Saturday, April 25, 2015

GEAR REVIEW: Gander Mountain Insulation Mat

Where I would take my closed cell foam pad backpacking with me, when I'm car camping I have a superior insulation and padding option! When I don't have to worry about weight and space, I can bring this with me, and it does a superior job of both keeping me warm and padding the ground beneath me. I used to just borrow the family's lone insulation pad and use that when camping, but it was appropriated during a move by my sister and I took the opportunity to obtain my own pad. I forget what brand the old one was, but the new one is a Gander Mountain Guide Series mat.

Both in terms of durability and space consumption, these mats are superior to the inflatable mattresses that many will utilize while camping. I have watched my friends go through mattress after mattress often waking up on the wrinkled remains of a mattress unable to hold an inflation, or perhaps just an inch lower than they started. I feel they raise you up needlessly high above the ground, take up more than their fair share of tent space and they require either heroic efforts, or an air pump to inflate. I'll pass, thank you very much.

Meanwhile the insulation mat I prefer requires only your lungs, and not all that much effort to inflate or deflate. Sets up in maybe 5 minutes, and puts about an inch of air between you and the ground. If you roll off or slide off? no big deal. They do an excellent job of keeping the ground beneath you from stealing away your heat, and with their inch or so of clearance, they smooth out a good deal of the roughness you might encounter in the ground. It is however, important to place your tent on as level ground as possible, because the mat can move in the middle of the night, and if you're on an incline, you might find yourself awake at 3am shifted to the corner of your tent, with your head pressed to the nylon as a badger waddles by and brushes against the top of your head. Not exactly the way I wanted to wake up, but one of many reasons I sleep with my buck knife within arm's reach.

No pictures today, all the photos I thought it might be visible in, it's eclipsed by my sleeping bag. Looks just like the picture here on their site though.

Would I recommend it? For a car camper, I definitely do. It's too big to bring backpacking with you, but it's great for base camp/car camping.

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