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Let's try and roll back the months to the lovely warn days of the Summer. Okay maybe not that warm but a lot warmer than it is out there at the moment. Money was extremely tight and for once in a number of years the Stebiz household couldn't stretch to a nice holiday abroad, with the lovely catering of a hotel and the warmth of the sun whilst lying on the beach. So my wife had an idea...................let's go camping.
Well this brought a lump to my throat and sweat to the brow. It really isn't something I do. But before long the kids were all on at me to go camping and my thought process starting developing. I knew we had an old tent in the shed and a few sleeping bags hanging about but what about sleeping on the deck. My back is bad enough at the best of times, let alone sleeping on the ground, so of I went to my good friend Amazon and bought a few 'luxuries'.
One of the so called 'luxuries' was the lafuma camp mat in blue. I thought it would give me some added protection against the uneven ground beneath me. The others weren't too bothered so I only bought one. As you'd expect from Amazon the purchae and delivery was painless and it arrived within only a couple of days. It was over 6 feet in length (just) and 20 inches wide. All looked well.
Fast forward to the first night. The lights (or should I say light) went out and I snuggled into my sleeping bag. My wife lay next to me in hers but she may as well have been a 100 miles away, as she was huddled into her bag as I was mine. Let's just say romance was out of the equation.
So I tossed and turned trying to get comfortable. The mat with its anti slip side stayed in the same place. It was just me (I'm quite well built) who found myself half on and half off the mat. The 10mm padded mattress did stop me feeling the stones underneath, which is what I could feel when I fell off, but I wouldn't say it gave me a good sleep. Far from it. Within a couple of hours I was in the car driving down the road to park up and have a sleep in my seat.
The mattress cost me just short of £18 and I can't think why on earth I bought it. It took more space up in the boot than I thought and it didn't really serve a purpose, for me anyway. The rest of the hols I slept in the car and used the rolled up mattress as a pillow.
Copyright stebiz 2012 - also on ciao.co.uk
I really like going camping and hiking but I also have a bad back which can cause me agony after a couple of days in a tent so a must for me is either an air bed or at the very least a camping mat. I had a cheap Argos camping mat which to be perfectly honest was a bit useless so I thought that I would invest in something a little bit better.
After searching the internet I finally decided to plump for the Lafuma camp mat as it seemed to fit my brief. What I wanted was something that was lightweight and easy to carry and also something which was reasonably priced and this seemed to fit the bill ideally.
I paid £20 for it which although reasonable was more expensive than a lot of other camping mats that I looked at. My reasoning for paying a little bit more was that I hoped the extra money (in comparison to my Argos one) would mean that it might be a little bit better made with better materials thus being a bit more comfortable for sleeping on.
When the mat arrived I was a little bit disappointed to see that it looked a lot thinner than it does in pictures. I suppose this is to keep the weight and size down so that it is easy to carry around in a backpack for camping and hiking trips but I was a little worried that it might not be all that comfortable considering that it wasn't very thick.
The mat is a fairly decent size as it is long enough for my frame which is 6 foot and it is wide enough that I am not rolling off it in the middle of the night. There is no way you could fit two people on this even spooning side by side but for a camping mat where size is at a premium this is an ok size.
Now for comfort. This isn't going to make sleeping on a hard surface in a tent feel like you are sleeping on a memory foam mattress in a five star hotel but it is surprisingly comfortable considering just how thin it is. It does an excellent job of keeping the worst of the underground debris off my body such as stones and sticks and random bumps in the ground. You actually don't feel little things like that under you with this. Obviously something big like a brick is going to manage to penetrate the foam but for the most part it is quite good.
The anti-slip material is also good at ensuring that the mat doesn't slip and slide under you which can be a problem with camping mats so that if you toss and turn in the middle of the night the mat won't become all crumpled up and become lumpy.
I am more or less pleased with this mat and think that considering how thin it actually is it does a great job at making sure that I am protected from the worst of the underground lumps and bumps. My back still kills after a night on this but it is slightly less than when I was using the Argos equivalent. I still would much prefer to use an air bed but sometimes this just isn't practical and I suppose that camping it is all about roughing it and getting back to nature anyway.
In the morning when you take down the tent this is probably the easiest of all the camping equipment to store again as it rolls and unrolls so easily and it didn't feel like I had to wrestle with it to get it rolled back up again and secured with its fastenings.
I'm not sure how to really rate this mat. It is well made and does a good job of keeping the worst of the bumps from my body but at the same time it isn't really all that comfortable to sleep on. It is certainly far better than the alternative of sleeping on a hard ground with no form of protection between you and it but it also doesn't offer much in the way of comfort. Ideally I would take an air bed but if my choice was this or the ground then this would win every time. For a camping mat this is one of the better ones but just don't buy it and expect it to feel like your bed at home or else you will be very disappointed.
As a child I camped a lot by some lakes near our village with friends. All I saw camping as was a way to get drunk away from parents, and act silly without the worry/threat of neighborhood interference. It was fantastic, but what I remember most vividly was being completely unprepared for a comfortable nights (mornings) sleep after the fun had drawn to a close. I never brought a roll-mat, often not even a sleeping bag - but always a tent (a cramped one for four, shared by eight). Lately, camping has been a much more subdued, but comfortable ordeal thanks to one purchase, THIS Lafuma camp mat which I bought from a local store for £22 (available on Amazon for £20). Sounds a lot for a sliver of flexible material I know...
But, to be honest I have been really pleased, despite the price. Maybe that's because of the huge contrast I've experienced - from the dread of a rooty hard cold ground, to what most would describe as moderate comfort, but what to me seems far better - but who knows, maybe this IS just a decent product.
The camp mat is 10mm (1cm) thick and I've only had a chance to use it once, but the quality in comfort I find incredible for such a minuscule product. You don't sink through to the ground at the hips or shoulders, but the mat doesn't feel hard or course. I don't understand how, as I don't think the things made from any smart materials (like memory foam), it seems very conventional on first inspection. Dimension wise, it's a tad longer than 6 foot (my height - or length depending on my position), so the average sized gal or guy will have no trouble. Width is always an issue with roll mats - you need them slim enough to fit in the tent, but wide enough for side-on sleeping (something I do). The balance between the two is OK, but not perfect, it just isn't quite wide enough! You find yourself with a leg or foot sprawled out at points during the night - but its a necessary compromise.
The material has an anti-slip surface to stop that annoying mid-night change of position you always have (where the mat makes slippery contact with the tent floor surface). if you're on a slight slope (normally), you always slip, and it is irritating. This mat stops that, using your body weight as a pressure point to create considerable friction with most slippery tent floors. In my tent it seems to work, but no guarantee's for any tent!
The thing weighs in at 300g which is very light, very similar to any roll mat you might pick off the shelves. It is kept together by two elastics (mine are lost already and yours will too - it's a given!) Weight was never going to be an issue, but I was expecting maybe a slightly more inventive way of keeping the mat together. I know it has to be rolled, but this adds a further issue to the product - when un-rolled, it stays partially rolled. For a 20 quid product I expected the material to combat this a bit, but it doesn't, un-rolling it remains a tricky ordeal.
Overall, a recommended product with a few hitches, width, price and the un-rolling. The only one of these really alterable by the producer is price. Make it last and the value for money ratio will balance its self out!
Lafuma Camp Mat Blue. Specification:10 MM PADDED MATTRESS:185 x 50 cm - Anti-slip side.