True story: When into a sort of extreme yoga trip in my 20s, I slept for a year on a piece of plywood with a blanket stapled over it. I never did graduate to the bed of nails, but the thought did cross my mind. My taste in sleep surfaces did improve soon after the experimental phase, but for years I never worried too much about how cush my bed was — probably due to numerous nights spent on ledges in Yosemite and that sort of stuff.
Recently, however, my wife opened my eyes to the great big world of backcountry bed options, as she’s not into plywood, or anything even close. Coincidentally, the folks at Exped just got in touch with me about blogging a few of their sleeping mats. Double coincidentally, I’m planning on doing more snow camping than normal next winter, and plywood doesn’t cut it for that, either.
So, yesterday I unpacked two of the slickest, comfiest and warmest sleeping pads imaginable. For Lisa, the Exped SynMat 9 Pump easily rivals anything at home. This air mattress is dosed with lightweight synthetic insulation that cuts down on the convection heat loss that makes normal air mattresses feel like sleeping on an ice block if you’re bedding in the cold. Thickness is a full 9 centimeters — enough to absorb nearly any size rock or bump, and providing an insulation R-value of 6, which is major compared to most sleeping pads.
At 41 ounces, Lisa’s pad is a bit much for any self-carry backcountry use (other than a major arctic expedition where it might be an essential). Thus, for our other choice from Exped I got their Downmat 7 Pump. While still a bit hefty at 31 ounces, you get what you pay for in weight for this as it’s still got an R value of R 5.9 due to down filling and overall thickness. (As compensation, with a pad this warm you can carry a slightly lighter weight sleeping bag.)
Fabric these pads are made of is said to be highly durable. Air valves are large, for quick-easy deflation. Sleeping surface is less slippery than some mats I’ve tried. In all, looking good!