Here’s my few words about the new mat from Cascades Designs.
I had some reservation about the slightly crisp packet sound of the material but in use my sleeping bag deadened any noise.
The material is non slip and stickier than the non slip finishes of the older mats. Not having much of a choice of a pitch on Friday evening the tent ended up on a incline, which had I been using another mat I would have spent the night swimming up slope. Not so with the NeoAir.
On my postal scales the mat without stuff sack weighed in at 244g. It has a small pack size and as there’s no foam filler it’s easy to deflate and roll up to the size that it came out of the box. The stuff sack being oversized had me worrying that it’s wouldn’t deflate well but again my doubt about this was unfounded.
I’m not sure what the thinking was behind the colour but it isn’t as violently day glow as you might expect. And given that the colour of my existing array of tents is green it’s fetching complimentary. And cutting edge contemporary chic when matched with the Wasabi (Penny’s name for the Helion2).
And what every one wants to know; is it a more comfortable sleep? Yes!
All good then? Not quite, the material is lightweight and the manufacturer recommends keeping the mat in the stuff sack even when in the rucksack. And a close inspection of the ground for potential mat popping items where you’re pitching is advisable. But we all do that don’t we? Given this I can’t see why Cascades Designs don’t supply a small repair kit as a value add - the guys at Multimat do. And then there is the price; seventy five notes is a lot of money in these credit crunched times. That said I bought mine from The Outdoor Shop for a penny under sixty quid, which made the purchase (slightly) more palatable. (At the time of writing they appear to be out of stock.)
Two more observations. Clearly as the mat rolls up to a coffee mug sized package anyone with a rucksack like the Mariposa won’t have anything to form the back pad. This is also a bit of a bummer for me too, as I replace the supplied back panel of the Villain with a 3/4 length mat. Adding the panel back in defeats the weigh saving of using the NeoAir. Of course you can use the Villain without an insert but weight carried and packing the bag for a comfortable fit become an issue.
The other point is the thickness of the mat (a potential downside of all that comfort). Whilst most tent manufacturers insist that the maximum necessary internal height of their canvas creations is 95cm, a well inflated NeoAir is going to eat into that head space for the less vertically challenged.