Sleeping mats are essential to reduce heat loss through the ground. According to Exped, heat loss through convection through the ground can be greatly reduced by adding down to the air chambers inside the sleeping mat – and since down compresses so well, this form of insulation allows a tiny packed size too.
The more air pockets trapped inside the sleeping mat, the more insulation – and the warmer you will be. Exped also believes that adding down to its mat makes it twice as warm as a foam one. The advantage of down over foam is that down can be compressed, so it is no surprise to find that the packed size of this mat is very small compared with conventional closed cell foam mats or self-inflating mats.
The Downmat has baffles between its six air chambers to prevent down from migrating, while foam barriers at each end stop it clogging the air valves. The mat also includes an integral pump for easy inflation and there is an extra valve for quicker deflation. So this is no ordinary mat.
On the hill
The Downmat comes packed in a very small stuffsack and it tumbles from this easily enough. The integrated pump is very unusual as you have to press with both hands on an area outlined with two hand shapes. Initially this just seemed wrong and weird as nothing appeared to be happening, but after a few pumps the mat did start to inflate and take shape.
The mat grows into a chunky affair that’s 178x52x7cm. It provides great cushioning and takes the edge off uneven ground even when you kneel on it. But a closed cell foam mat does offer more protection on even ground. When lying on the mat it is very comfortable as weight is now well distributed. That extra down did not seem to have any effect in my tests but it should provide far more insulation. Exped also makes a version that is filled with synthetic insulation but that is not quite as warm as this according to the manufacturers.
Materials laminated polyester
Insulation 170g of goose down
Thermal resistance 5.9
Temperature rating -24 deg C
Inflated size 178x52x7cm
Pack size 23x16cm
Made in Taiwan
Stores in the UK 150
Stockist details – tel. (015396) 25493; www.lyon.co.uk
Verdict: The Exped Downmat 7 Pump is the warmest mat we tested, and it’s also relatively light and small packed size for that level of insulation, which is an excellent combination. But others are a little more comfortable, or smaller and lighter. Overall, ideal for camping in colder weather but weight and packed size are still drawbacks for backpackers, so best kept for base camping.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2009