The gear: Exped Synmat Hyperlite sleeping pad, size Medium (msrp $169)
and Schnozzel Pump Bag UL (msrp $40)
Reviewed by: Drew Thayer, Senior Contributor
A sleeping pad doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to do three things well: keep your body off the ground, resist punctures, and not take up much room in a pack. Closed-cell foam pads are extremely durable, however a new wave of light-weight inflatable pads weigh less while providing more insulation, and they are arguably more comfortable to sleep on. So far, this pad from Exped is doing a pretty good job at completing the necessary tasks.
A light-weight no-nonsense pad
This pad has a slim footprint, just fitting under a “mummy” shape sleeping bag. It’s not a spacious mat for rolling around in your camper, but that’s not what you buy a super-light pad for. At 12.3 oz, this is one of the lightest inflatable pads on the market, lighter than equivalent length and insulation from Therm-a-rest and Sea-to-Summit. It is also very compact, rolling to fit in a 7.5 inch by 3 inch cylinder, smaller than a 1 liter water bottle. This pad is comfortable to sleep on and doesn’t use reflective interior coatings that crinkle when you move around. Despite this light weight, this pad insulates with an R-value of 3.3, which is enough to sleep directly on snow in summer or shoulder season conditions.
This pad has stood up to nights slept directly on gravel. The construction is very simple: 20-denier nylon with thin vertical baffles and one flexible valve. All the seams are joined by thick welds which don’t risk blow-outs. In the event of a puncture in the field, a repair kit comes included that stashes in small pocket in the stuff sack. The pad material bonds well to standard repair tools like seam grip, tenacious tape, and of course duct tape.
Easy inflation with the schnozzel pump bag
Inflating my old Therm-a-Rest pad was a chore that often left me out of breath. Exped engineered a novel method of inflating sleeping mats which is starting to catch on: pumping up the bag with an air-tight sack. The “schnozzle pump bag” is a roll-top waterproof stuff sack with a built in one-way valve. Simply plug it into the sleeping pad’s valve, fill it with air, roll the top, and squeeze. Four to five bag-fulls get the Synmat Hyperlite nice and firm, and the one-way valve holds the pressure while you replace the cap. This system works really well and I enjoy the ease and efficiency of filling the sleeping pad. The pump bag weighs only 2 ounces, holds 40 liters (a large stuff sack) and works well to keep a sleeping bag or clothing dry in wet weather.
I am impressed with the durability, comfort, and simplicity of the Synmat Hyperlite pad. Easy inflation with the pump bag makes it really efficient to inflate, too. This pad is a shaped in the narrow mummy cut to save weight, but is available in a wide version and long version as well. I’ve been happy to use it on spring climbing and backpacking trips so far, and I’ll be soon submitting it to a far more rigorous test: a 4 – week mountaineering excursion in a northern range of the Aleutian mountain chain in Alaska. Stay tuned in late June for an update.
Exped Synmat Hyperlite sleeping pad on backcountry.com
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