A comfortable sleeping pad makes all the difference when it comes to a good night’s sleep. We’ve been using the Exped SynMat UL for over three years now and can say that it’s one of the best options out there. It’s been with us on multi-day hikes through Australia, a 3-month long expedition in Iceland, and even a winter camping trip in our own home country of the Netherlands.
In this Exped SynMat review, we’ll explain a bit more about what makes this Exped sleeping mat so great to help you decide if it’s the right option for you!
Our Exped SynMat Review
Look and Feel
At first glance, the Exped SynMat looks a little thicker than many other sleeping pads out there. But having this extra padding is very comfortable, and you won’t have to worry about sinking down and touching the ground.
It’s also incredibly soft to the touch, although that won’t matter too much once you’re bundled up in your sleeping bag. However, it is coated with an anti-slip GripSkin honeycomb pattern, so it stays securely on the ground throughout the night.
You might also notice that it’s a different shape than other mats out there. Instead of a traditional mummy-style shape, this pad is rectangular, which actually gives you more space to move around. They even provide straps so you can tie two mats together to make one giant two-person bed!
The stability of the Exped Synmat is relatively strong. The outer lanes are a bit higher compared to the middle ones, so it kind of cradles you in the middle while you sleep. Therefore, you won’t have to worry about slipping off in the middle of the night.
A good sleeping pad needs to keep you warm during those long, cold nights up in the mountains. This warmth factor is measured by the R-value, which is a rating that looks at the sleeping pad’s ability to retain heat. Essentially, the higher the R-value, the more insulated the mat and the warmer you’ll be during the night.
The Exped SynMat has an R-value of 2.9, which means it’s not the warmest sleeping pad on the market (some mats go up to 5.5 or more). We used this pad when it was roughly 0°C outside and had no problem staying warm throughout the night. The packaging does say it can keep you comfortable in temperatures as low as -3°C (26.6°F), although we haven’t tested it in weather that cold yet.
If you are planning on taking this sleeping mat to colder climates, there are other ways you can stay warm. We outlined a few tips and tricks for staying warm in our camping in winter guide.
The comfort of the Exped SynMat is a toss-up for us. Kelly absolutely loved it, although I found it wasn’t as supportive as I would have liked.
The pad has vertical lanes, which depending on what type of sleeper you are, can be a good or bad thing. Back sleepers will probably not have a problem with this pad, although side sleepers might find it uncomfortable since the vertical lanes can fold inwards.
I’m a side-sleeper, which probably explains why it wasn’t as comfortable as other pads made with individual air pockets!
Unless you want to be kept awake at night from all the squeaks and creaks, it’s crucial that you find a sleeping pad that doesn’t make too much noise. The Exped Synmat is one of the quieter options out there, although it still makes some noise when you turn around. However, this is normal, as no sleeping pad is totally silent!
Ease of Use
If you’re moving from campground to campground, it’s important that your sleeping pad is easy to inflate and deflate. Thankfully, this is where Exped mats really excel.
With the Exped pump sack, you only need two or three sacks of air to fill it up completely. That means you can inflate your entire pad in just a few minutes! And when it’s time to pack up, you just pull out the air stop, and it will automatically deflate in seconds.
In addition, the storage bag it comes with is the perfect size, so it’s easy to put away when you’re ready to pack up. After all, there’s nothing worse than trying to squeeze and stuff a mat into a storage bag that seems two sizes too small!
Made from high-quality 20 D Polyester and TPU polyether film laminate, the Exped SynMat UL is a durable piece of equipment. However, it’s not immune to rips and tears, which is why we are happy that it comes with a repair kit.
We’ve had to use the repair kit twice since we’ve purchased the mat. One of the times, we accidentally punctured it during the night, probably while moving around in our sleep. However, repairing the rip was very straightforward and easy, especially since this was the middle of the night and we didn’t have to wait for it to dry. We could immediately go back to sleep.
It is worth mentioning that the mats will probably need to be replaced every few years. Three years after purchasing our first Exped sleeping mat, we noticed one of them was slowly leaking air. However, our other mat is completely fine after three years of intense wear and tear, so it’s difficult to determine the actual lifespan of the mats.
Packed Size and Weight
The Exped SynMat UL is a very slim and lightweight sleeping pad that packs down super small when it’s not in use. This is one of the main reasons why we love Exped mats. It comes in four different sizes – Small (S), Medium (M), Medium Wide (MW), and Long Wide (LW).
- S: 415g (14.6 oz)
- M: 475g (16.8 oz)
- MW: 565g (19.9 oz)
- LW: 595g (21 oz)
- S: 163 x 52 x 7 cm (64.1 x 20.5 x 2.8 in)
- M: 183 x 52 x 7 cm (72.1 x 20.5 x 2.8 in)
- MW: 183 x 65 x 7 cm (72.1 x 25.6 x 2.8 in)
- LW: 197 x 65 x 7 cm (77.6 x 25.6 x 2.8 in)
- S: 24 x 9 cm (9.4 x 3.5 in)
- M: 24 x 10 cm (9.4 x 3.9 in)
- MW: 27 x 10 cm (10.6 x 3.9 in)
- LW: 27 x 11 cm (10.6 x 4.3 in)
- S: 1.5L
- M: 1.7L
- MW: 1.9L
- LW: 2.6L
Pros and Cons of the Exped SynMat UL
As part of this Exped SynMat review, we’re going to lay out the main advantages and disadvantages of this hiking sleeping pad.
One of the biggest pros is size and weight. This sleeping pad is incredibly lightweight (even if you purchase the wider sizes) and packs down to roughly the size of a Nalgene bottle, which is important if you’re cycling or hiking with limited space in your bag. But despite its size, the mat is still thick enough to provide the right amount of padding, so you’ll still be comfortable and off the ground while sleeping.
We also love how easy it is to inflate. There are two valves and a double inside layer so air can’t escape while you’re inflating it using the provided pump sack. And when it’s time to pack up, you can simply open the other valve to deflate the mat in just a matter of seconds.
Comfort is always subjective, so the vertical lanes can be a pro or con depending on what kind of sleeper you are. Side sleepers looking for extra stability might look for a different style pad with air pockets or horizontal lanes instead. However, back sleepers will probably like the form-fitting, cradling style that this sleeping pad provides.
Another thing to consider while looking at the Exped Synmat UL is the warmth. This is a great 3-season sleeping mat, although with only an R-value of 2.9, it’s probably not suitable for very cold climates. But if you’re using it in the spring, summer, or autumn, then it’s a decent choice that will probably keep you warm enough.
- Small and lightweight
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Comes with a 2-year Exped warranty
- Comes with Exped gear: pump sack, storage bag, and repair kit
- Vertical lanes not comfortable for everyone
- Lower than average R-value
If you’re looking for a good 3-season sleeping pad that’s lightweight and easy to set up, then the Exped SynMat is a decent choice. It’s ideal for cyclists and hikers who want to travel light and don’t want to worry about adding extra weight to their backpacks.
We’ve taken our Exped SynMat sleeping pads with us around the world and can honestly say that it’s been a great travel companion for the past three years.
But don’t take our word for it! Give the Exped SynMat UL a try for yourself, and let us know what you think in the comments below!