Forum Index » GEAR » Sleeping pad: Exped SynMat UL 7 or BA Q-Core SL or...?


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William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Sleeping pad: Exped SynMat UL 7 or BA Q-Core SL or...? on 04/09/2013 11:05:18 MDT Print View

Hi. New to the forum. I'm shopping for a sleeping pad to use with my Big Anges Lost Ranger +15 bag (no insulation on the bottom; 20"x72" rectangular pad slides into a sleeve). Looking for something REALLY comfortable and warm for my 60-something-year-old bones for a backpacking trip in the Rockies this summer (a week above 10,000 feet). Weight and small packing size are also major considerations. I've narrowed it down to the Exped SynMat UL 7 and the Big Anges Q-Core SL, which seem rather similar in most respects, with the Exped packing smaller and the BA being warmer. The cost is right up there, but I have a $100 credit with REI to soften the blow, and I've also noticed both pads selling on eBay.

So, which should I choose? Or should I be looking at others?

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Q- core narrow on 04/09/2013 11:12:03 MDT Print View

There's been quite a lot of hoopla over how narrow the Q core SL is. If you do a search through the forums, you'll find a post with lots of comments and pictures. Basically, once inflated, the q core SL is much narrower than the listed width.

Between the two choices you listed, the exped would be better. But with a REI gift card, why not the Thermarest X Therm? Really high R value, extremely light and super compact. Also, made right here in my city of Seattle.

Edited by LunchANDYnner on 04/09/2013 11:14:49 MDT.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Thanks. on 04/09/2013 11:21:47 MDT Print View

The Thermarest Xtherm was definitely one I was considering, but the comments about the crackling noise spooked me a bit. The price is also a bit of a jump above the other two.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
In defense of the Q Core SL on 04/09/2013 13:39:52 MDT Print View

Not all the models are narrower than advertised. I got the Q Core SL Wide/Long and it's exactly as advertised.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Synmat on 04/09/2013 13:47:28 MDT Print View

That's what I used inside my old big Agnes bag...and honestly, I loved loved it. I've since given the bag to my dad and gone quilt, and now I'm the proud owner of a small downmat UL and...one trip later...I think I'm going to like it even more.

But the downmat is uber pricey (got one on major sale...rei doesn't carry the downmat UL 7 for some reason) and you can get the synmat at rei.

The synmat works very well with the big agnes sleeve...the larger tubes on each side do a great job of keeping you snug inside the sleeping bag. It was an amazingly comfortable set up...and my very very arthritic and out of shape 60-something dad has taken over the combination...and he says its the first time he's slept on the ground and liked it.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: In defense of the Q Core SL on 04/09/2013 13:48:14 MDT Print View

Dena, not to derail the thread...but is the q core SL worth the extra weight for the long/wide? And is it REALLY 25" wide?

Edited by Jenmitol on 04/09/2013 13:49:09 MDT.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
SynMat Basic 7.5? on 04/09/2013 14:14:04 MDT Print View

I just ran across an REI close-out of the "Exped SynMat Basic 7.5". It's heavier (25.5 oz) than the SynMat UL 7 (16.2 oz), but warmer (R-value 4 vs 3.1). The 7.5 is also a tad larger in packed size (9.4" x 4.3" vs. 9" x 3.5"). The difference in cost is substantial: $66 vs $165.

I'm conflicted about my priorities... ounces? packed-size inches? R-value? money?

Any thoughts?

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Thermarest XLite... on 04/09/2013 14:54:11 MDT Print View

I would get an XLite in sz L...16oz...super comfy.

I use an All Season (1#-9oz.) in winter and the rectangular shape and size is nice...but...the XLite is comfy down to freezing at least.

I just used it last week in GSMNP, including one night on Mt. LeConte which was below freezing and rainy.

If you can stand the shorter length you can get the Women's version, which is rated slightly warmer but only 66" length.

-Mark in St. Louis

And E
(LunchANDYnner) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
X Therm on 04/09/2013 15:12:26 MDT Print View

I believe the X Therm isn't as crinkly as the X-Lite. I don't own either, but from trying them out at REI, the XTherm was nice, but the X-Lite was definitely crinkly.

Mark Andrews
(buldogge) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: X Therm on 04/09/2013 15:42:55 MDT Print View

I don't own an XTherm, just the XLite and a couple All Seasons...but...I think the "crinkly" thing is waaay overblown.

Once you settle your weight on the pad the noise becomes almost moot point, IMHO.

-Mark

Jani Kikuts
(Enginerd) - M

Locale: Southern California
I'm Keeping Q Core SL on 04/09/2013 21:01:28 MDT Print View

After all the posts about the width I still ordered the Q Core SL in regular and figured I would try it out at home. I'm 5' 11" and 165 lbs. It is narrower than my current Stoic pad, but as mentioned before most peoples arms would eventually fall off a 20" wide pad anyways when lying on the back. I'm a back / side sleeper and even at home I tend to cross my arms over my chest so the width was not a huge issue for me. On my side a part of my knees extends over the edge but not in an uncomfortable way. So I'm going to give it a shot, I got it from Backcountry so if I don't dig it after a few nights it can always go back, but so far it seems very comfortable when lying on my back compared to my Stoic pad (1.5" and 1" self inflating foam pad). I cannot comment on other pads.

Kate Magill
(lapedestrienne) - F
+1 for Exped Downmat UL on 04/10/2013 12:14:59 MDT Print View

I've been a foam pad advocate for a long time, but finally bit the bullet on an inflatable to use while winter camping. (I don't care what people say about those reflective RidgeRests; even augmented with a blue foam pad underneath I find it too cold when you're camped on snow.) I picked up a Downmat UL7 on eBay for about $80 less than the MSRP. They are surprisingly difficult to find marked down, and it was still one of the most expensive pieces of kit I've bought...but very worth it. I'm going to have a hard time leaving it at home this summer despite the extra ounces. So comfortable.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Sleeping pad: Exped SynMat UL 7 or BA Q-Core SL or...?" on 04/10/2013 16:55:06 MDT Print View

Jennifer Mitol- You asked, "Dena, not to derail the thread...but is the q core SL worth the extra weight for the long/wide? And is it REALLY 25" wide?"

-

Well obviously that's individual but I decided to try it because I slept poorly last season and decided the weight increase was worth it to me if it results in a better night's sleep. Which I think it will but I have yet to try it (still winter in Alaska).

It is 25" wide. I fully inflated it and measured it.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Re: "Sleeping pad: Exped SynMat UL 7 or BA Q-Core SL or...?" on 04/10/2013 18:28:37 MDT Print View

I use a BA Mystic SL, which is cut the same as the Lost Ranger. Last year, I upgraded from my very old, orange Thermarest to a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core in the 20" wide, long. It's excellent to sleep on and I easily inflate it with the Instaflator from Leslie Pools.

Back in Mammoth after a trip, we saw the 20" wide, Long Q-Core, the grey one, at Kittridge. They had the regular BA's just like mine and another hikers, so we layed them down and compared with them on the hard floor. The Q-core is noticably awesome.

At REI, I laid the Q-Core SL 20" over the top of a grey Q-core 20". The SL is at least 2 inches narrower and hits my body at the shoulder blades. I couldn't find the "wide" to try to stuff into the BA bag sleeve, but I can tell you: the so-called 20" SL is a terrible, bad joke. If you're looking for a very comfortable pad, do go lay on the regular grey Q core.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
"... very old, orange Thermarest..." on 04/10/2013 19:26:26 MDT Print View

"... very old, orange Thermarest..." Eric - Sounds just like my current one; an ancient (late-70s?) self-inflation shorty.

The regular grey Q-Core looks like a good candidate.

Edited by Balt on 04/10/2013 19:40:36 MDT.

James Walton
(Backcountryasm) - M

Locale: south
Priorities on 04/10/2013 20:09:33 MDT Print View

"The Thermarest Xtherm was definitely one I was considering, but the comments about the crackling noise spooked me a bit. The price is also a bit of a jump above the other two."

You are correct to be concerned about weight, packed size, R value & money. There is a price to pay to gain a significant advantage in all three categories and it seems you have an advantage with the money as you can apply an REI dividen towards your purchase. The Thermarest xlite and Xtherm do make crinkle noises, it was a concern for me but I decided to try it anyways I figured after a full day of hiking I would be tired enough to not notice. To my surprise I did not even notice it anyways. After my full weight settles on the pad and my sleeping bag acting as a buffer (I beleive anyways) the crinkle noise was not an issue. Buy them both, try them and send the one back you dont like!

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Therm-a-Rest All-Season on 04/11/2013 07:12:14 MDT Print View

James - Did you consider the All-Season? Other than a few more oz's, it seems to a comparable choice... warm; good packed size... with the added advantage of being configured to the rectangular shape of my BA bag's sleeve.

Derrick White
(miku) - MLife

Locale: Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
+1 Exped UL 7 Downmat L\W on 04/11/2013 07:51:51 MDT Print View

Bought the Exped UL 7 Downmat L\W for winter use but now use it all year round. I am 6'1 - 185lbs, wide shouldered and have always found the lack of width an issue with other mats. The Exped is heavier than XTherm but its comfort and warmth is unparalleled by any other mat that I have tried, including the XTherm. Most people I know who have taken the expensive step to get one have not regretted it and it commonly become a person's favourite piece of gear.

Derrick

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Mattress on 04/11/2013 10:40:50 MDT Print View

I tried the All Season, syn UL7, X therm, and down UL7. After at least a week on each, the down UL7 gets carried year-round. The combination of warmth, comfort, and ease of inflation won me over.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Upgrading for comfort and weight savings on 04/11/2013 13:03:20 MDT Print View

William,I was indeed referring to one of those old Thermarests! Mine is from 1980 and full length, bearing several patches. I actually have a brand-new, never inflated one from 1983 in the plastic sleeve, but I've tasted the newer pads and will leave it be.

No matter which pad you get that's discussed above, it will be more comfortable and lighter than the Thermarest. Remember how much better the Thermarest was than ensolite? This updgrade is of similar effect, but includes being lighter (by nearly a pound), too!

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Ancient Therm-a-rest on 04/11/2013 14:31:12 MDT Print View

"Remember how much better the Thermarest was than ensolite?"

Heck, yeah! Way more comfy. Very cutting-edge, too. But then again the ensolite was a big step up from a cotton sleeping bag with no pad at all!

Josh Brock
(needsAbath)

Locale: Outside
Exped on 04/11/2013 15:06:45 MDT Print View

Funny I actually ordered the synmat this morning after returning a differnt piece of gear I decided I did not want to proceed with this year. But those were the two I was looking at also. I chose exped. I already have a downmat Long and wide and I love that thing. It is by far the most comfortable pad "I" have ever tried to "me". So I got the small version of the synmat ul 7. I tried the xtherm in REI and I did not like it. and the guy working there said he get more of those returned than any other mat. (I dont know if that is a statistically provable fact im just relaying information.)

One thing you might consider if your thinking about the BA pad is that in your system it will go in a sleeve attachedd to the pad. So the bag might keep your arms up. I sleep in a quilt so my arms would essentially on the ground. And I found this to be true for the original BA insulated pad but bought that one at an REI used gear sale so I could not return it.

Bottom line is these two mats are not very different and if you get it from REI, as you say, you can just return it if you dont like it. But I would lay on them both in the store, pick one, spend the night on it, and decide if you love it. If not try the other one.

Joe S
(ThreeRidges) - M
+1 UL 7 on 04/11/2013 15:26:17 MDT Print View

Worth the weight, very comfortable.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: +1 UL 7 on 04/11/2013 15:52:20 MDT Print View

The UL7 is the most comfortable pad I have ever used.

Casey Jones
(cjsbug) - F
what about the lite 5? on 04/12/2013 10:25:15 MDT Print View

I've just noticed the Downmat Lite 5, but I see no one talking about it. Seems to be a good option is price is a major concern. R=4.1, 22 oz, a bit thinner at 2", but can be grabbed for $60 with the right coupon/sale.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Downmat Lite 5 on 04/12/2013 13:49:38 MDT Print View

That does indeed look like a good option. Nice price too!

Megan P
(meganpetruccelli) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco
I say Exped! on 04/12/2013 14:53:19 MDT Print View

I debated all last season between these to pads. Was the extra warmth of the Q-Core worth the weight, which was more confortable. Yet EVERY single time i went in and actually laid on them both I picked the Exped pad EVERY time. Then this season when they came out with the new Q-Core light weight pad, I did it all over again. I sleep on my side, granted im only 5'6 but the Exped is the best night sleep I've ever had in the back country.

Also the new Q-Core is substantially more narrow then any of the Exped mats. I actually bought the new Q-Core for a girlfriend bc it's supposed to be the MOST comfortable mat out there and she returned it for an exped bc it was too narrow.

I say exped, all the way.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
RE: " I say Exped!" on 04/12/2013 16:18:41 MDT Print View

Megan - Did you and your girlfriend both go with the SynMat UL 7?

Rudy Hassall
(WindedBowhunter) - F

Locale: MidAtlantic
+2 on the Exped SynMat UL 7 on 04/12/2013 18:09:20 MDT Print View

I have using Exped for 5 years now without issue or complaint.

I bought the Exped SynMat UL 7 last spring and was very pleased with its weight, sleeping comfort and lack of real estate that it absorbed in my pack.

You will be happy with your purchase of Exped, no question!

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Exped vs Exped on 04/13/2013 07:28:03 MDT Print View

OK; I'm still conflicted! These two seem like a coin-flip.

Exped SynMat UL 7: R-3.1; 16.2 oz; two valves; packed size 9"x3.5"; no pump; $165

Exped DownMat Lite 5: R-4; 22.6 oz; one valve; packed size 9"x4.3"; pump included; $99

Reading various on-line descriptions, I can't tell whether there's a difference in construction of the air chambers (as, for example, with the SynMat Basic 7.5).

On the whole, I'm leaning toward the SynMat UL 7, but the R-value difference is nagging at me. I doubt I'll ever do serious winter camping, but it gets pretty cold in the Rockies at high elevation, even in the summer, and my BA bag is uninsulated on the bottom.

Thoughts?

Joel Benford
(Morte66) - F - M

Locale: Surrey flatlands, England
Re: Exped vs Exped on 04/13/2013 15:21:40 MDT Print View

I'd get the thicker one. You're buying an inflatable for comfort.

William S.
(Balt)

Locale: East Coast
Follow-up on 04/15/2013 12:08:02 MDT Print View

Just bought the Synmat UL7 Med off eBay - a buy-it-now arrangement for $125.99 with free shipping. Not bad! REI is selling it for $165 + my state's sales tax. Same seller has two more for sale if you want to check it out.

Since I had been looking at the BA Q-Core SL, I thought I'd ask one of the eBay sellers if it was *really* 20 inches wide, as indicated on the person's listing. He/she got back to me and said "I just measured it and it's 17.5 inches." That was yesterday, and the listing still says 20 inches today. So it goes.

Rudy Hassall
(WindedBowhunter) - F

Locale: MidAtlantic
Clarification on SynMat UL 7 & DownMat Lite 5 on 04/19/2013 12:11:24 MDT Print View

The SynMat UL mats have I-beam baffles, allowing for a very high R-value in a synthetically insulated mat (insulation has more room to expand within the baffle).

The DownMat Lite mats utilize welded-through baffles, just like the old SynMat Basic 7.5. Welded through baffles make for smaller baffles, and thus, less thermic value in comparable mats.

However, due to the down insulation, the DownMat Lite mats come out with a higher R-value than the SynMat UL 7 (4.1 vs. 3.1).

I hope this helps to clear things up, but let me know if you have additional questions.