Selecting which camping mat to take on any given adventure is typically a three-way toss up between whether you want to prioritise comfort, weight or pack space. The Alpkit Whisper is basically the ultimate compromise, offering very acceptable levels of comfort in most conditions, while remaining lightweight and easy to pack, whether you’re backpacking, bikepacking or enjoying a multiday kayaking or canoeing trip.
I have used the Alpkit Whisper in a wide range of scenarios since getting the product in late last year, from a fastpacking trip along the West Highland Way in Scotland in late autumn, to garden campouts in winter and very early spring. Does it qualify as one of the best camping mats out there? As an all-round performer, I believe it does, especially considering the extremely reasonable price point, and the fact it’s made with largely recycled materials.
Read on for my full review of the Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat.
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: Specifications
- RRP: £79.99 (UK)
- R-value: 2.5
- Weight: 820g / 29oz
- Dimensions (inflated): 183 x 65 x 7cm / 72 x 25.5 x 2.75in
- Pack size: 30 x 12cm / 12 x 5in
- Seasons: 3
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: design, materials and thermal performance
The Alpkit Whisper is a mummy-shaped mat, made with 100% recycled Nylon ripstop (kudos to Alpkit for their excellent environmental efforts and code of ethics). The insulation is provided by Thermolite EcoMade, a polyester-based material comprised of 35% recycled content, including some from discarded plastic bottles.
The R-value of this mat is 2.5. R-values correspond to how ‘warm’ a camping mat is, in terms of how much insulation they provide from the ground, which obviously gets colder as we move from summer into autumn and winter, before slowly warming up again during spring (the R represents a measurement of thermal ‘resistance’ provided).
To be considered a 3-season camping mat, the R-value of a sleeping pad should be at least 2.5, so the Alpkit Whisper sneaks in at the lower end of the scale in terms of providing warmth. However, when paired with the Alpkit Pipedream 400 3-season sleeping bag and while using the Alpkit Soloist 3-season tent, I felt warm enough – even in November in the Scottish Highlands. I also used it with the same set-up for winter camping – albeit in the less demanding surrounds of the backyard. I’d happily recommend it for true 3-season use.
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: features, comfort levels and ease of carrying
The Alpkit Whisper is fairly wide, mummy shaped, single-person camping mat, and I experienced no problems with falling off it during the night. It has a baffled design, with a series of 7-cm deep ridges, which I found to be very comfortable whether I was sleeping on my back or side.
As the name suggests, the Alpkit Whisper is nice and quiet to sleep on, even if you’re a nocturnal fidgeter – unlike some sleeping mats out there.
Because it is an inflatable mate, with fairly low-key insulation, it packs away very easily and rolls into an extremely packable size. It’s also very light for a 3-season mat, so it is absolutely no hassle to carry while hiking or bikepacking.
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: inflation and reliability
The Alpkit Whisper camping mat is an inflatable mat, which you need to fill with air either by blowing directly into it, or by using the provided pump sack, which also doubles as a stuff sack to store the mat in.
Personally, I found the pump sack time consuming to use (as they always are), and at the end of a day’s hiking in the Highlands, when I was soaking wet and just wanted to get my camp set up quickly, I resorted to inflating the mat by blowing straight into it. Over time, however, this can lead to a build up of condensation and moisture inside the mat, which can affect it’s performance (and allow mould to develop), so if you have the patience it’s better to take an extra few minutes and use the pump sack as it’s intended.
The valve on the mat works well, allowing easy inflation with minimal air escape, whether you’re inflating it with your mouth or the pump sack. When it comes to deflation, you simply need to press the valve diaphragm in, and it’s easy to roll up and purge the excess air. On occasion, when sleeping for several nights in the same location (especially when temperatures rose and dropped by several degrees), I did need to top the air up a little.
As with all inflatable mats, you do need to be careful about where you put them, and what lies underneath your tent, as they can puncture. The Alpkit Whisper is covered by Alpkit’s 3-year Alpine Bond, and the Peak District–based brand also operate Repair Stations where they will fix not just their own products, but also gear made by others.
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: Some alternatives to consider
If you’re only intending on backpacking, bikepacking or camping during the warmer months, then consider the excellent Alpkit Cloud Base, which is even lighter and packs away extremely small. For a camping mat with a much higher R-value, that will help keep you warm while camping year-round, check out the brilliant (but more expensive) Thermarest NeoAir XLite.
Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat: overall verdict
The Alpkit Whisper insulated camping mat can be all things to all campers: light and packable enough to be taken on all but the most minimalist trips, while being sufficiently wide and warm to keep you comfortable in the vast majority of conditions you’re likely to face in Britain (and beyond) for nine months of the year. It does have some limitations (the R-Value isn’t massive, for example) but – particularly for the price point – it is an excellent mat for most backpackers, bikepackers and overnight adventurers of all persuasions.