Getting a good night’s kip makes all the difference to a backpacking trip
1) Vango Venom 300 £160, vango.co.uk
This down-filled sleeping bag packs up into its own drybag to occupy just 29x14cm of your rucksack, a low volume for such a generously sized bag, and it weighs only 850g. Its duck down insulation is ideal for Britain’s summer temperatures, being comfortable to 5 degrees Celcius, and it was toasty warm on a damp trek along Hadrian’s Wall; you’ll need to wear extra layers if the mercury drops to freezing though. The zip goes to waist-level and there’s good width at the feet too, so your toes don’t feel claustrophobic. Just remember to keep the down dry or it loses its insulation.
Verdict: Ideal for British summer treks.
2) Mountain HArdwear Lamina 0 £145, mountainhardwear.com
In early March I spent a night wild camping on Kinder Scout in the Peak District and failed to get a wink of sleep due to the perishing temperatures. How I wish I had the Lamina 0 for that mini-expedition. Its deep, synthetic insulation provides comfort down to freezing point, and if it does get a bit too warm the full length, two-way zip lets you spill heat.
It is, however, twice the weight of the Vango and will occupy most of your rucksack due to its volume unless you invest in a compression sack to shrink its size.
Verdict: Extend your camping season into spring and autumn with this snugly bag.
3) Coleman Silverton 350 £39.99, coleman.eu
A quick word of warning – if you’re not good in the mornings, you’ll find it very difficult to climb out of the Silverton 350. Its double layer insulation gives it a comfort score of -2 degrees Celcius, but the cost of this luxury slumber is a weight and volume penalty.
The Silverton 350 tips the scales at 2.5kg, and even with its own compression sack (a good feature) it was too big to squeeze into one of our 65-litre rucksacks, and half-filled the other packs. It would be a better option for a trip with a basecamp, where you camped straight from the car rather than at the end of a trek.
Verdict: An amazing price for such a warm night’s sleep, but very bulky.
4) Exped Downmat Lite 5M £90, exped.com
From a tiny 26x13cm chrysalis emerges a rectangular 183x52cm sleep mat as well as a mini pump (it looks like a whoopee cushion and is highly effective) and a puncture repair kit. The mat is 5cm deep and filled with duck down for heat insulation, hence the need for the mini pump – condensation from breath would have a negative impact on the loft of the feathers.
Verdict: With a small pack size, pump and extra insulation this is a very impressive piece of kit.
5) Mammut Lahar Mat £70, mammut.ch
A few neat features reveal the thought that has gone into the design of the 183x51cm Lahar. Velcro straps around the mat help to keep it in its super compact 26x12cm roll, while non-slip stripes across the mat aim to stop your sleeping bag from sliding off in the night.
At just 2.5cm deep, however, its cushioning is less generous than others so the Lahar is better suited for smooth ground.
6) Vango Aero Long £50, vango.co.uk
At 198x60cm the Aero Long offers a substantially bigger floor area than its test rivals, and its non-slip print helps to keep you in the middle of the mat. Laid on a groundsheet over grass, its 3cm depth is adequate, but it’s the size and the reduced risk of rolling off the edge in the night that really standout. It packs into a 31x17cm roll.
Verdict: Top value for a very big mat.