The Exped Downmat 7 is a sinfully luxurious sleeping pad for cold weather camping when you need extra insulation below your sleeping bag to stay warm. Almost all sleeping bags, no matter their temperature rating, have one fundamental flaw. When you get into your bag, you compress the insulation underneath you limiting its ability to retain loft and trap warm air. In winter, when the ground is very cold, you need to compensate for this by sleeping on more insulation and it is common for winter backpackers to carry 2 pads for cold weather camping.
The Downmat 7 eliminates the need to carry two pads by providing you with one very warm insulation layer that resists compression. The Downmat is an air mattress segmented into multiple chambers each containing 700 fill goose down, much like a regular sleeping bag. When you lie on it, the air in the mattress maintains the loft of the down, absorbing the heat you radiate toward the ground, and trapping it in the down chambers. It’s a simple, yet ingenious design.
With an R-value of 5.9, the Downmat 7 is rated for camping in temperatures down to minus 11 degrees F. For comparison, a Therm-a-rest Prolite 4 has an R-value of 3.4 and a Therm-a-rest Z-lite has an R-value of 2.2.
When inflated, the Downmat is 2.75 inches thick yet compresses very well due to to the down fill. A synthetic version of the pad is also available but there is no reason not to get the down fill since there is little risk of it getting wet in the watertight air mattress.
The Downmat 7 is a very hefty 34 oz, including its stuff sack/pump, but you can often get away with taking a lighter bag on a cold weather trip, say a 0 or 20 degree bag, than you would otherwise, since the air mattress is so thermally efficient for cold weather conditions. There are several other variants of the Downmat 7 available including a 3/4 size and an extra long. The Downmat 9 series is also available with an incredible R-value of 8.0.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.
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