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Exped DownMat 9 Review

   

Men's Sleeping Pads

  • Currently 4.0/5
Overall avg rating 4.0 of 5 based on 7 reviews. Most recent review: April 9, 2013
Street Price:   Varies from $160 - $269 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Very warm. comfortable.
Cons:  Very heavy (36 oz.), bulky, can’t be inflated by mouth, built-in pump is heavy and slow.
Best Uses:  Car camping, base camping.
User Rating:     
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 (4.6 of 5) based on 6 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (4/4) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Exped
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 5, 2012  
Overview
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

Likes
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.

Dislikes
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.

Best Application
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.

Value
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.

Other Versions
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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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: April 9, 2013
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.6)

100% of 4 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
6 Total Ratings
5 star: 50%  (3)
4 star: 33%  (2)
3 star: 17%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 6 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Apr 16, 2012 - 01:53am
redpoint · Climber · Vancouver, BC
I think the Gear Lab's review is spot on. This is a very warm and very comfortable sleeping mat. It's perfect for car camping, short hauls into the backcountry, and base camp type scenarios. I've used mine several times this winter in snow caves. It's also big, you can really stretch out on this baby … or cuddle with your baby on it. I had originally bought it for my wife and young child to sleep on b/c it was much more portable than a Therm-a-rest luxury mat/camp rest etc. I personally like the integrated pump, it inflates the mat within 3 minutes or so. The downside to this mat is of course it's bulk and weight. The upcoming DownMat 7 UL will be the mat to have for backcountry skiing/winter camping. I also have a Neoair and despite having an R value of 2.5, I freeze on that thing in winter. I've found R1 standard Therm-a-rests [like the prolite etc.] are warmer when sleeping on snow. The DownMat 7 UL will be my pad for next winter - hopefully the "schnozzle inflator bag" isn't as clumsy as it looks.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Apr 9, 2013 - 03:06pm
S-curvy · SF Bay Area
Ninja King got it right on this one, and while OG's official review is correct about the ounces that this mat weighs, I'm not sure dinging the product for that is right.

My real world Numbers: Weight: Pad + dry/stuff sack/pump + patch kit = 2.5 lbs.; Dimensions: about 5" x 12" depending on well one compresses the stuff sack and pad, and if one includes the sack's buckle or not.

Here's why I love this pad: 1) The official OG review of the ThermaRest notes that a warm enough pad allows the use of a less warm sleeping bag, thus trading a serious weight penalty for a serious weight shaving; I use my 15 deg bag in the winter instead of my much heavier 0 deg bag, and this counts in the warmer times too.

2) The Downmat 9 is larger than the top of the line ThermaRest and doesn't compress at the edges, so I sleep better. ThermaRest's crackling problem is a deal killer for me — I'm a light sleeper and don't return to sleep easily.

3) The Downmat 9 is super plush at 3.5", so I sleep much, much better than I do on my 2.5" thick Big Agnes Air Core; for me, adequate rest at altitude is a really big deal that I believe more than makes up for any added ounces in the sleep equation. When I'm rested, I don't notice the added ounces, when I'm even a bit exhausted, every ounce is a burden. Poor sleep makes for poor physical performance, poor judgement, and poor attitude, which all can have disastrous results on trips, activities, and health on extended trips.

4) The Downmat 9 has 2 valves for speedy packing and more complete compression.

5) The Downmat 9 is built of considerably burlier materials than the ThermaRest, so my hard-earned money will last much longer and is built for nastier conditions.

I do like to watch my grams, but when my rest is at stake, I am willing to be more liberal.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jan 25, 2013 - 07:48pm
Ninja King · Mountain Biker · NVA
The are any number of people who write reviews and and have opinions. In my mind there are a couple of things you dont skimp on and those are the things that are going to keep you alive. No one here has mentioned the difference between sleeping on a pad when comparing a synthetic bag to a down bag. Hey guys, if you know your outdoors, dont you think this is relevant? Dont you think this is something worth mentioning? The short answer is that if you are using a down bag in or are around freezing temperatures, you need a pad with the best R vaule you can get. That or simply be resolved to have one of the most uncomfortable nights you'll likely experience. I will trade a little bit of weight for being well insulated from the ground. Few people that go winter camping have the main objective of going as ultralight as possible. I spent a night in a Therma-rest Neo Air (not the crinkly version) in 40 degree temperature and was chilled where my bag was in contact with the pad. Since then I have slept on my Exped in 0 degree temperatures and never been cold because of the pad. Maybe it would be different if I used a syn bag but that would add considerably more size and weight to my pack than this pad ever could. I have a Big Anges air core for summer camping, for everything else I use the long Exped UL9 Downmat and wouldn't have it any other way. Pack size can be worked around with little issue. A little extra weight? Not an issue. Used to use nothing but Thermarest early on but these days the simple truth is there are many other better options out there.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Nov 16, 2012 - 02:48am
Sergio Colombo · Climber · Red Rock
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May 8, 2012 - 03:12am
 
IronDave · Climber · Mulhouse, France
I own the DownMat 7UL which is a thinner lighter version of the mat reviewed here. And it is really awesome! It's light, packs small and is very comfortable.
It comes with a pump sack that works wonders. Two "pumps" get the mat fully inflated so it takes about 30 seconds to get it done and you don't feel your head spinning from blowing inside your mat like a maniac, definitely an advantage at high altitude (plus the advantage of not having any humidity going inside the mat).

I couldn't test it yet in cold conditions, but it has an incredibly high R Value of 5.9 (for its weight). It is filled with down which should do the job as posted.
It is heavier and not as small as the new Thermarest, but it is much, much more quieter compared to the Thermarest.

Overall, I believe this is an incredible product, and OutdoorGearLab should definitely make a full review of the DownMat 7UL.
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   Mar 28, 2012 - 03:08pm
This is a great pad for tent/overnight backpacking. Super warm. The only reason I do not give it 5 stars is that it is heavy (obviously) and expensive. One major draw back, that I don't know if it has been fixed since I bought mine in 2006, is the feathers sometimes clog up the valve trying to escape upon deflation. I originally bought this pad to help entice my wife into backpacking…which worked! She now uses the neoair. I have also used this pad for "newbies" who are skeptical of backpacking, but who always say that sleeping on the pad was wonderful! Overall….good product. Would be better if the feather escaping thing is fixed in newer models. I suppose this can be fixed with deflating the pad valves up toward the sky.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Exped DownMat 9 with pump
Credit: Exped
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