A foam sleeping mat for lightweight hiking and camping in Spring and Summer, the Mountain Equipment Superlite 2.5 is a self-inflating mat with an obvious difference with its special bilateral cored inner, giving it a minimal weight and reduced pack size. The cored foam inner is essentially a load of little holes punched through the foam. It reduces weight but still insulates since it will be filled with warm air when inflated and warmed by your body.
The special core also makes the Superlite a little easier to inflate and deflate since it’s not all solid foam inside, but before you head out, it’s best to open up the valve and lay the mat out somewhere in the house to inflate itself as it will take some time the first time it’s inflated due to being compressed and stored since production. This is also the best way to store the mat at home when not in use – inflated but with the valve left open and if possible, fully laid out to dry out any moisture inside and allow the foam to “remember” being fully inflated.
The regular size mat inflates to a decent 2.5cm thick with a rectangular cut measuring 51x183cm. A rectangular cut means a little more weight on those end corners but it also means you can stay on it much easier during the night and I find a rectangle a little easier to fold and roll away.
It comes in a “Sunshine” colour with a plain grey reverse and has a minimal 2.1 R-value providing a little insulation for the summer months without adding unnecessary weight. The total weight of the mat is 530g though when weighed off the shelf, I found it to be 512g including the bag which does not have an included repair kit.
The mat is made of a 30D ripstop polyester top and bottom and is tough enough to use bare on the ground if you’ve cleared the area, although most people prefer to use a footprint underneath. Both sides of the Superlite 2.5 have been thoughtfully coated with strips of silicon to prevent both the mat slipping around on a tent floor and you in your sleeping bag slipping off it in the night.
For back and front sleepers it gives you a comfortable enough surface to sleep on. 2.5cm is probably the minimum thickness you require to get a decent level of comfort. For side sleepers, your hips are going to dig in a little so make sure to choose a comfy camping spot with nice ground and have with you a decent pillow to stay comfortable. Throwing this down on rocks then side sleeping is not going to get you a good night’s sleep.
The air valve is a large push/pull twist type which you see on most self-inflating mats and it inflates and deflates fairly quickly. It all packs back into it’s included stuff sack with a little practise even if it’s never quite as compact as it was off the shelf.
With sleeping mats, where and how you are sleeping is something to consider. If you are sleeping in a tent then you can afford the luxury of a thick mat, especially if car camping and weight isn’t a problem. If you are hiking with a small 1 person tent then you have to consider how much headroom you need when lying down so that you aren’t going to end up with the inner tent resting on your face.
When using a bivvy bag, unless you have a large bag, an air filled mattress is likely going to have to go under you and the bivvy bag so will be exposed to the elements. In which case you may want an additional groundsheet to protect the mattress. If you have a standard sized bivvy and a foam mattress like this one then you should be fine to put the mat inside the bag with you. This makes everything nice and tidy and has the added benefit of all the warmth being locked in with you.
The Mountain Equipment Superlite 2.5 self-inflating mat provides relative comfort for a 2.5 cm thick mat. The cored foam is a good idea to save weight but must lower the R rating to the 2.1 value which you get here. It’s good for two season use in a tent or three in a bivvy bag depending on the rest of your kit (but I managed to survive frost!).
The Superlite 2.5 is tough and practical and manufactured with a 30d nylon top and bottom to keep you happy for years on the trail providing you sort out your own puncture repair kit. It’s a sensible alternative to a closed cell mat – the R Value might be the same but the added comfort is worth it for the weight.