Well there’s something I never thought I would say, or take so long researching. Who knew that the choice was so varied? Well we do spend a third of our lives sleeping right? OK, not so sure whether that statistic was modelled on my life but none-the-less, I spent hours a day for a good 10 days deciding on the sleeping mat for our new campervan.
Firstly, we needed one that would fit so we measured the sleeping area – the entire rear of the Stepwagon with the seats all folded flat. Well they sort of fold flat. The seats are contoured so there is some undulation in the surface. We decided to overcome this with a double thickness mattress and a strategically placed duvet under.
Battery -v- Electric -v- Foot
So on to the different types of inflatable mattress – and there are many! Firstly, we decided on our inflation preference
- Internal pump – both electric and battery
- External pump – foot, electric, battery
- Self-inflating valve
Given that 1 & 2 both involve effort, we went for 3 which involves opening up, unscrewing the valves and letting the air in while you make dinner or run along to the local pub. The reviews also seemed to point towards this being a good option if you a) prefer a firmer bed and b) enjoy your food a little more than a supermodel.
So, that decided, we looked at the different options out there. Coleman, Exped, Alpkit, Gelert, Vango and Outwell seemed to be the main players with a double option and after a little hilarity trying a few out in showrooms, we settled on the Vango Comfort 10 Double (retails at around £120).
Inflate in the warm a good 24-hours before you first use it
Our first usage was a little interesting as while we are the “read the instructions first” kind of people, we are not so dedicated to this pursuit that we do so way in advance. Once we did read the instructions, we found out that the manufacturer recommended that the mat be inflated first time in the warm and 24 hours in advance – we had 12… That said, our first night was comfortable and the mattress did the job. Being November, the air was chilly by morning but the insulation was very good and the mattress pad didn’t lose a lot of its volume.
When it comes to rolling it away, it is very simple – just open the valve – fold in half and roll the air out. It comes in its own dirt bag to keep it clean and safe until next use and although it isn’t the most compact, that isn’t a real issue for us.
Having had the mattress pad for over a year now and slept on it many times, we are still happy – in fact I even take it to my daughter’s when I visit to sleep on rather than the sofabed! It inflates quickly these days and is still keeping its firmness overnight.
Top Tip: Travel with it in inflation mode if you can to ensure that it is ready for use when you arrive at your destination and open up the inflation valve every morning to allow it to replenish a little.