Monday, August 25

Thermarest - light, costlier

If like me you're of a certain antiquity (well in body, but not necessarily in mind) you probably first started improving your overnight camping comfort with a 2m long bright yellow close-cell mat. Even today these are still generically known as a Karrimat, named after their manufacturer, Karrimor, one of The Names of the 70s backpacking scene.

That was a huge step forward after the personal groundsheet & folded blanket approach! Ah those were the days. Usually cold. Mostly damp. Always drafty. A good night's sleep was usually about two hours maximum.

For many years the 'K' was the de-facto standard until Thermarest revolutionised the approach with their self-inflating mat. A major improvement IMHO to help with a good night's kip after a hard day on the hills.

More recently the Exped, a down filled mat, has picked up an appreciative following with its increased thermal quality, but there are often reports that supply of these can be a problem at times.

The general trend with these developments has been a weight increase, and decreased kit robustness (after all the 'K' couldn't spring a leak just at the most inappropriate time)

Gear Junkie over on Outside Online has a tasty scoop which may indicate that at least one of these criticisms is about to be addressed in Spring '09 when the ThermaRest NeoAir Mattress appears.

At the size quoted (20x47 - the same size as a Thermarest Prolite 3) the weight is 9oz (252g) compared to the P3's 20oz (570g)

An interesting move. Increased thermal properties with a 50% weight reduction.

Unfortunately the main drawback, as for most gear's technological advance these days, looks to be the proposed cost of around £65-£90.

Makes the cost of that old Karrimat (which I still have BTW) look a real bargain these days. Even if its now a rather dingy colour, and somewhat reduced from its original 2m length.

But that's a tale for another day.


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