Snugpak Antarctic Mat
The Snugpak antarctic mat appears thin on first appearance and you’d question how is this better compared to traditional rubber/inflated mats? This mat won’t crack when rolled up and as there is no valves or inflating required its quicker, pain free and easier to use. Primarily used for freezing/winter periods but I take the sleeping bag insulated mat for us during winter in both snow and cold conditions on hard surfaces to see how it performs and whether I get a good night sleep.
What Snugpak Says:
In freezing weather, self‐inflating, rubber‐based mats often crack when rolled, and valves can freeze, rendering them useless. The Antarctic mat uses only sleeping bag insulation to prevent heat loss, so no need to worry about anything cracking or freezing.
The Antarctic mat utilises a layer of sleeping bag insulation to prevent convective heat loss between your body and the ground. Any perspiration that is wicked away from your sleeping bag will also wick through to the bottom of the mat, leaving your sleeping bag dry. The UK made Antarctic mat uses our exclusive Softie Premier insulation, the same insulation we use in all of our UK made sleeping bags.
Lightweight: Lighter than a traditional self-inflating mat. Weighing 560g
UK Made: Support British manufacturing and enjoy superior British quality.
Ground Protection: The Antarctic mat can be used under the tent floor, directly on the ground to protect the tent floor from the brush and stones.
Easy to repair: Easily repairable should an accident happen when out in the field the Antarctic mat can be repaired with a simple roll of duct tape, and it will still work as normal.
High wicking: Any perspiration that is wicked away from your sleeping bag will also wick through to the bottom of the mat, leaving your sleeping bag dry.
Compression Stuff Sack: The Antarctic mat is supplied with a compression sack, which helps reduce its volume. This means you can keep the mat inside your rucksack, rather than being forced to keep it on the outside of your backpack like traditional sleeping mats.
Combine Two Sleeping Mats: By combining two mats using the Velcro around the edges, you can create an emergency sleeping bag or a double layered sleeping mat.
Use anywhere: The Antarctic mat is much more adaptable than a self-inflating or rolling mat because the Antarctic mat uses insulation, you can fold or squash into different configurations like in a hammock or a tight floor space.
Double up as a Poncho or extra insulation: The Antarctic mat has Velcro along the edges so you can use it as a poncho on your shoulders, or even wrap it around your body for some extra insulation when sitting down. It can even be used as a simple Hammock under blanket!
When the Snugpak Antarctic mat arrived I was somewhat shocked. I couldn’t quite believe the size and weight of the sleeping mat. It was light, very light in fact. To compare the Snugpak air mat with built in foot pump is 100g heavier and when compressed the Antarctic mat is half the size of Snugpak air mat and as it’s sleeping bag filled insulated you could compress the stuff sack the mat comes in further. So despite all the heavier pack weight for winter such as heavier sleeping bags, tents and extra jackets the mat was going to be saving me weight and space.
However, I couldn’t help but think how is this thin sleeping mat going to feel to sleep on? Especially as the UK weather and snow is so unpredictable. It might snow but the chances of it actually snowing were still slim. So how would this feel on grass and harder grounds as the mat’s primarily designed for winter and snow which is softer. Comfort was on the front of my mind clearly but I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about its performance in ground protection. Having used the giant foam roll mats for many years in Scouts and DofE previous to upgrading to a down-filled mat when I became a leader. (It was one of the first things I did!)
If a foam mat can stop the warmth being zapped from you then I had ever faith in the Snugpak mat performance.
The first opportunity out with the Snugpak Antarctic mat was before Christmas 2018 which was by accident it got used with the original plan for a bothy night planned but with the bothy filled we ended up camping across the river on a hillside surrounded by rocks, dips and overgrown grass.
It was due to rain as well that night so I was hesitant how much sleep I would get but in fact I slept like a log! I had a very good nights sleep and probably one of the few wild camps I’ve had that much sleep. Shocking as we are typically exhausted after a camp. With the Snugpak Ionosphere, Snugpak Osprey (Now Snugpak Endeavour) sleeping bag and this mat. My set up was quick and easy with the tent and sleeping set up complete in minutes and straight out to try and get some photos of the surrounding lake, lit by the moon and enjoy some mulled wine with the others.
We may not have got any half decent photos but we were certainly feeling festive and in high spirits. It was nearly Christmas as well!
Between the Antarctic mat and sleeping bag I was comfortable and warm. Although the temperature wasn’t low by any means, even that night I don’t think it dropped below 5ºc so the mat wasn’t needed and the Snugpak Air mat would had sufficed. But with the weight and pack size it was favourable to use the Antarctic mat.
Using the Snugpak Antarctic mat is simple too. Unlike the Snugpak sleeping bags you don’t need to stuff this mat inside the stuff sack but instead roll. So, simply removing the mat from the stuff sack, unrolling the mat and open up by pulling the velcro apart to create the sleeping mat and putting away is just the reverse and roll up and compress the stuff sack. Complete. It really is as simple as that which when it is freezing, snowing or just freezing and rain having a mat as simple as this to use and get a sleeping bag out and curl up is super helpful.
No standing out in the rain or hunched up in the tent trying to inflate a sleeping mat.
It wouldn’t be for a few months before the opportunity to use the Snugpak Antarctic mat in the snow arrived. Every opportunity of snow during a trip was snuffed by gale force winds and storms. So every camp until then was on mixed grounds from long grass, fields and the odd rock under the tent and I had no experience of discomfort from the cold or reduced cushioning below me.
That’s easy for me to say with no back problems, I can imagine if you had back or shoulder problems you would prefer the extra comfort that an air mat would provide, lifting you off the ground. Ultimately, the Antarctic mat stopped and heat from being drawn away was by far the quickest solution to use in the typical UK wintry conditions.
Interestingly below the mat would become wet from moisture and the first time I noticed this I was a little concerned but then remembered the anti-wicking properties the mat brings. Stopping your sleeping bag from getting damp. Simply rotating the mat and leaving it a few minutes to dry and it was good to pack away. Again speed is a huge benefit to the Antarctic mat.
Finally the snow arrives! But it wouldn’t be until the morning. The hike up was in the rain and the ground was boggy and soft from the rain water so it was going to be another night on grass so although I didn’t sleep on the snow I could experience the mat in sub-zero conditions with the temperature at -4ºc so not the coldest but certainly enough for snow fall. During the night with temperatures dropping and gentle snow fall, again like before experienced no discomfort from the cold, damp and enjoyed a good nights sleep with the refreshing and calming view of a white scene around us.
Climbing out of the Snugpak Ionosphere to this bright white lake side view was heavenly and after a good nights sleep and the speed to pack the kit up I could enjoy a good few hours of wondering around capturing the scenes.
In all, I have been impressed by the somewhat simple sleeping mat. Considering size, weight and the material it’s by far the easiest solution on the market I’ve experience for winter sleeping mats and I haven’t even mentioned the price! At £50 it’s also the cheapest winter mat in comparison. Personally my next option for a winter mat wouldn’t likely be an Exped down mat, having used and trusted these mats previously for many years and not experienced any cracking or failures due to the cold but these start at £150 mark for one that is designed for use in sub-zero conditions.
So, with this in mind the Snugpak Antarctic mat is not only lighter, cheaper and more compact it suits a wider market from those looking to do their first winter camps or seasoned campers and professionals.
I’ve been impressed with the Antarctic mat and now with summer on the way I have to consider do I continue to use it all year or put it away in favour of the air mat. Tough call!
Transparency Notice: Please note that I am a Snugpak brand ambassador and receive the products for free to review from Snugpak. The review is no guarantee of endorsement. I receive no monetary gain from Snugpak from the reviews.