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Mountain Equipment

23rd May 2018

Aerostat Mats | They’re really good but……..we’ve made a mistake.

Earlier this year we launched our new Aerostat range of down and synthetic insulated mats. They’ve received rave reviews and been successfully tested in places are far flung as Alaska, the Himalaya and the Antarctica. But we’ve made an error when communicating their R-Values and to cut a long-sentence short, the values printed on our mats and our mat packaging are wrong.

Some of you may not even know what an R-Value is but it is essentially a measurement of thermal resistance, used to determine the warmth of a given material or in our case a mat. You can read more about this in our sleeping mat buying guide.

Unfortunately at present there is no universal method for determining an R-Value. As a result, direct comparison between manufacturers is not always possible. To date we’ve had our mats independently tested at the University of Leeds using a single-point Tog test but we made an error when converting this data into an R-Value. To make matters more complicated, synthetic and especially down insulation is non-homogenous – in plain English its thickness is not consistent and its thermal resistance across a given surface area not uniform. This has made it extremely difficult to reliably and consistently re-produce test results in a laboratory environment with the test method we chose to use.

But what we do know is that in the real world, out on ice-caps, in the depths of cold sun-less valleys and under starry skies they work. They’ve been used for weeks on end without fault or complaint and to date we have not received a single complaint that they are not warm enough. And you don’t just have to take our word for it…………just look at any of the independent reviews so far carried out.

“the warmth to bulk ratio on this mat is superb……”

Backpacker Magazine

“As toasty as any mat we’ve ever tested…..”

Outside Magazine

But at the same time we want to be straight with our customers. Not only are the R-Values printed on our mats not correct, at the present time we are not comfortable with the lack of any universal method for testing to continue using R-Values as a way of communicating performance.

As such we’ve taken the decision to remove all reference to R-Values from our mats until such time as a universal test method is introduced (see below for more on this) and we’re confident that the values we talk about can be used by you in a meaningful way. Instead we will make use solely of our Good Night’s Sleep rating – which are already indicated on our website and mat packaging: -40⁰c / -40⁰f for our Aerostat Down mat and -25⁰c / -13⁰f for our Aerostat Synthetic mat.

We should stress that there is no technical fault with the mats. We remain wholly confident in their real-world performance and in addition to your statutory rights we continue to stand by their 5 year manufacturing guarantee.

But at the same time we do not wish for any of our customers to feel as though they have been misled or misinformed in anyway and so if you have already purchased an Aerostat Down or Aerostat Synthetic mat we giving you the opportunity to either return it to your retailer for a full and complete refund or to claim a 30% discount off the suggested retail price.

What you should do next

If you wish to return your mat, you should return it to the retailer from whom it was purchased. Please do not return it directly to us. It must be returned complete with its stuff-sack, be in a clean and hygienic condition and your proof of purchase should be included.

If you wish to keep your mat but take advantage of our 30% refund offer, please either visit your retailer in-store or if purchased online please contact them with details of your purchase and they will arrange for the correct amount to be credited back to the card used to purchase the mat originally. Please note the 30% offer applies to the suggested retail price, not the price you necessarily purchased the mat for. Please speak with your retailer if you are unsure.

The future for R-Value testing

A working group consisting of several respected outdoor brands and retailers have been working with the ASTM standards group in North America to develop a test standard that could be adopted universally by all outdoor brands. This new standard has been under review for a number of years but it is highly likely that this will be published and adopted later this year.

It is hoped that this standard, should it be adopted widely, will give an opportunity to compare one manufacturers mat with another and provide a level of reassurance that any mat making reference to the standard has been tested in the same way, in much the same way that the EN13537 standard has done for sleeping bags.

It is our intention to adopt this test standard once it has been formally published.

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