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Why are bivouac mattresses good liars? Because they never buckle under pressure! Buying a mattress meets a very simple need: to sleep well! Because recovery is essential during outdoor adventures, you shouldn't make a mistake about insulation, comfort, dimensions and weight of course. To support you, Muule deciphers these different parameters to take into account to wake up in great shape, ready to tackle a new day in the great outdoors:

Weight ? Dimensions? Insulation? How to choose ?

Here is a comprehensive list of key factors to consider when choosing the perfect hiking mattress for your needs:

The weight

This is THE feature that could make you regret purchasing your mattress if it is too heavy. Each extra kilo is quickly felt when hiking, it is important to know your comfort and insulation needs. The risk is to overestimate your needs and end up with a heavy mattress that will weigh on your shoulders during your hikes.

Mattress packaging

The dimensions

To choose the length of your trekking mattress, opt for “ regular ” (≈183 cm) or “ long ” (≈198 cm) depending on your size. The lighter " short " models (≈122 cm) are designed to mainly support the upper body, offering a compromise between comfort and minimalism. As for the width, 51 cm is the standard size, " wide " options exist to have more space. There are “mummy” mattresses, which are narrower and reduce weight and bulk. Let's move on to width, a factor that significantly influences comfort and weight. A thickness of 2.5 cm is light but basic, 5 to 7 cm are standard dimensions and beyond 8 cm, this ensures optimal comfort. Inflatable mattresses combine lightness and thickness effectively. Finally, the size, measured in dimensions or volume, is crucial to minimize the space in the bag, aiming for compactness around 20 x 8 cm to preserve volume for the rest of your belongings. There are mattresses without folded volume indication, be wary of these bulkier models.

Inflatable mattress and pillow

Insulation and R-Value

The R-Value has been the reference standard since 2020 to indicate the level of insulation, translating into a rating, the R-Value allows us to understand the use of the mattress.

Tips to keep in mind (from Muule) : For most hikers, an R-Value between 2 and 3 will be enough to enjoy it for a large part of the year. An R-Value above 3 only makes sense if you bivouac in winter or at high altitude. Detail to keep in mind, the more insulated a mattress is, the heavier and more expensive it is…

R-Value explanation

Existing types of mattresses

  • Self-inflating mattress

The self-inflating mattress is an ideal balance, combining ease of use and performance. Effortlessly, it practically inflates itself, just a few adjustments and it's ready to use. More comfortable and compact than a foam model, it does not however compete with the inflatable in terms of comfort. Its superior resistance to punctures and the importance of having a repair kit underline its practicality. Suitable for three seasons, it is less recommended for extreme cold. In short, it combines the effectiveness of a foam mattress with the convenience of an inflatable, while being practical and versatile.

  • Inflatable mattress

The inflatable mattress varies from the basic model, a little heavy and bulky, to the ultra-light high-end offering excellent insulation and unparalleled comfort. Inflating requires effort, but pumps (manual or pump bags) make this task easier and prevent humidity inside. With a wide variety of models available, it is crucial to learn about the specifics of each model before making a choice. For personalized advice, do not hesitate to consult a Bivouac/Trekking expert or a specialized seller like Muule .

Tips to keep in mind (from Muule) : If you want a mattress more for mild temperatures, a non-insulated inflatable mattress will bring you comfort at a reasonable price. If your practice is really recurring, opt for an inflating or self-inflating mattress with thickness and insulation. In intensive use or for expeditions, favor comfort with a thick and insulated inflatable mattress for extreme conditions, or an ultra-light mattress for ultra-light, possibly adding a foam mattress for protection and additional insulation .

Article written by Colin de Muule on March 19, 2024.

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