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Hands-on Gear Review
Exped MegaMat 10 Review
Cons: Large packed size
Bottom line: The best mattress in the review; this is the one we would lend to a friend.
The best camping mattress remains the MegaMat 10 for three years running. It's spacious, self-inflating, and offers exceptional warmth and comfort. Stacked up next to the other mats, this model feels like a memory foam mattress. It really is impressive. Some of our testers were reluctant to go back to the mattresses in their bedrooms after overnighting on this product. Four inches of foam filling insulates from the cold ground and supports the pressure points of a sleeping body and dampening the "riding on air" effect of all air mattresses. With a retail price of $229, it is not cheap, but it's worth it. While it is super comfortable and warm, it does suffer compared to the competition when considering its massive size both packed and ready to use. But these small complaints are pretty insignificant when assessing its overall awesomeness — which is off the charts! In short, if you want the best camping mattress you can buy, look no further.
The MegaMat line from Exped received an update in 2017 with a new side-opening stuff sack and a larger deflate valve. We bought and tested this new version. We are stoked to say that we love the improvements, as they increase the speed and ease of packing up this model. It's possible to find both versions at online retailers. The older version is only available in ruby red, while the new version comes in green or red. If you want the new model (and we recommend it!), make sure it comes with the new, side-loading stuff sack and the larger deflate valve.
For couples who desire this level of comfort, check out the Exped MegaMat Duo 10, which offers the same performance sized for two people. If you need a narrower pad, we recommend the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D, our second highest scorer. We thought the MondoKing might unseat the Exped this year, but it just couldn't compete on comfort.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The MegaMat 10 is our favorite camping mattress because it is the most comfortable, relatively easy to use and incredibly warm — qualities we prize above most others when we want the ultimate in sleeping decadence. If you were to put a pea under 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 giant camping mattress competition, its four-inch thickness, supported by compressible foam and held upright by vertical sidewalls, sets the standard for a self-inflating mattress. And while we have to admit that some of its attributes were not as versatile as other options in this class, comfort is king, as they say, and this is where the Exped MegaMat stands out. Unless of course, we wanted to share the bed with our partner — for that we would bring the MegaMat Duo 10.
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 filling not only insulates, it gloriously pads 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 happily much less inflated than other camping mattresses, to let the foam really work its magic. That way your body is equally supported by the air and the foam and the mattress isn't so full of air that when one part of your body sinks into the pad, the other parts rise with the displacement. Luckily, the inflation valve has a rubber flap that impedes air from escaping during inflation, allowing you to blow this thing up as rigid as you want it. You can then let air out gradually while lying on it until it feels like Goldilocks' bed — just right. Even more impressively, we thought, the foam in the MegaMat is so surprisingly conforming, it reminded us of memory foam! The face fabric is also very smooth and soft to the touch, without a hint of rubbery, nylon-y, or plastic-y feel.
Besides its crazy high amount of comfort, one of the things we liked best about the MegaMat is how it combines that comfort with an enormous size and vertical sidewalls, ensuring that you can use the entire surface for your sleeping pleasure. At 30 inches wide and 77.5 inches long, the MegaMat is a great option for taller and wider people or anyone who loves to sleep like a starfish. While these dimensions are on par with some of the other mattresses in this review, like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream and the Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map, the added comfort and support of the MegaMat really make this an ideal choice for larger campers, side and stomach sleepers, and anyone who typically struggles with uncomfortable pressure points. While testing the mattresses in this review side-by-side, the MegaMat was the one our reviewers found themselves fighting to relax on. Overall, we give this mattress a 10 out of 10 for comfort.
Ease of Use
The new Sidewinder stuff sack is a welcome new feature on the latest iteration of the MegaMat. The previous version of this mat had a top-loading stuff sack that was difficult to force the mat into. The stuff sack now opens from the side, which drastically improves the ease of getting the mat into its sack. Once you roll up the mat, just drop it inside. The sack is spacious, meaning it can fit an imperfectly-rolled mat plus extra bedding and/or a pillow easily. The leash that buckles to close the sack doubles as a shoulder sling for easy transportation. These improvements on the 2017 model push it past its closest competitor, the MondoKing, in this metric.
The ample foam cushioning that is found inside this mattress helps it to provide an R-value of 9.5 — but what does that number really mean? R-value is a measure of how well any given material, or the combination of materials, impedes heat or cold transfer. The higher the number, the better an insulating job it does; most winter campers recommend a sleeping pad R-value of at least 4. Other self-inflating mattresses, like the REI Camp Bed 3.5, had a rating of around 5, while three Air Beds only had an R-value of 1, and the Intex Classic has no R-value at all! With an insanely high R-value of 9.5, you can comfortably sleep out on the snow or even a glacier using the MegaMat. While the MondoKing 3D also boasts a crazy high R-value of 11.4, the highest in this review, we can find no reason to complain about the MegaMat's R-value of 9.5. The MegaMat 10 does a phenomenal job keeping us warm even in the Sierra's snowiest winter on record, so we give it 10 out of 10 points.
Considering the size and weight of the MegaMat, this isn't the camping mattress you'd choose to take on the John Muir Trail or the Appalachian Trail. Unlike the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream or the Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, this mattress 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. You really won't want to lug this 6 lb 5.9oz beast very far from your car.
The MegaMat also loses points for versatility because of its gigantic proportions. While a 30.3-inch wide, 77.6-inch long surface is ideal for starfishing and tall folks, it completely takes over a two-person tent. As your average two-person tent is 50-55 inches wide, this mattress only leaves room for a second sleep system that is very small, which we doubt your partner will find nearly as comfy as your MegaMat. To fit two MegaMats into a tent, you would need to have a two-person tent that is at minimum 60 inches wide! So check your tent dimensions before purchasing this comfy mega-monster — or consider checking out our second-best rated mattress in this review, the MondoKing 3D which we found to be nearly as comfortable as the MegaMat and a functional five inches narrower! Considering the size, weight, and dimensions of this oversized camping mattress, we give it a 6 out of 10.
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. Rolling up to a whopping 10 inches by 31 inches, this mattress doesn't pack down very small at all. On the other hand, it is roughly comparable in packed size to the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D, its closest overall competitor in this review, and is much smaller than the MegaMat Duo 10. While not nearly as comfortable, 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. We give it 6 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 the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream and the Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, it is best used close to the car, or in the car for that matter! Because of its comfort, support, and large dimensions, the MegaMat is a great solution for people who are typically uncomfortable while camping — tall folks, heavy folks, side sleepers, stomach sleepers, starfishers, and folks with back pain or uncomfortable pressure points. Using the MegaMat may even make those who have given up on camping altogether reconsider their choice and head back out to the great beyond! The MegaMat also makes a fantastic extra mattress for visiting friends and relatives, and is comfortable enough you can feel confident that even your mother-in-law will be hard-pressed to complain!
Along with its closest competitor in this review, the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D, the Exped MegaMat 10 retails for around $210. This makes it among the most expensive of the self-inflating, single-person air mattresses in our review. But considering the quality of sleep you'll get on a mattress so large and comfortable, we feel it is a fair price to pay. We feel that it's the best camping mattress we have slept on, and never makes us crave our beds back at home. You won't regret purchasing this mattress — after all, you can't put a price on good sleep!
The Exped MegaMat 10 is our Editor's Choice for Best Overall Camping Mattress. It is more comfortable than any other mattress that we reviewed, and made our reviewers compete to sleep on it. It also presents an excellent value for the crazy-good quality of sleep that you will get. If you've ever had the thought that you never want to go camping again, we would highly recommend giving this mattress a try!
Other Versions and Accessories
Exped MegaMat Duo 10
Exped Air Pillow
— Andy Wellman & Maggie Bradenburg
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