Sleeping Mats – A comparison of non inflatable pads

I did say that I would do a comparsion of non inflatable pads and here it is. I make lots of apologies upfront as the rating system I have used is purely down to my personal experiences and therefore not necessarily the same for other people.

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What I have tried to do is rate the pads I use with a set of 5 criteria. These 5 criteria are thengiven a score of 1-5. The total “score” for each pad is then a function of the 5 ratings multiplied by each other. For me this gives a ranking order that favours good all-round scores and penalises the worst scores. For example hypothetically a mat that scores a middle 3 in all its ratings will give an overall score way in excess of one that has a couple of 1’s and a couple of 5’s and a 3 even though the total added score would be the same. As I said, you may disagree with the method, the application of the ratings and the results but it is a starter for discussion if nothing else

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So, the candidates:

  • Laminate flooring foam underlay
  • Radiator reflective material
  • Gossamer Gear Torso Pad
  • Gossamer Gear Thinlight mat
  • OMM duolight pad (from the “back” of the OMM classic rucksack) 

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And for those of you who dont know what they look like, here they are in glorious technicolour

  length (cm) width (cm)  thickness (mm) Area (m2) volume (Litres) weight (g)
             
Radiator shielding 182 59.5 3 1.08 3.25 176
OMM duo mat 79.5 47.5 3 0.38 1.13 150
laminate underlay  177 70 3 1.24 3.72 92
GG thinlight 149 49.5 8 0.74 5.90 158
GG torso pad 72 45 16 0.32 5.18 96
             
notes on volume            
1 litre = 1000cm3 (therefore relates to rucksack space)  

 

  volume in pack  (1-5) comfort  (1-5) warmth  (1-5) Robustness  (1-5) Area  (1-5) Total rating
             
Radiator shielding 4 2 2 2 4 128
OMM duo mat 5 1 1 5 2 50
laminate underlay  3 3 3 1 5 135
GG thinlight 1 5 4 3 3 180
GG torso pad 2 4 5 4 1 160

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So, what do the results tell us?

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For me, the best overall pad is the GG Thinlight and I would have said that from the off before doing the measurements and ratings thing. It combines real warmth with a good size area, reasonable robustness and excellent comfort. The second placed torso pad is also an excellent mat but I would hasten to add that due to its size is not really suitable for winter use on its own, being too small. However combine this with another thin body-length pad it really works in the winter. My surprise package is the laminate floor underlay foam coming in a respectable third. If it wasnt for the robustness rating (which is relative to the others), it would possibly be the best. It is amazingly warm for something so thin and light and packs down easily (can be slotted into the back of my OMM 32L sack). The radiator reflective material isnt bad either although it is more difficult to fold and for some reason not as comfy or warm. Coming in last was the duolight. Its just too thin and unsupportive to compete. Having said that I have used this in summer on springy grass very successfully and its virtually indestructable!

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I really rate the GG thinlight and have used it in the depths of winter with no issues and as said above, combine it with the torso-pad as well and it is an excellent all year round “system” (-7deg C is the lowest temp I have used this combination with along with an Alpkit PD400 sleeping bag and been really toasty). I do like the underlay as well mind and the other good thing is that you can take an oversize piece of it and it doubles as a sleep pad and ground sheet. From memory you can get widths of around 150cm which is a very decent size. The only downside is that you have to be a little gentle with it. Its not tissue paper but because it grips really well, you can jag holes in it if ungentle with booted feet.

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Pick over the bones of this article and ask away any questions you have. Dont forget this is only a like for like comparison and I havent attempted to include inflatable mats which in my mind are a different animal altogether.

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There you have it, feeding time at the gear nerd zoo again

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About Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures

I am a keen hiker, camper, cyclist and general all round gear addict..... I also manage to be a professional brewer in my non-spare time :->
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10 Responses to Sleeping Mats – A comparison of non inflatable pads

  1. Very nice comparison, Dave, and good to see those exotic pads in there as well. I personally rate the Z Lite very high, and also the RidgeRest is superb though the latter is a fail in packsize.

  2. backpackbrewer says:

    Thanks Hendrik,

    Never used the Z lite or ridgerest. Dont forget that packsize is only one of the criteria and so if it scored highly on the others it might do very well. Also packsize is just a criteria that is important to me. Others may not deem it important if they use a big rucksack for instance (which I dont) or if they hang it on the outside (in which case it doesnt matter so much)

    In the next week, I will be devising a method of assessing the true insulation performance of the pads. I saw that BPL did a similar thing a few years ago. My method will involve a calibrated temperature probe and a (as yet undetermined) heat source to track heat transmission through the pads.

    Watch this space! 🙂

  3. Excellent comparison, look forward to the insulation results. I’ve just bought an OMM Classic 32L and was going to ditch the pad in it (too rigid in bag & about 150g). Where did you get the laminate flooring underlay from?

    I normally use a NeoAir short but had been looking at the GG torso pad, probably not until after the winter though (I’m too soft).

  4. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Steven,

    by all means ditch the pad but perhaps replace it with a piece of laminate flooring insulation? As in the review it doubles as a groundsheet (with care) and will fit nicely in the back pouch of the 32L rucksack

    I got mine from B&Q and think it was about £10 for 10metres of the stuff!!!

    Bargain 🙂

    The torsopad is a seriously nice pad and you can get it in different thicknesses to suit.

    Lets see what my further research reveals in the next week or two …….

  5. R MacE says:

    Interesting Dave, I have 3mm CCF underlay that I’ve cut to the size of a full length sleeping mat, It folds up and fit’s my ULA Conduit as a backpad and add’s extra insulation/protection for a self inflate in cold weather/rough ground. Normally I just use a 3 season CCF mat from Millets. I’ve seen the underlay in B&Q, might have to get some as it should sreve the same purpose as the 3mm CCF but would be much lighter.

  6. backpackbrewer says:

    Hi Mac,

    the good thing about the underlay is that it is really cheap, is fairly waterproof and amazingly warm for the weight. I definitely subscribe to the theory of adding it as an extra layer to another sleep pad. Its warmth to weight ratio is unrivalled in my honest opinion

  7. Now here’s a question for you. When backpacking with Dixie, I normally carry a short Karrimat for her to sleep on (with a thin, fleecy blanket on top). It bugs me though, that I have to carry the mat rolled up, on the outside of my rucsac, So, I have been looking at the OMM Duomat as a possibility, on the basis that it is not only light, but will fold up down the inside of my pack. In your humble opinion, do you think this mat would be robust enough, and provide enough insulation, for a rufty, tufty mountain Boxer to sleep on? (Her claws are not particularly sharp by the way; she’s never damaged the tent floor with them yet.)

    • Saddlebags and Backpacks - a brewer's outdoor adventures says:

      Sorry late with a reply on this….completely missed it!

      The duo mat is very tough and offers a little bit of insulation and padding. If you are still thinking of putting a thin fleecy blanket on it I think it will be fine for Dixie 🙂

      The only thing to note is the width is slightly less than “standard” mats at 45cm but I guess this wont be too much of a problem with the fleecy blanket on top

      Hope that helps and btw…..hadnt thought of using mine for Barney but might try next time we are out!

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