Friday, July 02, 2010

Aerobed Pakmat Review

Note:  With the warm months upon us, this will be what I hope to make a continuing series of posts about motorcycle products. camp craft and maybe adventure / overland travel in general.  

AeroBed® PakMat Sleep System from Aero The Pakmat is a new product from Aerobed.  Having slept very comfortably on a full size version for 6 months I have been pretty impressed with their products.  Also I've been trying to find that perfect match-up of size vs comfort for my motorcycle sojourns.

Previously I've used a large Thermarest coupled with a closed cell foam pad underneath.  Pretty comfy but the resulting bag is HUGE and rack space on the bike is very limited.  Add to that, I'm a side sleeper so my hips tend to press through the pad and my legs end up getting more sleep than I do...

I started to consider standard air mattresses but the idea of carrying batteries or a pump that runs off the bike battery seemed un-attractive.  The Aerobed seems purpose built.  The mattress stores inside it's own pump (the tube looking thing in the photo) and it's relatively compact.  The whole thing packs up to just a bit larger than the 3/4 length Thermarest I use for backpacking.

I have yet to spend a night on it so consider this my preliminary review.  So far, on the living room floor it performs as advertised.  The bed itself is comfy and my hips come no where near bottoming out the mattress. (For reference - I'm over 6' and tip the scales a little north of 200lbs)  The dimensions say that the pad is 24" wide.  I thought it was going to be too narrow but it seems to be plenty wide enough. It seems to "sleep cold" just like it's bigger brothers which is fine as I will be using it during the summer when I normally roast anyway.  With the included pump it's possible to make the mattress so firm that it becomes somewhat uncomfortable.

So far I'm not sure about the construction of the case/pump.  There are two one-way valves near the handle.  twice I've had one pop off.  Once when I removed the packaging and again when I put the mattress back in the container.  I think I'll be looking for a way to make sure I don't loose these.  Second there is a short "nozzle" that pulls out and clicks into place on the bottom of the storage tube/pump.  When the mattress is in the tube it pushes this nozzle so that it sticks out of the bottom.  Third, the pump works but it's not an airtight affair.  It takes about 2.5 times as long to inflate the bed as you are expecting given the obvious volume of the pump.  This may be in my pumping technique though.

The unit comes with a 2 year warranty so I'm hopeful that if problems do develop (like loosing one of those valves), I'll be able to get replacements easily.

I'll update this post after I've used the bed on an actual trip...

Update:  I've now had about 5 nights on the Aerobed.  It sleeps well.  Holds air better than the other two more traditional mattresses on the trip.  It is narrow however.  There is no simple rolling over.  One must resort to the old "lift and twist" method or you end up on the ground.  I give it a solid B+

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