Exped FlexMat Plus Foam Sleeping Pad Review

Exped FlexMat Plus Review

The Exped FlexMat Plus is a folding accordion-style closed-cell foam sleeping pad with an R-Value of 2.2 (using the new sleeping pad R-value standard). While it is heavier than the comparable NEMO Switchback and Therm-a-Rest ZLite foam sleeping pads, it’s also about 10% more insulating based on the new R-value industry standard which makes it possible to compare sleeping pads from different manufacturers. It’s also significantly thicker than either of those other pads and more comfortable for side and back sleepers. If you’d given up on closed-cell foam sleeping pads because they’re too thin and uncomfortable, you might want to try out the 1.5″ thick FlexMat Plus a try. There’s a lot to be said for using an indestructible foam sleeping pad if you have had problems with noisy or leaking air mattresses.

Specs at a Glance

  • Type: Closed Cell Foam Pad
  • Weight: 17.6 oz
  • Pad Thickness: 1.5″
  • Dimensions: 71.5″ x 20.5″ x 1.5″
  • Packed Dimensions: 20.5″ x 6″ x 7″
  • R-Value: 2.2

Many backpackers like using closed-cell foam pads as sleeping pads or sit pads because they’re waterproof and can’t be punctured like an air mattress. They’re also easy to modify with a pair of scissors for lots of different applications ranging from sit-pads and pot cozies to stove windscreens and backpack frames. While they are bulky, it’s pretty easy to carry one strapped to the outside of a backpack, either on top or behind using webbing straps or elastics cords.

The Exped FlexMat Plus is a very thick closed-cell foam sleeping pad with much larger dimples than those on the other two leading foam mattresses used by backpackers, the NEMO Switchback and the Therm-a-Rest Zlite Sol. The tops of the FlexMat’s dimples flatten out when you lie on the pad, which is much softer and more comfortable than the Switchback and Zlite Sol.

 Exped Flexmat PlusNemo SwitchbackTherm-a-Rest Zlite Sol
Weight17.6 oz14.5 oz14 oz
Thickness1.5"0.9"0.75"
Dimensions71.5" x 20.5" x 1.5"71.5" x 20" x 0.9"70.5" x 20" x 0.75"
Packed Dimensions20.5" x 6" x 7"20" x 5" x 5"20" x 5" x 6"
R-Value2.222
Price$55$39.95$44.95

For instance, the FlexMat Plus is 66% thicker than NEMO Switchback and twice as thick (100% thicker) than a Therm-a-rest Zlite Sol. You can really feel the difference in comfort that a thicker sleeping pad makes, particularly since your hips and shoulders don’t bottom out when you roll onto your side to sleep.

The dimples on the blue FlexMat Plus are larger than the one on the orange Nemo Switchback and the yellow Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol
The dimples on the blue FlexMat Plus are larger than the one on the orange Nemo Switchback (left) and the yellow Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol (right).

The tops of the FlexMat Plus’ dimples compress flat when you lie on top of them, but warm air heated by your body heat, can still circulate in the air channels around their base.  I’d still recommend using a pillow or a stuff sack filled with clothes to raise your head if you use one at home because you’ll sleep more comfortably.

The FlexMat Plus is not covered with a silvered reflective coating like the Switchback and ZLite Sol, so it doesn’t matter which side you sleep on. Set up is a breeze, when using the pad by itself, underneath a second pad for added insulation, or as added puncture protection for an air mattress. The only potential downside to switching to the FlexMat Plus is that it may be too thick for use as a backpack frame in the pad pockets of frameless backpacks where the use of a thinner pad is still necessary.

Sleeping Pad R-Values and Air Temperature in Degrees

What’s the correlation between air temperature and sleeping pad R-values? When do you need a pad with a higher R-value? This table is based on Exped’s recommendations in Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees.

Air Temperature (F):50433629221580-7-14-21-30
Minimum R-Value11.522.533.544.555.566.5
Air Temperature (C):1062-2-6-9-13-18-22-26-30-34
Minimum R-Value11.522.533.544.555.566.5

In addition:

  • R-values are additive, so you can combine two pads to increase your warmth level.
  • Women need higher R-values pads because they have lower body mass than men. An additional R-value of 1 is usually a good hedge for women and other cold sleepers
The Exped FlexMat Plus is easy to carry on the outside of a backpack and is virtually indestructible
The Exped FlexMat Plus is easy to carry on the outside of a backpack and is virtually indestructible

Recommendation

The Exped FlexMat Plus is a 1.5″ thick closed-cell foam sleeping pad for backpacking and camping that’s substantially thicker than the NEMO Switchback and the Therm-a-Rest ZLite foam sleeping pads. This makes it much more comfortable to sleep on, perhaps enough that you’ll want to switch back to using a foam pad instead of an air mattress because they’re virtually indestructible and far less expensive.

Disclosure: Exped provided the author with a pad for this review.

Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!

Most Popular Searches

  • exped flexmat plus review
  • exped flexmat vs nemo switchback

9 comments

  1. I was thinking that you’d need significantly more material to make it that much more comfortable, but I did the math and it is 26% heavier than the Zlite. That is significant but could be well worth it. I’m interested.

  2. Thanks for the review.

  3. Can you compare/post a photo of how thick the Exped Flexmat Plus is compared to the other CCF pads like you did in the Nemo Switchback review?

  4. I bought one recently and really like the look of it – haven’t had a chance to take it out yet to sleep on it. But I weighed mine out of curiosity, and it came in at 420g/14.8oz. The guys at Exped were surprised at the difference, so not sure what’s caused it. But as someone who loved the Nemo Switchback but wanted to try the extra thickness for side sleeping, I was pleasantly surprised to find it weighed almost the same.

    Is the weight listed in the review from weighing the mat yourself, or the box’s claimed weight? I’d be curious to know what others come in at, just to see how much of an outlier mine really is :)

    • I have to second to Chris, few weeks back I bought Flexmat Plus in Germany. On the package it was marked 500g/17.6oz, but on my weight it was 418g.

      For the moment I just tried the mat for one night and it is comfortable, but it seems to break in quickly…. I’m curious about it’s durability.

  5. I’ll try out any new alternative to an air mattress, so I happen to own both a FlexMat Plus and a Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol. Yesterday I wanted to take a quick nap in the living room without leaving the dog alone to pull out his recent stitches, so I just grabbed two pads. The ZLite placed on top of the FlexMat is unbelievably cushy! Because the dimples on the two pads do not align at all, the ZLite tends to “float” on top of the FlexMat. I assume the same would be true of a Switchback/FlexMat combination, and even to a ZLite/Switchback combo to some extent – any combo where the two mats cannot nest together. This observation is of limited value, I know, because 95% of the time nobody is going to carry two pads, but the next time I’m sleeping on the snow and carrying two pads, I’m going to make sure they are of mismatched dimple pattern.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *