A couple of times, I’ve seen people struggle to put away their thermarest sleeping mat, yet stare exasperated, as I do it with ease.
I’ve decided to document my technique, if your reading this and you have a thermarest (something Ben Mcnutt describes as the best piece of outdoor gear he has ever purchased) give this a try (Tony took the pictures, apologies for how crap I look, it was early in the morning).
1. Fundamentals. Always store the Thermarest when not in active use, with the valve open. It will extend its life by 60% and at £100 a pop, that’s a significant potential saving.
Technically, the mat is described as self inflating. Once I’ve unpacked it, I leave it for half an hour to do this, but I also give it 3 lung-fulls of air in addition, to give it a bit of extra spring.
2. The thermarest will normally deflate a little during the night, depending on its age, storage and use. Open the valve, and fold down the middle on its orange (or an older one its bergundy) side.
3. Start to roll up the mat. I see people putting loads of un-needed effort into this, determined to make it as small as possible. Dont bother, just roll it up reasonably small, all will be illuminated in step 6.
4. While rolling, its important to keep the 2 left hand edges together. Best way to do this, is with your left hand, as you roll with your right (it should be a lot easier, as your not applying loads of effort and just gently rolling).
5. The mat is finally rolled. Most people consider the job completed at this stage, but this is where the real trick begins.
6. Unroll the whole mat, which now has most of he air removed. Position the mats stuff sack just to the left of the valve.
Now roll the mat up again. With most of the air gone, it should be possible to remove what remains with little effort. Roll the mat really finely, and make sure the 2 left hand edges are lined up.
7. Once fully rolled, you should be able to hold the rolled up mat easily with your right hand, and put the stuff sack over it with your left (hence the reason for positioning the stuff sack conveniently next to the valve. Its important to put the stuff sack over the mat, and not force the mat into it.
8. The finished mat, sits tidily inside the stuff sack.
Okay, you could say, big deal, you just rolled up the mat twice. I’d agree, the simplest ideas are usually the best.