Feels Better Than it Sounds.
Remember when you were just a kid in grade school, thinking about all the money mom and dad had and how silly they were to budget and spend it on ridiculous items like heat and groceries? I remember thinking, "someday when I get a big old paycheck I'm going to the store and buying several thousand Swedish Fish." Yes, folks, I was that kid. Although my craving for Swedish fish went away by my first paycheck, I was still a kid in a candy store. The world of outdoor adventures quickly became my addiction and I was the candy man.
What does any of that have to do with where I'm at now? I am happy to say I've matured a little bit, a very little bit. Somehow I have managed to become responsible and budget my money. When it comes to comfort in the outdoors there are many different levels, spending options, and needs. When I'm setting up a base camp I prefer to have the most comfortable set up on the planet and I am not afraid to spend a little cash. The setup starts with my XXL cot; a review can be found here. Only slightly less important is my Exped Downmat.
Exped began as a distributor in the early 80s and in the late 90s began to create their own gear, much like another most excellent retailer you may have heard of. The company focused on highly innovative products that met the need of outdoor enthusiasts, (again the similarities are uncanny.) Utilizing motivated individuals who specialized in outdoor skills the company flourished and quickly gained favor in the adventuring community. Products offered from Exped have fit and function aimed at the family to the professional.
My personal mat is the Downmat 9 LW. The mat is made from polyester and filled with 700 fill goose down. An integrated hand pump makes inflating the down mat easy and quick. As an added bonus you will get “Popeye” forearms from the flat palm rocking motions you make to inflate the mat. The mat weighs just over 43 ounces, which seems heavy, but in reality, when you factor in comfort and warmth it is well worth the extra weight, even when ultralight backpacking. I place mine in my hammock for comfort and insulation!
The Downmat 9 LW sports an R-value of 8.0, one of the highest available. Shoulder width is impressive 25 1/2 inches with an overall length exceeding 77. For us big dudes that is a welcome base on which to lay our weary head. The mat fills to just over 3 1/2 inches thick when fully inflated, I find my sleep number to be about 210 pumps. Packed the mat is just over 10 inches long and about 6 inches around, easily packed and easily set up.
You can easily adjust your mat to your preference of firmness. The materials keep the mat quiet during your sleep. You may think this is a silly observation but some of the crinklier mats I have used have irritated me every time I move. I do not sleep like a log anymore; in fact, I tend to roll over about every 30 minutes. The last thing you and your fellow campers want to hear all night is the crunching of your neighbor's poorly constructed sleep mat. Not so here, all is quiet on the Wadester front, and back, and side.
Don't let the retail price scare you. When it comes to comfort and warmth, this may very well be the most important piece of equipment you take with you. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a ground mat when backpacking, especially in late fall and early spring. You will do far better to spend your money here than on a tent or even a sleeping bag. Give it a look and take it out for a spin.
Be happy, Be comfortable, and Share Your Adventures!