I’m a massive fan of light weight camping and backpacking. This minimilistic style of camping really appeals to me and allows you to trek and camp without a lot of the faff and excess gear that goes along with it. After choosing your tent, two of the next most important items of kit to think about when you’re choosing your gear are your sleeping bag and sleeping mat; that’s why in this review I’m going to write about one of each that I’ve been testing out this summer.
Thermarest NeoAir Venture Sleeping Mat Review
I’ve been using the Thermarest NeoAir Venture Sleeping Mat over the summer and absolutely love it. Thermarest are a brand which I’ve really liked for years ever since I first used one of their mats.
Thermarest NeoAir Venture Regular weighs in at just 590 grams which is incredibly light. Being such a little weight this makes it brilliant for backpacking as when you’re carrying your bag all day, each and every gram really does count. The size when packed down is really impressive too at a mere 23 x 11cm.
Sleeping mats are pretty simple things with really very few features and components so it’s important that each and everyone of them works flawlessly. It’s with this in mind that I’m pleased to say that the inflating valve on the NeoAir Venture works brilliantly.
It has a small mouth piece which is easy to grip and inflate. What I love most about this sleeping mat is how quickly you are able to inflate it and without the need for a pump of any kind. Within a couple of minutes of puffing I can get the NeoAir up and ready to sleep on – Just what you want after a long day’s walking.
On inferior airbeds and sleeping mats, poor valve design can lead to half of your air escaping the mat before you’ve managed to close and lock the vent. Fortunately, there are no such problems with Thermarest’s NeoAir; with a simple push down and twist you are able to close and lock the valve ensuring that virtually no air escapes in this fraction of a second.
Compared to other inflatable sleeping mats like this I’ve used the NeoAir gives you a lot more cushion and lift from the ground for the size it packs down to. There are similarly priced air mats on the market now which are larger when rolled and literally half the cushioning.
For a sleeping mat which packs down so small, the NeoAir really does give you a comfy night’s sleep and inflates to a really thick size. It has 5cm of loft which is really quite thick for a backpacking sleeping mat. It is also insulated but without using any filling, this makes it warm without adding bulk.
At 183 x 51cm this sleeping mat is perfect for all 6 feet of me. I can sleep on it all night long, wriggle and roll a bit and still wake up in the morning on top of it. It has baffles that run horizontally these give great stability and support whilst you sleep.
Just like my other Thermarest air mattresses which have lasted years it is made from a tough, 75D polyester which ensures that the sleeping mat is going to keep up with all your adventures near and far.
Sleeping Bag Salewa Spice +3 Davos Review
Now you’ve got a decent sleeping mat, it’s time to get the final stage of your backpacking bedtime ready – the sleeping bag. This summer I’ve been testing out the Sleeping Bag Salewa Spice +3 Davos. This is a lightweight, synthetic hiking and trekking sleeping bag.
So the first question with a trekking sleeping bag is how small does it pack down and what does it weigh? Well… In it’s nicely designed stuff sack it measures just 17x30cm which is pretty little. Weighing in at just 920g the Salewa Spice +3 Sleeping bag isn’t going to add much weight to your pack.
Despite its diminutive pack size and weight the Spice +3 has a really nice feature set. One of my favourite little features is a zipped pocket on the inside of the bag at about the height of your chest. It’s the perfect size to pop in a torch, phone or any other precious item.
This sleeping bag has a tailored, optimised shape which gives it a really nice fit on your body; this stops it from having large pockets of air and makes the insulation performance even better. For such a highly pack-able and lightweight sleeping bag it really can keep you warm. It’s comfortable down to 3°C and will work down to -6°C in the extreme.
The smart design of the Salewa Spice doesn’t stop there and the hood also has a selection of clever features. It is contoured to fit around your head this keeps you really warm as lots of heat can be lost through your head. It also makes for a really cosy night’s sleep. Added to this it has a thermo collar which keeps your neck and shoulders extra warm. There is a nice draw string around the face which can be easily tightened with one hand to stop cold draughts.
A feature I really, really like is that you have some flexibility with this sleeping bag and it can zip right out to open as a blanket. This makes this a really good ‘all rounder’ sleeping bag and I like to use this feature either fully or partially when using it and sleeping at people’s houses. This makes it a really great sleeping bag for using out on the trail or on your friend’s sofa.
Another string to the Salewa Spice’s bow is it’s connect-ability – if you get a right and a left hand zipped Spice then you can actually zip them together and make a double sleeping bag. I love this as it’s an awesome single trekking sleeping bag that can connect to another to make a really high end double sleeping bag. Most double sleeping bags aren’t that technical and are rather huge but two Salewa Spice make a really compact and high end double when joined together.
Salewa have paid special attention down at the foot end of the bag with a pre-shaped, ergonomic foot section. This makes total sense to shape the sleeping bag around the shape of your body as you actually sleep rather than the traditionally ill-defined mummy shape. When you’re inside the Spice you can really feel that it has been shaped well to the human form. The zipper extends all the way to the foot section which is great for summer camping when you may actually need some ventilation through the bag.
In conclusion, the Sleeping Bag Salewa Spice +3 Davos is an awesome, lightweight trekking sleeping bag. It is light, technical and very well designed making it great for taking out on the trail. What makes it even better though is some of the features that make it even more versatile and allow it to be used as part of a double for couples or as a blanket for sleeping indoors!