Posts Tagged – Slim Airic Mat: How I Faired!'s - Slim Airic's - Slim Airic Slim Airic Sleeping Mat

The pair of sleeping mats I ordered from arrived on the second day after I ordered them. Wrapped well in minimal packaging I even found a handwritten note inside thanking me for my purchase. How’s that for a personal touch!

Alpkit even offer a special whereby if you buy one mat for £25 you can get a second for £7.50 less. We bought two mats and took them off this weekend for a trial run.

The Slim Airic measures 180 x 51.5 x 3mm – long enough to accomodate Wil who is 6’2″ and wide enough for my starfish sleeping antics.

The mats roll up fairly small to the width of the mat, 51.5 by about 10cm, that is, if you roll from the bottom squeezing the air out as you go and screwing the air valve at the top closed at the last second. The weight stated on the website is 743g.

We found if you roll the mat up once to expell the air and screw the valve closed you can then fold it in half lengthways and roll it to be around 25.5cm wide by 20cm. It still fits inside it’s carry sack which can be twisted and then pushed back over itself for transport. This worked well for me as it attached perfectly under my mountain bike seat with a bungee as you can see in the photo.

Although I’m not sure how good this will be for the mat if repeatedly folded in this way or stored like it for a long time. I imagine some breakdown of the material would occur at the fold.

Slim Airic Mat under my seat

Slim Airic Mat under my seat

The website says these are self inflating mats. I’ve never owned a sleeping mat before mainly because we’d usually drive somewhere which afforded the luxury of being able to take a heavy old battery operated self inflating air bed to put on the floor of the tent. On another occasion when I hiked around Pompeii, Italy I made use of an old blow up swimming pool air bed which was great until I camped at the base of Mount Vesuvius where volcanic rock took it’s toll and promptly burst it (in the middle of the night of course). I did the same in Morocco and on this occasion it was chilly on the night my mat deflated and I froze rapidly learning that all the heat your body possesses goes straight into the ground even if you are in a sleeping bag. So the sleeping mat and the self inflating function are new to me. I know when you unscrew the valve it sucks a load of air in and I guess then you have to blow into it a little bit to get it to your level of comfort.At least, that’s what I found I needed to do.

We put two mats into our two man tent and found because of the shape of our tent – being wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, the mats overlapped. The good bit was there wasn’t much space in the tent where one of us would end up laying directly on the ground sheet.

The first thing I noticed was how warm the mat was. So warm, that laying there with a thin technical shirt and thin running trousers I wasn’t able to use my Tescos sleeping bag right away! It wasn’t until I ended up breaking into a sweat which then got cold enough on my skin that I needed to pull the sleeping bag over. Bearing in mind that outside of our tent it’d been cold enough to require 2 thin shirts, a windbreaker and a fleece. I was impressed with how warm the mat kept that side of my body.

I slept comfortably on the mat all night and woke in the morning without any aches and pains you’d normally have if you’d hit the ground while sleeping.

We bought our mats in the Kelp (olive green) colour which is the darkest one they offer. Because we’d laid on our mats without any sleeping bag initially the transfer of oils/sweat from our faces and hands stained the mats really badly. On one patch on my mat you can actually make out the shape of my hands and all of my fingers which had been fanned out under my leg in one big grubby sweaty looking patch (and I can assure you I’m not a big grubby sweaty person!!) Looks rather disgusting and I’m not sure how well they clean or how to clean them. The Alpkit site could do with providing a bit more information on inflating these mats and the care/cleaning of them for the not so sleeping mat savvy amongst us! On that note I’d recommend getting the lightest colour available which hopefully won’t show up marks like the dark one does!

Good points:

Warm and comfortable
Great Price

Not so good:

Fabric covering easily stained
Lack of use/care/cleaning instructions

NOTE (06 AUG 08: Nick from Alpkit has kindly left a comment pointing the way to information on these Sleeping Mats which, as he states, does answer some of the problems I had. How good is I ask you?. Just pop over there and buy something just for the sake of it – go on!

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Wild Camping in Scotland

Camping in Scotland

I’ve got a big case of super itchy feet. No, I don’t mean a case of atheletes foot I’m talking about needing to get out into the open, ditch the job and housework for a bit and get away from it all.

With several successful camping/mountain biking trips to Scotland, the Peak District and Wales under our belt we’ve been scheming for some time about taking it up a notch and doing a fly/bike/camp trip to the Sierra Nevada range in Spain. Obviously without our usual accompaniment of the car we’ll have to travel lighter and smarter so we plan to give this a couple of trial runs during August.

First we’re going to buy a new lighter weight 2 man tent. Our existing tent, albeit fairly new and only used several times is very heavy with a medium sized porch on the front. Great when we drive somewhere and have the luxury of dragging it out of the back of the car but about 6kgs heavier than you need on your back while biking a sweet piece of singletrack.

We also need some sleeping mats since the mechanically self inflating airbed we usually drag along for comfort again would be akin to having Cameron piggyback us the entire journey. While searching around the net this morning I found who have an excellent site, well priced stuff and very favourable reviews around the net from users of their stuff. They have sleeping mats which will be just what we need and they offer a cheaper deal when you buy 2! What more could I ask for? Well, that they’re comfy to sleep on – so I’ll report back on that when I’ve tried and tested them.

Before Wil and I go away mid August, I’m off on a camping trip with my little brother. I think the plan is to head to the Brecon Beacons in Wales to check out a route with the potential for biking/hiking and wild camping. Although we’re driving to this area we’ll have some distance to go via bike/foot so I intend to pack as though I’d travelled there without the car. This is when I’ll be giving the new tent and sleeping mat the maiden voyage.

Mid August Wil and I are planning to bike the South Downs Way. Starting in Winchester and ending in Beachy Head where we’ll throw ourselves off the cliff. Yeah, not likely…if I make it the entire 100 miles in two days I shall be hanging around for many years to remind Cameron of that achievement when he’s a lazy teenager slobbed out on the sofa playing his 9th hour on the Xbox.. “In my day”….

If these trips go well, we’ll pick through the things we learnt and pack them in a small bag to try the Spain trip.

On the topic of camping, biking and walking and being environmentally friendly I’m pleased to report I have only used the car once in the last week when Cameron and I needed to go to the shop and had minimal time to get there and back, the rest of the time I’ve biked or scootered to where I needed to be. The new purchase of the Astravan (Arsetra) is proving to be a good trade for the 4×4 we had since at last check Wil said it’d done 500 miles to less than 3/4 of a tank of diesel. Numbers we like to hear.

If you haven’t ditched your car yet – what are you waiting for? If you work within 5 miles you really have no excuses not to try biking. Even if you only bike or walk to replace one potential car trip per week it’s making a small difference to the world and a great benefit for yourself and your ever expanding arse.

If I can’t convince you let the guys at try…

“Luckily we have a reasonably interesting trail to and from work at around 11km each way, mixing road, single track, up-hills and down-hills. With the majority of it avoiding the main roads, it was actually nice to leave the car keys at home and get the legs pumping. While it might not be as convenient and quick as the car, it certainly helps clear any cobwebs before or after work. It’s not always fun, if I’m tired, the weathers not so good, need to get home quickly or I have to carry lots of stuff, so I’ll still drive in sometimes, but the hard parts been done, breaking the self imposed reliance on the car”.

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