The Alps Mountaineering Outback is one comfy camping mattress, and if you couldn't care less about weight and packability, this is the mattress to get. It's more comfortable than the Editors' Choice Award-winning Exped MegaMat 10 because it has more foam, it's thicker, and there's more room to roll around. It's also over $100 cheaper than the MegaMat. The vast expanse of this mat makes it less versatile though, and if you're tent camping, you'll need a really big tent. While the manufacturer price is $180, we see it at most retailers for $130 or less. This makes it the best pad the money that we tested and winner of our Best Buy Award.
ALPS Mountaineering Outback Review
Cons: Big packed size, hard get in its stuff sack, heavy
Manufacturer: ALPS Mountaineering
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Another big, " self-inflating" foam core mat, the Outback is large and in charge, packing away just a little smaller than the Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime and weighing in at 7.43 lbs. One of the heaviest mats in the review, it's also one of the most comfortable and one of the warmest. If all you're doing is schlepping this pad from the back of your car to your gigantic glamping palace (tent), weight shouldn't be much of a concern. The Outback is an excellent choice for those looking for a comfortable night away from home.
This pad is bigger than a twin bed; take a minute and let that sink in. It's bigger than the plastic covered bed you slept on in a college dorm. Theoretically, two people who really like each other could sleep on this behemoth at once, but it's designed for one person to comfortably sprawl. Pure luxury. It's an inch thicker than the Exped MegaMat 10, with foam so thick that one of our testers preferred to sleep on the mat when it was completely deflated. While the just the foam alone is pretty plush, this mat really comes into its own when fully inflated, feeling very similar to the MegaMat, but with more space.
Ease of Use
The Outback inflates with two one way valves, which can be completely opened up for deflation. The expansion of the foam halfway inflates the pad, but for maximum firmness, you'll have to employ some lung power. Blowing air through the one-way valve is tough. The valve is much more resistant than the twist valve on the Therm-a-rest Dreamtime. If you try to blow up the pad through the deflating valve, you can get more air in faster, but you'll need to plug the valve with your tongue between breaths and potentially get saliva inside the pad. Our testers felt that a pump like the integrated foam pump in the Nemo Nomad or even the small pump included with the Exped MegaMat would be a nice addition.
ALPS Mountaineering gives this mat an R-value of 9. The Exped Megamat 10 also has an R-value of 9, while the Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime has an R-Value of 6. We certainly didn't feel cold sleeping on any of these pads, and all of them would be ideal for camping on snow or ice. The mat doesn't feature any reflective technology that a lightweight sleeping pad relies on for an R-value boost, but weight isn't your primary concern with one of these camping mats. The Outback feels plenty warm to keep out at the hunting cabin or storing in a backcountry yurt.
The massive area of this pad detracts from its versatility score. It takes up so much room in a tent that your tent needs to be huge to accommodate more than one. Its large packed size makes it harder to store than an all air model, like the Sound Asleep Camping Series. Cleaning this pad is simple enough, but not as easy as the Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime, which features a completely removable cover that you can throw in the washing machine to completely eliminate your adventure-filth.
The Outback rolls up easily and is fastened with two included elastic straps; it then slides into its stuff sack. It's got one of the larger packed sizes, and one for each member of the family is going to take up too much space in the Subaru. If packing space is low, check out the compact Nemo Nomad or the Klymit Insulated Double V. Neither of those pads match the comfort of the Outback, but both pack down to less than half the space, even the Double V, which is designed for two.
This is a great model to bring car camping (if you've got room to spare in the car), or for storing at your hunting camp or backcountry cabin. The Outback is easier to transport than a regular mattress, will keep you just as warm, and storing it in a critter-proof location will be easy. Bring it out of the closet for the unexpected guest, and you'll be the host with the most for sure.
With a manufacturer price of $180 and a street price of $110 to $130, this is the best value in sleeping pads we have tested.
While this pad doesn't unseat the Exped MegaMat 10 as our Editors' Choice, it comes incredibly close. The MegaMat packs away smaller and easier while inflating with an integrated foam pump. Do keep in mind if your priority is comfort alone, the Outback is the best choice in our review.
— Matt Bento