Rating: 5 / 5
I spent a fair amount of time researching the available pads before I upgraded to an UL sleeping pad. My sleep and rest is too important to me to use a foam mat, as a side sleeper, I need more support and cushion. I also wanted a full size mat, so I had narrowed it down to the Exped SynMat UL 7 and the Thermarest NeoAir. I went to REI and laid on both for several minutes in different positions. After much internal debate, I went with the Exped.
I liked the way the Exped felt, it felt very comfortable, and I found that it was more comfortable with less air. Inflating it very firm gave too much support, at least for me. Inflated to the point that if I sit on it and it bottoms out, is perfect when I lie down and distribute my weight. The slightly larger edge baffles do a good job, I never feel like I'm going to roll off the edge, and the SynMat UL 7 seems to me to be the opposite of the "pool toy" feeling I've heard described with some other pads. It's very comfortable and can be as firm or as soft as you need.
It's been extremely durable after 1 season and ~ 20 nights. So much so, that I've decided to get rid of my old self-inflating foam pad for when I take the kids car camping and just use the SynMat UL 7.
Inflating and deflating are easy, I like the dual-valve system, it's easy to let out a little air once you're on it to make it softer without the risk of letting it all out. Capping it off when inflating is easy without losing any of the air you've put in with the built-in check valve.
It's very quiet when tossing and turning, a big advantage to me over the NeoAir, which I find very noisy.
The weight is about 2oz more than the NeoAir, but it does include a stuff sack and repair kit. At just over 16oz I still consider this a lightweight pad that can be used in colder weather.
I've slept on the pad with nothing below it except a silnylon tent floor down to 30F and it was plenty warm, and that was with a Big Agnes bottomless bag.
The SynMat UL 7 is also a full inch wider than the NeoAir. I have both and have fully inflated them and side-by-side the SynMat is wider even though they're both listed as 20" wide. 1" makes a big difference with a pad this narrow, at least to me.
I like this pad so much that I ordered another for one of my kids that backpacks with me. The other will use a NeoAir that I also bought, I couldn't resist and had to see if I liked the NeoAir more than the SynMat UL 7, I can say that I prefer the Exped.