Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exped sleeping mats: FlatValves

Over the years, we've used several different valves on our sleeping mats. Originally, we used a small twist valve. This evolved into a much larger twist valve that had the advantage of being more durable than the previous one and also allowed quicker inflation and deflation. But in our never ending quest to innovate and improve the quality of our products we found several issues that simply were not going to be solved by these twist style plastic valves. Two big challenges to the durability of our mats (and anyone else's) were centered on the valves:

  1. These traditional twist open/close valves are susceptible to breakage. They are mechanical (O-ring seals and springs) and they can be brittle. Stepping on a valve of this kind is almost certain to result in a smashed valve
  2. Any time a hard thing (twist-style valve) is attached to a soft thing (sleeping mat fabric) stress points develop along the interface between the two. In the case of sleeping mats, this means the potential, over time, for air leakage around the valve/mat interface as the valve is flexed and moved. 
  3. Traditional twist valves offer a very low volume of air flow, in and out of the mat. 
So we set to the task of improving the valves on our mats. The result was soft polyurethane FlatValve Technology. These valves have significant advantages over all other valves used on sleeping mats: 

  1. Because FlatValves are soft, they are not broken easily. If a valve is stepped on it doesn't break. 
  2. FlatValves do not protrude from the mat edge and are therefore much less likely be damaged in use or in transport. 
  3. FlatValves offer a press-fit closure and no moving parts. No springs or additional seals. In fact, the sealing surface area is much greater on FlatValves than on traditional valves, making for a very positive and strong seal. 
  4. The soft polyurethane material does not create a wear point along the interface with the fabric of the mat. This is a major advantage to FlatValves, especially over the long term. 
  5. FlatValves provide a high volume of air flow when inflating and deflating a mat. 
Please note that Exped mats are the only mats using FlatValves. Along with our special lamination, durable fabrics, radio frequency welded seams, sophisticated insulation materials yielding unrivaled warmth , multiple pumping options for lung-free inflation, independent R-value testing, and great attention to detail, FlatValves are the frosting on a very durable and comfortable cake. 

Sleep well!