Im not going to lie to you I love my sleep and even more so on ops or exercise because the chances are sleep is going to be of a premium mainly due to the nature of the job. In my 13 years in the forces I have used the old style foam roll mate then the first generation inflatable ones and later on the issued inflatable one. To be honest none of the above really impressed me enough to be a true convert; however one name did keep cropping up when I went on the hunt for a new one and that was THERM-A-REST.
The one I choose to invest in was the THERM-A-REST TRAIL PRO as this seemed the one best suited to military activities for several reasons. The first being the colour which was grey on one side and olive green on the other, a point to note on this is that this colour is only for the regular size mat. Although the size is regular I am over 6 foot tall and I have plenty of room on it so this should be fine for all but the tallest of users. The 2nd reason I choose the TRAIL PRO was the weight and size it packs down to. When it is rolled down and in the stuff sack (comes with the mat) the size is about 53cm by 14cm which for the size of the mat is quite good (it is a full length mat). When rolled out the dimensions of the mat rolled out are length 180cm and the width is 53cm at the top and 43cm at the bottom, which takes into account the size of the body so you get maximum coverage but you dont get unnecessary weight by having a normal rectangular shaped mat. The mat weighs 900grams which although is not that light compared to the issued item is a small compromise to make since the issue item is a third of the size of the trail pro.
The material it is made of seems very durable, the grey side (which Im assuming is the bottom) is made from a rough and slightly more durable material then the green side which is made from rip stop polyester. According to therm a rest it is non slip to stop you from rolling off whilst sleeping, I cannot confirm nor deny this but I do seem more stable on it than others I have used. It has a self inflating valve which when undone allows the mat to inflate itself, I timed this for 3:30 mins and to be honest there wasnt a big difference but it had certainly inflated enough to give you some sort of padding/insulation. With a few big breathes though the mat was fully inflated to a whopping 5cm thick, when it has been fully inflated it does take quite a bit of squashing down and folding to get it down to a packable size again. For those using this in a military environment it does make a fair bit of noise when it is being deflated from its fall size, however if you just have it inflated without blowing into it there is minimal noise when packing away. The stuff sack is also a bit tight to use if you are packing the thing away in a hurry and does need a lot of manipulating to get in, I found myself binning the stuff sack and just folding it a couple of times and shoving it in the top of my Bergen (I found this out on a certain Brecon course).
I have been using this mat for just shy of a year now and in about every way possible and it is showing no signs of wear. I have used it in forestry blocks buildings and in a hammock in the snow!, in each of these situations it excelled and proved well worth the £80 price tag, and if it did happen to fail each mat has a serial number so you can send it back to manufacturer for it to be fixed or replaced. To be honest I dont see many people having to do this because of the quality of this product, a friend of mine has had his for 10 years now and it is still going strong. You do get a small repair kit with all Therm a rest mats so you can do small running repairs if it does get ripped/punctured whilst you are on ops/exercise/trekking/camping.
All in all this is an excellent piece of kit and one of the best if not the best inflatable mat on the market and well worth the cash, I would recommend this to anyone in the military or people out camping or trekking.