A Month on the Mat: A long term review of the Exped Synmat 7.
Last month I packed my stuff, fit what I could into my Fiesta hatchback, and moved to Colorado. It’s going to be my base of Gear Whoring operations while I train for my 2016 Appalachian Trail thru hike. Now, as most could surmise, a bed does not fit in a Ford Fiesta. So, since the 9th of April I have been sleeping on my Exped Synmat7. Here are my thoughts on this great piece of kit.
The Exped Synmats are inflatable via flat inflate valves placed on the underside of the mat. In the case of the Synmat 7, the valve is very cleverly placed on a separate air chamber, which acts as a built in pump. Inflating by mouth or by accessory pumps is also possible. The mat has 8 long baffles running lengthwise, with the outer baffle on each side being slightly larger. This means that when inflated, the mat sort of holds you in place. A small but smart detail. The baffles are filled with synthetic fiber insulation that lofts when the mat is inflated, giving it a lab certified R-Value of 4.9. That’s a lot. They make a down filled mat for arctic use, but having slept on my Synmat in 0 degree temps, I can assure that it is more than enough for most winter camping anyone might do.
Mine is the M model (Medium, probably). I’m 6ft, 185. It fits me. They make mats in all sizes imaginable, navigating their line is actually a bit of a challenge, but the specs are well laid out on their website and the company has a ton of quality videos on their Youtube channel, which I highly respect.
This mat is relatively light, very warm, and comfortable enough that I am still sleeping on it nightly.
When fully pumped up it is a firm sleep, which is my preference. I’ve got a cheap comforter draped over it, and my Wiggys Nautilus has served as my blanket. You might think it would get old, but you get used to it pretty quick. This exercise has proven useful for a few reasons, one of which is the practicality of sleeping on a camping mat EVERY night. I’m hiking from Georgia to Maine next year, so finding the right sleeping kit is going to be crucial for a successful hike. After a month on my Exped Synmat 7, I’m nearly certain this will be the mat I take.
I’m going to compare the comfort directly against one of Exped’s lighter mats in a future review, namely the Exped SynCellMat 5. Look for that comparo coming soon.
As a final thought, Exped has been a great company to work with. My first Exped Synmat 7 suffered a weld failure in one of the baffles after only a handful of uses. So there’s a bulge at one end. I sent them an email with a picture of the mat, and within a day had a response. Their response was “What’s your address, we’re sending you a new one. Just toss the old one, don’t bother sending it back.” Well, I didn’t toss the old one, it’s still usable, but that kind of service justifies the cost, and is why I bought another mat from them. In fact, I’m likely going to buy the MegaMat Duo to use as a permanent bed. $349 for a two person bed I can take car camping, from a company that has my back, yeah. That works for me.