THE MAIN BUZZ is around the air-sprung cells; essentially little pockets of air laid out in a 'dot-weld' matrix. The gist is that each cell can take your weight independently, conforming to your body shape for an overall even distribution of weight rather than the air being squeezing out from under you, as standard inflated mats do.
Does this technology stack up in the field? Resoundingly yes! After the first night on any trek, I've always ended up with an achy back that fades as I get used to sleeping on the ground with a self-inflating mat. But I can report zero aches and pains after the first night on the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus. Not only that, but as a side-sleeper, this mat held my weight and still kept my hip bones aloft, so I felt no hard ground all night.
Insulation is the other feature. The Comfort Plus, the range's most luxurious has an insulation R-5 rating (the higher the number, the better the insulation), meaning it's highly insulated. The minimalist Ultralite, has a rating of R-0.7 by comparison.
The Exkin Platinum material reflects back radiant heat when you're sleeping, and it does this well. On a cold spring night, with a light summer sleeping bag, I was warmer than my tent buddy who had a self-inflating mattress and a heavier duty sleeping bag.
The mat inflates to a thickness of 5cm, and quicker than you'd think with the inflate/deflate valve. If you're not so full of hot air, you can buy the Jet Stream pump that doubles as a stuff sack. But there's also an internal microbial treatment that abates any mould growth from moisture in your breath. You can use the one-way inflate valve to slowly release air for your ideal softness, and the deflate valve lets the air out in seconds.
The Comfort Plus has independent dual chambers (replete with their own valves on each side) for ultimate customisation and added redundancy - if you get a tear in one side, you can still manage a decent night's sleep with the other side intact.
Loads of options exist for the three colour-coded ranges, from the Ultra Light (single layer) to Comfort Light (dual layer just at the chest area) and Comfort Plus (dual layers). Each range is available with extra insulation, using Thermolite in the cells, and offers different sizes/weights and shapes.
This could be the biggest evolution in sleeping mats since self-inflation. This mat is comfy and highly insulated without compromising on the weight (the Comfort Plus regular weighs 825g and Ultralights are about half that).
Find stores that stock them online.