N.A.S.A. had predicted a 1% failure rate for the components of the Saturn V rocket which worked out as some 6,000 things not quite working. It was only after his unexpected safe return that one of the astronauts summed up the process as “we were on top of what was potentially a very large bomb, designed and built by the lowest bidder”.

I have a little bit of this problem at the moment as I put together my kit, much of which has been bought on eBay. It is a fine balancing act that I need to achieve. I want to try things out for the trip but not enough to wear them out and we are off for a long weekend to try and do just that.

I am in a state of anxiety for the trip as I have had my first major equipment malfunction. I am on my fourth Exped Downmat 7. I love the mat and it is without doubt the nearest you are going to get in the world of light weight camping to sleeping on clouds. Now I know that I can be stupidly brand loyal and have been all of my life.In my teenage years if ever the groups Genesis, Pink Floyd or even Yes ( who tested me to my limits on a couple of occasions ) put out an album, then I would buy it or have it on order and this continued long after both I and they should have stopped what we were doing. Now you just do not get that loyalty with a download even if you pay for it.

I display a lot of this brand loyal with Exped there is no other explanation for what has happened. The first mat failed and went down after 4 uses, the second after 6 and the third mat went down after 2 uses. This made me sufficiently annoyed  to phone them. I had worked out by mat number 2 what was happening. A thing that I learned from the online videos was called the ‘flap valve’ was becoming detached. All along I had assumed that every time I was getting a new mat when they returned my faulty one. ” Are you sure this is not a batch problem?” I said in my conversation with Exped UK “Not at all, it can’t be,we just push it back in and send the mat back to you as it is not covered by the warranty”. I probably raised my voice a bit ” It has a 5 year warranty, it is useless without that bit and we both know that it is going to get lost”.  I pressed on” I am off on a multi year trip!”.

There was a feint noise from Exped man on the other end of the phone. If I had to describe it I would put it close to the noise that every man over 38 makes when they sit down in a low chair “OOfffffffff  “. There had been a pause and for all I know he may have just sat down in a low chair, but then he cheered me up, lots. “Send it back pal, I will see what we can do” .

Exped man is now my new  best pal for life and a new Exped Downmat 7 Pump Short, to give it it’s full name is on the shake down team this weekend.

Thanks to Jez Hastings from Get Lost (Islay Bushcraft, http://www.islaywildernessguide.co.uk/) who introduced us to the Exped mats.