Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Thick, wider than NeoAir pads.
Cons: Bouncy, heavy, pump adds weight and is slow to inflate.
Best Uses: Not recommended.
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
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.
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.).
The Nemo Astro Insulated ($30 cheaper) is a better buy.
The Exped SynMat 9, $140, is light and compact, weighing in at 21 ounces.
The Exped DownMat 9, $200, 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. However, because of this, it is not the most backpack friendly pad, but rather a pad for car camping.
The Exped MegaMat 10, $219, is arguably the most comfortable sleeping pad we tested and wins our Top Pick award.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: June 27, 2014
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