A basic self-inflating camping mat with a built-in pillow, this cheap and cheerful sleeping pad from Mountain Warehouse is tad too heavy and bulky to take backpacking, but it does its job just fine during garden sleepouts, festival forays and car camping trips when space in the vehicle is limited.
Side poppers for connecting to other mats
Functional and easy to use
Not compact or lightweight enough for backpacking
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Mountain Warehouse Self-Inflating Mat With Pillow: first impressions
The Mountain Warehouse Self-Inflating Mat With Pillow probably won’t find any fans amongst hardcore wild campers and backpackers, but its cheap’n’cheerful practicality still earns it a place in our best sleeping pads buying guide – just make sure you only use it for light duties.
• List price: £35.99 (UK)
• Style: Self-inflating air mat with pillow
• Weight: 1,091g / 2lb 6.5oz
• Usable dimensions: 183cm x 57cm / 72in x 22.5in
• Thickness: 3cm / 1in
• Pack size: 60cm x 15cm x 15cm / 23.5in x 6in x 6in
• R-value: Unspecified
• Compatibility: Three-season car camping, festivals and garden sleep-out use
Pillows are often regarded a bit of a luxury item by hardcore campers, especially if backpack space is at a premium and you’re trying to keep your carry weight down. But sleeping outside shouldn’t necessarily mean you have to really rough it, and if you don’t have room in your rucksack for a dedicated camping pillow, you could take an inflatable one – or, better still, a sleeping mat with an integrated headrest, like this innovative number from Mountain Warehouse.
This is one of those ideas that leaves you wondering why no one thought of it earlier, and pondering about potential reasons why the market isn’t flooded with similar models. Is there a reason why you don’t see many mats with integrated pillows?
Mountain Warehouse Self-Inflating Mat With Pillow: in the field
I slept out on the Mountain Warehouse Self-Inflating Mat With Pillow during several consecutive chilly nights in the Surrey Hills as winter teetered on the edge of becoming spring. I was in a three-season tent, using the Microlite 1400 winter sleeping bag also from Mountain Warehouse.
Mountain Warehouse have not included an R-value for this sleeping mat, which doesn’t usually bode well (most good-quality sleeping pads will have an R-value clearly indicated). However, I can’t say I was cold overnight, which is either testament to the sleeping bag (which I rate highly) and / or proof that the mat does supply some insulation from ground chill.
The 3cm-thickness of this pad isn’t especially sumptuous, but besides having some thermal properties it did also protect me from the worst of the lumps and bumps beneath the groundsheet. It only comes in one size, and anyone even approaching 180cm or 6ft in height will find their feet hanging over the end of the mat.
The standout feature is, of course, the pillow, which you blow up via a separate pinch valve. It works fine, especially if you are someone who likes to have their head elevated a bit, but blowup pillows are never especially comfortable. The addition of some brushed fabric might improve the feel, but that would add to the weight and bulk of the product, which is already a tad on the heavy side for hauling on backpacking adventures. A quick camping hack is to slide a merino top over it, which works well as a pillowcase.
An obvious benefit is that your pillow can never disappear off the edge of the mat and go astray in the middle of the night, and for this alone the product deserves praise. The pillow is a bit of a pain in the proverbial when it comes to deflation and packing away, because it always ends up with a little pocket of air trapped in it, which makes the whole thing hard to get in the bag.
In another clever addition, the mat also features poppers along each of its sides (female fittings one side, male the other) that allow you to fit several of these mats together to make a double bed, or even cover the entire floor of a family tent.
Author of Caving, Canyoning, Coasteering…, a recently released book about all kinds of outdoor adventures around Britain, Pat has spent 20 years pursuing stories involving boots, bikes, boats, beers and bruises. En route he’s canoed Canada’s Yukon River, climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro, skied and mountain biked through the Norwegian Alps, run an ultra across the roof of Mauritius, and set short-lived records for trail-running Australia’s highest peaks and New Zealand’s Great Walks. He’s authored walking guides to Devon and Dorset, and once wrote a whole book about Toilets for Lonely Planet. Follow Pat’s escapades on Strava here and instagram here.