planning


Well who’d have guessed it? There are loads of people out there who think that thermarests are pretty damn cool. I have to agree – they are… but I just wanted to do some basic number crunching comparing thermarest with exped.

So – we’ll take my Exped 7 DLX as the base and then compare that with a ‘comparable’ thermarest and then the smallest thermarest.

Stats on the 7 DLX

Cost: £115
Size: 193×65 cm / 76×26“
Thickness: 7 cm / 2.8“
Weight: 1170 g / 41 oz
Packed: 30×15 cm / 12×6“

The nearest thermarest I can find is the LuxuryCamp™ XL

Cost: £104.99
Size: 196×76 cm / 77×30″ (3cm longer, 11cm wider)
Thickness: 6.3cm / 2.5″ (1cm thinner)
Weight: 2295 g / 5lbs 1 oz (a massive 1125g heavier)
Packed: 76×14 cm / 30×5.6″ (wow – this is the biggy – it’s 46cm wider but 1 cm thinner when packed)

What I can’t quite work out is that if this mat is thinner when you’re lying on it where does the extra come from when it’s packed – ahh it’s because it’s 11cm wider – but that still doesn’t account for it being nearly .5m wider than the exped – that’ll be the down at work.

In order to get a thermarest that packs to the same size as the exped you have to go for something like the ProLite 4™ (large) which packed comes in at 13×5.1in. (33x13cm) but is only 3.8 cm deep… not that comfy.

Obviously both brands have smaller and larger mats – but I just can’t get over the difference in the weight and pack size for a more comfortable mat that can also deal with a greater range of temperatures and comes with all the same bells and whistles like chair conversion kits and strap on pillows (from the pack cover).

It may not be cheap, but £115 for total sleeping comfort is worth every penny. I love camping, there’s nothing I’d rather do that get way out into the countryside in the middle of no-where and sit staring at the stars. But when I crawl into my little tent I do actually want to sleep.

There’s a glut of cheap ‘simple’ sleeping mats on the market – in fact there are also some pretty expensive ones – things like the thermarest – but does anyone else think that they’re just the biggest things ever!? I mean… who is going to pack one of those on the back of their bike?

Sure, the small one is tiny, but it’s so thin that even my little 10 month old kitten would find it uncomfortable. So enter the king of sleeping mats – the Exped 7 DLX!

The thing you have to understand of course is that this is no ordinary mat – oh no – it’s actually filled with down – and because down compresses so damn well it packs up really really tiny – much smaller in fact than the smallest thermarest. Having said all that when you inflate it – it’s wonderfully comfortable – even my large frame doesn’t touch the floor and it’s toasty warm on the coldest of nights.

It’s also quite clever – none of this just leave it inflate and then top up with your breath (which actually puts water into your mat and shortens it’s life) no! You use bag it comes in to inflate it! Amazing!

There are some funky videos and stuff over on their website over here – but I can’t link to them directly thanks to silly javascript and frame funniness.

In short this thing is amazing – and I’m beginning to feel that I’m cheating on this whole ‘roughing it’ trip.

Well I’ve now got an interactive map thingy – which you can find over on the Route page.

It shows the planned route so far, and then when I actually go it will update with news and photos from each of those locations and perhaps a few more… the theory being yellow dots are planned stops and then purple dots will be actual stops with photos / videos!

Oh the fun I’m going to have in various internet cafes!

Or rather… ‘why I shouldn’t be allowed to fix my own bike’.

It seems every time I try to fix my bike, do something simple, it always turns out to be a pain in the butt. In this case I was putting new pads in the front callipers ready for September – I didn’t want to be riding the length of France, Spain and Morocco on brand new pads – and I completely screwed the retaining plug for the pad pin… this was the result

Broken pin

Then to add insult to injury I ordered a replacement off ebay from a breakers up north and they sent me this

Unknown Calliper

If you can tell me what bike this part is for I’d be grateful – because it ‘aint for the CBF! New (correct) part should arrive today – so hopefully I’ll be back on the road tomorrow.

However, given I plan to do an oil change this weekend – that could be short lived!

You see there’s just so much to do… there’s the ferry (well that’s taken care of now) but then there’s the equipment, and that’s where I fall down.

I can’t pass a camping shop without popping in just to see what gadget I absolutely have to have in order to make the trip – this one is a bit easier because it’s just me, rather than all three of us so I’m not playing my inflatable bed is better than your down mattress!

Ferry Booking