Exped SynMat UL 7

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    Art Tyszka
    BPL Member


    Locale: Minnesota

    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.

    William Coulam


    Locale: Northern Utah Rockies

    Art's review was very thorough, but it's the only one. Surely there are more UL backpackers using Exped?

    I lost my ability to sleep in the outdoors a couple years ago. Closed cell foam and Z-Rest pad just didn't do it for me anymore.

    Did a ton of research as the Neo Air had just been introduced, but ended up going with this heavier pad as it felt better to me in the store when testing out my side-sleeping position. Plus it seemed more durable.

    Love the inflation system, size packed and inflated, and how quick it is to deflate and get on the trail. It's been used in everything from winter camping, to desert camping with no issues. And I can sleep again.

    Paul Maguire


    I just completed the JMT, and this pad worked flawlessly for me. I have always had a hard time sleeping in the back country, but this pad changed that.

    I looked at this, the Neo Air and the Big Agnes Qcore. I went with this, based on a few things:

    Its weight was low, and has a nice thick air bed to lay on. It also had a pump bag as an added item, which is KILLER! 3 bellows full of air and the mat is full. No more blowing up. And, the pump bag doubles as a super light weight dry sac. I believe its under 2 oz.

    The pad held up great, and was extremely comfortable. It stows away very small, not a whole lot larger then a can of soda.

    I was a bit nervous of its durability, but it held me thru 19 nights in the backcountry. I only laid it inside my tent, which was also on a footprint.

    My partner also had this same mat for our trip, but his failed mid way thru the trip. The middle baffle seam blew, and it became one large baffle down the middle. He was miserable for the rest of his trip.

    But, mine held up great, and I LOVE THIS MAT!

    joe hammes
    BPL Member


    I found the extra width and length (26×78) and weight (20.9 oz, not verified) justifiable for the best night's sleep I ever had camping as an adult. It genuinely felt like I was at home in bed. Temps were only low 40s, so can't say much about cold weather performance yet, but I intend to take it winter camping this season. Fit perfectly in my Tarptent Rainbow with room to spare all around. Did not slide around and felt centered all night unlike my older 20×72 mummy-shaped self-inflating pad. Pad was quiet, easy to inflate and deflate, rolled up small, and I fit it with much room to spare as a 6'tall, 155 lb. side sleeper who turns frequently. Hope it's durable and long lasting.

    Anna T


    Locale: Victoria, Australia

    The Exped SynMat UL7 is my first inflatable pad for backpacking. I have used it for approximately 20 nights so far in New Zealand and Australia in a range of conditions. I adore it!

    I am a cold side-sleeper with a spine injury who wriggles a lot, so I needed something that would support me, make sure my down-turned hip and shoulder didn't touch the ground, and would keep me warm. I'm pleased to say that the Synmat does all of the above.

    I find the mat and its vertical baffles very comfortable and supportive. I have had the mat down to approximately -5 degrees celcius so far, and still felt warm. I am happy with the weight for the amount of comfort and warmth it provides. It is my luxury item in camp.

    The mat is easy to inflate, but as with all inflatables, if you use your breath, you will get little beads of water forming in the mat once the air cools down. Once this mat dies, I will get another and use a pump bag (this will double as a pillow and stuff sack).

    I find that this mat can slide around on the tent floor a bit, particularly on sil-nylon floors. I have added strips of silicone to my tent floor to stop this. People who don't want to do that to their tent should take this into account.

    I stay on the mat well during the night, and I find it pretty silent to use. This mat is responsible for me finally being able to properly sleep when I'm outdoors, which I have never been able to do before!

    Deflating the mat is a bit of a pain, but no worse than any other air mattress. It is worth it for the comfort! It packs up to the size of a drink bottle and comes with a perfectly-sized stuff sack.

    It also seems pretty rugged, and I have risked fate by dragging it around as a sit pad on occasion.

    I will definitely purchase again when this one finally fails, and would unhesitatingly recommend it to others.

    Jim Milstein


    Locale: New Uraniborg CO

    The weight was exactly what Exped specified, 20.9 oz. I have slept on it in temperatures down to 8ºF in a homemade Tyvek bivvy with an enLIGHTened Equipment 20ºF quilt. It's good! (So was the quilt) Do not use this mat without the Exped Schnozzle Pump Bag, 2 oz.

    It's such a relief not to have to sleep super-carefully on a tiny, thin mat, where you have at most one semi-comfortable position.

    I have only two concerns with this mat. First, its vulnerability, which it shares with any inflatable mat. Second, the time and effort to inflate and deflate, which it also shares with most other inflatable mats.

    In summary, it is not the most robust or simple sleeping mat, but it is very comfortable and suitable for cold weather.

    Terran Terran
    BPL Member


    Excellant quality for both pieces.
    Individually, I find myself bottoming out on the Exped pad. I'm 6' and 190#. Can't say if it's any worst than other inflatables. I suspect I'd have the same problem. Otherwise the pad is very comfortable. I'm not sure I would buy it again. Still it may be one of the best inflatables available.
    I recently ordered the Exped chair kit which consists of a pad cover with 4 removable stays.
    I gave it high marks because it is of good quality and is almost exactly as described.
    I could not get the stays out.
    It is too heavy and bulky to carry. At least it isn't worth it to me. I would limit it mostly to car camping in which case I would just bring a chair.
    The pad needs to be partially deflated to form a comfortable chair. When laid back as a pad, it needd to be reinflated or you can feel the stays under you.
    It is not waterproof. When wetted, it kind of holds the water in, next to the pad, making it slow to dry.
    I'm going to keep it. For all my nit picking, it is good quality and comfortable. I would not buy it again, unless I find the right situation where it works.

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