The tourist mat protects a person from cold and damp coming from the bottom of the ground, and also smooths out the unevenness of the soil; provides a comfortable sleep, protects against colds or rheumatism and other “marching” diseases.
Karemat or not inflatable mat (“foam”) — a classic lightweight mat, reliable and easy to use: it only needs to be laid out on the ground. Such a rug can be used as a splint for injuries or wind protection when cooking.
In comparison with other types of rugs, karemat loses in comfort, compactness and thermal insulation. Usually, a karemat is understood as an “Izhevsk” tourist rug.
Inflatable rug (mattress) is a very soft, light and compact rug that can also be used as a floating craft. Possesses low thermal insulation.
Unlike a mat, an inflatable mat is difficult to operate: it must be inflated with a pump, and folding / unfolding requires a lot of effort. It is worth noting its sensitivity to mechanical damage: in the event of a puncture by a stone or a sharp branch, the product will fail. An inflatable mat is quite expensive and has the shortest lifespan.
Self-inflating rug — combines the advantages of the two previous types: the reliability of the mat and the softness of the inflatable rug.
The self-inflating mat is characterized by good thermal insulation and reliability: even in the event of a puncture, the mat will partially retain its qualities thanks to the foam inside. In terms of compactness, the mat occupies a middle position between a karemat and an air mattress. However, such a product is quite heavy, requires additional inflation and is more expensive than other rugs.
Seat - differs from the rug in smaller size and weight, as it is used only for sitting. Accordingly, it will be relevant in those conditions when there is no need to organize an overnight stay. Seats are made as mats or self-inflating models with all their advantages and disadvantages.
Self-inflating pillow — has the same width and length as the seat, but has a greater thickness for comfortable head placement.
- inflatable mat
camping mat — designed for a long stay of a tourist in the parking lot. Such a rug should perfectly smooth out uneven terrain and have good thermal insulation. The reverse side of comfort is the large weight of the product, which will not allow it to be used for long trips. A good option for camping would be an inflatable mat.
Trekking rug — designed for long hikes. This rug should be light, reliable and durable. From a comfort point of view, a self-inflating mat is the best choice, although it is quite heavy. If light weight is a priority, then you can use a less comfortable mattress.
Expeditionary rug — designed for long trips in harsh conditions (high mountains, frosts). Like the previous version, it should have a small weight, and besides that, be very durable and warm. All these advantages make the expedition mat an expensive piece of equipment. These mats are usually self-inflating.
The most important criterion for selecting an expeditionary model is the indicator R‑value (thermal resistance).
Mats are made of polyethylene foam (PE, PE) and ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA, EVA).
Polyethylene foam is of the following types:
- polyethylene foam - the cheapest and short-lived material. Such a rug is very easily torn and wrinkled, has poor thermal insulation and does not smooth out uneven terrain. Polyethylene foam karemat cannot be repaired and is most often disposable;
- penofol (foil polyethylene foam) — differs from the previous material in better thermal insulation. It is recommended to use such a mat as an additional one in combination with other models;
- isanol (cross-linked polyethylene foam) is a cheap and wear-resistant material. Isonol karemats (“Izhevsk”) — light, practical, quite soft and warm. The disadvantage is the large dimensions when folded.
Important: polyethylene foam pads can be cut into pieces, which is useful both for adjusting the size of the product to a specific person, and for creating a seat.
Ethylene vinyl acetate - warm and soft material that remains flexible even at low temperatures. Disadvantages: large dimensions when folded and a tendency to deformation when exposed to high temperatures. Good for both summer and winter trips.
The surface of the rugs is smooth or corrugated (cellular) on one or both sides.
A ribbed mat is preferable to a smooth one because it is lighter and has an anti-slip property. Such a product accumulates moisture to a lesser extent: condensate forms only at the bottom of the cells, and not over the entire surface of the rug, which protects the sleeping bag from getting wet. The disadvantage of a corrugated rug is a relatively low wear resistance.
Inflatable The rug is made from the following materials:
- polyvinyl chloride (PVC, PVC) — light and cheap material, but very sensitive to mechanical damage;
- rubberized fabric - More durable, but heavier and more expensive.
You can also meet inflatable filler mats:
- down filler – optimal balance of heat-insulating qualities, softness and weight. However, the fluff is exposed to moisture, which leads to its rolling and therefore it is better to inflate it not with the help of the lungs, but with a special pump;
- microfibre filler - dries faster and even when wet, it partially retains its heat-insulating qualities. It should be noted that microfiber fill is less durable than down fill.
Self-inflating the mat consists of a polyester shell and polyurethane foam filler.
Polyester – has high strength and is resistant to temperature extremes, moisture and UV rays.
Polyurethane foam (PU, PU) — a porous material that, when the mat is unfolded, absorbs air (automatically inflates). It should be noted that the product is not fully inflated (maximum 2/3 of the volume). Polyurethane foam provides good thermal insulation and has a long service life.
Due to the complex structure of a self-inflating mat, a “hernia” may appear in it, that is, a peeling of the shell from the filler. To avoid the formation of a “hernia” should not:
- allow transverse folding of the mat;
- inflate the rug too much;
- wash the rug with chemicals (it is recommended to use a warm mild soapy solution).
Thermal resistance — this parameter indicates the heat-insulating properties of the product, which is important for hiking in the cold season or in harsh climatic conditions (expeditionary models). The higher the numerical value, the warmer the mat.
This indicator also depends on the types of rug:
- “Izhevsk karemat” — 1.1, other non-inflatable mats — up to 4;
- inflatable mat — up to 0.7 (for some models — 2);
- self-inflating rug — 2–5;
- self-inflating seat — 3–5.
Combination of 2 rugs
An interesting option would be to use two rugs that do not have high R‑values. For example, two products with an indicator of 3 are quite suitable for spending the night in conditions down to ‑25 ° C. Even better, if the two models have different R‑values, that is, one rug will be warmer than the other. In this case, the tourist will receive rugs for three temperature regimes.
It is worth noting that two rugs can be lighter and cheaper than one very warm model. If one of these mats is inflatable or self-inflating, then the second one (karemat) will protect it from possible damage.
In a difficult and long trip, a spare mat can always come in handy, for example, in case of loss or damage to the main one. Such a rug can help out a fellow traveler in a similar situation.
Seasons of use
Seasonal - designed for the warm season and consist of one layer. These include:
- Summer – R‑value up to 3;
- 3 season (spring-summer-autumn) — R‑value within 3–5.
All season – universal rugs from two layers; stronger and more durable than single-layer, but their price is higher. R‑value — from 5 and above.
Important: Travel mats designed for summer or 3 seasons must be warm enough to withstand freezing temperatures, which are found in the mountains even in summer.
The way the mat is folded affects the convenience of transporting the product when folded.
rolled (“pipe”) — such a rug is easy to clean, but takes up a lot of space in a backpack. It is better to fasten it to the backpack using the side ties.
Folding (“accordion”) — allows you to save space in your backpack and is especially useful on a bike trip (it fits perfectly in the trunk). This rug is more difficult to care for, as the fabric of its sheathing is heavily soiled.
Number of valves
1 – serves both for inflating and blowing off the rug. Advantages: relatively low price and ease of operation. The disadvantage is the slow folding of the rug.
2 — each valve has its own function — inflation and deflation. In this case, the mat can be blown off much faster. If the product is double, then each valve works in the same way as in the previous version.
4 — found in double rugs. The principle of operation is similar to a single product with two valves.
Length and width
Manufacturers indicate two sizes of the rug — unfolded and folded. The first parameter makes it possible to assess how the product is suitable for a particular person, and the second — how much space it will take during transportation.
The length and width of the rug should be sufficient for a tourist to comfortably sit on it, so the product should be chosen based on the height and physique of a person. The standard parameters of the rug in the expanded state are 180/200x50/60 cm, the seats (pillows) are 40x30 cm. The width of the double models is 119–132 cm.
The softness and heat-insulating qualities of the rug depend on this value. The smaller the thickness, the more compact and cheaper the product, but such rugs are hard and cold. The greater the thickness of the product, the softer, warmer and more expensive it is.
Different types of rugs have different thicknesses:
- polyethylene foam karemat — 0.3–1.6 cm, standard parameter — 0.8 cm (“Izhevsk karemat”). The thickness of the EVA mat is 0.5–2cm;
- inflatable mat — 6–10 cm;
- self-inflating mat — 2.5–10 cm (standard — 2.5–3.8 cm);
- self-inflating seat — 3–8 cm;
- self-inflating pillow — 8.5–15 cm.
The ability to change the thickness in inflatable and self-inflating mats makes them anatomical, that is, the ability to take the shape of the human body. To do this, inflate the mat “to failure”, then lie down on it and, opening the valve, release air until the mat becomes comfortable and soft.
This parameter (when folded) allows you to evaluate the convenience of carrying the rug and using it on long trips. The less the product weighs, the better it is suitable for expeditions. However, lighter weight may indicate a low ruggedness of the rug or an increase in its cost compared to more massive models.
Different types of rugs have an approximate weight:
- “Izhevsk karemat” — 430 g;
- inflatable mat — 400‑4000 g;
- self-inflating mat — 600–900 g;
- self-inflating seat — 80–300 g.
The maximum allowable weight that an inflatable or self-inflating mat can support without risk of damage. It is assumed that the load will be distributed relatively evenly over the entire surface of the product. It should be remembered that with point loads, the risk of damage to the rug increases.
The pump (built-in or external) should be used not only to facilitate and speed up the process of inflating the mat, but also to avoid premature failure of the product.
Firstly, fillers such as down or synthetic fibers are very sensitive to moisture when the mat is inflated with the help of lungs (even the destruction of the filler is possible). Secondly, during the cold season, moisture from human breath can cause the valve to freeze.
There are following types of pumps.
Mechanical pump - driven by human muscle power. Advantages: ease of operation, independence from the power supply. These pumps include:
- pump bag – a packing bag of the mat, which is connected to the valves of the product using short tubes (adapters). You can store clothes and equipment in it or use it as a counterweight (by filling it with snow), which increases the stability of the tent, for example, in strong winds;
- built-in (foot) pump — is located inside the inflatable mat and works by pressing it with your foot or hand. The advantage of this pump is that it cannot be lost or forgotten at home. Such a device significantly increases the price of the product.
Electric pump - allows you to quickly inflate the mat without any effort. However, it depends on the power supply (batteries, accumulator), and it is not cheap.
Number of seats
Most rugs are designed for one person, that is, they are single. There are also double models: some of them can be unbuttoned and used separately.
Quilting — makes it possible to connect two rugs and thereby increase the total area of \u200b\u200bthe product. This feature is useful, for example, if you want to create a family bed.
Important: pay attention to the compatibility of the attachments of the two mats. Two products may not connect even if they are made by the same manufacturer. It is best to purchase two identical rugs.
Case – protects the rug from damage and facilitates its transportation. It gives the self-inflating model the necessary compression to make it more compact. The cover significantly increases the life of the mats.
Repair kit — designed to repair an inflatable or self-inflating mat in case of a puncture or cut. It includes glue, patches, tools needed to repair the mat in the field.
aluminum layer — increases the thermal insulation properties of the rug, but its price rises significantly. If we talk about inexpensive products, then this film quickly peels off in it. In addition, models with such a screen rustle loudly, interfering with a comfortable sleep.
Important: the location of the aluminized coating is of great importance: if it is in contact with the ground, then in this case the product is protected from getting wet, and if it is in contact with the human body, then thermal insulation is improved.
Anti-slip coating – prevents the mat from sliding on the surface on which it is placed.
- Polyethylene foam mats should be washed with soapy water. It is not advisable to use too hot water and chemicals. To avoid deformation, EVA pads are not recommended to be exposed to high temperatures (for example, to protect car interiors from heat).
- Self-inflating mats should not come into contact with chemicals, hot surfaces, piercing or cutting objects. It is very important to avoid getting sparks from a fire and cigarette ash on the rug.
- The self-inflating mat should not be used as a floating aid. In this case, water can get inside the product, which can lead to the formation of mold in the filler. Such a rug is dried in a warm, dry and well-ventilated area.
For short hikes in the warm season, you can buy any rug in the supermarket. It will perform its main functions, it will quickly wear out or tear, but it will be inexpensive. However, if you are fond of tourism or want a quality item, then it is better to purchase a rug from reputable manufacturers. For example, Hannah, High Peak, Camping, KingCamp, Sirex, Terra Incognita, Tramp, Trimm, Wechsel, Izolon. Even simple “foams” of these brands will last longer than “noname”. Most rugs are lightweight and fold well. Complex and expensive models use innovative materials that increase the heat-insulating properties of the mats and their service life.