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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > POE Hyper High Mountain Sleeping Pad > Test Report by Gail StaisilPacific Outdoor Equipment
Hyper High Mountain Mat
Test Series by: Gail Staisil, Marquette, Michigan
Updated: June 5, 2007
Pacific Outdoor Equipment
Hyper High Mountain Mat
February 13, 2007
Name: Gail Staisil
Height: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Location: Marquette, Michigan USA
The Hyper High Mountain Mat is one of several selections that belongs to the HYPER-LITE series of mats offered by Pacific Outdoor Equipment. Amazingly enough they also offer twelve other series of mats. According to the manufacturer the mat offers super cold conditions protection for four season use. The Hyper High Mountain Mat features an Aspen Aerogel insulation layer under the torso and feet, a mummy shape and PE plus 13 mm EVA foam. The Hyper High Mountain Mat is available in one size.
The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Hyper High Mountain Mat arrived in great condition. The mat was rolled and encased in a long mesh storage sack with a circular shape. No hangtags or information about the mat were included. However, a repair kit containing a tube of adhesive, two patches and repair instructions were found inside the sack. They can be stored in the self-stowing pocket located at the bottom of the storage sack.
The Hyper High Mountain Mat looks very similar to how it did on the website as far as the design and the color (mandarin and charcoal). The PE foam charcoal-color top layer of the mat has tons of small 1.5 in (3.8 cm) long cut-out designs that are strategically placed. These small cut-out areas are elongated diamond shapes and they are abundantly placed on the head area and the lower legs area of the mat. They make a fancy grid pattern to expose the mandarin-color EVA foam bottom layer of the pad. I can only assume that the cut-out shapes are multi-purpose. They would most likely save weight but still provide more insulation than just a single layer. The EVA foam used for the entire bottom of the mat is reportedly more durable and elastic than regular PE foam.
A large cut-out shape surrounds the Aspen Aerogel insert. This insert is shaped and placed for maximum insulation under the torso and hip areas. The Aspen Aerogel insert appears to be bonded or molded between the two layers of pads. After doing a bit of research on the web, I learned that Aspen Aerogel is an insulation material that offers maximum insulation for its weight. It reportedly is very compression resistant and hydrophobic. The latter would limit moisture build-up. It is covered by an inflatable portion that can be adjusted by the use of a valve that is located a bit off center at the top edge of the pad.
When I first unrolled the mat, I wondered why the mat was advertised as being 1.5 in (3.8 cm) thick. Most of the mat is 0.5 in (1.27 cm) in height but when the large Aspen Aerogel section is considered and the inflatable section is full of air, it does measure the entire 1.5 in (3.8 cm). The inflatable section is kind of like an elongated-hourglass shape with a spike on the top.
Overall, the mat has a tapered shape from top to bottom with the greatest width of 20 in (51 cm) being at the shoulders. The bottom edge of the mat is quite narrow tapering to about 12 in (30.5 cm). The mat is shaped to accommodate the height of an average length sleeping bag and the width of a mummy bag. I laid down on the mat and wondered if I will be able to stay in place while sleeping so that I don't lose the insulation factor. I've never used a mat that wasn't rectangular in shape before. The knee area would be the greatest area of concern for me as I often bend them while I am sleeping on my side. When I tried this on the mat they were clearly off the mat. When I laid on my back there was a bit more than an inch (2.54 cm) of clearance at each end of my body. This makes sense as I'm 69 in (175 cm) tall and the mat is 72 in (183 cm) in length.
The mat appears to be nicely finished. All of the edges are aligned and graphics are printed on both sides of the mat. The Pacific Outdoor Equipment brand and logo are printed in silver and the words " aspen aerogels" are printed in black.
I am looking forward to testing the mat to see if it insulates me well from the ground. I currently use two full length 0.5 in (1.27 cm) closed-cell foam pads during the winter and a combination of two thinner three-quarter pads in the shoulder seasons of winter. Both systems are heavier than the individual P.O.E. Hyper High Mtn Mat.
In the next four months, I will have ample opportunity to test the P.O.E. Hyper High Mtn Mat in both winter and spring conditions on many extended backpacking trips. There should be plenty of precipitation in the form of snow, sleet or rain and the nighttime low temperatures could range from a low of -20 F (-29 C) in March to a low of 39 F (4 C) in May. Testing locations could include deciduous and pine forest, open plains, frozen lakes, lakeshore and steep rocky trails. The testing conditions are at low elevation or altitude 600 ft (183 m) to 2000 ft (610 m).
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Pacific Outdoor Equipment
Hyper High Mountain Mat
April 18, 2007
During the field test period, the POE Hyper High Mtn Mat was utilized on both several multi-day winter sledge and early spring backpacking trips. The sledge trips involved pulling a modified winter sled loaded with gear through deep snow. They included a three-day winter sledge trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in February, a four-day sledge trip also to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in early March and a four-day backpacking trip to Pigeon River State Forest in early April. All of these areas are located in the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to swamps, plains, frozen lakes and lakeshore. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).
Trip # 1: Weather conditions for the first sledge trip lasting three days were cold, cloudy, blustery and extremely windy. High temperature was 18 F (-8 C) and the low temperature was -4 F (-20 C). A brutal northwest wind with gusts up to 45 mph (72 km/h) were experienced with average wind speed being 30 mph (48 km/h). Snow depth ranged from about 16 in (41 cm) near the lakeshore to well over 24 (61 cm) to 30 in (76 cm) inland. There was also significant drifting of snow making travel harsh.
Trip # 2: Conditions for the four-day Pictured Rocks trip were moderate in temperature (18 F/-8 C to 30 F/-1 C) but much precipitation occurred during the second and third day of the trip. Approximately 15 in (38 cm) to 16 in (41 cm) of very wet snow fell, making travel difficult. Wind speeds of over 30 mph (48 km/h) were experienced.
Trip # 3: The weather for the four-day Pigeon River State Forest trip was mostly cloudy and damp with episodes of rain each day and night. Total precipitation was approximately 0.50 in (1.3 cm). Temperatures were mostly in the 40 F to 45 F (4 C to 7 C) range with a high of nearly 60 F (16 C) and a low of approximately 28 F (-2 C).
I normally carry two thick closed-cell foam mats during the winter months for insulation purposes. Always being in the survival and comfort mode, I was a bit leery of bringing only the POE Hyper High Mt Mat with me to provide insulation from the elements. As a precaution, I also brought along a three/quarter Z-rest to use for sitting purposes and to provide an additional mat for sleeping if I was in dire straights. During the first trip, I was perfectly warm with just the Hyper High Mtn Mat underneath me. It was placed over several feet (1 m) of snow cover. My shelter choice was a silnylon tarp pitched in an open explorer-type configuration. I did use a -20 F (-29 C) sleeping bag and bivy to help keep me warm and the lowest temp was -4 F(-20 C). The weather was very blustery and cold with less humidity than normal.
During the second trip, the temperatures were much warmer at night with a low of about 18 F (-8 C). However, it was very wet and damp with an abundance of new snow. I again brought the back-up Z-rest if needed. During the first two nights of the trip I was slightly chilled even though I again had both a -20 F (-29 C) sleeping bag and bivy for protection. I was certain that the chill was due primarily to the extreme humidity and wind chill. My tarp was pitched and then partial snow walls were built on all sides of it during the second night. During the third night, I again felt chilled and it was especially noticeable underneath my legs but not my feet. I checked the inflation of the hourglass-shaped insert to check if it was deflated and it wasn't. After getting up around 3 AM, I decided to try placing the Z-rest under my legs to see if it would make a difference. I noticeably warmed up to be comfortable. It was a great experiment and even though I think the mat is wonderfully comfortable and warm under the torso area, it is not sufficiently warm underneath my legs. My lower extremities stayed cool making my whole body somewhat chilled. Reportedly the mat is designed to provide an R factor of 20 for warmth. This seems to only apply to the torso area as the lower portion of the mat is much thinner. It only consists of a layer of cut-out PE foam and a layer of EVA foam with a small insert of Aerogel under the feet. However, I always sleep on the cold side (requiring a sleeping bag with a lower temperature rating than actual temperature) so for someone who doesn't sleep cold, it may not be as much of an issue. The insulative value of a mat is detrimental to my comfort during the cold winter months. Based on the two snow weather trips, the actual humidity had more to do with how I felt while I slept. The first trip had been much colder with less humidity and I had remained much warmer. I also realize that my caloric intake might of been a factor in staying warm but my eating habits are normally fairly consistent.
The third trip was in the early spring and the snow cover had melted. I left the Z-rest at home and I packed only the Hyper High Mtn Mat. The ground was very wet from the melted snow and there were several episodes of rain that fell during the four days and nights of this trip. I slept under an open tarp with the use of a bivy. During two of the nights I placed the mat directly on the wet vegetation that I had previously checked over for any sharp vegetation. I wanted to see how the mat held up to be placed directly on dead ferns and leaves. The bottom of the mat is very soft and I now have impressions of pine needles and small holes in the mat. This doesn't affect its insulative factor, only its appearance.
The remainder of the nights I chose to insert the mat inside of my bivy which offered more protection from the duff. I did not use a ground cloth although that is something I might consider carrying in the future to protect the bottom of the mat from further harm. The mat was also used to sit on at camp but it was in the same position as it was for sleeping.
The mummy shape of the pad has worked out better than I anticipated. Having only been used to rectangular-shaped mats, I feared that I would easily displace my body off the mat. I didn't have any trouble staying on the mat during the first two snow-covered trips as I had shoveled a flat area for my sleeping place. Every time that I would awaken, I was happy to see that I was still placed quite appropriately on the mat. On the last trip, staying on the mat during the night was directly related to how uneven the terrain was. This was a bushwhacking trip so there weren't any established camping sites. Normally my legs would sometimes stray from the correct position on the mat or my whole body would slide down a bit. However, I did stay warm throughout each night of the trip with the use of the mat in very damp conditions. My sleeping bag of choice for this trip was a 20 F (-7 C) synthetic bag and the low temperature was approximately 28 F (-2 C).
So far, there haven't been any issues with durability or care other than contact with forest duff which made the bottom of the mat less attractive in appearance. During the snow trips, I had been especially interested to see how the mat would survive direct contact with wet snow that turned icy when compressed. Oftentimes this is an issue with other mats and I have torn small pieces off of them when I tried to extract them from the snow surface after sleeping on them. The Hyper High Mat did not stick to the snow. Snow was easily brushed off the surfaces of the mat. The April trip brought wet ground conditions but the mat wasn't noticeably wet and I was able to brush off the forest dirt and duff.
During the first two trips using the POE Hyper High Mtn Mat, I had pulled a sledge with my gear. I decided that it would be more convenient if I could carry the mat while it's not rolled up. I simply folded the mat in three sections and placed it on top of my gear in my sledge. It was simple to unfold and I didn't have to fight with the mat to keep it flat after it was unfolded. It was protected not only from the elements but also from possible rough interactions with vegetation as it was additionally covered with a tarp in my sledge. The storage sack that comes with the mat is made of mesh and wouldn't protect from either. During the backpacking trip, the mat was rolled up and placed in a homemade silynylon sack and carried on the outside of my pack. It's a bit bulky carried in that format, so the compression straps of my pack were too short to go around the mat. I had to improvise and add extra cordage to the straps to enable securing the mat. I did try to insert the mat into my backpack as an alternative, but it took up too much gear space. Although this arrangement worked, it was somewhat of a hindrance to get through brush while bushwhacking. When I had to get under partially fallen tree trunks, I had to crawl to prevent getting hung up on the trees. As many people are primarily trail hikers, I don't feel this would be an issue for them.
So Far, So Good
Overall, I'm mostly pleased with the performance of the mat. It's easy to stow in a winter sledge, it takes little care and it's more comfortable than any other mat or combination of mats that I've used. I don't feel the mat is as highly insulative as suggested by the manufacturer but it does cover a variety of my backpacking experiences. If the manufacturer would extend the Aerogel inserts to insulate further beneath the leg area the mat might be perfect for extreme winter needs. This would add some weight to the mat but it still would weigh less and be less bulky than taking two thick closed-cell foam mats.
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Long Term Report:
Pacific Outdoor Equipment
Hyper High Mountain Mat
June 5, 2007
Locations and Conditions
During the long term test period, I have used the Hyper High Mtn Mat for three more multi-day backpacking trips. Additional days in the field amounted to twelve. Locations ranged from and included conifer and deciduous forest communities with many rock outcroppings to sand dunes, lakeshore and swamps. Elevation ranged from 600 ft (183 m) to almost 2000 ft (610 m).
Trip # 1:
Location: North Country Trail - Lower Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail (maintained), moderate terrain
Distance: 36 mi (58 km)
Length of Trip: 4 days
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 25.5 lb (11.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Cloudy, sunny, low-mid range humidity
Temperature Range: 36 F (2 C) to 66 F (19 C)
Trip # 2:
Location: North Country Trail - Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Type of Trip: Rugged unmaintained trail section (several hundred blowdowns, washed out bridges), wide river crossings, severe terrain
Distance: 54 mi (87 km)
Length of Trip: 6 days
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 30 lb (13.6 kg) to 40 lb (18 kg kg) when hauling extra water for dry bivouac sites
Sky and Air conditions: Mostly cloudy, rain and sun, mid-high range humidity
Precipitation: 0.69 in (1.75 cm)
Temperature Range: 34 F (1 C) to 86 F (30 C)
Trip # 3:
Location: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore - Michigan
Type of Trip: Trail
Distance: 17 mi (27 km)
Length of Trip: 2 days
Total Pack Load (including consumables): 21 lb (9.5 kg)
Sky and Air conditions: Sunny, windy and cloudy, mid-range humidity
Temperature Range: 39 F (4 C) to 66 F (19 C)
Performance in the Field
During the long term test period, I used the Hyper High Mtn Mat for an additional twelve days in the field. Not only did I use the mat to sleep on during the evening hours, but I also used it to sit on during some of my hours at camp. My shelter choice for all of the nights was a tarp and bivy combination. The mat was placed on many uneven surfaces including sand dunes, rock and various forms of dead vegetation. The majority of nights were on unestablished bivy sites in the forest. I first checked the surface of the earth for debris where I placed the mat, but I only removed objects that were too sharp or lumpy to sit on such as pine cones. Dead leaves, pine needles, small twigs and small rocks remained under the mat's area. I chose not to use a ground cloth as I'm trying to eliminate extra weight from my pack. Although such debris left impressions in the soft EVA foam bottom layer of the mat, it didn't alter its performance. Each morning, I brushed away any vegetation or debris that clung to the mat. Even though I have extensively used the mat in this manner, it still looks relatively clean. I have occasionally spilled drops of food or drink on the mat but they have wiped off easily with my pack towel. After each day of use in the field, I rolled the mat back into a cylinder shape. It was then placed in a silynylon sack and attached to the outside of my pack.
Even though all of my trips in the long term period took place in the month of May, the low temperature on each trip was approximately an average of 35 F (2 C). I used a 20 F (-7 C) synthetic sleeping bag on the first trip and a 25 F (-4 C) down bag on the second and third trip. I'm naturally a cold sleeper, yet I felt very warm during all of the nights. I attribute that to the insulative qualities of the POE Hyper High Mtn Mat. I know from past experience that I would've felt cold with a thinner mat underneath me in that temperature range. To be perfectly honest, if I wasn't in the process of testing the mat, I would've instead used a lighter mat for my spring trips. The Hyper High Mtn Mat is twice the weight of my normal spring mat. I initially cringed at the thought of carrying the extra weight, but the apparent result is that I have become spoiled by the comfort and warmth of this mat. My second trip of six days, was an especially grueling trip, but I slept comfortably with the Hyper High Mtn Mat underneath me. Not only didn't I have to rotate from side to side as often during each night, but I felt wonderfully cushioned in the hip area. That is where I often feel or experience the discomfort of hard days on the trail.
The Hyper High Mtn Mat has held up very well during the entire testing period. Other than surface impressions on the bottom side, there aren't any other defects noticeable on the mat. The inflatable portion over the Aerogel inserts that includes the valve are in fine condition. As referenced above, the mat was subject to contact with the bare earth repeatedly.
In conclusion, I really like the POE Hyper High Mat and I feel it can serve me well during any season including winter. During the entire testing period, I was lucky enough to be able to test the mat placed over many different surfaces varying from several feet of snow to dead debris. Nighttime low temperatures ranged from -4 F (-20 C) to a toasty 39 F (4 C). As I suggested in the field report, I believe that this mat performs best when used for moderate winter temperatures (20 F/-7 C or above) but it needs more insulation under the legs area for it to be the ideal winter mat for colder temperatures than that. I will certainly continue to use it for winter trips, but I'll add an additional layer underneath my legs to keep my whole body warm.
This report completes the test series for the Hyper High Mtn Mat. Thanks to Pacific Outdoor Equipment and BackpackGearTest for the great opportunity to test the mat throughout both the winter and spring seasons.
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