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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > Vango Trek Self Inflating Mat > Owner Review by David Below

OWNER REVIEW - VANGO TREK SELF INFLATING MAT
BY DAVID BELOW
OWNER REVIEW
May 11, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: David Below
EMAIL: below4 AT hotmail.co.uk
AGE: 24
LOCATION: Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.82 m)
WEIGHT: 170 lb (77.00 kg)

Backpacking Background: I started backpacking around 15 years ago with the Scouts, and I now run camps and trips as a Scout leader which are my most common outings. I form part of a 4-man leader team supervising 10-15 Scouts, but also enjoy social trips with 3 or 4 friends. I have been on numerous walks throughout the United Kingdom in all weathers and terrains. I like my pack to be small and light but I'm not an extreme lightweight backpacker. I have always used mid-range gear but have recently started upgrading to more expensive equipment for greater comfort and reliability.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Inflated Size
3 cm x 51 cm x 183 cm/1 in x 20 in x 72 in (H x W x L) - verified

Packed Size
27 cm x 17 cm/10.6 in x 7 in (L x H) - verified

Packed Weight
0.86 kg / 1 lb 14 oz - advertised
0.96 kg / 2 lb 2 oz - verified

Manufacturer's Website
http://www.vango.co.uk

Year of Manufacture
2013

PRODUCT SUMMARY

The Vango Trek Self Inflating Mat Standard is a compact inflatable sleeping mat, recommended by the Scout Association and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme (an award scheme for young adults and children who complete hiking and camping expeditions). It has a base made of non-slip polyester, it contains 3 cm (1 in) diamond cut foam, and the top surface is made of diamond ripstop polyester which helps to limit any damage or surface scratches. It comes with both a stuff sack and a handy repair kit, just in case. To inflate the mat simply unroll it, undo the screw top valve, and stand back and watch it inflate. Once inflated top up using the mouthpiece as required and then close the valve. To deflate open the valve once again, fold the mat in half lengthways, and begin to roll starting from the feet end. As the mat is rolled the air is forced out of it, and once it is fully deflated and rolled up close the valve once more to prevent it from trying to re-inflate when packed.

FIELD USE

Weekend trip in January 2014 to The Cheviots in Northumberland, damp and cold conditions but relatively flat surface. Intermittent rain and temperatures down to 0 C (32 F) at an altitude of around 310 m (1017 ft). Carried Vango Trek Self Inflating Mat Standard as part of a full pack for a total distance of around 25 km (15 miles).

Weekend trip in April 2014 to Ashness Bridge in the Lake District. Dry and chilly conditions, slightly sloped surface with numerous bumps and mounds. Temperatures down to around 5 C (41 F) at an altitude of 250 m (820 ft), only had to carry mat in pack for around 1 mile (1 km) then left it at camp site.

PRODUCT REVIEW

The Vango Trek Self Inflating Mat Standard is a very good, light, compact sleeping mat. For the majority of my camping/hiking experiences I have always used a cheap and conventional foam roll mat, which I have generally always been happy with. It was always light and it never bothered me if it got wet or damaged making it perfect for my trips with my Scout troop. More recently though I took part in a hill walking training weekend where we had to carry our own kit for the entire weekend, and whilst the foam mat was suitably light I wanted to try and keep size to a minimum to allow enough space for items such as stoves and tents. I therefore did a bit of research and decided on the Vango Trek Self Inflating Mat Standard. It is incredibly compact when packed and still a decent size when inflated. The advertised packed size as shown above is 27 x 17 cm (10.6 x 7 in), and I quite comfortably got it down to that size. When I rolled it up carefully ensuring every little bit of air was out of it I managed to roll it tight enough to get the dimensions down to 27 x 14 cm (10.6 x 5.5 in) which is incredibly small to pack for a full size sleeping mat. In order to keep it down to this size however I did need some straps to wrap around it, as the stuff sack it comes with is drawstring only and does not keep the mat stored as small as it could do. I suggest either buying some straps, using an old pair of shoelaces, or perhaps purchasing a compression sack of a suitable size. Whilst in this packed condition it is also pretty light. It does weigh slightly over the advertised weight, weighing in at 0.96 kg (2 lb 2 oz), but it was still light enough for me to happily carry around for the full weekend.

IMAGE 1



We then come on to the mat in its inflated state. The first time I used it, it took around 5 - 10 minutes to fully inflate, and as I would expect to find with any inflating mat it still required topping up afterwards. Since then I have preferred to inflate it completely myself using the mouthpiece, which isn't a very strenuous task. I did choose to inflate mine pretty much to capacity, which cannot be achieved if you leave the mat to self-inflate, because not only did I find it most comfortable that way, but it also allowed me to fully utilise and enjoy the 3cm (1 in) height of the mat. By having such a good depth to it, the mat is very effective at blocking out the cold from the ground, and also is thick enough to act almost as an air bed. This makes such a huge difference when compared to other types of mats. From experience I found that with a foam mat it was usually perfectly adequate at smoothing out the bumps of the ground, but the Vango Trek Standard in comparison actively provides genuine comfort.

IMAGE 2


Left Image : When left to self-inflate for 5-10 mins. Reasonably inflated but still some creases where it could inflate further.
Right Image: After I topped the inflation up to full capacity, creases gone, smooth surface, fully maximising the height.


The shape when inflated is pretty good. The head and torso section is full width with the leg section tapering in slightly to save size and weight. This may make it more suitable for people using mummy-style sleeping bags, but in my opinion it is not tapered enough to make me worry about using a regular rectangle sleeping bag on it. The surface is also fairly grippy meaning that even with the tapered leg section I never felt at risk of slipping or sliding off it. At the top end there is the screw top valve, used to self-inflate if left open, and used to top up as a mouthpiece, and then as the venting valve when opened to deflate.

IMAGE 3



The size; this is the area where I have the biggest concern. For my own personal preference I am not a fussy sleeper, I don't need a lot of room, and I am quite happy knowing that if I move around in my sleep and end up off the mat then that's my own fault and my problem. As a result the size of this mat is fine for me. I consider myself to be of average size and weight, I am 183 cm (6 ft) tall and my shoulder width is 48 cm (19 in). The sleeping mat is 183 cm (6 ft) long and 51 cm (20 in) wide. This means in a lying down position I fit on this mat almost perfectly, with either my toes or the top of my head sticking very slightly over one end. People who like to have a bit of room to move about or just a bit of extra space however may well find this mat a bit small. As mentioned earlier the lower section of the mat tapers to match a mummy-style sleeping bag meaning there isn't even the extra width of my shoulders to allow some feet movement from side to side. For me this is a compromise I am quite happy to live with in order to have a mat so small and compact when packed, but there is also a larger version of this mat available.

As the mat is relatively new to me I can't really comment on long-term durability, but on the few occasions I have used it, it has never given me any signs of weakness and so far seems sturdy and dependable.

It is a pretty good-looking product as far as sleeping mats go, with a red top surface with the Vango logo on it and a black under surface, with a matching stuff sack. It also comes with a repair kit in case the mat suffers any punctures.

THINGS I LIKE

Pros:
" Excellent pack size and weight
" Very comfortable
" 3 cm (1 in) height is an effective design feature

THINGS I DON'T LIKE

Cons:
" Stuff sack doesn't allow product to be packed as small as it can be
" Limiting inflated surface size in terms of freedom to move around
" Slow self-inflate and then still requires a top up using mouthpiece to achieve the advertised depth

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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