Double insulation doubles the R value
R-value according to ASTM F3340-18
For the first time, a standardized test for determining the thermal properties of mats was defined. End consumers can thus weigh up their purchase decision better and compare the individual providers directly with one another.
Before this new standard was introduced, there was no single method of determining how warm a mat was. The thermal properties of a mat are determined by the R-value: R stands for resistance. The higher the R-value, the warmer the mat, although the numbers have come about in a variety of ways. Many manufacturers had their own methods, which made it very difficult if not impossible to compare products from different brands. Many mat manufacturers and some large specialist dealers were involved in the three-year project to develop a uniform standard.
The new standard is called ASTM F3340-18, “Standard test method for determining the heat retention of camping mats using a hot plate structure”.
It is a laboratory test that reduces the confounding factors that occur when testing people. The sleeping mat is clamped between a warming plate (simulates the sleeping person) and a cold plate (simulates the cold floor) with pressure. During the test, it is measured how much energy has to be applied in order for the heating plate to keep its temperature constant. From this, the R-value is calculated - and thus how well the mat insulates. Compared to sleeping bags, this is a relatively simple structure, but it still requires special, expensive measuring devices.
WHAT SIGNIFICANCE DOES THE TEST HAVE FOR ME?
The big advantage is that mats from different manufacturers can now be compared directly with one another. This does not mean that the previous mats had incorrect R-values. However, different test setups very likely resulted in different values that cannot be compared with each other.
ARE THERE DISADVANTAGES?
The standard measures heat retention when the mat is in the ideal position. Factors such as pressure on the mat or sleeping position are not taken into account. These are unlikely to have a major impact on most mats. However, if a mat is too small, it will definitely not be as warm as a mat the right size. There will certainly be some mats that do better or worse in personal use than the determined R-value. In order to determine this, a large number of mats still have to be tested according to the new standard.
WHAT IS NOT TESTED
ASTM F3340 only provides information on the R-value, i.e. the heat retention of a mat. It doesn't take into account how comfortable, durable, easy to inflate, or user-friendly the mat is. In short, a high R-value doesn't mean it's a good product for a job. In warm conditions, the user may not want the warmest mat. In addition, ASTM F3340 only tests new mats. These can differ from those that have already been in use for a few weeks, as the performance of the various insulation materials and technologies has a different service life.
Mats tested according to ASTM F3340-18
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