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Equipment Addition: SynMat UL 7 + XTerm or XLite?
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Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Equipment Addition: SynMat UL 7 + XTerm or XLite? on 02/20/2013 14:07:26 MST Print View

So I'm currently an Exped SynMat UL 7 (16.2oz) user that has a $170 merchandise credit at REI that needs to be used. I'm debating if I should buy an XLite (12oz?) and cut my weight (still using a CCF pad under the XLite for winter), or if I should buy an XTherm (15oz?) and have a dedicated winter mattress (and still shed a little weight).

I really like my SynMat UL 7, and have no opinion formed of any of the Therm-a-rests as of yet. I know they're crunchy sounding and that's about it.

Helpful Info: I'm a kinda cold, side and stomach sleeper. I'm 5'10", 130lbs. slowly getting back to 165lbs.

What would be your logic for selection? Would the XTherm be to much R-value for spring and summer use?



Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
X therm as dedicated pad on 02/20/2013 14:51:58 MST Print View

My honest opinion, get the x-therm, sell the UL7, and never ever think about the sleeping pad again (until we start seeing 10oz R6 pads).

I used to fiddle around with different pads for different setups (e.g., UL7 for shoulder season, ccf or torso pad only for summer, ccf+neo air for winter) which would leave me with the satisfaction of having saved 2-3 ounces for the given situation, but having caused me to have spent more $ then I needed to and complicating trip planning.

I got rid of it all...I now have a 15 oz x-therm that I use in all 4 seasons now. I have more money in my pocket, less gear to worry about, more time on my hands. That in itself is worth whatever 2-3 ounces I might have saved fiddling with various setups.

I think Eric Chan once eloquently proposed that you could take a piss before your trip and save more ounces...I think this is the only time I've ever agreed with him :)

IMO the x-therm is the most rounded pad in terms of comfort, weight and cost. Yes it's a bit noisy, but if it works for you, it's awesome

Edited by Konrad1013 on 02/20/2013 15:02:35 MST.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Winter pads on 02/20/2013 15:14:44 MST Print View

My only hang up with a dedicated winter pad, is the potential of putting all of my eggs into one basket, so to speak.

If you bring just an inflatable pad on a winter trip and spring a leak in the pad, that could spell trouble.

Thus, I've still been using a 3-season rated inflatable with varying thickness CCF pads so I at least have some margin of error in case I have an inflatable pad malfunction mid-trip.

Otherwise, the thought of getting that much R-value in that light and small of a package makes the Xtherm awfully tempting.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Winter pads on 02/20/2013 16:43:02 MST Print View

I agree with everything Konrad said, and the XTherm is now my year-round pad.

One other important thing to remember is that the XTherm has a 70D bottom layer, offering significantly better protection than the 30D of the XLite or the 20D of the UL7.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Winter pads on 02/20/2013 16:55:10 MST Print View

I'm in the market as well and this thread isn't making the decision any easier. The only thing giving me any concern is that I'm a very light sleeper and the noise of the Neo Air (from what I've seen) and apparently Xtherm (from what I've been told) would be problematic. I also thrash around a lot in my sleep so even if I use ear plugs, anyone sharing camp with me would be forced to drop a rock on my head.

I'm dangerously close to following Konrad's history as I've debated CC with Torso for summer (maybe push it to shoulder season) and a separate/heavier winter set up.

In an effort to find one pad to rule them all, I've been leaning towards the Exped SynMat UL7. Some reviews seem to indicate that it isn't a bad winter pad and a few people have indicated that they've used it on snow w/o a CC pad. I understand that you do not believe that to be doable?

As a side sleeper, my REI test run with the Exped was two thumbs up for comfort and noise but I haven't swiped the card yet. I war game stuff like this all day... sad I know.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Equipment Addition: SynMat UL 7 + XTerm or XLite? on 02/20/2013 17:00:54 MST Print View

I have a well used small NeoAir for summer and shoulder season trips, current set up for winter is my old Exped DAM9 with GG Nightlights, retiring my blue CCF to save some weight and curling of the CCF. Holding out for the REI Dividend Sale for a BA pad to use for winter with the GG Nightlights, saving even more weight on snow camping. I'd get the XTherm, but I'm worried about all their noise. I don't sleep well anyway, but feel at the moment it would be annoying on rare group trips.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 02/20/2013 17:07:21 MST Print View

The Exped UL7 is plush, the width is excellent, the fabric is a brushed nylon, soft against the skin.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Equipment Addition: SynMat UL 7 + XTerm or XLite? on 02/20/2013 17:11:51 MST Print View

In my limited winter camping experience I have tried both a dedicated winter pad as well as the x-lite/CCF pad combo. One thing I really liked about the combo was the CCF pad was nice to use as a sit pad in camp.

Edit: Although if the x-therm is only 3 oz. heavier (my exped downmat is over a pound heavier) you could take a 1/8 thinlight to double as a sit pad or even a dedicated sit pad and still be lighter than the x-lite/CCF pad combo. The specs on that x-therm are quite remarkable.

Edited by csteutterman on 02/21/2013 11:33:18 MST.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Thank You on 02/20/2013 18:15:40 MST Print View

Thank you everyone for your input this far. I love hearing your opinions and this is exactly what I'm looking for!

I might also add to the important information, that I also own 5/8? and 1/8 (Lawson) CCF pads in addition to the SynMat UL 7.


I can't yet positively comment on winter use w/o a CCF pad, as the last time I tested this, I was also pushing the limits of an EE quilt I had just received.


Edited by f8less on 02/20/2013 18:19:59 MST.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: X therm as dedicated pad on 02/20/2013 18:23:28 MST Print View


I really appreciate this straightforward, no nonsense approach. I'm all about simplification...yet I'm wondering what the R-value of an XLite with a 1/8" CCF pad under it would equate to. ...lighter weight for 3-seasons and added protection and R-value (totaling?) for winter probably still weighing less than the XTherm...


Edited by f8less on 02/20/2013 18:26:24 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
X-therm for long term on 02/20/2013 18:48:52 MST Print View

I bought the xtherm last fall fully expecting to switch to an xlite in the spring. I am now leaning toward using the xtherm year round. I would rather spend money on gas to get to a trailhead than duplicate gear. The only reason that would counter this would be that I hike a lot and will likely go through a pad every couple of years. I would rather put nights on the lower cost xlite. We will see in the spring.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
1/8th pad on 02/21/2013 01:07:51 MST Print View

a 1/8" ccf has an R-value of less than 1 (Richard Nisley puts it at ~.45 r-value) . Depending on who makes your 1/8" pad and it's length, the weight could be anywhere from ~1.5oz to 3oz. The Xtherm will undoubtedly be warmer than the xlite+1/8" ccf, and may possibly be lighter depending on the weight of your 1/8" pad.

I agree with others that it's nice to have a safety margin in winter, and understand the need/desire to bring a ccf pad for layering. I also seem to recall that even a flat, deflated xtherm has some r-value...can't recall what the number is though.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: 1/8th pad on 02/21/2013 06:40:01 MST Print View

FYI, I've taken the XLite into the high teens with a 1/8" CCF pad underneath it, camping on snow. It was doable, and I slept through the night, but I was slightly chilled the whole time. I wouldn't take it any lower, and I consider myself a warm sleeper (for whatever that's worth).

Also, I find the noise issue on the NeoAirs to be a non-issue. Personally, I think it's way overblown, and both my regular hiking partners carry NeoAirs too, so I've spent a lot of nights on one and sleeping next to one. You make the most noise getting up and laying down, but after that--even when tossing and turning--it's really pretty minimal.

Joey Dawson
(inabag) - F

Locale: Northern VA
RE: Equipment Addition: SynMat UL 7 + XTerm or XLite? on 02/21/2013 07:41:10 MST Print View

I just recently picked up the Synmat UL7. I used it this past weekend in combination with a 1/8" thinlight pad. I slept in a tent on top of 3" of snow in temps down to 15deg. I felt no cold coming from below me. I was very happy with the comfort/noise/warmth of this pad combo. I also use the thinlight as a frame for my pack and for something to sit on in camp, etc.

Steve Meier
(smeier) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
+1 on SynMat UL 7 on 02/21/2013 08:01:37 MST Print View

"The Exped UL7 is plush, the width is excellent, the fabric is a brushed nylon, soft against the skin."

+ 1 on the SynMat UL 7, coming from a long-time (former) NeoAir user. The UL 7 is quiet, soft against the skin, and with the Schnozeel Pumpbag doubling as a bag liner, a breeze to inflate when you're exhausted.

daniel B
(dbogey) - F - M

Locale: East Coast
Xlite on 02/21/2013 08:13:08 MST Print View

I've had the Xlite in temps below 20 and was never cold. Did 7 days on the SHR sleeping on granite and only used tyvek underneath the Xlite. Was using the Marmot Plasma 15 Degree bag

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Interesting on 02/21/2013 08:28:28 MST Print View

I only have the Synmat 7 (not UL) which is quite a bit heavier - but tried it out this weekend and slept in 22 degree weather very comfortably - no ccf underneath it. Coming from a ZLite and a 1.5 inch self inflating pad it was the best nights sleep I've had. I'm a side sleeper and I can't imagine going to anything other than a UL7 for the weight savings. Comfortable, quiet and easy to inflate/deflate.

Tom Lyons
(towaly) - F

Locale: Smoky Mtns.
CCF combo for winter on 02/21/2013 08:47:57 MST Print View

I take some type of CCF pad along for any below-freezing hike.
I consider it some form of "insurance" against a flat inflatable pad potential. Even if the flat pad retains some small amount of insulation value when flat, that extra bit from the CCF pad could really become important at that point.

Regarding the various pad options, I would also consider the packed sizes along with the weights and ratings. I like to go with the lower bulk when possible. The CCF pad is bulky, but I don't put it inside my pack.

Regarding thick pads, if I were to use a thick pad, I'd like a full length one. I don't like hanging the lower half of my body off a 2.5"-3.5" shelf. The transition is uncomfortable. If I want to hang off a short pad, I prefer a pad with less thickness.

Regarding going all year with a winter pad. I'd think that over real hard. To me, it is easier to carry extra weight when it's cold, than it is to be lugging around extra weight at 95 degrees and 99% humidity. And a warm pad isn't the most fun when the coolest it is going to get all night is 87*F.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: CCF combo for winter on 02/21/2013 17:29:32 MST Print View

I was always carrying a 1/8" CCF with my XLite, but with the more durable fabric on the XTherm, I can leave that at home. I actually saved about 1/3 of an ounce, and it's a simpler system (my highest priority).

Also, higher R-value doesn't mean that the pad is warmer, only that it loses heat to the environment (i.e., the ground) at a slower rate. For the kind of temperatures you mentioned, the XLite and XTherm will be functionally the same.

Bottom line, though, get what works for you. Test it out yourself because you have to lie in the bed you make.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

UL7 vs Xtherm on 02/21/2013 18:17:09 MST Print View

I imagine we can all agree that the Xtherm easily wins for insulation vs. weight. It's far ahead of even down in this category - so much so that winter R-values can now be achieved as a 3 season pad weights. Even punctured the R-value is high enough that safety is not likely to be compromised (I forget the spec now but it's at least R-2, maybe R-2.5 as I recall).

I think a Konrad style Xtherm only pad setup is the best bet for anyone who (1) camps in the winter, (2) sleeps well on a NeoAir and (3) doesn't want to add debt and complexity owning two pads. Everyone should be realistic with themselves though - if you only winter camp one night every two years then just grab an XLite and find a supplement for those bi-annual winter trips.

Numbers aside, unfortunately I sleep better on a UL7. I sleep alright on a NeoAir - the 'noise' doesn't bother me at all. It's pretty minor and there's no noise when I'm asleep because I only move when I'm awake. I think for the most part the noise issue is overstated but sensitive people should be aware of it I suppose.

The reasons I sleep better on the UL7 are because (1) it's wider, (2) the outer baffles are a little bigger to help me stay on and (3) I like vertical baffles better. The last point is really the main one I think. Yes the face fabric is a little nicer too, but that's a tiny difference. I used a NeoAir for 2 years (both small and regular sizes) and I'd be happy to use one again, but for 3 season use I sleep better on the UL7 enough to justify the 2oz extra. I'd love an Xtherm for the winter, but I've been making do with a 9oz torso sized RidgeRest under my UL7.