02/11/2009 16:43:00

Words by tcsh

New Pacific Outdoor Sleep Mats

Pacific Outdoors Peak oyl Lite MatJoining our camping department this week is a new range of sleep mats. On the surface the Pacific Outdoor mats look very similar to Thermarests but comparison is in looks only. When it comes to make up, the Pacific Outdoor mats are very different.

To take the Peak Oyl range for example, a lot of the difference comes in the materials they have used. Pacific Outdoors are a U.S based company that is committed to protecting the environment, by reducing the waste they produce and that produced by consumers discarding poor equipment. They call this philosophy 'Good Gear, Less Waste'.

The new PU foam compound used in the Peak Oyl mats contains 40% Palm Oil as opposed to 100% petroleum based oils. You may wonder about the performance of the palm oils though, however you needn't worry, the new PU retains the same performance properties as conventional PU foams, i.e. good cushioning and excellent thermal properties.

Pacific Outdoor are very aware of the issues surrounding the use of Palm oil, but they use none GM, sustainable palm plantations that are not in competition for food production. They believe that the use of non-petrochemicals is essential to kick start a market transformation – weaning consumers and industry away from petroleum based products. In addition to this eco-filling, the shell of the mats are made from recycled plastic bottles.

All these eco-credentials are fine and dandy but the mats also need to work. We have already established that the PU filling is as cushioned as normal foam, so you should still get the same (good?) night's sleep. Is it warm though? The insulation of some of these mats is in fact the same insulation you would find in a space suit! Apparently you could put a layer of it over a bunsen burner and it could insulate your hand from getting burnt! If that's even half true then it's going to have a pretty good insulation properties.

Essentially, the Pacific Outdoor range is not tested 'in the field' yet by anyone in the shop but they seem as comfortable as their competitors, as warm as their competitors, they are more 'green', and the price is about the same.

We think they are definitely worth investigating, and would welcome anyone who has one to place a review onto one of the pages so we can get your opinions.