Monday, 14 October 2019 09:35

Thermarest Uberlite tested and reviewed

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Thermarest are a market leader in sleeping mats and have been designing at the forefront of camp comfort since the 1970’s.

They continue their quest to make things as light as possible for backpackers with the Uberlite; a fully inflating mattress that carries the same dimensions of the original Neoair XLITE range, yet shaves off grams without sacrificing sleeping space. The regular mat which suits medium build people up to 5’8”, comes in at a mere 250 grams 

Uberlite 2

What Thermarest say about the Uberlite:

As the absolute lightest insulated air mattress available, the UberLite keeps your pack featherweight on the trail. Our proprietary construction provides the critical warmth needed in the backcountry. Boasting 2.5 inches of our legendary NeoAir comfort, the minimal UberLite makes a big impact during nights in the backcountry. To endure the rigors of the backcountry, our unique fabrics and construction meet our strict durability standards.

Featherweight: Weighing just north of a half-pound, the UberLite is the absolute lightest insulated air mattress available.

  • •Minimal Pack Size: Shrinks down smaller than any NeoAir® ever.
  • •Backcountry Warmth: An R-value of 2.0 provides more insulation than any other sub 10-ounce mattress.
  • •Big on Comfort: 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) of stable cushion provide luxurious rest during your fast and light activities.
  • •Reliable NeoAir® Construction: Compresses small enough to fit into your pocket with the included stuff sack.

 

On test and review with My Outdoors

This is a long term review. I spent twenty nights this summer and early autumn sleeping on the Uberlite, mainly in the mountains on wild camps and a few stays on campsites for family nights out. The mat’s R rating of 2.0 is pretty low, but I used it at 2300m in the Swiss Alps this September, with no problem. It is marketed as a two season mat, but if like me you sleep warm, then you can easily push this rating in my opinion. Teamed with a decent quilt I would push this mat down towards zero temps before I would reach for a beefier mat. I often use foil under mats as it gets colder too. This warmth is helped by keeping you nearly 2.5 inches off the floor when the mat is fully inflated. Thermarest omitted the Thermacapture reflective coating that’s part of the XLite range, thus reducing the overall R rating.

The main reason to do a longer review period was to explore the durability of the Uberlite. The fabric thickness is a mere 15 denier and if held up to daylight, you can see through the fabric slightly. The XLite range has a 30 denier thickness for comparison.

. .Uberlite denier

There is understandably some scepticism that this mat can survive wilderness camping. Thankfully I’ve been reassured that this a great mat for the weight and it has reduced my pack weight considerably. The packed size of the mat is also impressively small. The difference it has made for me shows when I need to carry extra food, water or clothing, as the mat will easily slip to the bottom corner of a pack or even a pocket. 

via alpina camp

Key to making the Uberlite work for me has been taking more care and not risking any punctures. I camp in tarp shelters on a minimal groundsheet most of the year and the Uberlite has been fine. I also camp with dogs sometimes and it has thankfully remained unscathed. However, the first mat I received had a valve leak. True to form, Thermarest honoured their great approach to customer service regarding manufacturing defects and I had a new mat in less than a week. There is a repair kit if you’re a clumsy type or unlucky enough to get a puncture, as these repairs are not covered by the Thermarest warranty. They do offer a repair service and details are online. The Uberlite employs the same ‘Triangular Core Matrix’ construction to support your frame and I’ve found that the air cells don’t need to be blown up to full capacity and it’s more forgiving if you leave the mat slightly soft.

Uberlite 1

The fabric is crinkly to the touch, like a thin wind shell jacket and feels fairly slippy, so my initial concerns that it would slip off my groundsheet proved unfounded; once on the mat it stays put nicely, even on a sil-nylon floor. The 2.5 inch mattress depth keeps me off the cold ground when inflated to the right firmness. I definitely move a lot at night and sleep on my side for a long period, so I’m really happy with the comfort levels which are appreciably no different to the Neoair XLite. The valve is the same design as the original Neoair range 

Uberlite valve

Retailing as low as £120 online already, the Uberlite is in a similar price bracket to the Neoair range. If weight and comfort are key considerations for your adventures, then I can’t recommend it highly enough. The obvious cons of a mat so minimal are risks of tears and punctures, but so far so good with a little care and choice of pitch. The mat suits ultralight thru-hikers and climbers due the minimal pack size, diminutive weight and superb comfort.

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