Exped Synmat UL7
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Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Exped Synmat UL7 on 09/29/2011 17:14:51 MDT Print View

I just received this in the mail today. Normally ~$150, I was initially turned off by it due to price but bought it after a friend was able to score me a deal and get it for $100. That made the decision right there.

Based on trying it on the hardwood floor today, it looks like I've been missing out on a lot of good sleep for many years now. I've always been a minimalist, sticking exclusively to closed-cell foam pads when backpacking (Ridgerest 3/4 or short GG Nightlight). While the closed cell has always worked "well enough", there certainly have been too many nights spent with a root jabbing my ribs, that rock in my spine that I didn't notice until 2AM, tossing, turning...

To be honest, I've held out on the big inflatable pads for fear of going soft, for fear that once I get used to them, sleeping with a tiny foam pad will be unbearable (I still plan on carrying foam on fast/long/SUL type trips).

To think I've toughed it out for so long...Hands-down, this pad is more comfortable most beds I've slept on. The valves are top-notch; you can deflate it slightly with the press of a button without even getting up. I foresee some luxurious nights ahead, the first coming this Saturday night. Hopefully it holds up well.

I have a strong feeling I'll soon be wondering why I didn't switch much sooner (providing I don't pop the thing on my first night out). Thanks to all those that steered me toward this pad.

noneur business
(that_one_dude) - F
Re on 09/29/2011 18:26:56 MDT Print View

Hmm. I fear I may be spending more money soon. Thanks!

I too am a zlite/ridgerest kind of guy. Interested if you will miss the simplicity of the foam pads. I really like that I don't have to care about them and they make nice seats in camp.

adam spates
(adamspates) - F

Locale: southeast
more sleep....yes on 09/29/2011 18:52:27 MDT Print View

I've got about 22 nights on mine now. No leaks no problems. 7 of those nights on rocky ground of the Winds. Will not give this pad up for nothing. My well rested bones and joints thank me and yours will too.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Saving weight vs. good sleep. on 09/29/2011 19:09:41 MDT Print View

Getting good rest is probably pretty undervalued, especially after hard days. And getting bad rest after easy days makes them feel like they were hard...

To be honest, bad sleep is probably the number one factor that turns off the majority of people to camping and backpacking.

I'm not saying I'll never use thin foam pads again; I've used them for years and I think they still certainly have a place in the kit, especially when weight is more crucial like on a fast, high mileage trip. If you can sleep well on a 3/8" cc foam pad, more power to you. I'm beginning to find them lacking. Old age?

But it does open up a discussion; is the extra weight of a really comfortable pad worth the better sleep, even if you ARE doing fast days with high mileage? I tend to sleep pretty well after 30 miles or more regardless of what I'm on- due to sheer exhaustion. But that's not to say I still don't wake up and toss a bit or have a stiff neck/shoulder in the morning.

I'm beginning to question what's more efficient in the long run:
Saving 10-12 ounces and getting mediocre rest or carrying the extra weight and sleeping well.

In this context, all other things being equal, saving 10-12 ounces doesn't sound like too big of a deal. I'd wager that the cumulative toll of relatively bad sleep is far worse than an extra 10 ounces on the back.

I remember once reading of a ~10 day adventure race, possibly the Eco Challenge, in which the year's winning team actually slept the most and carried real pads. At first they lost time and everyone was skeptical, but by day five their minds were still fresh and their bodies were recovering when everyone else was going to pieces.

Jeffrey McConnell
(Catalyst) - F
great pad on 09/29/2011 19:11:32 MDT Print View

Its a great pad. For those looking, I bought mine from backcountry.com and was able to have them price match it for around 15-20% off. I wanted the pad, but wanted a good warranty on it as well. I love the dual valve system.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Saving weight vs. good sleep. on 09/29/2011 19:26:04 MDT Print View

To me it is definitively worth carrying a little extra weight and getting a good night's sleep. I have no interest in roughing it that way, nor in proving how minimal I can go when it comes to sleep comfort. I'd rather rough it by hiking up a mountain without taking a break.....
At home I sleep from about 10:30 to 4 am; while I am out backpacking, I catch up on my sleep and restore my back at the same time.
Sometimes it seems that life at home is spartan enough , very relatively speaking, that I want to be comfortable and well rested on the trail.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Exped Synmat UL7 on 09/29/2011 19:38:55 MDT Print View

I realized a few years ago that I had to get good sleep, no matter what I had to carry.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Exped Synmat UL7 on 09/29/2011 19:50:59 MDT Print View

Well I went the NeoAir route. Best night sleep I have ever had on the ground. I started off with the closed cell pad at first too. That was after moving up from 2 wool blankets. Yes the foam pads have some place in your pack depending on the trip. But for me sleep is extremely important. The large Neo I have weighs in at 17.4 oz. It packs up so tiny compared to a Ridgerest. I will gladly carry it for the more comfy than home sleep qualities it possesses. More willing to carry some weight if well rested.

Brian UL
(MAYNARD76)

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Saving weight vs. good sleep. on 09/29/2011 19:53:15 MDT Print View

Im in the same boat. Always used my 3/4 GG pad or if I was going luxury, my Torso lite. Its hard to get myself to spend so much on a pad that weighs more. But I also have come to learn that sleep is highly underrated -on this site especially. Ive read reports of people doing crunches in their sleeping bags all night to keep warm so that they could keep their pack weight down. It doesn't make sense to me anymore. Im getting older too, but instead of softer just wiser- sleep is as important as adequate food and shelter. My kit has been undergoing a lot of changes since my last couple trips. The ways things are today its easy to get a decent night sleep in a bug free space and still be plenty light even if I my list wouldn't impress anyone.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Exped Synmat UL7" on 09/29/2011 20:03:22 MDT Print View

"I'm beginning to question what's more efficient in the long run:
Saving 10-12 ounces and getting mediocre rest or carrying the extra weight and sleeping well.

In this context, all other things being equal, saving 10-12 ounces doesn't sound like too big of a deal. I'd wager that the cumulative toll of relatively bad sleep is far worse than an extra 10 ounces on the back.
"

Absolutely. 10-12oz. is really nothing, I don't care what percentage of your overall baseweight that figure may represent. If 10-12oz. makes any impact on a day of hiking, then a lack of conditioning is to blame.

I made the switch to a full length KookaBay pad with insulation about a year ago, one of the most transformative decisions I've made in my kit, had a huge impact on the quality of my sleep and the overall enjoyment of my trips so far. Gear is first and foremost a means to an end, a nice pad is a means to a good night of rest for me. Foam pads have their place, but the real benefit to foam is really only in durability and savings in the wallet, they're cheap as dirt.

Enjoy that Exped Craig.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Good thread on 09/29/2011 21:22:26 MDT Print View

Brian, well said.

Craig, good on you for trying something that'll make the extra 12 ounces disappear on the trail.

I starting camping in the early 70s and took a break in the early-mid 80s. But back in the 70s I used a full length blue thinsulite or thinsulate pad. Forget the exact name. It was pretty comfy for my teenage body and even not too bad in my twenties. But I wouldn't even consider it now. Fast forward to 2010. My child hood best friend and I and a bunch of others went on a trip in the Sierra's. I had my BA air pad and slept great. He had his old blue foam pad and he was begging me after the first night, and I gave in after the second night, and we left early cause he couldn't sleep. Fast forward to August 2011. He showed up with a NeoAir Large and he had three good nights of sleep. Tossed and turned abit, but no discomfort. That old blue pad weighed around 8-9 ounces, so the for around 10-11 ounces, he's way better and can't wait to get back out again. That's definitely worth the weight and $$.

Craig, thanks for starting this thread.

Jeremy Cleaveland
(jeremy11) - F

Locale: Exploring San Juan talus
Exped Synmat UL7 on 09/29/2011 21:39:51 MDT Print View

Good sleep is worth it.
After years on a 3/4 Ridgerest (9 oz and bulky), I got a 3/4 Thermarest Prolite. It was either too firm or bottomed out, so I sold it and went back to the Ridgerest. Then I picked up a full length Big Agnes Air Core pad (19 oz and small). It marked the first time I really felt comfortable sleeping outside, plus its low bulk is excellent for bikepacking.
Good sleep is really important on the trail, and even more important when logging big miles and vert.
I now have a custom Kooka Bay air pad in the mail that should be around 8 oz, to get most of the comfort of the Big Agnes pad while saving 12 oz. That will be quite welcome for long days pushing a loaded mountain bike up huge hills.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Exped synmat7 on 09/29/2011 22:10:03 MDT Print View

Not that bad a weight penalty vs the down mat 7. Will need to check this out,

Dave Heiss
(DaveHeiss) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Exped UL Synmat7 on 10/03/2011 16:01:34 MDT Print View

I picked up this pad earlier in the year, and it's wonderful. Over the last 35+ years I've used everything from ensolite foam sheets to the original orange thermarest pads (and lots of other thermarest models in the years that followed), to a couple different BA pads, and the POE max thermo, and this Exped pad is the best.

Brett Ayer
(bfayer)

Locale: Virginia
Wish they made a Large on 10/03/2011 16:44:17 MDT Print View

I love this pad. I just wish they made it in a large.

It is warmer than I expected, and more comfortable than the BA IAC it replaced.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
comfort v weight on 10/03/2011 17:44:17 MDT Print View

I think Eugene summed up my thoughts pretty well. I certainly don't begrudge anyone who sleeps on a 3.5 oz, 29" Nightlight pad, actually hats off to them- just isn't going to be me. I should qualify that- it isn't going to me by choice, I do carry a very light ccf pad when day hiking, the hope is other than sitting on it, it's not going to be used :)

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: comfort v weight on 10/03/2011 17:47:21 MDT Print View

I took this out on an overnight this weekend and was really impressed- definitely one of the better nights I've had. Happy with it so far...

Simone Zmood
(sim1oz) - MLife

Locale: Melbourne, Australia
Great thread on 10/04/2011 00:57:05 MDT Print View

Hi Craig, the timing of this thread is perfect so thank you! After reading lots of reviews (eg. weight, price, comfort) I'd settled on getting this mat and have been saving up. Next week we are finally ready to buy 4. I was looking at the neoairs as well but can't justify the price in Australia (double US prices) while Expeds are virtually the same price here. I want to buy them locally so we are covered by warranty. I am really pleased to hear the Exped has been comfortable and works well. It's almost time to shop :-)

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Exped Synmat UL7 on 10/04/2011 01:03:55 MDT Print View

> I've held out on the big inflatable pads for fear of going soft, for fear that once I
> get used to them, sleeping with a tiny foam pad will be unbearable
Yep

> is the extra weight of a really comfortable pad worth the better sleep, even if you
> ARE doing fast days with high mileage?
Yep

Two problems with them:
* they ruin you for foam mats
* my wife pinched mine

We have used them happily down to about -8 C SO FAR. Adding some 1/8" GG foam is also good.

I would recommend buying the Mini Pump from Exped as well. Very light, easy to use, you don't hyperventilate, and it prevents moisture from building up inside the mat.

Cheers

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
weight on 10/04/2011 01:08:53 MDT Print View

aint everything ... BPL heresy !!!

the neo air aint that heavy ... and with a foam pad its good for winter as well