provide some redundancy in the event of a puncture.

Never tried one, just recently saw some guy on YouTube saying he bought it because of that feature.

nirakaro
Posts: 1221
Joined: 22 Dec 2007, 2:01am

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby nirakaro » 18 Jan 2021, 5:13pm

I've certainly had reliability problems with several ultralight mats from Thermarest and Exped, but the original inch-thick Thermarest (which currently seems to be called Trail Scout) always seemed pretty bomb-proof, and is a huge step up in comfort from foam mats.

hufty
Posts: 534
Joined: 28 Jan 2011, 7:24pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby hufty » 18 Jan 2021, 6:14pm

Sea to Summit Etherlite inflatable for me nowadays, but on longer trips I also strap an el cheapo foam mat on the rack to act as a groundsheet protector, siesta mat, and fall back should the inflatable fail for any reason. The concertina ones you mention are good but not particularly pannier friendly.

I've had several Exped synmat ULs over the years. Never had a problem with the valves, puncture repairs are pretty easy to fix in the field, but the dreaded internal baffle unglueing thing that tends to happen a few days out of warranty is more of a problem. I imagine a failed transverse baffle is going to be less of a problem than a failed longitudinal baffle so was looking at Thermarest ones, but they are definitely too noisy for me. The S2S ones are quiet and don't have long baffles anyway.
Please do not use this post in Cycle magazine

Pendodave
Posts: 112
Joined: 3 Jun 2020, 8:27am

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby Pendodave » 18 Jan 2021, 7:32pm

For me, sleeping comfortably is one of the key criteria for enjoying a backpacking/touring trip.
To this end, I would not use foam, as it would need to be pretty darned thick to provide sufficient comfort and would therefore be a b*****r to pack.
My experience with air is that cyclists already carry everything necessary to repair them except for the baffle issue encountered by the user above. I have also had this happen with an exped, and I could not therefore recommend them.

To this end, it has to be non/transverse baffled air. I have a neoair xlite. Packs small, weighs not much and is very luxurious. I do not find the noise and issue (this is obviously personal), but it is definitely quieter then earlier neoairs ime.

For extra warmth, protection against the elements, and for use as a kneeling mat etc I also pack some radiator backing foil/foam. It's very thin and rolls up very small and is therefore easily stashed. It's also very cheap, which the neoair is not. It would also provide a tiny measure of comfort until I next got to an outdoor shop if my airpad died.

nsew
Posts: 721
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby nsew » 18 Jan 2021, 8:36pm

A decent foam mat is a helluva lot more comfortable than the surface beneath. I recommend the Thermarest if going that way due to R factor and fold. Bulk is an issue but weight certainly isn’t. It isn’t going to go ‘pop’ or let you down slowly through the night and just fine if you’re a back sleeper and have good site selection. They’re great for sitting on and general lounging around. You’ll sleep far better (undisturbed) on an air mattress in more locations and it’ll take up minimal space in your pack. I’ve used a £30 Decathlon Forclaz before and they’re significantly more comfortable than the t-rest foam? Not the warmest, not too heavy, yet tough and easy to inflate. Easy to return and replace while travelling in Europe should you need to. You have to seriously “look out” for an air mattress while travelling. The expensive Thermarest Neo Air Lite is my and many others preferred mat because it’s v.light, warm and comfy.
Last edited by nsew on 18 Jan 2021, 9:09pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
foxyrider
Posts: 5244
Joined: 29 Aug 2011, 10:25am
Location: Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby foxyrider » 18 Jan 2021, 9:04pm

Another NeoAir Xlite user here. As Simonineaston said above, in my yoof i'd manage direct on the floor which could be quite comfy on soft ground or horrible on anything hard. A brief flirt with foam convinced me to buy my first Thermarest SI which lasted a few years use but became a bit porous - the Forclaz 3/4 that followed never SI'd very well and always needed a helping hand. And so i moved to the NeoAir 3/4 i'm using now, stupidly small folded size, less than half the weight of the Thermarest, its 8 years old soon and i've not suffered any deflation incidents.

If you don't want to spend silly money on something you may hate you can get some quite reasonable alternatives from the likes of Lidl/Aldi (when they have a promotion) or Amazon/Ebay for under twenty notes.

btw, i decided on 3/4 as i usually sleep curled up and in any case, anything below the hips doesn't need the same cushioning, the down sleeping bag has enough! i've used the combo down to @ 0c or so and remained 'comfortable' enough to sleep soundly. The other advantage with inflatables is that you can customise the comfort to suit you, a bit more or less can make a huge difference to comfort, you don't get that with foam.
Convention? what's that then?
Airnimal Chameleon touring, Orbit Pro hack, Orbit Photon audax, Focus Mares AX tour, Peugeot Carbon sportive, Owen Blower vintage race - all running Tulio's finest!

nsew
Posts: 721
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby nsew » 18 Jan 2021, 9:22pm

Another thing to consider is that if you’re camping on prepared ground for holiday periods then pretty much any air mattress will likely hold up. If you’re free camping then time consuming preparation is required and a bit of luck.
Last edited by nsew on 18 Jan 2021, 9:25pm, edited 1 time in total.

ossie
Posts: 1168
Joined: 15 Apr 2011, 7:52pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby ossie » 18 Jan 2021, 9:24pm

Thermorest NeoAir X lite. Comfort / weight per £....pretty damned good.

nsew
Posts: 721
Joined: 14 Dec 2017, 12:38pm

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby nsew » 18 Jan 2021, 9:30pm

If you do buy air it’s good practice to spend a night or two on it beforehand. Even the best can leak from new. Make sure you’ve got a good one before setting out.

PH
Posts: 9952
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby
Contact:

Re: Foam sleeping mats

Postby PH » 18 Jan 2021, 10:30pm

F70100 wrote:Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated sleeping pad is advertised as having 2 separate layers of interlocking air chambers to provide some redundancy in the event of a puncture.

Never tried one, just recently saw some guy on YouTube saying he bought it because of that feature.

I've been considering one, they seem to have developed a technique to combat the dreaded de-lamination.
I've had three air mats - a Big Agnes and two Expeds- all failed in similar ways, it's not that I haven't learned, it's just they're the only mats I've ever slept well on camping.