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Exped SynMat UL Review

This super comfortable sleeping pad is a great choice for summer backpacking and camping trips
Exped SynMat UL
Photo: https://www.backpacking-united.com/
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Price:  $150 List | $149.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, lightweight, small packed size
Cons:  Not very warm, not very durable
Manufacturer:   Exped
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 8, 2020
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75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 11
  • Warmth - 25% 5
  • Comfort - 25% 9
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Weight - 25% 8
  • Packed Size - 15% 9

Our Verdict

We've branched out to include the Exped Synmat UL in this women's specific sleeping pad review; although it is not women's specific, it comes in a "short" length that is excellent for the average height woman. Our testers were pleasantly surprised by the Synmat; it's very comfortable, lightweight, and packs down small. It's not the most durable or warm but is ideal for extended summer backpacking trips. The Synmat is a rectangle that looks like it could be your pool air mattress, but if you're looking for something that's very comfortable and has a little more surface area than most tapered sleeping pads in this review, this could be for you!

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Exped SynMat UL
This Product
Exped SynMat UL
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $149.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$140 List
Check Price at REI
$100 List
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$79.95 at Amazon
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Pros Comfortable, lightweight, small packed sizeVery light, super compact, comfortable, versatile, warmer than normal XLiteLightweight, small packed size, included pump sackComfortable, good valve system, warmInexpensive, comfortable, durable
Cons Not very warm, not very durableNoisy, expensive, delicate materialsNot as comfortable as Ether Light and same weight, thinHeavy and bulkyBulky and heavy
Bottom Line This super comfortable sleeping pad is a great choice for summer backpacking and camping tripsThis super light and compact sleeping pad is a great choice for someone looking to go fast, light, and warmThis lightweight sleeping pad is relatively comfortable, but a Jack-of-all-trades and master-of-noneA comfortable, warm sleeping pad with unique "rails" that will cradle you when you sleepNotable for its price and performance
Rating Categories Exped SynMat UL NeoAir XLite Ultralight Insulated Co-op AirRail Plus Trail Lite
Warmth (25%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort (25%)
9.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Durability (10%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Weight (25%)
8.0
10.0
8.0
3.0
3.0
Packed Size (15%)
9.0
9.0
9.0
6.0
4.0
Specs Exped SynMat UL NeoAir XLite Ultralight Insulated Co-op AirRail Plus Trail Lite
Measured Weight 14.6 oz 12 oz 14.6 25 oz 25.6 oz
ASTM R Value 2.9 5.4 3.5 3.7 4.9
Thickness 2.8 in 2.5 in 2 in 1.5 in 1.5 in
Width 25.6 in 20 in 21.5 in 23 in 20 in
Packed Size 10.4 x 4.3 in 9 in x 4.1 in 4 x 9 in 9.84 x 5.51 in 11.02 x 5.91 in
Tested Length 77.6 in 66 in 72 in 66 in 66 in
Bottom Material 20 D polyester 30D rip HT Nylon 40D nylon 75D polyester 75D polyester

Our Analysis and Test Results

This comfortable, light sleeping pad has lots of surface area to spread out and packs down very small. It's not the warmest of the bunch though.

Performance Comparison


The Exped Synmat UL is a great lightweight choice for summer...
The Exped Synmat UL is a great lightweight choice for summer backpacking.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Warmth


As we've already mentioned, the Synmat UL is not super warm. It's ASTM R value is 2.9 which is on the low side. We'd recommend this pad for mostly summer trips where the ground isn't too cold. If you want to stretch your backpacking season with the Synmat, we'd recommend getting a good piece of foam to bring along with for extra insulation.

Comfort


The Synmat is one of the most comfortable products in this review! We really like the rectangle shape of the pad, it cradles your arms more than a narrower or tapered pad and is a good thickness for side sleeping. We also like that the materials are quiet, no crinkling when moving around, and there is an anti-slip coating that stops you from sliding around in your sleeping bag if you're on a slight angle. The Synmat UL kind of feels like the air mattresses that you would use floating on a lake when you were a kid, except with more insulation.

The Synmat UL is a very comfortable rectangular shaped pad, it's...
The Synmat UL is a very comfortable rectangular shaped pad, it's great for side sleepers because it's so thick.
Photo: Ian McEleney

This pad seems to be slightly shorter than most women's pads that on average are about 66' in length, whereas this one is only 64.2". Our 5'5 tester felt like her feet were falling off the end a little.

Durability


We haven't fully had the chance to put the Synmat through its paces, but it's made of a 20 Denier material, which is the wimpiest of all the deniers in this lineup, suggesting that its materials are probably the most delicate. Although at first glance the coatings on top of the material may give it added protection. Exped says of its coatings: "PU polyether film laminate, Hydrolysis resistant, Oeko-Tex 100 certified" whatever that means!

We like the Synmat's easy to use valve system, and that they're...
We like the Synmat's easy to use valve system, and that they're located on the bottom of the mat so you don't feel them when sleeping.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


Although we don't think that the Synmat necessarily deserves its "UL" designation, it is one of the lighter pads in this review, weighing in at 14.6 ounces. It comes with an included pump sack that is made from pretty light materials, an additional 2 ounces if you feel like carrying it. The pump sack is a little strange, but was very effective at inflating the mat.

Packed Size


The Synmat does pack down quite small. Coming in just below the very top of the pack in this category.

The Exped Synmat UL packs down very small.
The Exped Synmat UL packs down very small.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


We think that the Exped Synmat UL is slightly on the pricey side and not the greatest of value. Because of it's low R Value, it's hard for us to recommend it over some of the other similarly priced, or less expensive models we tested. If you're looking for exclusively a summer pad that's super comfortable - and you can find it on sale, it could be worth it.

The Synmat's pump sack is a little silly but once you figure out how...
The Synmat's pump sack is a little silly but once you figure out how to use it it works great.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Conclusion


We like the Synmat UL and think it is a comfortable and lightweight choice. If it was a little bit cheaper, or a little bit warmer we'd be more inclined to give it a stronger recommendation. Otherwise, it could be a great choice for long summer backpacking trips, or just floating in the pool.

Figuring out how to fill the pump sack.
Figuring out how to fill the pump sack.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Jessica Haist