Hiking mat / self inflating mat / air bed recommendation

G'day oz-bargainers,

I'm after some recommendations on a decent bedding solution that is compact enough to be stowed away in a hiking backpack (planning a walk-in camp trip with the boy once restrictions are lifted and trying to kit-up, ready to go).
Primary needs is:
1. Good enough support for hips, elbow and shoulders. Primarily a side sleeper and currently these areas feel like I'm laying directly on concrete lol
2. Compact
3. Reasonable quality
4. Generous width a positive as I tent to roll around alot.

Budget would be around $100, less would be amazing but also if it checks all the boxes I'm willing to stretch up a bit.

I'm not too concerned about weight as the hike would only be about 2-3 hours, this is more about the camping than hiking.
I honestly have no idea where to start with what a "good brand" is let alone identifying the good quality lesser known stuff. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

As a benchmark I find my Son's Denali Camper Ultimate Mat quite comfortable, it doesn't pack down even remotely compact though. Also from what I've read up, the quality just isn't there so time will tell on that.


  • Pop into Anaconda or one of those stores and have a look and a feel.

    I use the Sea to Summit comfort plus, it's not self inflating but you can get a dry bag that acts like a pump. I'm a side sleeper and have used it a fair bit and it's been fine. Depending on the model, they pack down relatively small and they're good quality, but not really cheap.

    I find the sea to summit range quite good, but a little bit expensive. The Nemo Tensor is meant to be a good mat, but again, may be slightly higher than your budget.

    I think your best bet is to go into some of the outdoor stores and have a lie down on some mats, see how small they go and see how much they cost.

    I'd say the most common 'good' brands (expensive, compact and quality) are Thermarest, Exped, Sea to Summit and Nemo, probably missing some too.

    • I'll give another recommendation to Sea to Summit, they're not the cheapest brand but I have found them to be good quality.

      I have the ultralight insulated and like it.Its warm enough for the hiking camps I do in Queensland, but I don't go often in Winter.
      It is quite noisy in the way that it squeeks/screeches on the tent floor.

      Do what the above comment says and try a few different ones out.

      If weight is less a concern you could go for a foam one and pack it on the outside of your pack.

    • I have popped in and had a squiz last week, they only have displays of the denali mats and the dune 4wd mats unpacked sadly. not sure if thet's just how they roll at my local in Ipswich haha. The only other brand I could see was the Sea to Summit ones and wasn't really sure of brands so didn't look into them too much. Will have to have a better look into a model my size cause they did look a heap more compact than the denali ones

  • Snowys had the awesome Exped camp mattress for sale. It is totally amazing, but wouldn't call it compact.

    Double - https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/455211

    Single - https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/513750

    • Exped have a whole range of mats, those ones are aimed more at car camping. They certainly make models more suited to hiking. I use one of their SynMat UL for when I'm doing walk in camps. One of the nice things about their mats is that most models come in various widths and heights. I prefer a wider mat while not needing extra height. With a lot of brands you can't get a wide model without also going longer (which increases weight and bulk). They also make a wide range of insulation levels so you can really pick a model to perfectly match your needs.

      • I certainly am noticing that size scaling issue! Looking at one of the Denali ones online I thought oh this one looks great, plenty of width, get in to check it out and it's about the size of my torso lol.

    • These certainly look like one for when the misso and the car come along too haha. Thanks you the suggestion though

  • Yeah, I agree with wittyusername on popping into anaconda and taking a look at one of them before buying, especially if you are planning on spending a bit of money on one, you will hopefully use it for a while not just one-off.

    I know that you said you didn't really care about the weight of the mat, but normally a heavier mat will take up a bit more space in your pack, and may make the hike a bit more unpleasant.

    Personally I use the Denali Trek Short Hike Mat and I have used it for over 3 years on multiple trips, multiple days long and it has been comfortable, the benefit of it is that it is self-inflating so no need to carry a pump. It is also only $50 with club membership. However, depending on your height you may feel that the half length nature of the mat makes it uncomfortable to sleep on. Although with a decent sleeping bag you may not even be able to notice yourself not being on the mat. The mat also comes in a drybag so you can keep your clothes or the mat dry during rain. With regards to comfort, it is pretty comfortable when fully inflated, which the mat sometimes doesn't fully self-inflate to but when it is fully inflated there is a decent amount of padding.

    • I have been eyeing the short and long ones off, my only concern is the width.

      As for the length I generally end up with my feet extendinging out of most mattresses but as long as there is not a massive variance in height it doesn't really affect my comfort.

      They are certainly on the short list at the moment

      • The Trek Short has a decent width, its 51 cm wide so it shouldn't probably be a big deal.

  • I have a self inflating mat. I got full length (some are about head, torso and butt length, like johhny mentioned). It is a little narrow compared to an old school li-low but doesn’t have the deflating issues the pump up ones tend to develop over time.

  • Just some advice, as a side sleeper, the pillow is critical. You can get self inflating pillows too. But you need something that's high enough to get your head up into s comfortable spot.

    • Cheers mate, the pillows are all pretty tiny things to pack so not too concerned at this stage :D

      • With regards to a pillow, buy a decent one because I got a kathmandu which kept deflating whenever I slept on it, making it very difficult to sleep on a fully inflated pillow. So I had to just use a down jacket as a pillow.

        • I'd recommend checking out the Sea to Summit (I sound like an advert or shill!) aeros premium / deluxe pillow. They're not the lightest or most compact, but I'll happily hike out the extra weight!

  • Not many have mentioned there weight, that makes a big difference as to weather your hips hit the ground…

  • I'd not go with a self inflating - they're heavy and bulky for hiking. Instead try a manually inflating like a Klymit. It packs down to the size of a large beer can and only takes a few minutes to blow up.

    If you have space you can also take a cheap roll-up foan yoga mat and use it for a ground liner under the Klymit for extra comfort. The yoga mat is bulky but very light, and you can keep it strapped to the outside of your pack since it's unaffected by water. Being outside the pack also makes it easy to take off and unroll if you want a mat for resting while you're enroute.

    Good luck and have fun. I'm dreaming of a similar escape with my kids too, can't wait for this to be over.

    • Haha yeah I have a Kmart yoga mat as part of my current ghetto bedding solution I'd been using on the backyard camps over the school holiday's - consistening of
      - old blanket as a internal floor cover
      - yoga mat
      - an aldi self inflating mat in which the seams have come unglued and it doesn't hold air
      - an old sleeping bag.
      About an hour in everything gets so compressed in it's just awful haha

      That's not a bad idea about the multi-use for the yoga mat though. If my final packout isn't too bulky and awkward I might look at tacking on on

      • I have a broken Aldi self inflater too (seam around the air inlet let loose) that I now use as a floor mat in a part of the garage. The Klymit feels much better and packs into a less than a fifth the size. If you're thinking of doing this type of activity more than a few times then spending a bit more on a good blow-up its IMO well worth it.

        • Camping yes, light back-pack walk-ins not so sure. I'll I know is the boy is set on "walking through the track and camping in the forest like on paw patrol".
          He's completely obsessed with camping though so a quality piece that can also be used on a normal car trip would be a win win.

          And that's exactly how my aldi one demised, even holding air it was pretty useless though.

  • Seriously if you are lucky enough to find some of the old plastic inflatable pool beds they are as good as anything provided you can protect them from punchures They also fold down to less than a tenth of the size of the others.

    • I wish to subscribe to your news letter haha. Failing finding something I'm set on, this might be a good last minute plan b

  • I know you set a $100 budget, but if you were to consider investing in something you plan on using a lot, you value compact size and weight and you value sleep quality - check out Thermarest. It's expensive but may be worth it in the long run

  • Recently got the Klymit Insulated Static V Luxe from Urban Outback on sale for $175. Great mattress. Another good option for under $100 is Zempire Monstalite from Tentworld. Pretty comfy as well. https://www.tentworld.com.au/buy-sale/zempire-monstalite-sin...

    • I have the Klymit as well, the non Luxe version, can attest that its pretty comfy. One thing to note though for buyers, this is not self inflating, you have to blow to inflate, its pretty easy but not unroll and forget like self inflatables.

      The price on these seems to have gone up since I bought mine 3-4 years ago,which was around $100.

  • Just an update on where I'm at on this - after a test with my current gear to see what will fit (or need to be left behind or replaced), the boy's pad is just too excessive.

    As such I'll pick up one of these little denali short hike mats for him https://www.anacondastores.com/camping-hiking/sleeping/hikin...

    After a little backyard camp or two to both test it I'll determine if such a mat might be suitable for me (I have strong doubts)

    After that, I am eyeing off sea to summit in either Ultralight/comfort light/Camp Mat SI. Though ultimately I am almost just as confused as before I started lol.

  • Just saw this deal come up and wondered if it might help you


  • Defo the Klymit Static V. This one always goes on sale too.