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Vango Thermocore: One of T3's Best Camping Mats for Mountaineering and Backpacking
This DofE special should help fussy sleepers snooze better.
T3's Best Camping Mats 2020: Perfect for Mountaineering and Backpacking too
The best camping mats are different to more substantial camping beds which makes them more versatile in certain situations. As such, they attract vastly different prices. Self-inflating camping mats are usually towards the top end of the price scale, with foam based camping roll mats at the other.
As with all outdoors gear, you get what you pay for. So if you're going on a big backpacking or mountaineering trip and want a camping mat to help you sleep better so that you recover faster and get re-energised for the next day, a cheap foam roll mat won't cut it.
The Best Camping Mats for Your Needs
'The main use for a camping mat is to keep you insulated from the ground, which even in summer is pretty chilly and can conduct heat away from your body sharpish. That's no fun at 3am, and can lead to a bad night's sleep where you keep waking up from the cold.
Comfort aside, the season you’re using a camping mat in dictates just how much insulation you need to stay warm, which should make your decision about which one to buy easier.
Self-inflating camping mats, inflatable camp mats and foam camping roll mats each have different characteristics. These will be the starting point for your buying decision, depending on what you need your chosen mat to do.
Foam mats are pretty bulky even when rolled up, but they are light and can be strapped to the outside of a rucksack for carrying hands-free. They're almost indestructible too, but don’t offer a particularly plush mattress-esque snooze and only limited insulation from the ground.'
Inflatable camping mats are a far more complex beast, as the various materials and construction make a huge difference to the insulation they dish out – yes, even from two mats that look very similar. As usual, the cheaper the mat the less insulation you’ll probably get. Always check the R-value.
Unsure what an R-value is? It references a camping mat or sleeping pad’s ability to retain your body warmth during the night. So the higher the R-value, the warmer and more insulating it’ll be, and the better you will sleep. Many things affect a camping mat’s R-value, including the material and construction.
The Vango Thermocore is a sizeable beast, not only in weight but also in width, hitting 55cmx185cm. Part of the reason for this impression is the vertical walls. It's intentional design feature so that you get more surface area to snooze upon (good news for squirmy or wriggly sleepers).
This gorgeous camping mat incorporates many of the features of much more expensive mats, with a stuff sack that doubles as a pump. A hollow fibre core adds warmth without compromising compressibility, and Vango's ‘quiet fabric’ delivers a rustle-free snooze.
Although the Thermocore Camping Mat packs down reasonably well, the weight is quite significant, partly due to the heavier materials used. But if you’re looking for a robust all-rounder for general camping, this is well worth a look.
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