Possibly my favorite piece of gear
I've had this pad for about three years now and it's become my favorite piece of equipment. First and foremost, I sleep so well on it! I'm a side sleeper and weigh over 220 pounds. The pad is extremely durable and comfortable even when I'm rolling around in my sleep. I've used it down to temperatures in the 20's and it's always been toasty to sleep on. The built in pump is simply brilliant. It takes me between a minute and 90 seconds to fully inflate the pad, but I've actually grown accustomed to sleeping with it about 3/4 full (I sleep on a firm mattress at home, so my SynMat's sort of become my plush vacation mattress!). For the last year or so I've been using my sleeping bag more as a quilt, that is, unzipped and draped over me to allow a bit more freedom of movement. Doing so, I've been sleeping directly on the SynMat. It's textured surface feels practically like cotton to the touch and is very comfortable. I don't just restrict this pad to backpacking and camping either. If I'm visiting friends, I just throw it in an overnight bag and don't have to worry about sleeping while dangling my feet off of a loveseat or being skeeved out sleeping on a futon my friend's had since his college days. I've been tempted to maybe upgrade to one of the SynMat UL pads, but am not really much of a weight weenie and like the warmer R value of this pad. Maybe one day I'd upgrade to the pricier DownMat UL . . . Still, this pad's awesome. One more thing, the stuff sack it comes with is awesome. It's fairly compact in size but still generous enough to allow easy packing. I open the deflate valve, fold the pad in thirds, roll it up, close the valve and put it in the bag. I can always do this in one shot -- not like my old self-inflating pads! I can't rave enough about this pad! I've also got an older Exped Pillow Pump that I use with this. The pump doesn't work with this pad (which is fine, as it's got the built in pump) but it works great as a pillow and the color even matches! The two clip together with some Nite-Ize #2 S-biners. The perfect sleep system!
Excellent camp mat.
I own this, and the synmat UL 7, which I will refer to as the UL.
The UL is slippery and when I took it to the desert for a week-long camping trip, I ended up using this mat because it gave me more traction on the slight slope I was sleeping on. This mat is also more durable than the UL, which is made of a lighter material.
The only problem I have with this mat is the pack size. It's better than other mats, but the UL packs so much smaller. Even with the pillow pump, the UL takes up half the room in my pack as this mat did. I will not be bringing this with me on any backpacking trips, it's just too big. When rolled up, this is a little bit smaller than my sleeping bag, which is large.
This mat includes the pump, which is nice, because I get light-headed when I inflate other mats by mouth and feel like I will pass-out, unless I blow it up over 20-30 minutes or so. This way I think uses more energy, but I don't get light-headed doing it, and I don't get mouth-moisture in my mat. And on a cold day you'll be nice and warm by the time it's inflated from all the work, haha. You will probably get laughed at while inflating it from others watching, as I always do, but whatever. You'll hear the same thing, "It looks like you're giving it c.p.r., LOLOLOLOL!!1!" then it's inflated and they have to inflate theirs by mouth and their attitude changes.
The one-way valve makes it SUPER easy to roll up so you don't have to fight the air trying to go back into the mat as you're trying to push it out. Genius. Every mat should have that.
The material seems to be a great comprimise between weight and durability. I don't feel like it's going to fail on me, and the material is warm and soft.
I have an REI Mars 80 backpack, and with my tent, sleeping bag, and other gear, I'll be taking the UL version with me to save room. This will come in the car though, or I'll let my friend bring it for him if he has the room.
Don't be scared!
I bought this mat as a substitute to others I was looking at that happened to be sold out. I was motivated by positive reviews to take the leap. Some state that this is hard to inflate. I'd argue it's not hard but requires technique. Work with me here... clap your hands in front of you. now turn them sideways so one is on top and the other on bottom. Forget the video from the manufacturer about how to pump this thing up... ignore the hand drawings on the pump section. Open the pump valve and clap your hands repeatedly, top and bottom on the valve to pump up. Works like a champ! Actually pretty cool once you've dialed it in. People wrote that blowing it up with your mouth might allow mold to grow inside, due to moisture... I'm saying, "not likely". If a few puffs of air help get your inflation going, it's far from going to hurt it. The first night, I woke up laying on a mostly deflated mattress. I opened and reseated the plug for the deflation valve and re-inflated it. That's all it was. It held air perfectly for the next 2 days. Deflation is a snap and rolling it tight enough to get back into the bag is a 5 minute process total. It does exactly what it is intended to do. Watch the manufacturer's video about how to inflate the pump section when it's fully pumped up. Close the inlet valve, find the internal check valve and give it a squeeze... this allows air to back-flow into the pump section, nicely inflating it to match the rest of your mattress. Happy camping! Thanks REI...
Makes the others obsolete...
I was absolutely blown away by these mats. I purchased both the regular Synmat 7 model and the Synmat 7 DLX, and can say that they have made my "self-inflating" pads completely obsolete. Even the DLX, at more than 6" wider and 6" longer, packs way smaller than the other pads, and the comfort level is simply amazing. They are so soft and cushy, even on rocky surfaces. In response to the users who have had trouble using the built-in pump or who have felt as if they are "on a raft", here are the two "tricks":
1. For the pump – place the palm of one hand over the inlet valve and then press down with both hands, release, and repeat. The pump has a one-way valve going into the mat, so you only need to block the inlet with your palm as you push down so that the air in the pump "section" goes into the mat instead of out of the hole you're pushing on. It's a simple process, but then again, with a one-way valve, it's easy enough just to blow up the mat using lung power since the air doesn't escape between breaths.
2. For that "raft feeling" – the mat only needs to be just barely inflated. Your body weight will redistribute the air and make it very soft and comfortable. If you over-fill it, it'll be very rigid and definitely pool-float-esque.
All-in-all, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these mats to anyone. I can't believe I've wasted so much time on other mats that pack larger and heavier and aren't even in the same ballpark on comfort.
Durable and Comfortable
I used this sleeping pad on two recent camping trips - one was two nights and the other was sixteen. On the latter trip, I was inflating and deflating it almost everyday, often sleeping on rocky terrain, and it held up very well. It never lost any air and is in the same condition as it was the day I got it albeit a little dirty. However, I've only used this in "3 season" weather so I don't know how it holds up in temperatures under 40 or 50 degrees. I really liked that a repair kit was included, but have not yet needed it. On tilted ground, I slid around a little bit, but more because of my sleeping bag than the mat. I'm 5'4" and purchased the long/wide version and am very happy I did. It's roomy enough to sleep on in pretty much any position and fits my entire sleeping bag but is still compact. It was incredibly comfortable and I never felt the ground even when I had to sleep on bumps, twigs, and rocks. I had a bit of trouble rolling it tight enough to fit the stuff sack, but my stronger counterpart was able to roll it 1/2" - 1" in diameter smaller than the bag. Inflation only took me about 4-5 minutes and deflation/packing took about 10 (most of it spent trying to fit it in the bag). On a trip where we would typically get about six hours of sleep a night, this was totally worth the money (though I bought it on sale).
Back country comfort
I've now spent ten nights on this pad. Six of those were on a concrete floor in Haiti while doing relief work in temperatures that only got down to 80 at night. The other four nights were spent on the forest floor in an island off the coast of Michigan with temps in the 50's and 60's at night.
The mat preformed flawlessly. I am genuinely comfortable sleeping on the ground for the first time. It takes a little playing to find your sweet spot - too much air and it's too hard, too little and you touch. I roll during the night, spending time on my back and sides and even on my sides I don't touch.
As for durability I used the mat every afternoon in Haiti on a bare concrete floor propped up on my suitcase to read. I was pretty rough with it and it handled it like a champ.
I am 6'1" and weight 215 and the large mat is perfect. I don't hang over the edge and I have a little room on either side. I am not an ultralight backpacker and would rather carry a few extra pounds worth of what I call "luxury items". This mat has gone from the luxury category to the essential category.
It is a bit of a pain to inflate. The built in hand pump is nice but slow. However I think it beats blowing it up manually so I don't knock it any stars for this.
10 out of 5 stars
This is hands down the best mat out there, and I've tried many. Exped's attention to detail made this a product that is absolutely worth it's weight and size, even for a minimalist. Your out camping, you don't want to be cranky from a bad night's sleep, do you?
The mat is made of very high-quality materials with the top and bottom surface being slip resistant and nice on the skin. The mat has baffles and is stable and comfortable. It inflates fast due to the pump, which is an excellent system, and deflates fast due to the same system of large flat valves, which are absolutely superior to the corner valves on other mats. The mat packs down small. It insulates very well and is pretty warm. It includes a repair kit.
I love Exped and I advise everyone to look at some of their other products as well, such as their Air Pillow which weighs only a few ounces yet is very comfortable.
Why is this Exped mat better than Big Agnes? It is made of more durable materials. It is slip resistant. It is comfortable and almost luxurious to the touch. It can be inflated with the hands, eliminating moisture inside the mat and eliminating the need to blow it up. The flat valve system also deflates much faster than the Big Agnes corner valve. The two outer tubes are a little larger, creating bolsters to keep you on the mat. All this results in a better nights sleep.
Give this mat the respect it deserves
If your looking for a mat in this price range I would highly suggest giving the synmat serious consideration. I’ve owned 2 for six months, using them at least twice a months in conditions ranging from 20 to 69 degrees F. These mats kept my Wife and I warm at all times and allowed us to stretch the limits of our summer sleeping bags. These mats give you great features for the money. The integrated pump is a blessing to veterans of the old fashioned you blow it up yourself bigagnes mats. The reviews stating the pump is hard to use are just dead wrong. Timing myself one night, it took exactly 59 seconds and 80 pumps to inflate the mat fully. The design of the pump is extremely simple, efficient and durable. Other features include the double outlets for quick air release when rolling up for storage, a soft anti slip fabric on top that also keeps you from sticking to the mat when the weather heats up and you decide to sleep on the mat by itself, and solid construction.
The only cons I can sight for this would be that there could be the same soft anitslip material lining the inside of the storage bag; this would let you flip it inside out, stuff it with some extra clothes and use it as a pillow. Additionally, this mat is a little expensive. But if you like sleeping on a warm mat this is the best deal for weather over O F.
Great all around Mat
I use two of these mats in concert with the Big Agnes Cabin creek, a two person sleeping bag. My wife and I are particularly concerned about the warmth to weight of backpacking mats, because we were planning a multi-day backpacking trip with an infant. This mat offered superior warmth to weight along with comfort and no hassle inflation, so far so good.
We have camped a number of occasions including down to about 25 degrees in our back yard (testing purposes) and never been cold. I roll the two mats together folded in half and slide into a tent bag, it is a little bulky, but for the warmth to bulk ratio it doesn't get better. We store these mats inflated and I have never had difficulty using the pump to inflate them. They are definitely more comfortable than traditional air mattresses which my wife and I always find make us roll into each other at night. The comfort level is dependent on the user's ability to inflate the pad to the right firmness. I've only had these mats about nine months and we are careful with them, but I have not had any problems with them loosing air during the night.
I have also used this with non-big Agnes sleeping bags on scout trips and have never had trouble sliding off the pad, granted our campsites have been generally level.
Best sleeping mat I have come across.
great pad, could be smaller packed
This mat was an issued item, and probably the best one i've had so far. I've used it in temps ranging from the -5F to 85F. It is super comfy and warm. My only complaint isn't really a complaint, I just wish it was a little bit smaller, but realistically the size is bearable with the comfort level. If you don't mind spending a few extra $ then buy the UL(which is ridiculously small).
This pad has provided numerous hours of great sleep for me and it will continue to do so until it finally wears out, which it doesn't look like is going to happen anytime soon. I have slept on top of plenty of branches and sticks that could easily have punctured it but it seems to hold up really well. As far as sleeping on snow, which i've done plenty of times before without a pad, i can hardly even notice it. the night i slept in -5 degree temps i had a 30 degree bag, a 20 degree liner and a bivy and still slept great on top of the pad. My buddy next to me with the same sleeping bag combo w/out a pad was not nearly as comfortable.
Even though this bag is awesome, i am still considering the UL synmat 7 just because it is after all, Ultralight.