An inexpensive pad that still impresses, the Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 Women’s Warmzone Mat packs up small, doesn’t weight you down and performs well on the trail for spring to fall hikes.
Good price point
Not super lightweight
Narrows around the feet
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Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 Women’s Warmzone Mat: first impressions
Female-specific camping mats like the Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 Women’s Warmzone Mat don’t need to be mega expensive to be efficient (see more in Best sleeping pad and mats). The female version of Mountain Equipment’s Helium is a hard-working foam mat that weighs in at a relatively svelte 670g / 23.6oz, which isn’t the lightest mat we’ve tested, but is still easy enough to take away on backpacking forays or wild camping trips (see: How to choose a sleeping pad).
The main difference between this female-specific mat and the unisex version of the Helium is the wider area around the torso (the unisex version is a plain rectangle shape), plus a shorter length and slightly lighter weight.
• RRP: $75 (US) / £85 (UK)
• Style: Self-inflating foam
• Weight: 670g / 23.6oz
• Variants: One women’s version
• Dimensions: 168cm x 51cm / 66 x 20in
• Thickness: 3.8cm / 1.5in
• Pack size: 27 x 16cm / 10.6 x 6.3in
• R-value: 3.6
• Compatibility: 3-season
On the trails
We liked the wide insulated chest area while testing this women’s specific mat, but the narrower bottom of the Helium may not suit those who tend to toss and turn in the night – they’ll get on better with a mat that is wider overall.
This may be a relatively thin mat, but its foam stuffing does a good job of protecting you from the ground even if you sleep on your side (like me), and its R value of 3.6 (see: Sleeping pad R-values explained) makes the Helium work well for camping trips from spring through to fall (depending on where you are, and at what altitude – and your own personal comfort levels). The Helium is quick to inflate, and packs down small enough to be backpack-friendly for hiking trips.
Available for a more reasonable price than some other similarly specced sleeping pads, this is a great first mat for women new to multiday backpacking adventures when you need to carry all your own camping gear. It will also suit those who are simply seeking a better night’s sleep on their next wild camping adventure.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.
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