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 Plus||Nemo Switchback||Therm-a-Rest Zlite Sol|
|Weight||17.6 oz||14.5 oz||14 oz|
|Dimensions||71.5" x 20.5" x 1.5"||71.5" x 20" x 0.9"||70.5" x 20" x 0.75"|
|Packed Dimensions||20.5" x 6" x 7"||20" x 5" x 5"||20" x 5" x 6"|
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 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):||50||43||36||29||22||15||8||0||-7||-14||-21||-30|
|Air Temperature (C):||10||6||2||-2||-6||-9||-13||-18||-22||-26||-30||-34|
- 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 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.
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