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#172453 - 11/29/12 10:55 AM looking for an air mat
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
So, the time has come for me to get another air mat. This one is for my wife to use when we go together, and me to use in the winter instead of my BA insulated air core. I have it narrowed down to 2 or 3 possibilities. Because my wife and I are side sleepers, and she has generous hips, thickness is key. She has slept on the BA (2.5 inches thick) and said it wasn't too bad. However, I want to get her a seriously comfy pad. I am only looking at pads that are 3.5 inches thick or more. That, of course, really limits the field. I was at REI the other day and they are clearancing all their exped downmat 9s. I want the medium size, and they were at a good price. However, the other day, I went in and they only had the LW. I asked the employees and one said that there are still some at other stores, but not in this state. So, if I had to, I can do a store to store transfer. Campmor is also selling them at a decent price, compared to SRP. Of course, when I was in the store, I saw the new BA Q-core. It is also 3.5 inches thick, uses synthetic insulation, and is about 10 oz lighter, and is cheaper than the sale price for the downmat. It also has a lower R value. Another pad I have looked at is the warmlite DAM. I am a little skeptical about the inflation system with the DAM. Of course, I have never used it. BPL did a review of it last year, and Roger Caffin didn't like the bag inflator. That doesn't mean that I can't get it to work, but I am skeptical. I was going to look at kookabay, but it looks like he isn't doing that anymore.
So, are there any others I need to look at? Any comments on the DAM inflation process? Anyone have success replacing the DAM pump with something better? I think I would rather use a down filled mat, just because I know the down will last longer over many compressions. I like the exped inflator, but it costs more than the other two, and weighs more. The BA is cheaper, and you can blow it up with your mouth, but is has a lower R value, and no down insulation. I don't like the DAM's pump, but haven't used it, and I like everything else about it, price, weight, thickness, R value etc.


Edited by finallyME (11/29/12 10:57 AM)
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#172455 - 11/29/12 11:25 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 974
Loc: Torrance, CA
I think your looking at the right pads for your requirements and I agree Kookabay would have been perfect had he not flaked out.

My recommendation would be the exped. It is on clearance and you will have REI's guarantee behind it and you will have down insulation which should last a long time if properly cared for. Over the life of the pad I would expect the exped to be cheaper than the Q-core.

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#172465 - 11/29/12 03:31 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: BZH]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6678
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I'd suggest a store trial of the Exped UL7 Downmat rather than the heavier model--depends, of course, on how much weight you want to carry vs. the thickness (2.8").

Another mourner here of the late KookaBay! frown
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172467 - 11/29/12 03:55 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1755
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I was sold on the NeoAir All-season - until a hiking buddy showed up with a Q-Core, and raved about it every morning of the trip.

I just got one, and have used it for a two-night trip when temps dropped into the mid-20's, and now I rave about it. It's definitely the most comfortable pad I've ever used, and I had no issues with the warmth. (I used an Insulated Air Core once in mid-20's temperatures, and could feel the cold air coming up through it; I had no such problems with the Q-Core.) However, for colder temperatures, I'm thinking I may, at some point, have to put a space blanket and/or closed cell pad under it. I'll play with that this winter, car-camping, and figure it out.

The Q-Core also seems sturdier than the NeoAir - although I'd add that I have never, ever had a leak in any NeoAir mattress I've had.

So, how did I justify the extra half pound of Q-Core versus NeoAir All-season? I decided to give up the chair kit I carried with the NeoAir (the NeoAir doesn't work nearly as well as a Thermarest Prolite or other self-inflating pad in a chair kit.) What I found out was that I didn't really miss the chair as much as I thought I would.

The Q-Core definitely deserves a look for your wife; depending on how you define "winter," the Exped pads might be warmer.

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#172474 - 11/29/12 09:10 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
THe newer version of Exped mats have a pump in the side baffle, and require CPR to inflate. The Q Core is inflatable by mouth or by a pump, such as the Instaflator or a small battery operated portable (the name escapes me, but I ran across one recently). I always just blow mine up.

My review of the Q Core: http://tinyurl.com/ch2jv84

I have had 20+ nights on the Q Core, some below freezing. I would rely on it to be warm to the rating of 15F. I sleep with a quilt so am directly on the mattress at night.

I also have an Exped Downmat 9, rated to -39F (the subzero rating is as per the labeling) and total, complete overkill for most environments, and I only take it in winter. It is equal to the Q Core in comfort and a full three pounds you don't need to carry until you're talking snow, subzero and pulks.

I also have an original NeoAir, which is going on 5 years of use, that has never leaked, and nearly as comfortable but not as cushy or as warm.
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#172485 - 11/30/12 11:05 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: lori]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
That is a thorough report lori. Thanks.
You all have been helpful. I still haven't decided. I don't think I will regret any purchase as these three pads are all good pads. I can't buy anything right now, waiting for funds. I have a fear that I won't get funds until after all the exped 9s are sold out. Did they discontinue, or are they simply replacing them with a newer model? At any rate, still waiting for Jim Shaw to chime in. I know he has had a DAM for many years.
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#172489 - 11/30/12 01:30 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
My older Exped DAM 9 is not as comfy as my thinner, short NeoAir. I have used my NeoAir with a CCF pad on snow, after two nights, you can see a slick spot in the snow where I slept. I was not cold, just could feel some coolness on the bottom. So the more thermally efficient XTherms should be pretty good, but gotta believe in Lori's report. Just don't like the weight she lists.:(
Duane

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#172636 - 12/04/12 09:02 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I found the inflation gadget I was referring to. It was reviewed at backpackgeartest.org - here's the mfr page.

https://www.camp-tek.com/buy/index.html

A bit pricey but it looks like a neat gizmo, and less effort by far than huffing and puffing or shaking out the Instaflator repeatedly.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172659 - 12/05/12 09:34 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: lori]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
That is an interesting product. 2.3 oz is a lot lighter than I would expect for a battery powered fan unit. Don't quote me, by I think I heard somewhere that the Exped integrated pump adds 4 oz to the pad. The instaflator is listed at 1.7 oz. Since, the instaflator is only $4 to buy, I will probably buy it first just to see if I like it. If I don't, this camp-tek looks like a nice alternative.
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#172662 - 12/05/12 10:56 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: finallyME]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1755
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I hope this doesn't sound sarcastic; it's only intended to sound bemused - but I have to ask:

So, we can have sufficient lung power to huff and puff and haul a load up big hills all day, but blowing up the air mat in camp is so hard we need a mechanical assist? smile

I know, I know: I'm oversimplifying, and completely ignoring the issue of introducing moisture into the pad. It was just intended as a mood-lightening comment; please don't take offense.

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#172663 - 12/05/12 11:03 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: Glenn Roberts]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2124
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Glenn, that was my thought too.
Duane

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#172665 - 12/05/12 11:15 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: Glenn Roberts]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
If you only go 3-4 miles a day, you're probably not puffing much. and maybe that's for good reason. I ran into a couple making a three day effort out of an eight mile pass....
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172666 - 12/05/12 11:37 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: hikerduane]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6678
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I think it's more a question of wanting to keep moisture out of the air pad. My son has a BA Clearview, and we could see close to half a cup of moisture inside after a 3-day trip. In the past, before storing my synthetic insulated air pad, I've set up a heater and used a plastic bag (see below) to pump warm air into it (I let the heater fan inflate the bag and then squeeze the air into the pad). I do this several times, squeezing out the air after each inflation. I hope that dries it out!

Of course with down insulated mats, blowing it up by mouth is definitely a no-no. Exped has something called a Pumpsack with a Schnozzle, which comes with their UL Downmat. I've read that it can be used as a waterproof pack liner when not pumping up the mat. Please note that I haven't tried this or even looked at it but only have seen a couple of reports! I suspect it works only with Exped's unique valve.

I take a Hefty UltraFlex (1.3 mil) trash bag on trips anyway, to cover my dog's pack when it has to be outside the tent. Actually, Hysson carries it! A small hole in one of the bottom corners plus a rubber band turns it into the equivalent of an Instaflator. Multiple use! 1.6 oz. (yes, I weigh the stuff in Hysson's pack, too; I want to keep his total pack weight under 10 lbs.). It usually takes only 2 bags full of air. Of course it works only with the type of valve that sticks out of the pad (such as Thermarest, POE and the late KookaBay).


Edited by OregonMouse (12/05/12 11:38 AM)
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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172673 - 12/05/12 02:10 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: Glenn Roberts]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts

I know, I know: I'm oversimplifying, and completely ignoring the issue of introducing moisture into the pad. It was just intended as a mood-lightening comment; please don't take offense.

Glenn, it's not the "mood-lightening", it's the "head-lightening" aspect that kills me. I recently acquired a Thermorest NeoAir, that came with the bag that doubles as a pump. laugh I still haven't got the hang of the bag yet. I'm thinking that after the end of a hard day, the last thing I want to do is have to inflate by mouth, an air matress, but had just given up to the notion that it's a necessary evil, worth it, but evil none-the-less.
I just ordered one of those Camp-Tek pumps that Lori linked to.
I'm anxious to see a 2.4 ounce pump inflate a full size NeoAir in approx. 3 to 4 minutes. We'll see. I'll be testing it in the house, but will be doing a "winter" trip in January. Hope to try it there and see if it works as well outside, in the cold...if it works I only gain 2.4 ounces, well worth it. I'll see...

J. laugh


Edited by jbylake (12/05/12 04:51 PM)

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#172676 - 12/05/12 03:33 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: jbylake]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6678
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Please let us know how it works in cold weather! This gizmo has tempted me!

It might be another of those things you have to put in the sleeping bag to keep the batteries from freezing. Let's see: fuel canister, camera, headlamp, GPS, phone, water filter, now the air pad pump.... Will there be room enough for feet?
lol
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172678 - 12/05/12 04:06 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: OregonMouse]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
That is what long sleeping bags were invented for. smile


Edited by finallyME (12/05/12 04:07 PM)
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I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#172679 - 12/05/12 04:57 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: OregonMouse]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
OM,
All kdding aside, it's supposed to be about half the size of a Twinkee, but still available without the outrageous Ebay cost..
So ditch the Twinkee and put the pump in it's place....

Will three lithium batteries last longer than a Twinkee? crazy

The review says 3 AAA batteries will pump mattress 25 times. If it works 4 or 5 times, I'll be happy.

J.



Edited by jbylake (12/05/12 04:59 PM)

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#172680 - 12/05/12 05:16 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: jbylake]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Read Ray Estrella's review at backpackgeartest. The batteries lasted.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172686 - 12/05/12 06:54 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1755
Loc: Southwest Ohio
OK, this isn't being written to stir up trouble (I've decided to behave. smile )

The moisture issue is real, especially in down-filled mats. Using some method other than your mouth is recommended. But - and this is honest curiosity, because I just don't know - in Ohio, where I hike, summer humidity levels can hit 70 or 80 percent. So, if I use a bag or other device, am I putting just as much moisture into the pad as if I simply blow it up by mouth?

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#172699 - 12/05/12 09:09 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: Glenn Roberts]
jbylake Offline
member

Registered: 09/15/12
Posts: 202
Loc: Northern KY USA
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
OK, this isn't being written to stir up trouble (I've decided to behave. smile )

The moisture issue is real, especially in down-filled mats. Using some method other than your mouth is recommended. But - and this is honest curiosity, because I just don't know - in Ohio, where I hike, summer humidity levels can hit 70 or 80 percent. So, if I use a bag or other device, am I putting just as much moisture into the pad as if I simply blow it up by mouth?

lol Hey Glenn, I didn't say I was too worried about moisture in the pad, I just want an easier way to inflate one..without passing out, after I stand up, due to hyperventilation.... grin IF I want a buzz, I'll do it the responsible way and drink beer... laugh
J.


Edited by jbylake (12/05/12 09:13 PM)

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#172700 - 12/05/12 09:11 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: OregonMouse]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By OregonMouse


Of course with down insulated mats, blowing it up by mouth is definitely a no-no. Exped has something called a Pumpsack with a Schnozzle, which comes with their UL Downmat. I've read that it can be used as a waterproof pack liner when not pumping up the mat. Please note that I haven't tried this or even looked at it but only have seen a couple of reports! I suspect it works only with Exped's unique valve.




Exped has a different inflation system in its new pads. My DownMat 9 has a valve on the side and outlines of hands where you push on it to pull air through the valve into the pad. No blowing or pump sacks needed.
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"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#172825 - 12/09/12 04:28 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: Glenn Roberts]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3953
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I have a Warmlight Down Armattress DAM that I have used maybe 500 nights since 1988. Sometimes the blow up sack is too cumbersum, especially to use inside a tent and I just blow it up. I guess the moisture goes back out when I drain it. If I really cared I'd blow it up at home and drain it a couple times to dry it out, but then I live in a desert. I have used the DAM extensively winter camping on snow and it has never shown any moisture builup. I wouldn't do it if I camped in Georgia.
Jim grin
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#172826 - 12/09/12 04:45 PM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: lori]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6678
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Lori, the new UL7 versions of the Exped Downmat and Synmat don't have the built-in pump. That's what the "Schnozzle" bag is for. Presumably it's lighter than the pump. I haven't yet found out if the weight of the included Schnozzle bag is part of the listed weight for the UL7 Downmat. Does anyone else know?


Edited by OregonMouse (12/09/12 04:48 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#172847 - 12/10/12 10:00 AM Re: looking for an air mat [Re: OregonMouse]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
Thanks for all the replies and participation. I am still kicking it around in my head on which one to get. I am also debating on just making it myself. I have been reading up on what others have done, and it doesn't seem too difficult. For work, I am a design engineer. We have had projects in the past that I have had to learn and experiment with heat sealing. As a result, we have some hobby sealers, and two pretty heavy duty machines costing thousands. So, I have a good heat sealer that I can use, instead of an iron. What keeps me from jumping in is the cost of the raw materials. I can get the fabric from Seattle Fabrics and it will cost around $30 to $40 for 2 yards. If I get the down from thru hiker, it is $60 for 6 oz. So, about $100 for raw materials. The BA is $140 and the Warmlite is $155. Of course, making it myself will help me achieve my goal of having 100% of my kit made by myself, so there is that...... smile
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