The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Exped Synmat XP 9 Review

If ultralight equipment isn't a top priority, it offers exceptional comfort and warmth for your next adventure.
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Price:  $170 List | $149.00 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Warm, durable, wide, quality construction
Cons:  Heavy
Manufacturer:   Exped
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 5, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 17
  • Comfort - 30% 9
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 3
  • Warmth - 20% 8
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 7
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

With an R-value of 6, an ultra-comfortable design, and optimal packability for anyone but the most weight-conscious hikers, the Exped Synmat XP 9 can do anything you ask of it. We threw down on hard-packed snow, red desert dirt, and nestled into the Saguaro's in Arizona and slept better than we have ever slept in the outdoors. Sound too good to be true? There are a few drawbacks. To boost the R-value and give extra length and width, extra material is needed making the Synmat XP 9 one of the heavier mats we tested. Additionally, the Synmat is pretty bulky when packed up.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Exped Synmat XP 9
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  
Price $149.00 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$183.71 at Backcountry
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$129.00 at REI$97.46 at Backcountry
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$99.95 at REI
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Pros Warm, durable, wide, quality constructionSuperior warmth, small packed size, lightWarm, comfortable pad, great valueLightweight, warm for the weight, packs small, comfortable, versatileLightweight, 3-season warmth, comfortable, easy to inflate and deflate
Cons HeavyNarrow, expensiveToo heavy for ultralight enthusiastsExpensive, edges not as stable as other pad designsNarrower than other bargain pads
Bottom Line If ultralight equipment isn't a top priority, it offers exceptional comfort and warmth for your next adventure.This is our go to sleeping pad for a wide variety of applications.This pad is a versatile, comfortable option at a great price.Big weight savings and great all around performance, what more could you want.A versatile, all-around pad at a bargain price.
Rating Categories Exped Synmat XP 9 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Co-op Flash All-Season Insul... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite REI Co-op Flash Insulated
Comfort (30%)
10
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9
10
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7
10
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8
10
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7
10
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8
Weight And Packed Size (30%)
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8
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6
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9
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7
Warmth (20%)
10
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8
10
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9
10
0
8
10
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6
10
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5
Ease Of Inflation (10%)
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7
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8
Durability (10%)
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7
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Specs Exped Synmat XP 9 Therm-a-Rest... Co-op Flash... Therm-a-Rest... REI Co-op Flash...
Weight 38.5 oz 15 oz 21.6 oz 12 oz 15 oz
Thickness 4.5 in 2.5 in 2 in 2.5 in 2 in
Claimed R Value 6 5.7 5.2 3.2 3.7
Length 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in
Packed Volume (L) 5.4 L 1.6 L 2.5 L 1.4 L 1.3 L
Width 20.5 in 20 in 20 in 20 in 20 in
Breaths to Inflate N/a 27-33 12-14 27-33 12-14
Type Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation Air Construction/Baffled Insulation Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation Air Construction/Baffled Insulation Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation

Our Analysis and Test Results

While the weight and packed size of the Synmat 9 are negative attributes that are worth taking into account, it is likely impossible for a sleeping pad to be as warm and comfortable without this extra heft. If it was possible, we have faith that the Swiss engineers at Exped would have taken over the particle accelerator at CERN and discovered some anti-gravity particle that would make their sleeping pad weigh nothing.

Performance Comparison


Frigid desert night on hardpacked ground? No problem. If you're on a supported adventure and don't have to haul the Synmat XP 9 on your back  it is amazingly comfortable.
Frigid desert night on hardpacked ground? No problem. If you're on a supported adventure and don't have to haul the Synmat XP 9 on your back, it is amazingly comfortable.

Comfort


Our testers rarely experience deep uninterrupted sleep while out in the backcountry. There are unquestionably many factors that come into play when considering the causation of sleep quality. That being said, the Synmat does an excellent job of mitigating potential irritations that it can control. The Synmat 9 was generously plush, wide, and long. When inflated properly, our side-sleeping testers noted absolutely no bottoming out, a common issue with thinner pads.

The ability to shift from back to side sleep without contacting the ground is critical for sound sleep. Shifting sleep positions illuminated another highlight of the Synmat 9. Compared to other sleeping pads, we noticed almost no noise as we shifted; some insulated sleeping pads can be excessively crinkly when the user shifts around. This can be a massive annoyance to both the sleeper and those attempting to sleep next to them.

The Synmat was longer  wider  and thicker than any other pad we tested. It was also heavier than the others but there are certainly applications where this ultra-comfortable pad is useful.
The Synmat was longer, wider, and thicker than any other pad we tested. It was also heavier than the others but there are certainly applications where this ultra-comfortable pad is useful.

The regular length and width Synmat 9, at 77.6in x 25.6, was the longest and widest sleeping pad we tested. Our 5'11" tester appreciated these dimensions as he could sleep comfortably and never feel that any part of his body was sliding off the pad. Finally, the polyester fabric top of the Synmat 9 was just grippy enough to keep us from slipping around when we pitched our camp on a mild slope. Exped's attention to detail paid off, as it was one of the most comfortable sleeping pads tested.

Weight and Packed Sized


The version we tested weighs in at 38.5 ounces; this may sound extreme when considering some of the extremely lightweight offerings on the market today. First, consider that we tested the LW version of the Synmat XP 9, which weighs about 10 ounces more than the still generously sized M version. So if you're less than six feet tall, you're probably looking at the same pad we tested with all of the plush benefits for about 28 ounces. At this weight, the Synmat XP 9 is a true powerhouse.

2lbs 6.3oz is a lot of weight. This pad is suitable for long expeditions when warmth and comfort are paramount.
2lbs 6.3oz is a lot of weight. This pad is suitable for long expeditions when warmth and comfort are paramount.

The packed size of the M and LW versions of the Synmat XP 9 are 9.1 in x 5.9 in and 9.1 in x 6.3 in, respectively. If light weight and small packed size are at the top of your list of attributes you look at when purchasing a sleeping pad, this one probably isn't what you're looking for. Exped has sacrificed a significant amount in the weight department to make an extremely comfortable and warm sleeping pad. That said, for an expedition worthy sleeping pad, the Synmat 9 does come in at a respectable weight and packed size.

Warmth


After sleeping multiple nights on the cold hard ground with nothing but the Synmat 9 between us and the almighty, we can safely say it has fantastic insulation. If the feeling of cold leaching through the ground into your achy bones is one of your greatest fears like it is ours, the Synmat 9 is a great solution. The 6.0 R-value (-13 degrees Fahrenheit) is achieved through microfiber filled air chambers. While we didn't cut our pad open to fact check Exped, they state that each chamber has microfiber welded to the top and bottom, which forces it to loft when the pad is inflated. Our testing revealed a total elimination of the ice-cold back and hips we have experienced when sleeping on cold hard ground without an insulated pad.

If you're a light sleeper looking for something warm and soft for camping  the Synmat is an option not shackled by the demands of ultralight enthusiasts.
If you're a light sleeper looking for something warm and soft for camping, the Synmat is an option not shackled by the demands of ultralight enthusiasts.

Ease of Inflation


As the Synmat 9 was the largest pad we tested, our initial thought was that the inflation process would be difficult and time-intensive; this was not the case. The included Schnozzel Pumpbag (yes, it's really called the Schnozzel) is now one of our favorite sleeping pad pump bags. The Schnozzel is extremely thin and light but can hold a large volume of air. During our time trial inflation test, we would average between two and two and a half minutes from completely packed to completely inflated.

Throughout our numerous controlled tests and use of the Synmat 9 in the backcountry, we never had the Schnozzel pop out of the inflation valve even when we were getting a little agro and really Schnozzeling the heck out of it. Additionally, the one-way inflation valve on the Synmat 9 didn't allow any backflow and decoupling the Schnozzel didn't result in any air loss. Finally, it's worth noting, the ultra-thin denier material of the Schnozzel allowed us to simply re-open the pump bag to capture another gulp of air. There was no dramatic flailing of the pump bag to capture air, which is a huge bonus.

The Exped Schnozzle pumpsack is the best pumpsack we have ever used. It is extremely light weight and effortlessly pumps huge gulps of air. Even though the Synmat 9 is massive we could have it pumped up quickly.
The Exped Schnozzle pumpsack is the best pumpsack we have ever used. It is extremely light weight and effortlessly pumps huge gulps of air. Even though the Synmat 9 is massive we could have it pumped up quickly.

Durability


Several components come into play when considering a sleeping pad's overall durability. The valves/inflation system, fabric thickness, and seam lamination quality. While many ultralight sleeping pads utilize fabric thicknesses of 20-30 denier, the Synmat XP 9 opted for a beefy 75 denier polyester then laminated it with TPU polyether film. This may sound like overkill, but if you have spent years of your life in the outdoors as our testers have, you will no doubt have an experience wherein your sleeping pad developed a leak, and you found yourself sleeping on cold hard ground night after night. While all of the sleeping pads we tested proved to be respectfully durable, none could compare to the burly construction of the Synmat XP 9.

Exped also backs up their burly construction with a five-year warranty on the Synmat XP 9 something that only makes sense if they know they are making a quality product or if it's a McDonald's quantity over quality situation, which the Synmat certainly is not.

The laminated 75d material is burly. It is unlikely that rough surfaces will pop or tear this sleeping pad which makes it more attractive for long expeditions away from civilization.
The laminated 75d material is burly. It is unlikely that rough surfaces will pop or tear this sleeping pad which makes it more attractive for long expeditions away from civilization.

Value


Value is always a tricky subject, as dollars can mean different things to different people. Our experience with the Synmat XP 9 was worth every penny we spent on it. Really the only thing that should keep you from considering this sleeping pad is if you are looking for something ultralight and packable for a big thru-hiking mission. The fact that the Synmat 9 can cover so many potential uses also boosts its value. From car camping to big expeditions, you will appreciate the warmth and comfort. For the price, you get great build quality, durable materials, a five-year warranty, and a great night's sleep.

Conclusion


The Exped Synmat XP 9 was the only sleeping pad we tested that we would really consider bringing on a long expedition far away from civilization. The true four-season capabilities, durable design, and sleep quality we received were unrivaled in our field of competitors. The fact remains that this is a heavy sleeping pad, which makes it ill-suited for trips where every gram counts.


Brian Martin