Sleeping mats for alpine use

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 Big Lee 06 Apr 2021

I've been using a Thermorest Z Lite SOL for alpine use for a number of years, like a lot of people I guess, because I don't have to worry about a puncture from anything sharp. Problem is I'm sleeping terribly due to the lack of padding. I am very bony! I constanstly need to roll into different positions through the night, which is probably affecting my partners' sleep as well.

I'd say the mat is warm enough with the sleeping bag I use though, and I like that it's not too wide, meaning I keep to my 50% of the floor space when using the BD First Light tent or bivi bag.

Any recommendations for a mat that will offer a bit more comfort? Anybody dared to use inflatable mats in the loose presence of axes/crampons/ice screws with a bit of discipline? What about down mats? I'd ideally want it for everything from winter mountaineering in Norway to use in the greater ranges. The Z Lite SOL has been warm enough though as I say, but I wouldn't want anything with even less insulation (more is always nice of course). I could carry a mat that was a little heavier if it packed down to a smaller volume, and I don't mind splashing out if it's going to do the job.

 waitout 06 Apr 2021
In reply to Big Lee:

I've been through a few mats. Xtherms are good and warm and I've never punctured one with crampons etc but of the 3 I've had 2 have got slow leaks I haven't been able to find. They also suck to inflate by mouth as they are big, especially at altitude or in a cramped tent.

Down mats are warm too but again, had 3 and all three blew inner baffles to turn into useless large tubes. Friends have had same. I won't waste more money on them. Also a pain in the ass to inflate as above.

These days I use a mash up of a very thin Nemo Zor sandwiched between a layer of foam from my packs frame and a layer of silvered bubble insulation (that may or may not insulate any better than the foam). As warm as the Xtherm, contingent if i puncture it, takes 3 lung fulls to inflate. Have slept on it directly onto ice and rock at about -18c ambient. The Zor rolls up tiny and as the foam is already part of my pack, takes up minimal pack space.

In reply to Big Lee:

A piece of bubble foil insulation from Screwfix underneath an old fashioned thermarest ridgerest. I know how long an inflatable mattress would last in my "care". Probably get snagged on something queuing for the telepherique before even started.

 Big Lee 10:05 Sun
In reply to waitout:

Hmmm I had been considering down. It's mainly pressure over the hips that keeps me awake and fidgeting during the night. Think the best option might be to stick with the Z sol lite for the time being and try stuffing some extra loose padding down the underwear over the hips. Got plenty of silicone offcuts at work that I can try. 

 Mark Haward 13:00 Sun
In reply to Big Lee:

I have used 3/4 length inflatable mats with no problem in the alps and greater ranges; just avoid bivvy spots with that sharp glacial gravel around and be disciplined with pointy things. 

    If I don't know the bivvy spot I'd take the Sol that you use, usually trimmed down somewhat. Have you considered getting a second either cheap mat ( possibly second hand ) or even a sol and cutting a section just to go under your hips?

In reply to Big Lee:

Have you considered eating more pies?

 A Reid 21:23 Sun
In reply to waitout:

Consider sending the ones with slow leaks back to Thermarest. I sent one back last year with a slow leak (6 years old) and they replaced it with a new one. Top customer service!!!

 waitout 23:45 Sun
In reply to Big Lee:

I've been impressed with the Zor. Light as hell, and as it's a foam core it spreads weight a bit better. Combined with your current mat should be 3-4cm of padding.

FWIW I wasn't enthralled by the Z sol myself. I don't think the egg cup structure does anything once flattened by a 75kg human laying on it, making it just a 2-3mm mat, and the cups collecting snow and gravel dives me insane. T'rest do (did?) a military mat that was just flat foam, crimped to fold in sections that seemed warmer, available in a nice fecal brown colour.

 waitout 23:47 Sun
In reply to A Reid:

> Consider sending the ones with slow leaks back to Thermarest. I sent one back last year with a slow leak (6 years old) and they replaced it with a new one. Top customer service!!!

Yes good call. I'd heard of their excellent warranty but never made the connection of actually using it. I may not be the sharpest tool in the box...

 Heike 23:59 Sun
In reply to Big Lee:

Our wee man loves his Z lite and you can't really puncture it. Then again, he only ways 30+ kilos, maybe 35 . I was lying on  my thermarest (inflatable) last night, and I think it punctured....rubbish. Not comfortable , I was happy to roll over onto his Z lite on occasion (particularly as the wind blew the tent into my face. But seriously,  I think the inflatable ones are better for adults and offer great insulation. We have had many Thermarests over the years and they are great (from thin alpine ones to thick - and even the thin ones are good). And they have really good customer service!

In reply to Big Lee:

how about doubling up with one of these? If the issue is pressure around your hips then offers sufficient support for only about 150g you even get a pillow of sorts too. Probably would need to experiment with the right level of inflation for a mat on a mat.

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