By: Blonde Two
I have a theory about new gear, that you should make every effort to test it to the max fairly soon after it is delivered. Luckily for me, I have a good friend in Blonde One who doesn’t mind my mad ideas (in fact she is often the instigator of madness herself). We did a good job of testing my new Thermarest sleeping mat last weekend when, fancying a Dartmoor wild camping night before our navigation workshop the next day, we opted for bivvy bags rather than a tent and ventured out into the evening mist (we hadn’t planned the mist).
We found a very special spot (the location of which we won’t be sharing) and, already tired from busy days and an afternoon/evening exploration walk for a Countryfile Magazine article that I was writing, we didn’t even consider putting the tarp up, concentrating instead on a quick entry into our various bags.
Buried in my bivvy bag for almost the entire night, I slept really well. If that isn’t endorsement enough for a new sleeping mat, the few times I did wake up, I found myself thinking alternately, ‘This mat is really warm’ and ‘This mat is really comfy.’ The name NeoAir XthermMax gives a clue to the two things I was looking for in my new mat. The first was warmth and the second lightness. Weighing in at 640 grams, it isn’t the lightest in the NeoAir range but it is one of the warmest with a thickness of 6.3 centimetres and an R-value of 5.7.
Because I am a bit of a tent-roller, I had opted for the XthermMax large, which meant that I couldn’t fit it inside my bivvy bag as is my usual habit but the size did mean that I could roll around as much as I like and not feel that, ‘off the mat’ chill even once in the night. I am 173cm (that’s my height, not any other measurement) and I did feel that I could have managed with a slightly shorter mat. The disadvantage of having camping mat eyes bigger than my actual size was that it takes a bit longer to blow up that smaller mats. This version does, however, come with a snozzle (blowing up) bag included, which I think made the process a bit quicker and certainly made it a lot less dizziness inducing!
All in all, I am very pleased with my new sleeping mat (which been well christened with mud and Dartmoor rain). If you are considering one yourself, it isn’t the cheapest option but perhaps worth the expenditure if you intend to do any winter camping and have a tendency to feel larger than your bed.
From time to time we Blondes are sent free outdoor products to field test and promote on social media. We will always be honest about our findings and any products we don’t keep for ourselves find their way into our expedition stores. Great for us, great for you and great for our youngsters!