Completely flat bedchairs are all the rage now. In fact so much so that perhaps they shouldn’t really be called bedchairs any more, just beds!
The reason of course is that flat bedchairs are more comfortable to sleep on, partly because they haven’t got a ratchet wheel raising the mattress in an awkward place. However the downside is that you can’t use them as a sunlounger, i.e. sitting with your feet up and your back supported.
Well now you can! With the Venture Super Flat Deluxe bedchairs the ratchet is moved right up near the head end. This gives you a low headrest, but one that’s still big enough to use as a chair. However the important part of the bedchair for sleeping is super flat as the name implies.
Being able to have your feet up but with your back supported is so useful, especially if you’re confined to the bivvy in bad weather. No more reading or whatever lying on your back or resting on an elbow. Plus having your feet up is so much more comfortable than sitting in a chair, whether a bedchair buddy or a freestanding one. Moreover, by moving slightly down the bed I can curl up and have a nap in the daytime if I’ve had a hectic night catching.
Having just the very top of the bed raised may also be useful to those of you who sleep at home with 2 pillows.
As far as I know this ratchet wheel position is almost unique to these Venture bedchairs. The only exceptions I’ve seen are a couple with memory foam mattresses. You either love or hate memory foam. I hate it. It’s too hot in summer, whereas outdoors in winter it apparently goes very hard. It’s for this reason I believe Kevin Nash once said he has no use for memory foam on bedchairs.
Venture bedchairs are available only from Eric’s Angling, and there are 2 models in the deluxe range. There’s a 6 leg version that’s listed as being a pretty standard 200 x 80 cms. Then there’s the 8 leg Wide Load that’s listed as being 205 x 100 cms, and this is the one I’m reviewing here. I measured it though at 205 x 98 cms. When folded its 76 x 98 cms.
Despite having an aluminium frame, this extra width and 8 braced legs means it’s pretty heavy with a claimed weight of 13.5 kgs. This compares to the stated 11 kgs of the standard width 6 leg model. I measured the 8 leg at 13.95 kgs, but I suspect that many companies understate the weight!
This is partly due to the thick padded mattress, that can be removed for cleaning. This extra thickness brings the centre of the bed up to about the same height as the side padding that covers the frame, so contributing to the flatness.
Personally I’d rather have comfort even if it means a little extra weight. I find thin mattresses very uncomfortable as they’re too hard on top. This is particularly so lying on my side, when it leads to painful hips and shoulders, something that others have also found.
Note that hardness is different to firmness as the latter is a measure of support, and support comes from the elastic underneath. Like all bedchairs the tightness of the elastic can be adjusted, and generally the heavier you are the tighter you’ll want it in order to increase the support.
Bedchairs are very personal things and what suits me may not suit you. However I find the Wide Load more comfortable than any bedchair I’ve ever slept on. Being only 12 stone it’s firm enough for me without tightening the elastic, although if you’re heavier you can of course do so. On the other hand the thick mattress stops it being as hard as many competitors, however firm you make the support.
Bedchairs are even more comfortable with a self-inflating mattress on top. With these you can easily adjust the hardness by adding or subtracting air, either by manually blowing a bit of extra air in or squeezing a bit out.
There’s a small pillow that velcros onto the top of the bed, but I bring my own favourite pillow from home. Instead I sometimes use the pillow supplied as a back roll at the base of my back.
The double hinge system means that you have the option of leaving your sleeping bag in place when you fold the bedchair up. I’ve seen some forum comments saying that this isn’t possible with these models, but there are extra straps in an easily overlooked zipped compartment underneath the very top end of the mattress. The downside is that the double hinge makes adjusting the headrest a little fiddly.
Adjusting the legs is easy, but there’s no stop, so annoyingly they can come apart. They do however have wide swivelling mud feet. Minimum height of the bedchair is 38 cms, maximum 51 cms, so it may be too low for some.
Venture is Eric’s Angling’s own brand, and because they cut out the middleman the prices are very competitive indeed. Today the Wide Load is on special offer at just £149.99, having been out of stock for some time. Had it not been, I’d have done a review much earlier as I’m so pleased with it. The standard 6 leg model will probably be more in demand and this is currently £139.99.
To sum up, not only do I find the Wide Load comfortable, the addition of a small headrest whilst retaining a flat sleeping position makes it the best bedchair I’ve ever used.
Are all you other tackle companies out there listening………..?