Ahhh sleeping mats, a hotly debated topic. the argument normally centres around three things: Cost, Comfort, and bragging rights about enjoying being uncomfortable. As I despise the last point, I’ll stick with my standard method.
I have the Exped 9LW downmat. The ‘LW’ means it’s the long and wide version making it 197cm x 65cm x 9cm , 2.2kg and 5.7l when packed. It’s a premium mat that’s so thick and full of down that it’s rated down to -38oC.
There’s a saying “You get what you pay for”. And when camping like this….you’re prepared to pay a lot to be warm.
1) How good is it? 10/10
When you lie on it in normal temperatures it’s lovely. Because it’s 9cm thick you don’t hurt your knees on rocks below when crawling on it, and you also reduce the risk of punctures because you never pinch the underside against the ground. I’ve personally slept on mine at -34oC and it kept me warm. I used the same sleeping bag on a standard air bed at -5oC and I was FREEZING! This baby definitely does cold well. So in terms of comfort and warmth, I can find anything that comes close…..except maybe the Exped 7cm….more on that later.
2) Cost 3/10 (£200)
£200 is a lot of beer/petrol money. There’s no getting away from it.
3) Lifespan: acquired Jan 2013. Still going strong as has the “Ed hasn’t killed it in 2 years award”
It’s quite a tough bugger. I used it in the Arctic Circle for 2 months, riding back from Mongolia for 2 months, and now 6 months riding across Canada in winter. It’s had one tiny air puncture that took the whole night to go down, but I repaired it eventually and it’s still as good as new. One note: I’ve had friends’ Exped’s go “porous” on the underside and get loads of air leaks after long use. If I were to guess, I’d say that the airbeds were used on abrasive surfaces in the tent and wriggled around on. I always make sure there’s no sand in the tent for that reason. They also come with a 5 year warranty from Exped!.
It was fine for use in Mongolia too, although on really hot nights it could be a tad warm.
And it was still going strong 2 years later as Rach and I rode across Canada in winter together. Oh and Rach bought one for herself because she was so impressed with mine.
4) Value for money: 8/10
This is the only thing that will redeem a £200 sleeping mat, and luckily it manages it…..but how?…I mean it’s £200! Well it comes down to what happens if you have a bad night’s sleep, and normally……you get a hotel the next night. And that is where this mat comes into its own. I genuinely look forward to sleeping on it, it’s so thick that it fully supports me on my side (my hips don’t touch the ground underneath), and it’s so warm that I never get cold on it. And that means that if someone has a £5 foam sleeping mat but get’s a £60 hotel room every 2 nights because of a bad back….then they could have saved money by buying this £200 Exped.
And that is what you must decide. If you have no money and are going away for 3 days, then maybe just settle with being uncomfortable. But on a long trip or at sub-zero temperatures, this mat can easily pay for itself. Plus if you freeze to death on your foam mat in the night, suddenly £200 doesn’t seem so bad. And I’ve used mine for 300 days total, so £0.66 per day doesn’t seem so bad either.
5) Value for weight/size 9/10
1.2kg and 5.7litres does mean it’s larger than some, but it can still hide away in a pannier with a sensible weight. And for the amount of comfort you get compared to a huge foam roll mat, it’s in a different league. Anything that packs smaller or is lighter, just isn’t as comfortable, it’s as simple as that. And the ability to sleep at -38oC for only 1.2kg? That sells it for me alone.
6) Total score: 8/10 (10/10 if camping on ice or absolute luxury, 6/10 for normal use)
Hang on a minute……6/10 for normal use? Even though I think it’s awesome? Ah yes….you see it’s because Exped also do other mats, and they are cheaper, lighter and smaller. And that is where I leave it to you to pick your own score, and it’s based on what you want it for. If you’re going to the Arctic in winter, then give this one 10/10 and just buy it. And the same if you like comfort. But if you’re going on a summer bimble and your budget and space is low, then maybe the Exped 7cm ultralight synthetic mat is for you (I also have one, and the review is coming). It’s nearly as comfortable, and is only 600grams and 2.7 litres, but isn’t as warm or as durable. If you’re going to use your Exped mat more than once, then just forget the price and look at the comfort/warmth it’ll bring you. The 300+ happy sleeps it’s given me have more than paid for it.
7) Summary quote “I look forward to sleeping on this, that’s awesome”
2 thumbs up from me (Photo Jan 2013 in Germany).
The mat was used on this trip
***UPDATE**** : I’ve just finished using this mat to cross Canada in winter, new video to come soon
Oh and a special thank you to Stace Martin for buying it for me as a gift to keep me alive on my Arctic trip. He has no link to selling Exped’s and is just a stand up guy.
Where to buy one? http://www.traveldriplus.com/ Stace bought it from them and I’ve also spent my own money there. The owner’s really helpful too 🙂