I’ve been spending a lot of time on sleeping mats lately, as evidenced by my long term review of the perennial and excellent Exped Synmat7. Wanting variety, and backup, and because I’m a gear whore, I purchased the Exped SynCellMat5 from REI a few weeks ago.
*Note: Living 8 miles from the REI flagship store is awesome. And financially perilous. Let me go back and face the peril. No, it’s too perilous.
Buying the mat from REI means paying MSRP. But, as a member, it basically means 10% back also. And the REI exclusive add on to this mat is the Exped Schnozzle pump bag, a roll top drybag with a short hose at the bottom. The hose snaps to the mat, and makes inflating a breeze. The bag is $30, so it’s a pretty good deal overall. And buying from REI has another huge advantage, that being their return policy. Sorry for the spoiler.
The mat is made from the same durable materials as the Synmats, and was in theory the same size as my Synmat7 M. It didn’t feel as big though. The baffles are split up into a hundred small chambers instead of eight long ones. This means lots of little insulated air cushions, in a smaller and lighter package than the Synmat7. I laid on it in the store. Seemed pretty good, here’s my money, more good kit in the collection.
Fast forward to the one night I slept on it. Well, the one hour I laid on it. It’s just nowhere near the comfort I’m used to from my many weeks sleeping on my Synmat7 every night. It’s marginally more comfortable than closed cell foam egg crate style mats. It has an R-Value of 2.9, more than adequate for cool to warm weather.
I suspect, since Exped is a very clever gear maker, that this mat is more specifically for hammock use, as it is very flexible even when fully inflated. Unfortunately I didn’t have access to my hammocks at the time of the review and couldn’t adequately assess the mat in this roll.
If you decide to buy this mat, and I’m not necessarily saying you shouldn’t, buy it from REI. Their inclusion of the pump bag makes it as good a value as you will find, and more importantly, if you don’t like it, you can do what I did. Return it for a full refund, no hassles.
Packed down, it is small. And light. Way more convenient if egg crate foam is what you’re used to.
Likely a very good option for hangers who want an inflatable mat in lieu of (or along with) an under quilt.
Just not very comfortable for ground sleeping. Tested in a 68deg bedroom by the way.
In conclusion, don’t assume that every product from one of your favorite makers will do the job for you. Makers with a line as large and diverse as Exped have a chair for every ass. This was not my Goldilocks moment with a sleeping mat, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a place in someone else’s kit.