When you’re camped high above the tree-line or you’re into double figure days on the trail, the finer details of your kit become ultra-magnified. Details like whether you can turn on your head torch while wearing gloves, or if your stove’s burner can hold its performance when the mercury drops a couple of degrees, or how smoothly the zipper on your sleeping bag will glide open when nature calls in the middle of the night. It all starts to matter.
With dozens of prototypes, 500 field tests and even experiments with a pneumatic press, all just for the development of a couple of new sleeping mat valves, it’s safe to say Therm-a-rest are one of those brands that care about getting those finer details of their products right.
The small changes they’ve recently made have actually gone a long way too. Any sleeping mats that feature one of these two new valve designs are in fact up to 3x faster to inflate compared to those with the previous valve – that classic ‘lefty loosey, righty tighty’ option that’s been around for years now.
The WingLock Valve
Unlike that original valve, the new WingLock valve, involves a one-way check. You can blow into it or fix a pump bag or electronic pump and you won’t have to worry about rapidly twisting it shut to keep air from sneaking out. For deflation, the wings come into play: one full twist will fully unlock the valve to let air pour out in an instant, or you can partially twist it if you just want to bleed a bit of air out in the middle of the night.
The TwinLock Valve
The other new valve system, called the TwinLock, is featured across Therm-a-rest’s larger and high-volume pads, including the NeoAir Topo Luxe, with the onus on faster deflation. Instead of utilising wings, the TwinLock has two dedicated valves: one “IN” one-way valve and one “OUT” dump valve. Partially opening the OUT valve allows you to bleed air while a full twist and pull will let you dump air from your pad immediately.