I enjoy camping. But sleeping is something I struggle with, both at home and away. Under a tent, I’m often finding that physical discomfort is a concern for me and I’ll often wake up in some pain or struggle to relax in to a position from which I can drift off.
Very recently, I purchased an inflatable camping mat and I’d like to share my initial thoughts.
I decided to go for the Benuo Sleeping Mat, which is available from Amazon.
For the last couple of years, I’ve been using self-inflating mats. In fact, I bought a lightweight three-quarter length mat for backpacking earlier this year. They seemed great at first (as a huge step up from thin foam roll mats) but I’ve questioned their own suitability to my personal frame as time has gone on.
Please remember, we are all different. What suits me may not suit someone else, and vice-versa.
This is an upgrade I’d been contemplating since my first stint along The Ridgeway in June, when a struggled to find comfort on a mat of 25mm thickness. When you’re backpacking and carry a considerable weight behind you, a good night’s sleep becomes very important in between each day of trekking.
I had my eye on the Alpkit Cloudbase, as I’ve read many good reviews of it and, although I wasn’t keen on the idea of having to manually inflate a mat, it is double the thickness of my shorter sleeping pad and supports the full length of my 6ft1in frame. It’s also lightweight and packs down really well.
I was curious of the fact that, as you can see above, it is not a flat mat but one made up of many grooves and pockets of air. Some of the high-priced models from Thermarest and Exped (not that I can justify spending as much, right now) also stray from the traditional contour-less design to include many comfort-aiding forms.
In practice, on my living room floor, I’ve found this to be very comfortable. I’ll be trying out properly next weekend, down in St. Ives and then on my final two days of walking along The Ridgeway.
Above, you can also see the air inlet, which has a two-stage operation.
Removing the top cap (which requires some strength and may benefit from having a zip-pull added for leverage) exposed a one-way valve, which allows air to inflate the sleeping pad without escaping. My only gripe with this is that blowing in to this hole creates a sound similar to an elephant sneezing. I think its the vibration of the air passing through the valve.
Pull the cap again and it exposes a larger opening through which air can quickly escape. I actually used this to inflate the mat; covering the hole with my hand while I took a breath. I found it to be quicker and quieter.
If I decide to stick with this product in the long-term, I will look at investing in a dry bag-pump, as I’m aware that the condensation from our own breath can potentially lead to mould-growth inside, which can then affect the insulation value of the mat. This Acelane Inflation Dry Bag is one of the cheapest I’ve seen and even they’re not necessarily cheap.
At 6ft1in tall, I find I am full supported from heel to the ends of my hair, with a hand’s width of space to spare. I’m a little bit concerned that this may be too long for my backpacking tent but, for most tents, it should be absolutely fine.
My only real concern is with regards to the durability of this item. It feels very thin and less durable than my two self-inflating mats (OEX and Multimat). For that reason, I’m considering packing a protective sheet with this to lay underneath. Above, you can see an orange survival bag, which packs flat and weighs around 250g. This might be more convenient than a thin sleeping mat but any thoughts you may have would be appreciated.
A simple puncture repair kit (three self-adhesive squares with no adhesive) is included inside the storage bag. I also tend to carry duct tape, wrapped around my walking poles.
It is perhaps 200g heavier than my three-quarter length mat but the pack size is identical and I believe the extra weight may be justified by the comfort offered.
I think that’s all I have to say on this right now. My initial impressions are very good, for something that’s considerable cheaper than the Alpkit model, while they both appear to be very similar. I made an assumption recently that the Couldbase was to be discontinued but, it may be that they were running low on stock or the design will have changed in some way. I’m intrigued by the claim that it weighs nearly 100g less than the Benuo mat I’ve purchased.
As I said earlier, I’ll be using this mat properly over three nights next weekend. If you have any questions in the mean time, please leave a comment below. You may also be interested in my YouTube video on this item.