This was released this year and I’ve been a little sceptical about trying it, like I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions I have spinal and hip problems, I had tried many beds, even ones that Outwell had advertised that were for people with spinal and back issues and I’d ended up unable to walk upon waking. I had found two beds that worked for me and I was happy and didn’t really want to risk the pain, however we’re constantly asked about beds and I do for the most part like to try new technological approaches and products.
I looked at this at a show and it did feel more like a memory foam mattress than a SIM (self-inflating mat), albeit it’s blue and covered in super soft stretch fabric, which makes it’s very soft and comfortable, it’s also nice to the touch and doesn’t have a chemical smell.
It arrived in a wide mouthed bag of the same colour with shoulder straps and a drawstring top. The pack size 76 x 29cm is a little bigger than standard SIM but it this isn’t really a SIM (well I suppose Self Inflating Mattress may work??) so you can’t really make that comparison, the pack size is definitely smaller than you would expect for the size it becomes when you open the Cyclone valve, this valve is quite clever turn it half open and it sucks in air and expands quickly and quietly (that’s important to me, I don’t want to be a noisy neighbour) it also saves on having to carry a pump. The Cyclone valve forms the seal for the bed, one side stops air escaping from the bed turn it around and it allows controlled deflation. You can top the bed up with a pump if you need to but I found it fine without any addition.
What situations have I used it in and how long have I tested for?
Well I dived straight in and took it on our 10-night trip to Scotland, this was going to be a big ask, on the drive to Drymen, we we’re staying at Milcharrochy Bay on Loch Lomond, my spine decided that it should cause my sciatic nerve to cause me extreme pain all the way down to the side of my left ankle, so all I wanted was my bed, we set up, I kept doing my stretches and it was extremely painful to stand, I took my medication and then extra medication sat outside for a little while watching the stars in the sky, hoping that the mat was going to be comfortable, I went to bed found a comfortable position (I can’t sleep on my hips) and I went to sleep, I didn’t awaken until morning, still in pain but that wasn’t the bed, I had concluded that the mixture of training, hiking and the long drive had caused Piriformis Syndrome (I had this late the previous year), this wasn’t going to go away quickly, so I was going to be stuck with for the duration of the trip, this was really going to test the bed.
We spent 5 nights on Loch Lomond, we spent a quite a bit of time canoe because that was the least painful activity, we climbed Conic Hill that was just around the corner from the campsite and we did it early in the morning before it was busy, we went to Edinburgh and walked up Calton Hill and we visited Glenn Finnich also known as the Devils Pulpitt, that was also early due to parking issues. I use walking poles and spent a lot of time stopping and performing stretches determined that Scotland would not be ruined.
We arrived in Glencoe still in pain (finding a position to stand comfortably wasn't happening, however it was probably giving people some entertainment haha), well it was getting worse, but I hadn’t been resting so it wasn’t going to improve, there was lots of climbing to do and scrambling, however the scrambling down on my bun was easier than the standing. We climbed up to the Lost Valley it was difficult with my pain, but it was worth it the Lost Valley was spectacular, however on the descent my knee locked and fell only 5/6 foot from the top of a rock, I fell sideways and landed on my right side on some boulders, this caused a massive bruise on my upper thigh that was deep purple and it cut and bruised my lower leg just above my boots, the bruise is still there now nearly two months on.We climbed the Pap of Glencoe which is more of a constant climbing narrow gravel track than a path and the scramble to get to the summit, this was extremely painful, the views from the summit were breath taking, I got came down a lot quicker than I went up, I needed food and my bed.
In all honesty I think the Mat made the activities possible, had I have been on SIM or air bed, I’d have returned home. I was able to sleep in relative comfort and it was being able to rest at night that made being able to carry out the activities possible and this is why I’ve explained in some detail about the 10 nights I spent on it in Scotland. We used two singles, , because it's better for us, if Mr TentLife needs the Loo in the night, also he's a fidget moving around all night (not to mention the snoring haha), I don't get disturbed by his movements.
I have used the mat in Wales for four nights without the Piriformis Syndrome (still with the spinal problem) and it was lovely, they have a temperature rating of down to -22 degrees celcius some they keep you warm and insulated from the ground, so no problem using these the year through. The Mat is 200cms (2 metres) long so great for taller people and it’s 76cms wide so it’s a generous size mat like the name suggests it’s 15cms deep or high, (it’s also available in 10cms, that one is green and they're all available in Single or double). It weighs 5.24kg which isn’t bad, it’s not like it’s made for backpacking and with the bag it’s easy to move around.
The Vango Shangri-La 15, well it’s really surprised me, I’m glad that I decided to move out of my comfort zone and gave it a try, I’m also thankful to the Mat for allowing me to cope through an extremely painful yet adventure filled trip, that I had been looking forward to since January when I booked it. The mat is priced at the higher end, but you can’t really put a price on that level on comfort, well I couldn’t to me it’s priceless. It definitely a brilliant mat and the quality and ease of use is breath of fresh air.