Outwell Dreamboat Mattress. Not pictured: Carlton Boyce

Tested: Outwell Dreamboat Mattress

Our Outdoor Editor, Carlton Boyce (not pictured above!), heads into the wild to test the best in outdoor gear. Will the Outwell Dreamboat Mattress keep the chill away on a cold night?

In the world of camping mattresses, some unalienable truths need calling out. These include the fact that self-inflating mattresses aren’t, and lightweight jobbies like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite are generally so noisy as to make them a solution of last resort rather than first.

And anyway, if you’re camping by car – and if you can then you should as it opens up a world of luxury that the backpacker can only dream of – then something like the Outwell Dreamboat 7.5cm mattress is worth considering.

Weighing in at a hefty 2,300gms and a not inconsiderable 800mm by 170mm when rolled up, it is 2000mm long and 770mm wide, which makes it the perfect size to use on top of the brilliant Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite mesh cot.

Outwell Dreamboat Mattress

Its main selling point is, of course, its depth. At 750mm, it comprises a foam core that’s been cored out close to the surface of the cool cool. As such, it is said to offer the best of both worlds; easy packing alongside unparalleled comfort when inflated.

With a brushed, non-slip finish it is comfortable to the touch – and that massive depth adds considerably its ability to insulate you from the ground. With a summer R-value of 2.7 (-2ºC) and a winter value of R 3.5 (-8ºC), it is better than most of its competitors and is said to have “smart heat regulation, which keeps one side warmer for cold nights and the other side cooler for sunny climates.” This may well be true but, apart from the labelling, I have to confess to being unable to tell which side was which…

Tested: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Mattress

Sold as self-inflating, you won’t be surprised to hear that it still requires a few puffs to get it to a useable turgidity but it really does need only a few; in fact, the temptation is if anything to add too much air and the mattress really does need to be surprisingly soft if you aren’t to spend the night bouncing around on it.

The inflation/deflation valves are a decent size, and have a positive locking mechanism to them. They’re quick to deflate too, and the standard procedure – roll the mat up with them wide open using your bodyweight to expel as much air as possible – works as well in this application as every other.

I’ve used it solo, and as a mattress on the Therm-a-Rest mesh cot, and while it works very well when used by itself, if weight and space permit the latter combination will give you the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have in the wild. And I do mean ever; I found it very nearly as comfortable as my bed at home, and that I slept for eight hours solid was a camping first.

Available in a single mattress, as well as a double measuring 1320mm wide, it costs between £130 and £170 depending on where you buy it. Not cheap but then I have seen sleeping while camping described as a series of naps rather than a good night’s sleep, a definition I would have subscribed to until I discovered the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite cot / Dreamboat mattress combination.

And, if 750mm feels a little parsimonious, then Outwell offers a 12.0 version. With a depth of 1200mm and R values of 2.8 (-3ºC) and R 4.7 (-16ºC) for summer and winter respectively, it weighs just 2.7kgs and packs down to 800mm by 210mm, or not much bigger and heavier than it smaller cousin.

Bear Aware

Of course, I should be satisfied with what I’ve got but human nature being what it is I can’t help thinking that I won’t be happy until I’ve tried the full-fat version.

Besides, bigger is always better, no?