I like the Big Agnes AXL mat. It weighs in at 321 grams with the pouch adding 6-7g and the repair kit another 3g. It’s a mummy shape to save weight but there’s a rectangular version available that’s about 10% heavier, some people prefer rectangular mats because they’re easier to stay on, but I don’t mind, I’d rather save the weight as I don’t find the mummy shape a problem, especially this one because about half of the mat is full width anyway.

Comparing it to the un-insulated version of the same mat there’s a 34gram difference in weight so this is the amount of insulation inside – Big Agnes are using Primaloft branded insulation fibres so you know you’re getting some of the best warmth for weight fibres available. Big Agnes don’t measure the R-Value of their mats which makes them more difficult to compare to others, but I didn’t feel cold where I was in contact with the mat – and I experienced temperatures down to 0C while in Iceland. Given the use of Primaloft and the quality of materials and construction I think the mats would compare well against other mats in this category.

Another point worth noting is that these mats are 9.5cm thick compared to other ultralight mats which are 6.3cm, and thickness generally goes hand in hand with comfort, therefore although it’s difficult to be objective when lying on the mat, I would say the AXL mats are among the best from a comfort point of view in the ultralight category.

I didn’t take an inflation device for the mat I simply used my breath to blow it up and that was easy enough, to save weight the AXL mats only have one valve which serves two purposes, as a non-return valve during inflation, and by using a prong poked into it, a deflation valve. This method is used in other mats but Big Agnes has improved the process by shaping the deflation prong to make this process easier.

I used the AXL mat with a cyclone chair kit and it was fine, mummy mats can be used with chair kits but they are not as successful as rectangular mats as they can ‘flip out’ of the strapping more easily.

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