Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Very warm. comfortable.
Cons: Very heavy (36 oz.), bulky, cant be inflated by mouth, built-in pump is heavy and slow.
Best Uses: Car camping, base camping.
The Exped DownMat 9 is the warmest "portable" sleeping pad we've tested. It puts 700-fill down inside 3.5" thick air chambers. The result is very warm and comfortable pad.
Unfortunately, however, the DownMat weighs a burdensome 36 ounces, is bulky when packed, and comes with a built-in hand pump that's both heavy and slow. The DownMat 9 is best suited to: 1) winter basecamping where you hike, ski, or fly into a camp where you remain for a week or more, or 2) a trip where someone else carries your stuff. For the same weight you could carry either three Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pads or two Feathered Friends Vireo.
Our top rated winter sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. The Xtherm is warm enough for the most heinous winter adventures, weighs only 15 ounces, and packs to 1/7 the size of the DownMat.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Exped Down Mat 9 is the warmest portable pad we've tested. The pad achieves its warmth (R-Value 8) by stuffing 700-fill down inside a traditional air core pad. Being 3.5" deep the DownMat is the thickest pad we've included in our portable pad review. This ample height gets you farther off the ground and allows the down inside the pad to loft up properly. It also makes the pad more comfortable. Although the DownMat has thick vertical baffles (which are bouncy and bumpy compared to horizontal baffles or the flat surface of self-inflating foam pads) the reader will note that it ties in first place with the Nemo Astro Insulated as the most comfortable portable pad. We believe that its added thickness and impressive warmth offset the bumpy baffle design.
Though warm and comfortable, the DownMat is a behemouth of a pad that fits better in our Car Camping Mattress review than it does in this backpacking pad review. The DownMat 9 weighs a full 36 ounces! How heavy is this? Extremely heavy. For the same weight you could carry three Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pads. Another example: the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Echo II tent weighs less than the DownMat 9! The pad's heavyweight status makes is a poor choice for multi-day trips where weight matters.
The DownMat 9 has other drawbacks. It's bulky, it can't be inflated orally (water vapor from your lungs would render the down ineffective), and the built-in pump is both heavy and slow to use. And another complaint: it has 700-fill down, which is far from top-of-the-line. We suggest using a lighter shell material, ditching the built-in pump, and using 900-fill down. That would be an impressive winter pad.
The DownMat 9 is best suited to one of two applications: extended winter base camping (where you hike, ski, or fly in and stay for a week or more) or any situation where someone else is carrying your stuff.
At $200 the DownMat 9 is the most expensive "portable" sleeping pad we've tested. Its weight and packed size limit its ideal use to specific winter applications; the pad is not versatile. Get the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm if you're looking for a top-of-the-line sleeping pad and aren't afraid to spend big bucks.
The Exped Down Mat Lite 5, $115, provides outstanding warmth at a great price.
The Exped SynMat 7, $145, provides a less expensive option to the Exped Down Mat.
The Exped Ultralight 7, $250, is an ultra light-weight mat with high insulation value.
The Exped MegaMat 10, $219, s arguably the most comfortable sleeping pad we tested and wins our Top Pick award.
The Exped Mini Pump, $20, is an ultra light and super compact pump for all Exped mats without integrated pump.
Use the Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag, $38, to connect to current pads that do not have an integrated pump. Doubles as waterproof gear or stuff sack.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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Most recent review: April 9, 2013
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