The era of inflatable mats in my tourist life began three years ago with the acquisition of Therm-a-rest NeoAir X-Lite. I chose the mat quite quickly, trusting the brand, which had a strong history and representations around the globe in case of warranty claims.
Time has shown that my choice was not the best. Due to the design features, with any movement, the mat gave a terribly loud rustle, so sleep, except at night after strenuous exercise, was restless.
Also, in my opinion, the manufacturer’s mistake was to use the same valve in the inflatable mat as on the Therm-a-rest self-inflating. Because the inflatable X-lite has a much larger volume of air inside, and the valve has a noticeable resistance to its release. Therefore, it takes some time to twist the mat. Finally, I got tired of inflating his lungs every night. There was no desire to pay $ 30 for an inflatable case, especially since it would add weight to the backpack because it is made of dense material.
Every year I came across Exped equipment at exhibitions, once dreamed of their backpack, and from friends and readers of the blog repeatedly heard both positive and negative reviews about this manufacturer.
It was interesting to try. Especially since Exped is known as one of the coolest manufacturers of inflatable, and I absolutely did not want to return to self-inflating mats after realizing the benefits of inflatable.
And at the beginning of 2016, from the ISPO exhibition in Munich, I received an M-size Exped Synmat Hyperlite mat and accessories.
The idea of an insulated inflatable mat in Exped differs significantly from the idea of Therm-a-rest.
In the latter, in order to achieve the required R-value, the internal space is divided by partitions so that the cold air from the ground does not mix with the warm air from the body. Additional inclined partitions allow to make a rug even warmer and keep the necessary form of a product.
In addition, the inner surface of the partitions is coated with aluminum, which also has a positive effect on thermal insulation, but, as my experience has shown, over time, it peels off and crumbles.
Exped went the other way. They divided the mat into longitudinal tubes and laid insulation in each of the tubes.
In the Exped Synmat Hyperlite rug, as the name implies, the insulation is synthetic. The Exped range also includes mats with down insulation, which will be much warmer, but also more expensive.
Synthetic insulation is fixed with glue to the lower and upper floor coverings. Therefore, when the mat is inflated, the insulation is stretched over the entire volume of the tube, providing the required level of insulation. By the way, the coefficient of R-value in the mat Exped Synmat Hyperlite is identical to the mat Therm-a-rest X-lite and is equal to 3.2 units. If you translate this into seasons, you can safely walk with such a rug from spring to autumn, and even in winter, avoiding frosts below -15 ° C.
Warning. This temperature is determined by me personally by comparison. The manufacturer recommends using the Exped Synmat Hyperlite M mat at temperatures of -6 ° C and above.
On R-value and the fact that Exped Synmat Hyperlite and Therm-a-rest X-lite are inflatable – ends in common in these products. Then the differences themselves.
This is a 40-litre ultra-lightweight sealing bag made of 15D siliconized nylon, which can protect your belongings from water during the day and help fill the mat with air in the evening. All you need to do is attach the “nose” of the hermetic bag to the valve of the mat. Next – capture the airbag, close it and compress. Exped Synmat Hyperlite inflates in a bag and a half and less than a minute. Without any effort on the part of the lungs. If you buy this accessory separately, its cost will be about $ 30.
The next point in which Exped has an advantage is its valve. It is reversible and does not release air that gets inside the mat when inflated. That is, there is no need to tighten the valve as quickly as possible, as in most mats. Calmly disconnect the blower and close the valve cover.
If necessary, the mat can be inflated with your mouth, if you think that the sealant failed to fill it to the desired elasticity. But inflating the mat with your mouth leads to moisture getting inside, which negatively affects the insulation. This should be avoided during winter hiking.
Exped Synmat Hyperlite has a similar anatomical shape to Therm-a-rest X-lite, but is a step further. The fact is that the inflatable mats Therm-a-rest can not be put together without gaps, so create a good double bed from them will not work. In Exped the side faces are straight, so you can combine the two mats without any problems. To do this, there is a simple accessory Mat Coupler Kit, which can also be made independently from velcro slings and Velcro.
Another advantage of some Exped inflatable mats is that they have slightly larger in diameter side tubes that act as a limiter that prevents them from falling off the mat. This solution is not always effective, because at sizes M and smaller anatomical mats are narrow, and the length of the end tubes is too small to be a full-fledged limiter. In the rectangular inflatable mat Exped Synmat UL7, which I also had to use in several hikes, the limiters worked noticeably.
At the bottom, the Exped inflatable mat has a non-slip coating, so as not to travel around the tent at the slightest s
But if the mat still moves, for example, when you roll over on it at night, the anti-slip coating makes a creak that can not be considered hypnotic. However, the volume of the creak varies from tent to tent. In the elderly, where the floor is already dusty, it is not audible. After Therm-a-rest, the noise level seems lower, but do not prepare for absolute silence.
The honeycomb pattern, which allows you to quickly recognize Exped among others, is considered by many to be a ripstop fabric reinforcement. In fact, it’s just a picture and it has nothing to do with rip-stop.
In the morning, after a comfortable rest, it’s time to lower the mat and here Exped has an absolute advantage. The diameter of its valve allows you to quickly release air and pack the mat in more than a minute. In the hyperlight series, where the valve for inflation and inflation is used the same, you can lower the mat in two ways. The first is to insert an element under the silicone valve that opens the valve cover.
In the second method, it is enough to pull the branch of the silicone valve and “turn” it out. This method seems easier and faster to me.
After blowing and assembling the mat, the silicone valve is pushed in the middle with your finger.
When folded, Exped and Therm-a-rest are almost identical in volume (Exped wins a bit due to the smaller cover). The declared weight in them is also identical – 350 grams in the size of Medium (183х52).
When packing the mat, there is a certain advantage of the Therm-a-rest cover. It is looser and the mat is easier to fold. At the same time, the Exped case has a separate pocket for a repair kit. If I had one in the Therm-a-rest case, I wouldn’t lose my repair kit in one of the first trips.
The comfort of sleeping on a blower, as I wrote in other articles, can not be compared with a thin self-blower and, moreover, with foam. This is a completely different level of rest, when you really sleep from evening to morning, despite the unevenness under the tent. At the same time, inflatable mats need a little more attention when setting up a tent. Be sure to inspect the surface to avoid piercing it with a sharp stone or broken glass.
That could be the end of the story, but Exped has another interesting accessory to the kit that I want to mention. It weighs 35 grams and turns an airtight bag into a camping shower.
Gathered water, hung it on a tree, pulled the watering can and you can wash. And only 35 grams! However, in my experience, I would recommend using a pressurized airbag made of thicker fabric for the shower, and not from the ultralight series
And more. The packaging of accessories is made in such a way that you do not want to throw it away. Transparent zippered handbags are well suited for transporting documents, small items or tablet, because the touch screens are able to work without pulling the device out. Consider that you also receive a gift in your wallet. For the most part, I’m used to transporting power banks.
And # 2 more. Exped boasts a mat size that is not available in the Therm-a-rest line. This is the size of MW or Medium Wide. A rug of this size has a standard height of 183 cm, but a width of 52 cm instead of 52! That is, if you do not want to look for compromises in weight-volume-comfort – take the size of MW and have a mat even wider than the standard foam, but only slightly heavier and bulkier than the regular size of the inflatable. If I looked more closely at the catalog and made an order today, I would prefer the size of MW, rather than M. In addition, the range of Exped has cool double mats for couples, Duo, which eliminate the need to connect the mats with additional accessories and form a solid double bed.
Today I can say with confidence that I am absolutely happy with my Exped. It is less noisy than Therm-a-rest, quickly inflates with an airtight bag, instantly inflates, its case has a pocket for a repair kit, there are additional convenient accessories with cool functional packaging. What I can’t estimate today is its service life, because so far my experience of using Exped mats is limited to six hikes, with a total duration of 20+ days.
- quieter than Therm-A-Rest
- has limiters against falling (conditional in the size of the M series Hyperlite, effective in the big sizes and rectangular rugs Synmat UL7), you’ll receive an ultralight hermetic bag for 50% of the price (with functional packing)
- quickly inflates and deflates thanks to the thought-over valve
- super-light and compact, warm
- it is possible to combine two rugs without backlashes.
- sometimes complicated packaging to the case due to the small diameter of the latter
- anti-slip coating creaks in new tents (it looks like it will be removed from the bottom in the rugs of 2017, and will appear on the upper plane of the mat).