Keeping yourself off the floor whilst wild camping is beneficial not only in terms of comfort but more importantly in providing a buffer between you and the ground itself. You can be in the best sleeping bag around, but in the UK, if you don’t raise yourself away from the ground you will find it hard to have a pleasant night’s sleep. One of the best advancements in modern lightweight equipment is surely the air-mat. Low in weight and bulk, whilst providing a comfortable cushion, there are a wide range of options currently available. What first catches your attention from this offering from GCG is the price. This is a mid-range cost for an air mat that appears to have most of the features and functionality associated with brands twice the price.
At 348 grams, including its storage sack and repair kit, the Crash Out Mat can be considered a super light mat. The pack size is very small and takes up little space. It's a nice surprise that as you remove the mat from its storage sack it opens to a decent size. 180cm x 51cm will provide ample room for most and although maybe a not as wide as our usual mat, we were never left wanting for more space. The shape is rectangular, tapering slightly towards the foot. There is only a single size available at present. This is an area in which we would like to see more options as a shorter mat could further reduce weight, whilst a larger option would also be welcome for taller users.
What makes the Crash Out mat so light and compact is the use of 20D rip-stop Nylon with TPU coating. It's a particularly thin fabric, and although we had no issues with punctures, the overall build does feel less forgiving than other brands we have used. We mostly used the Crash Out Mat within a tent, bivvy, or straight onto the ground under a tarp taking care to remove any sharp objects. Included in the pack is a basic repair kit which eases fears whilst out on an extended trek, although this is a mat in which extra care should be taken to keep it in top working condition.
A great feature is the multi-functional valve. Although not exactly revolutionary it's a tried and tested design that works well. Inflation is easy as the non-return section can accommodate the same size fitting used with our Exped pump bag, and we are fairly sure this is also a common size with other brands. It would have been a great addition to include a pump sac with the mat although we appreciate this would then bump up the overall cost. The placement of the valve next to the head means that once you are inside your sleeping bag you can make minor adjustments without needed to move. To deflate takes no time at all as the secondary valve opening has a large outlet to quickly dump air with the Crash Out Mat easily rolling up and placed back into its storage pouch in a short amount of time.
Once inflated the curved baffles offer much more comfort than appearances may suggest. If you're a side sleeper this too is no problem as the baffle thickness is a pleasing 6.3cm. The Crash Out Mat has a good hold whilst sleeping and very little movement from the fabric on the ground. It can be a bit of a rustler but no more so than a lot of air mats of this weight. Overall, it made for a very contented place to either sleep or just have a lie down after a big day in the hills.
Where is does start to show a few weaknesses is when you consider warmth. The Crash Out mat has no R-Value rating and, as such, we'd estimate it would come in around 1.0. Simply placing yourself away from the ground offers a high amount protection alone but any time out of summer use and you will start to feel the cold from beneath creep into your bag. This is, after all, a mat that prioritizes weight and pack size, so pairing with a light sleeping bag and shelter you are limited to use in the warmer months. We spent a night high up wild camping with temperatures dropping to around 4 degrees and certainly started to feel its limitations. Although for use in bothies and car camping, this makes for a very compact and comfortable year-round option.
The Crash Out Mat is an extremely light and compact air mat that will take up very little pack space. Add to this a great baffle design and good depth that offers a comfortable place to lie down or sleep. The Crash Out is a lower cost mat with a simple yet effective design that, in many areas, matches up against brands costing twice the price. Build quality and a lack of insulation are the factors in which the mat shows signs of weakness and for use out of the warmer months would not be advised. We used the Crash Out Mat for a multitude of adventures including bikepacking, wild camping and a night in a bothy. It’s quick to inflate/deflate and would make a great option for anyone looking to build a lightweight set up for summer adventures.
Trek Scotland is a small family business based in the picturesque village of Tomintoul in the North East region of the Cairngorms National Park. They provide bespoke Mountain Guiding for Single Day Walks and Lightweight Multiday Trekking experiences, including wild camping, in the stunning Cairngorms wilderness and surrounding areas. Whether in the high mountains or lower valleys, their Multiday Treks are equipped with high quality, lightweight camping and trekking gear. They only work with small groups and, whatever your ability, pride themselves on designing your outdoor experience completely to your needs and with professional guidance and expertise. Adventure is waiting...