Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Budget Gear Review: INTEX Camping Mat

The Dirt:

What is it? Camp sleeping mat

Comes with: mat

Size: 26.5 x 72.5 inches. 6.8 inches thick. 

Weight: 3.2 pounds

Insulation: Air (R-Value near zero).

The INTEX Camp Mat is a cheap single person vinyl mat that provides solid summer comfort with decent portability.I purchased three nearly seven years ago, and at least one is still going strong. At the outset, it's important to mention that this pad IS NOT for backpacking. At 3.2 pounds it is extremely heavy and bulky, and frankly a bitch to inflate without a pump.

For under twenty bucks, the INTEX Camp Mat is a good buy. I purchased mine specifically for kids, and for years they have performed that role brilliantly. The mats are nearly seven inches thick at the head, and my kids generally found them comfortable. Because of that insane thickness the mat won't "taco" like other vertically baffled pads have in the past, and the coarse "velvety" top (called "flocking") prevents users from slipping off in the night.

The vinyl material of the mat seems heavy duty and durable. For years mine withstood abuse from kids and dogs, and held up admirably. It wasn't until last summer that two of three began leaking in the night. The leaks I discovered were punctures on the top of the mats (probably from one of the dogs). Normally a leak isn't that big of deal since I work in the outdoor industry and have patched countless leaky pads. In this case however, the punctures were in the "velvety" top of the mat in the flocking. Unfortunately I could not get any patches or adhesives to bind with the flocking making a repair impossible. INTEX recommends sanding the flocking off with sandpaper to repair but even that didn't work for me. All my patches eventually failed. 

Rocco chilling out.

If you forget your electric pump at home you better have some lung power. Even inflating with a bike pump takes a ridiculous amount of time. The valve is the same cheap valve you would find on a pool toy and it shows in the performance. Also, keep in mind this is not a year-round mat. The INTEX Camp Mat has no insulation, which means the air inside will match the outside air temperature.  You'll wake up cold in the shoulder seasons unless paired with something else. 

At just over ten bucks, the INTEX Camp Mat is worth the buy if you have a gaggle of kids and dogs (like me) and don't want to spend real money on a premium camp bed. They are durable and relatively comfortable, as long your using it in summer temps. If you're looking for a bed for yourself and have a job, I would recommend buying something from a reputable brand like REI or Thermarest. The pad might be more expensive, but you can't put a price on a good night's sleep.

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