BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > MEC Kelvin 3.8 Sleeping Pad > Owner Review by Andrea Murland

MEC Kelvin 3.8 Sleeping Pad
OWNER REVIEW by Andrea Murland
August 6, 2009

Tester Information

Name: Andrea Murland
Email: amurland AT shaw DOT ca
Age: 23
Location: Rossland, British Columbia, Canada
Gender: Female
Height: 5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)
Weight: 125 lb (57 kg)

I began hiking frequently in 2006 and have since hiked in Western Canada, Australia, and spent 2 months backpacking in the Alps. I spend most weekends either day-hiking or on 2-3 day backpacking trips, with some longer trips when I can manage them. I also snowshoe and ski in the winter, but don't have a lot of experience with winter in the backcountry yet. Elevation is typically 500-3000 m (1600-10,000 ft), in the Canadian Kootenays or Rockies. I try for a light pack, but I don't consider myself a lightweight backpacker.

Product Information

inflated
MEC Kelvin 3.8 Inflated

Manufacturer: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC)
Manufacturer's URL: www.mec.ca
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Model: Kelvin 3.8
Size: Small, also available in Regular length
Colour: Deep Sea
MSRP: CAD $45

Manufacturer's Specifications My Measurements
Weight 645 g (22.75 oz) 659 g (23.25 oz)
Thickness 3.8 cm (1.5 in) 3.8 cm (1.5 in)
Length 153 cm (60 in) 150 cm (59 in)
Width 51 cm (20.1 in) 53 cm (20.9 in)
Rolled Size 30 cm x 14 cm (11.8 in x 5.5 in) 28 cm x 13.5 cm (11 in x 5.3 in)

Descriptionrepair

The MEC Kelvin 3.8 is a self-inflating mat, with CFC-free open-cell foam, 75-denier 100% polyester ripstop fabric, and an R-value of 2.8 (manufacturer specifications). The mat is rectangular with rounded corners, and has a plastic twist valve. It comes with a stuff sack and repair kit, which includes 2 small pieces of the top-surface material, a large piece of the bottom-surface material, adhesive, and instructions in English and French. The repair kit fits into a sleeve attached to the stuff sack; the sack has a strap on the bottom for a handle and a drawstring closure.

Field Conditions

This sleeping mat was purchased in the spring of 2006 and has been used for approximately 100 nights. It has been used for short backpacking trips (2-3 days) in Western Canada in 2006, in Australia in 2007, almost nightly for 2.5 months in Europe in 2008, and continues to be used back in Canada most weekends for camping or backpacking trips. Elevations have ranged from sea level to over 3000 m (10,000 ft), and temperatures from -10 C (14 F) to 35 C (95 F). The mat has usually been used inside a tent, and the ground surface has usually been either grass or gravel.

Review

General Use
This mat is a size small, however for my height (5 ft 2 in or 157 cm) it is a perfect length; my head and heels both just fit on the mat. Since I usually sleep curled on my side in the sleeping bag, I have not had any issues with hanging off the end of the mat due to size.

I have found that the mat stays in place in tents with floors of polyurethane- or silicon-coated nylon. There is no indication by the manufacturer that the material of the top and bottom of the sleeping pad is different, but the texture of the top of the pad is smoother and more slippery than the bottom. On some nights when sleeping on a noticeable slope, I have noticed that I slide down the mat in my sleeping bag and wake up in a different position than I started in.

The mat does a good job of insulating me from the ground, using either a synthetic 0 C (32 F) rated sleeping bag or a down/synthetic hybrid -12 C (10 F) rated bag, which has synthetic fill on the bottom. I generally only feel cold from the bottom if I roll off of the mat, so the mat must be keeping me warm!

The strap/handle on the bottom of the stuff sack is very useful. It is an excellent carry point for the mat, as is the drawstring closure. I find the strap very convenient when pulling the mat out of the sack; I undo the drawstring, hold onto the mat with one hand, and pull the sack off using the handle.

Inflation & Deflation:rolled
My usual procedure when reaching camp is to set up my tent, unroll my sleeping mat (with the valve open) and bag, and then continue with other activities for the evening. When the mat was new, it self-inflated by the time I was ready to sleep. I would frequently add one or two breaths of air manually through the valve since I prefer a firm mat, but the self-inflation was excellent. After 3 years, the mat no longer self-inflates fully; I have to blow more air into the mat before sleeping on it. Needing to manually inflate the mat has not affected the insulation properties or the comfort of the mat, it's just a bit inconvenient.

To deflate the mat, I open the valve, fold the mat in half, and begin to roll it from the bottom towards the valve. When I reach the valve and have forced all of the air out, I close the valve, unroll the mat, and re-roll it, just to make sure that it's tightly rolled. The mat then slides comfortably into the stuff sack.

Storage:
The manufacturer recommends that the mat be stored unrolled and with the valve open. I did not have a storage location where I could do this from 2006-2009, so the mat was stored rolled. I now store it as recommended under my bed. I don't know if storing the mat incorrectly is related to why the mat doesn't inflate as much as it used to.

Durability & Customer Service:
This mat has never had any tears or required repair in the field. In summer 2008, while in Europe, the mat began to lose air overnight. Closing the valve more tightly, with considerable force, seemed to fix the problem. In spring 2009, when the backpacking season started, I noted that even with the valve very tightly closed the mat would lose air overnight. The problem seems to be getting worse; I have had to manually re-inflate the mat in the middle of the night several times. Submersion of the mat in water revealed a slow leak from the seal of the fabric around the valve housing. I contacted MEC Customer Service, and they recommended that I bring the mat into a store for repair or replacement. However, since I live about an 8 hour drive from a retail store, they had several other suggestions:

  • use a seam sealer to try to repair the leak
  • if the valve itself is leaking, they will send me a replacement valve kit at no cost
  • if neither of those measures work, they asked that I mail them the mat for repair or replacement at no cost (except the shipping)
  • I will attempt the at-home fixes before mailing the mat for replacement, since it is backpacking season and I'm currently using the mat weekly. It is nice to know that as a backup the manufacturer will fix or replace the mat, even though it is 3 years old and has seen heavy use.

    Summary

    The Kelvin 3.8 has provided excellent comfort for 3 years, and the small is a perfect size for me. Although I have not used the repair kit, it was nice to have it in the field just in case. The included stuff sack is convenient and a good fit for the mat.

    Pros:
    Comfortable
    Excellent sizing
    Excellent price
    Comes with stuff sack and repair kit

    Cons:
    Sleeping bag slides on top of mat
    Leaking air after 3 years
    No longer fully self-inflates



    Read more reviews of Mountain Equipment Co-op gear
    Read more gear reviews by Andrea Murland

    Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > MEC Kelvin 3.8 Sleeping Pad > Owner Review by Andrea Murland



    Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

    If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


    All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
    BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson