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Exped SynMat 7 Review

   

Men's Sleeping Pads

  • Currently 3.8/5
Overall avg rating 3.8 of 5 based on 8 reviews. Most recent review: June 27, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $127 - $165 | Compare prices at 4 resellers
Pros:  Thick, wider than NeoAir pads.
Cons:  Bouncy, heavy, pump adds weight and is slow to inflate.
Best Uses:  Not recommended.
User Rating:     
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 (4.1 of 5) based on 7 reviews
Recommendations:  83% of reviewers (5/6) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Exped
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ February 8, 2012  
Overview
The Exped SynMat 7 is a moderate quality synthetic insulated air core sleeping pad. Unfortunately, the pad is less comfortable, heavier (though slightly warmer), and more expensive than the Nemo Astro Insulated, our top rated all-purpose sleeping pad. (Here, we define all-purpose as being equally good for car camping and multi-day trips.) We recommend the Astro Insulated for people who car camp more than they backpack and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season for people who backpack more than they car camp. Both pads are warm, comfortable, and compact, and score higher than the Exped SynMat.

If saving weight is a top priority go for the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, the ultimate ultralight sleeping pad that shaves weight without reducing comfort or warmth. For multi-day winter trips, opt for the impressively warm and remarkably light Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.

Go for a closed cell pad if you need something really durable or are on a budget. We recommend the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL if space is a concern and the Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest SOLite if it's not. Both pads weigh only 14 ounces.

If you're 5' 6" or under check out our Women's Sleeping Pad Review. And finally, if comfort is top priority get yourself a Car Camping Mattress. These luxurious portable beds turn roots and rocks into plush, heavenly clouds. You won't want to go home.

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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Likes
The SynMat 7 provides a less expensive option to the Exped Down Mat. The SynMat 7 has a two thin layers of synthetic insulation laminated to the top and bottom of the pad's interior surface. These serve to reduce convective cooling and slow air currents inside the pad. You're warmer as a result.

The SynMat 7 is roughly an inch wider than the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir series. This added surface area can be nice if you're on the wider side.

Dislikes
The SynMat 7 has several important drawbacks. First, its vertical air chambers make the pad feel more like a bouncy pool toy than a stable mattress. Nemo's Astro Insulated, which has horizontal baffles, and all pads in the NeoAir series are more stable and more comfortable. Second, the built-in pump is slow to inflate the pad and adds extra weight. We prefer external inflation devices, such as the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack, which are lighter, faster, and can be used for other things. Finally, the Syn Mat 7 is no ultralight gem. For its warmth, in fact, the pad is quite heavy (30 oz.).

Value
The Nemo Astro Insulated ($30 cheaper) is a better buy.

Other Versions

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: June 27, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.1)

83% of 6 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
8 Total Ratings
5 star: 38%  (3)
4 star: 38%  (3)
3 star: 13%  (1)
2 star: 13%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 7 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jun 15, 2012 - 10:16pm
Joomy · Climber · Canberra, Australia
This is a really rubbish review. If you're going to do an ostensibly thorough review of a style of product it is generally probably best not to show such blatant brand favouritism. You've reviewed 9 Therm-A-Rest mats and basically the entire NeoAir range, and yet you've left out the obvious choice from Exped. Not the heavy and cheap Synmat 7 but the light and still quite cheap UL Synmat 7.

The UL Synmat uses a lighter face fabric that is quiet and supple to make the entire medium mat weigh only about 460 grams (16 oz roughly). That's far lighter than your recommended Nemo mat and very similar to the Neo Air X-therm.

Granted the UL Synmat is not as warm as the X-therm but IMO it is actually far more comfortable and stable that any horizontally baffled mattress. I suppose this is personal preference but it is an unjustified statement to simply say that horizontal baffles are more comfortable and more stable as if it's scientific fact. In my experience (and I a NeoAir as well) and that of many other people I know and talk to vertical baffles are far more comfortable and stable, particularly the Exped style baffled as the outer baffles are slightly larger and help keep you centered on the mat.

I rated the Synmat 7 as 2: needs improvement, because I agree that it is too heavy for what it does. But the UL Synmat is the best mat I have ever tried.

Disclaimer: No, I don't work for Exped. I do however work in a gear store where I sell Therm-A-Rest, but not Exped, and I often have a hard time recommending customers buy the NeoAir over the UL Synmat.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 27, 2014 - 11:51pm
The Gear Lab review is schockingly awful. The Exped Synmat 7 is specifically designed for backpacking and kayak, canoe, and bike camping. It's not meant for car camping. There are much better mattresses for car camping. That comparison is meaningless.

To not recommend the Exped Synmat 7 for the uses it was intended for is absurd. It has long been one of the top-rated mattresses among knowledgeable backpackers. There are now lighter options, but the Synmat 7 still has a strong following. The Gear Lab review is way out of synch with the majority opinion among users who pour over mattress specs with a magnifying glass and have tested them in the field.

You give the Synmat 7 the highest rating for comfort, yet you don't recommend it? That's irrational.

You note that the edges of the Neo Air collapse when weighted. Yes, that's exactly what horizontal baffles do. They roll you off the edge whereas vertical baffles keep you on the mattress, especially when the two outside baffles are larger, as with the Synmat 7.

Bad, bad review. No soup for you!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 12, 2013 - 09:11am
ilvbp · Backpacker · phx, az
my five star rating is for the EXPED SYNMAT 7 UL med. Not the 7 as reviewed in this review. Why the UL7 was not reviewed is beyond reason.

The EXPED SYNMAT 7 UL in my opinion is awesome. The 7 has the built in pump and the 7UL doesn't. I don't like the built in pump for the reasons mentioned in the review and i would never carry the 7mat…i think it is an unnecessary design except for lazy or people without lips. if you are worries about moisture…use the pillow pump. My problem with the reviews in Outdoorgear lab is, aside for the product favoritism that seems to sometimes eclipse reason, that the reviews are organized in an apple to orange way instead, as much as possible, compare apples to apples. I give great credit to Outdoorgearlab for all of their work…it takes a lot of work to review so many products and make the information available to us…even though I think some of the reviews are way off base.

for example…you should not compare the 7 to the neoair…because of the built in pump in 7 they are a different class. You should review the UL7 when comparing to the Neoair, the one without the pump. Apple to apple. Regarding the Neoair it is not that good a mat. The biggest problem with it is that it is the nosiest mat on the planet…the world hears your turn over. You need ear plugs to sleep (almost kidding). it really sucks. the UL7 is quiet, warm and very very comfy. The Xlite is 4 oz. lighter then the med UL7 and the xtherm is 1.2 oz lighter than the UL7. The only thing the Neoair has over the UL7 is that it is lighter. I happily trade the 4 oz add for a quiet night.

The UL7 is a brilliant mat…it really is like sleeping on a cloud. the bigger side tubes keep you on the mat and the bottom edge detail is comfy on the feet. This mat is also excellent for side sleepers.

In the review above the comment about the tubes being like sleeping on a pool toy…this applies to all of the tube baffle mats and the way to deal with that issue is to adjust the pressure. the UL7 does not allow overinflation and is easy to adjust.

Also, light weight backpacking mats are not multipurpose. they should not be used as a mat to place on a log. They are light weight because of the "lightweight" material. Light weight material can puncture easier than "heavy weight" material. Geez get it together. Reclassify the review into four categories…closed cell, lightweight, car camping and specialty (with built in pumps or whatever). The review would be better.

The UL7 overall is the best mat out there.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jul 26, 2013 - 12:01pm
Jane · Hiker · SLC, UT
I am upgrading my pad from an old-school Therm-a-Rest that I bought in 1998. Yeah, it's time. I'll admit, I came across this review after pretty much deciding on the Synmat 7. I have relied on OGL's reviews in the past and immediately felt conflicted.

I car camp and backpack. It doesn't matter to me which I do more. I want to be comfortable and sleep great every time I do either. My priorities are both comfort and warmth, with weight clearly taking some serious consideration. OGL rated the Synmat 7 very high in both comfort and warmth. In fact, it scored with the top 3 (some may argue 4 or 5) out of 18 for comfort and warmth, with the Exped Downmat 9 only surpassing in warmth and the XTherm gaining a point in warmth, but loosing a point in comfort. However, OGL rated it under Best Uses: not recommended and gave it a very negative overview.

Even though the Synmat 7 scored very high in both warmth and comfort, OGL gave it a bad review because of weight/size. The reviewer stated in the overview that the pad is an expensive, heavy and moderate quality pad which is less comfortable and only slighter warmer than the Nemo Astro, their top pick for all-purpose sleeping. This is a contradiction to their table scores. The Nemo Astro received a lower score in both comfort and warmth. The only mats I see on the table that equally compete or surpass the Synmat 7 is the Therm-a-Rest All Season and the NeoAir XTherm.

OGL did make me think twice and do a bit more research. But after reviewing the Therm-a-rest All Season and XTherm I have decided to go with the Exped Synmat 7. The XTherm I dropped from competition primarily because of shape and noise (less conducive to comfortable sleeping.) This left the All Season as the only competitor. The Synmat is availiable in Medium-Wide… awesome, and it is an inch wider than most other wide mats, including the All Season. When compared to the Therm-a-Rest All Season Large-Wide, the only similar option to the Exped Synmat 7 MW, I am no longer conflicted. The Synmat 7 MW weighs 10.6 ounces more than the All Season LW and packs slightly larger, but has the same R-Value, is cheaper (as is the Synmat 7 LW,) has an integrated pump and comes with a repair kit. Great customer reviews on comfort, it's cheaper and I like the idea of an integrated pump over using a bag to inflate. The drawback of the Synmat 7 is weight. But, as other reviewers stated, the Exped has 2 obvious choices for light backpacking that were not tested for this review.

Clearly my review is based on reading many specs and reviews, not personal use. I take researching seriously and am surprised I found OGL's review so late in the game. And equally surprised at the harsh review. But luckily, I found this review later, after a bit of work and a reluctance to change my mind. Otherwise, I probably would have been steered away from researching the Exped mats at all.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 14, 2013 - 07:42pm
Arc · Backpacker · Stanford, CA
I used the original SynMat 7 for two years of backpacking before buying the UL 7 and giving the original to a friend who sleeps colder than I do. This pad revolutionized how I thought about sleeping in the backcountry. No more tradeoff between bulk and warmth/comfort. I could have both in a product that was less bulky than either a Thermorest or closed cell foam and wasn't excessively heavy.

As a side sleeper, I appreciate that the pad blows up to 2.5 inches of thickness and thanks to the slightly larger side tubes helps keep me from rolling off the pad. It's also got a really great R-value, so good I used it to snow camp (combined with a thin CCF pad and 30-degree bag!) in the Sierra multiple times in 2011/2012. It's a quiet pad to get on/off of and very stable with enough texture on the pad surface to keep it from sliding around too much. Unlike the T-rest pads Exped pads aren't mummy cut and don't collapse at the edges or leave your feet hanging off the side as often. I'd recommend it to anyone who is a side sleeper, cold sleeper, or winter camping and wants something more than a CCF pad.

My only real gripe with this pad was the inflation mechanism. It was not the fastest and often took a bit of work but at least I didn't have to carry an extra pump with me. Given that it was a synthetic pad, I think they could have just let you blow into it directly and been OK.

The only reasons I upgraded was that they released the UL version which is a bit colder, is much easier to inflate, but much less bulky and weights about a pound. I've that for snow camping as well but think its best suited for 3 season use. Overall the SynMat 7 gets 4/5 from me with a 1-star penalty for weight and inflation being slow.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   May 13, 2013 - 09:53pm
Sergio Colombo · Climber · Red Rock
I have an Exped Downmat 7 so it's not the same exact item as the one reviewed here. I agree with Joomy and I think your reviews of the ThermaRest are biased, over inflated and they do not fully reflect reality. In my opinion, my Exped Downmat 7 is far superior to any Thermarest mat and I have owned multiple Thermarest mats. The Exped is way warmer, packs just as small, makes no noise when moving around, is not slippery when you are forced to sleep on a slope and the fabric resist punctures much better than the Thermarest. Never had a hole in the Exped while I have fixed the previous Thermarest pads multiple times (not counting the leaky valves). For you not to recommend to buy this Exped pad is just wrong and misguiding. This is a very good prioduct and I strongly believe their mats are far superior than anything else on the market. I bought mine after a friend in Switzerland told me about this company and I am glad I listened to him. Would never buy a Thermarest again.
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   May 11, 2013 - 09:27pm
Baard · Backpacker · San Francisco, California
I think this item is a bit bulky.

However, the comfort I think is superior to NeoAir. I have the Extra Wide Edition since I move around a lot when I sleep.

I noticed that NeoAir itself is extremely noisy. For some reason when you move around it sounds like you are scratching a balloon with your hand.

I also have the UL Exped Synmat which is considerable lighter. However, I found it to puncture easy so a sealing kit is a must to bring.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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Exped SynMat 7 and stuff sack
Credit: Exped
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