Originally, this was to be a blog about my preparations to enter the TGO Challenge in 2012. For a variety of reasons that didn't happen, so this has now become the repository for my outdoor musings.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

POE Peak Elite AC Blues

Back in April, I bought a POE Peak Elite AC from Backpackinglight.co.uk. I had looked at the other options and felt that it had the best spec for the money. It was light, packed down pretty small and generally looked like it would do the business. When it arrived I was super impressed by the pack size (I was switching from a TAR-based sleeping system, and with the best will in the world you are not going to get a prolite wrapped up that small!), and the weight. I duly unrolled and inflated it and had a lie down. It seemed reasonably narrow but not unusable. What made it unusable was the fact it wouldn't hold air. After the "bath" test it became apparent that one of the seams between the tubes had a leak.

After a quick email to Bob and Rose at BPL, I had a new one. Which has now developed a leak after four nights use. A further "bath" test has not revealed where the leak is coming from, but there is definitely one somewhere. Searching round the internet it did not take long to discover that I was not the only person to have experienced this problem. For example, Mark's Walking Blog details his experiences. I emailed BPL and got a reply from Bob, who was most sympathetic, having had the same problem on the first day of his TGO Challenge this year! Four nights sleeping on two sit mats does not sound like a great start to a 200 mile hike. Bob has offered a refund, replacement with the 3/4 length POE Peak Elite AC, or change to TAR NeoAir. I'm not sure which option to take. So here's my appeal to the outdoor blogosphere: help! Any suggestions or recommendations are gratefully received.

Things to bear in mind: I already have a couple of thermarests (prolite and standard), so I can't really justify having loads more mats, so this one will have to be it. I don't want to spend a tonne more money. Pack-size and weight are important, but comfort and reliability more so.

Here's a list of some of the contenders that I'm considering:

POE Peak Elite AC, 51x183cm, 396g, R2.5, £69.99 (my leaky one weighs 354g with stuffsac and repair kit)
TAR NeoAir, 51x183cm, 410g, R2.5, £94.99
Exped SynMat UL, 52x183cm, 460g, -4c, £67.50
Kooka Bay LuxLite, 51x183cm, R1, £55 (Not sure how easy this is to get hold of, and the price excludes shipping and taxes)
Alpkit Numo, 49x180cm, 468g, R2.5, £40 (out of Stock currently)

It's hard to see past the Exped although it is heavier than I would like, particularly compared to the Peak Elite. Anyway, over to you!

*** UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE *** 29 August 2011

Well, I went with the NeoAir in the end. I really liked the look of the Exped SynMat UL, but there appears to be no stock in the country and won't be until mid-October. So I popped over to Malvern to see Bob and Rose at BPL and swapped the Peak Elite for a NeoAir. Excellent service as always from BPL, thoroughly recommended.

Initial thoughts on the NeoAir? I think it is a little bulkier than the Peak Elite, but not awkwardly so. It feels very comfortable, comes with a stuff sac and patch kit, and seems well made. Maybe a little run out next month to test it in the wild..?


  1. The bit that jumps out to me is that you already have a number of sleeping mats. Are these no good? Depending what they're like I'd probably get my money back and buy something I didn't have (or presents for my oudoorsy friends). However, you know what your needs are and whether the Thermarests meet them.

  2. The Peak Elite was a real eye opener for me; I think it was one of the most comfortable things I have ever slept on (when it was inflated). Three inches of air beats one inch of foam every time!

    Also, surely you would agree that the greatest gift I could give my outdoorsy friends is the pleasure of my company?

  3. Ken just back from a Social Meet in the Peak District with fellow backpackers and bloggers. Seems that a few like you and me have had problems with the POE Peak Elite. I would say that most guys there have Neo Airs, but like me a few have the Exped Synmat 7 UL and seemed happy with them so far.

  4. Hi Mark, I've updated my post after getting a NeoAir. The SynMat was very tempting but not available sadly...