Exped MegaMat Lite 12 Review
Cons: Heavy, bulky
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Megamat 12 is a departure from the typical slimmed down, bare-bones sleeping pads on the market currently. It's indeed mega-thick and comfortable; really, everything about this pad is designed and implemented with comfort rather than weight in mind. The result is a whisper-quiet, plush, and large sleeping pad that would rival the comfort of the largest car camping pad out there.
Even before getting this pad into the mountains, it was obvious it would be far superior to most lighter weight sleeping pads in the comfort department, and boy did we underestimate how comfortable it would be. Our first observations when settling in for our first night's sleep was just how soft and quiet the topside fabric was. Where pads topped with slippery nylon and crinkly aluminized insulation inside create a surprising amount of noise, the Megamat 12 was almost completely silent. Not only is the topside fabric quiet, but it also works well to keep the user and sleeping pad planted, even when on a gradual slope.
To complement the quiet and soft fabric utilized on the top, the Megamat is equipped with a synthetic microfiber insulation adhered to the upper and lower fabric inside the pad. While many sleeping pads create a fair bit of noise when shifting around or changing positions in the middle of the night, the Megamat almost seems to insulate sound from underneath and doesn't really seem to create any. For light sleepers or anyone sensitive to sound, this is a great design.
Finally, the large footprint of the Megamat is accented with rails running the length of each side, which serve to keep the user on the pad even with some serious tossing and turning. Much like the kiddie bumper rails at the bowling alley, these do a great job of keeping the user in the middle of the pad. We found this pad to have a generous amount of space for shifting positions, the sharp edges kept the pad from folding under. This was the most comfortable pad we tested.
Weight and Packed Size
All of this plush comfort definitely comes at a price. While we found the Megamat 12 to be mega-comfortable, it is also mega-heavy and bulky. With the patch kit and pump sack included, this pad weighed in at over 2.7 pounds — more than double most of the pads we tested this year. This may be a dealbreaker for many out there, but it is hard to ignore the ultra-high comfort level delivered by this pad. Ultimately we found ourselves looking for excuses to bring this pad along, as a sound night's sleep is very high on our priorities list when it comes to getting outside for a night or two.
The 5.3 R rating is not groundbreaking, but we felt warmth benefits were not solely represented by this rating. The sheer size of this pad eliminated incidents where we slid down, and our feet ended up off the pad and on hard ground; similarly, we never felt the sides collapsing or getting close to letting us slip off the pad in the middle of the night. Ultimately we found the Megamat 12 to be toasty warm even in below-freezing temps. Exped gives the pad a -4 degree F rating, which we haven't had the opportunity to test yet. On our coldest night on this pad, we woke with frost on our sleeping pad, and we were perfectly comfortable.
Ease of Inflation
With such a large volume of air, inflating this pad with lung power might cause one to pass out. Luckily Xped has the most effective pump sack we have ever used. Not only does the attachment point lock in place easily and securely, but the sack is also made of feathery light material that seems to fill itself and allows the user to pump with a ton of force. The sack is effective enough that Xped has given it its own name, the "Schnozzel". Without the Schnozzel, inflation takes a long time, we honestly gave up mid-test because it felt like trying to inflate a home air mattress with lungs only. Utilizing the Schnozzel the job only took about two minutes, which is fantastic for such a big pad.
Comprised of 50D upper and 75D TPU Polyether film laminate materials, this pad feels burly, adding to the functionality of this pad as an expedition-oriented sleeping pad. We abused the fudge out of it, throwing it down in gravel trailhead parking lots, used it without a ground cloth on bare ground, and basically used it like we stole it. The thick laminate materials proved up to the task with no leaks to date. Additionally, the dual valve system is cleverly placed on the top end of the pad, keeping them away from dirt/debris, and also build into the pad, making them flush with the fabric. The valve material feels like ultra-durable and pliable rubber giving us the sense that they will indeed last for years to come.
The price is up there with the most versatile and highly rated backpacking sleeping pads on the market. Ultimately the price is justified through the ultra-high level of comfort and durability offered by this pad. Make no mistake, this is no "all arounder" and would be back-breaking on a thru-hike of the PCT. If you're in the market for something ultra-comfortable or an addition to your pack animal supported trip into the Winds, this pad is absolutely worth the price. You will sleep like the dead, and that's something we can't say about most pads.
If you're a single pad minimalist and need to find something that will work in every situation. the Megamat 12 MW is not what you're looking for. This is a supertanker designed for comfort on expeditions where a beast of burden will be doing the heavy lifting or for casual overnighters where hauling some extra weight won't break you. We found ourselves using it as an efficient and comfortable solution to spur of the moment trailhead camping before a big mission in the hills. Even if this was its sole use in your kit, we highly recommend it.
— Brian Martin