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The Big Camping Mat Comparison: Thermarest v Vango v Outwell

Posted by Gav Grayston.
First Published Jul 2019; updated Jun 2023.

Which is the best Self-Inflating Mat? Which is the most comfortable camping mat? We compare our Thermarest, Vango, and Outwell SIMs to find out.

We've been lucky to review three big and comfortable Self Inflating Mats for camping:

A question often asked is 'Which is the best?' or 'Which is the most comfortable?'

Which is the most comfortable Self-Inflating Mat?

I'll start with this question, even though it is very subjective.

All three mats have different thicknesses, so it's not a fair comparison.

We have the 10cm MondoKing 3D, the 15 cm Shangri La Grande from Vango, and the 7.5 cm Dreamboat from Outwell.

You can get different thickness of these mats, but I can only base it on what we have.

So out of the three we have, the Vango Shangri La Grande is the most comfortable. This is not surpising at 15 cm thickness, and when inflated, it is like a mattress at home.

However, the second most comfortable - and really there isn't much in it - is the Outwell Dreamboat at just 7.5 cm. Yes, Outwell does a thicker Dreamboat than 7.5 cm, but it's a generally similar comfort level to the Vango Shangri La Grande, which is twice the thickness.

The Outwell Dreamboat is also the widest of all the self-inflating mats, which we found really good - but you obviously need the space in your tent for it.

Testing the Mats

Testing the three large self-inflating mats

Which is the best Self-Inflating Mat?

So, does that mean Vango's Shangri La Grande is the best self-inflating mat? Well, not necessarily.

It depends on what you are looking for, so I've broken this question down for you.

Which self-inflating mat inflates itself the best?

In this test, it's the Vango Shangri La Grande that wins the round.

I can leave this SIM on its own for a while, and it inflates enough that I've never had to put in more air. Yes, you can if you want it firmer, but it pretty much inflates itself.

Second is the Outwell Dreamboat, though I always find I need to add some air to get it fully inflated.

For the Thermarest MondoKing 3D, I always have to add quite a bit of air compared to the other two.

Which self-inflating mat is easiest to deflate?

This is a close tie between the Outwell Dreamboat and Vango Shangri-La.

Both of these camping mats have valves that prevent the re-inflation when you are rolling them up, making it very easy to them packed away into their bags.

If I had to pick between them, it would be the Outwell Dreamboat as the best, but that's probably just because it is half the thickness and so easier to roll up.

Unfortunately, the Thermarest MondoKing 3D uses the older 'traditional' style SIM valves.

Which is the easiest mat to transport?

The Outwell Dreamboat wins this quite easily. It packs down really small and light.

The Thermarest MondoKing 3D is second.

Unfortunately, this is where the Vango Shangri-La Grande 15 lets itself down, as it is huge when packed away.

The three self-inflating mats packed up

Which self-inflating mat is the warmest?

This is a tough one to answer, as we've not tested them in extreme conditions. However, we have used all but the new Outwell in the winter,  though we have used our older Outwell Dreamboat double in the winter.

They all insulate well and provide a much warmer night than sleeping on an air bed.

If you are going to camp in extreme cold, the Thermarest has the highest R-Value, at 11.4.

The Outwell Dreamboat also has an R-Value, but has an interesting design, in that one side of the mat is designed to keep you warm in winter, and the other side is designed to help cool you down in summer.

The Vango self-inflating mat doesn't have a published R-Value, but it is very thick, and we never found a problem with it not insulating in the winter.


Unfortunately, I can't point you as to which self-inflating mat is the best, as it depends on what you need, can afford, and have room to transport to the campsite.

Out of the ones we have, the Outwell Dreamboat is the most all-round winner, as it insulates well, is very comfortable, and packs away well. However, your needs may be different, plus it's not a perfect test since all the mats I have are different sizes.