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Hands-on Gear Review
Exped MegaMat 10 Review
Cons: Takes a while to deflate, challenging to roll up, large packed size.
Bottom line: The best mattress in the review, the one we would lend to a friend.
The Exped Megamat 10 is our Editors' Choice Award winner as the best overall car camping mattress, and is the highest rated mattress in this review. It is a mega sized self-inflating mattress that rates at the top of the pile when it comes to comfort and warmth. It features four inches of foam filling that does an amazing job of both insulating one from the cold ground, as well as supporting the pressure points of a sleeping body and dampening the "riding on air" effect of all air mattresses. With a retail price of $219 it is not cheap, but is still not even close to the most expensive car camping mattress reviewed. While it is super comfortable and warm, it does suffer compared to the competition when deflating and rolling it up to stow it away. It is also one of the largest mattresses when packed down into its stuff sack, and as such is not super versatile. But these small complaints are pretty insignificant when assessing its overall awesomeness – which is off the charts. In short, if you want the best car camping mattress you can buy, look no further!
RELATED: Our complete review of camping pads & mattresses
Analysis and Hands-on Test Findings
The Megamat 10 is our favorite car camping mattress because it is the most comfortable and the warmest – two qualities we prize above most others when we want the ultimate in sleeping decadence. If you were to put a pea underneath this mattress, we promise you that the princess would not feel it. That's a good thing, because chances are you will throw this pad down on ground much rougher than a squishy little pea. While its dimensions of 77 inches long and 30 inches wide place it squarely the same as most of the XL sleeping pad competition, its four-inch thickness, supported by compress-able foam and held upright by vertical sidewalls, sets the standard for a self-inflating mattress. And while we have to admit that it was frustrating at times to patiently squeeze out all of the air, this minor inconvenience wasn't so great that we wouldn't still choose it over all the others. Unless of course we wanted to share the bed with our partner – for that we would bring the Exped Megamat Duo.
Comfort is king when it comes to sleeping mattresses, and this pad was the clear cream of the crop. But while we can proclaim loudly, "This is the most comfortable mattress," you might be wondering, "In what way?" Let us tell you.
The foam that fills this mattress serves many fine purposes. Not only does it insulate from the ground, but it pads as well, especially at those pressure points, like the butt, feet, and shoulders, where your weight sinks deeper into the pad. It also evens out the cushioning under your body, dampening the air mattress effect. We felt that the most comfortable way to use this pad was much less inflated than other air mattresses. This way your body is equally supported by the air and the foam, and more importantly, the mattress wasn't so full of air that when one part of your body sinks into the pad, the other parts would naturally rise with the displacement. Luckily, the inflate valve system with rubber flap to impede air from escaping while inflating allows you to blow this thing up as rigid as you want it. You can then let air escape as you lie on it until it feels just right. Additionally, the face fabric is smooth and comfortable to the touch, without a hint of rubbery, nylon-y, or plastic-y feel. We gave this mattress a 10 out of 10 for comfort.
Ease of Use
We could only rate this mattress 6 out of a possible 10 for Ease of Use, one of the lower scores in the review. While some self-inflating mattresses, like the Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP were relatively easy and quick to deflate, this one was not. The technique we found most convenient is to open the deflate valve, fold the mattress over, and lie on top of it, forcing the air out, which can take a minute or two per fold. We had to repeat this process three to five times to get 90 percent of the air out of the mattress, closing the deflate valve after each time to prevent it from inhaling more air again. Finally we rolled it up from the end – which was again not as easy as other mattresses due to the thickness of the interior foam – until we reached the end, where we let out the last 10 percent of air. This process took patience and usually about five minutes in order to roll it small enough to fit into the stuff sack.
For inflation, it is best to open the inflate valve, roll out the mattress, and let it inhale air for a while as the foam cushioning inside expands. After 10 minutes or so, one can inflate it the rest of the way with the provided "mini-pump," a small, whoopee cushion-like device that works as a tiny foot pump. While we liked how small this pump compressed, and the fact that it existed at all, saving us the effort of manually inflating it with our own hot air, it still takes some patience and the willingness to stomp on a whoopee cushion a few hundred times to fully inflate this mattress. In short, patience is needed to both inflate and deflate the Megamat 10, but it is still simpler than the Duo.
The ample foam cushioning that is found inside this mattress helps it to provide an R-value of 9.5, far and away the highest in this test. R-value is a measurement of how well any given material, or combination of materials, impedes heat (or cold) transfer. The higher the number, the better a job it does. Other self-inflating mattresses, like the REI Camp Bed 3.5, had a rating of around 5, while the three Air Beds only had an R-value of 1. The ground or metal frame of a vehicle that is underneath your car camping mattress is always going to be colder than you are, so a critical function of your mattress is to insulate you from absorbing that cold. The Megamat 10 does the best job at that task, and so we gave it 10 out of 10 points.
Unlike the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream or the Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, this mattress is not a candidate to use in a situation where it needs to be carried. It doesn't separate into two component parts, and it doesn't pack down into a small and convenient travel package. It is huge, heavy, and fat. While car camping mattresses are primarily meant to be used near the car, it is also nice to have one that can do it all, especially for the price that you pay. This one needs to stay by the car. We gave it 6 out of 10 points.
While not the most important feature of a car camping mattress, packed size is still something to consider. After all, with a whole family trying to fit into the Subaru for a weekend of camping, there is only so much space to be filled, and a heap of giant mattresses could easily take up most of it. This mattress doesn't pack down very small at all, although it is roughly comparable in packed size to the Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map and the REI Camp Bed 3.5, its closest competitors in this test, and is much smaller than the Megamat Duo. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream or any of the Air Beds, like the Lightspeed 2-person, manage to fit in a bag about half of its size. Give it 5 out of 10.
This is a single person mattress, so it is most appropriate for one person, and not a couple (duh!). Due to its large packed size and inability to split up into different component parts like an adaptable mattress, it is best used close to the car, or in the car for that matter! It also makes a fantastic extra mattress when guests come over. You could happily be lounging on this puppy in base camp in Pakistan or Nepal, as long as you have the money to pay the guy who will carry it for you.
The Exped Megamat 10 retails for $219. This makes it the most expensive of the three self-inflating, single-person air mattresses in our review. It is still a bargain compared to the adaptable mattresses. Since we think it is the best one we have slept on, we think it is well worth the money. You won't regret it for a second, and you can't put a price on good sleep!
The Exped Megamat 10 is the Best Overall Car Camping Mattress. It is more comfortable and warmer than any other mattress that we reviewed, and presents an excellent value for the quality and good night sleep that you will get. While there are certainly situations that would inspire a person to purchase a different mattress instead, for a single person this is the one we would recommend every time.
Other Versions and Accessories
Exped Mega Mat Duo
Exped Air Pillow
Exped Air UL Pillow
— Andy Wellman
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 3, 2016
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