The Exped Ultra 5R Air Mattress is a lightweight inflatable sleeping pad that’s three inches thick and has an R-value of 4.8. It contains synthetic insulation, instead of reflective films, which makes it very quiet to sleep on, and is covered with a durable 20d polyester non-slip fabric. The pad has a pair of flat stemless valves for inflation and deflation and vertical baffles that are designed to keep you from rolling off the pad at night. The Ultra 5R is available in three mummy and three rectangular sizes including a regular width, a wide width, and a long and wide pad. All six sizes are priced identically so you can pick the size you want without having to sweat a higher price point. The Ultra 5R is also bundled with a large 45L inflation sack/dry bag called a Schnozzel (a $40 value, also available separately), which can be used as a waterproof pack liner.
Specs at a Glance
- Type: Air mattress
- R-Value: 4.8 (4-season capable or 3-season for cold sleepers)
- Size Tested: Rectangular, Medium
- Weight: 20.3 oz (20.3 oz actual) plus 0.6 oz for stuff sack
- Baffles: Vertical
- Cover fabric: 20d polyester made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic
- Valves: 2, flat
- Inflation sack: Yes, doubles as waterproof pack liner, weighs an extra 2.0 oz (actual)
- Available shapes: Mummy, Rectangular
- Available dimensions: Long Wide (77.6 x 25.6 x 3″), Medium: (72 x 20.5 x 3″),
Medium Wide: (72 x 25.6 x 3″)
- Packed size: 12.2 x 5.1″
The Exped Ultra 5R air mattress is 3″ thick and is luxuriously comfortable to sleep on. This is a good thickness to mask uneven ground, including smalls rocks and roots if you have to lie on top of them. The pad has vertical baffles that are slightly higher along the sides to keep you in the center of the pad at night without being obtrusive. I tested a rectangular medium-width pad which is 72″ x 20.5″, but the air mattress is also available in six variations, as listed below.
|72 x 20.5 x 3 in
|72 x 25.6 x 3 in
|77.6 x 25.6 x 3 in
|72 x 20.5 x 3 in
|72 x 25.6 x 3 in
|77.6 x 25.6 x 3 in
The one thing missing from the Ultra 5R is a way to connect a pillow to the pad so it stays in place at night, like the velcro-based system offered with Sea-to-Summit air mattresses including the S2S Etherlight XT pad. That would be a great enhancement if offered with the Exped pillow line. It really makes difference in comfort and sleep quality (take it from someone who slept with a bunched-up down jacket as a pillow for years.)
The Ultra 5R has synthetic insulation laminated to both the top and bottom of each baffle to prevent cold spots. This makes the Ultra5 a very quiet pad to sleep on, unlike Thermarest’s NeoAir Pads, which can sound like your sleeping on a bag of potato chips to your tent or shelter partners if you move around at night.
The Ultra’s synthetic insulation is laminated to the baffles in a way that makes it impervious to bacteria and moisture from your breath should you opt to inflate the pad by blowing into it. But the pad can also be inflated with an included 45L waterproof stuff sack, called a Schnozzel, which can serve double duty as a waterproof pack liner. I’ve used a Schnozzel as a pack liner/stuff sack pretty extensively (See Comparison of Five Ultralight Backpack Liners) and it’s also compatible with the flat valves of other air mattress vendors, including Sea-to-Summit.
The Ultra 5R has an R-value of 4.8 which is good for winter use down to zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18C) making it a viable choice for 4-season use or 3-season use if you sleep cold. It should be noted that Exped helped spearhead the adoption of the new sleeping pad R-value standard that lets consumers compare the warmth of sleeping pads from different manufacturers using a common scale, so this is an R-value you can actually trust, rather than a number pulled out of the air by some marketing or sales guy. We also publish a list of all of the sleeping pads available today that are rated with the new R-value standard in our Sleeping Pad R-Value Directory.
Inflating the Ultra 5R with the Schnozzel is very quick and only requires a few bagfuls of air. If you do decide to blow it up by mouth, the intake valve seals after each breadth so you don’t lose air while inflating it. Deflation is also easy because the pad has a dedicated OUT valve and most of the air rushes out as soon as you open it. Both valves are flat and stemless, which improves durability because there’s nothing sticking out to break. Packing the pad away is equally easy. You simply pack fold it once lengthwise, roll it up with the Schnozzel and pack it in the included stuff sack. It’s a snug fit but it’s not hard to pack.
The rectangular medium pad I review here weighs in at 20.3 oz, the Schnozzel weighs 2.0 oz, and the stuff sack weighs another 0.6 oz. I’ve listed the weights of all of the Ultra 5R pad sizes above for comparison. As mentioned previously, these are all priced identically regardless of size or type, which I think is a spectacular benefit for consumers.
While this 20.3 oz pad isn’t the lightest weight backpack air mattress available with this R-Value, I think it’s a pretty compelling size and value if you want a thicker 3″ pad. Pad thickness is a huge factor in air mattress comfort, and its hard to explain the comfort difference between a 3″ or 4″ pad and one that’s thinner. Comfort is tightly associated with sleep quality and not to be sacrificed lightly in the name of weight savings. Live and learn.
If minimum weight is important to you you can also get the Ultra 5R in mummy size which is 15.7 oz with the same 4.8 R-value. It’s worth noting that the mummy Ultra 5R pad is also significantly less expensive than the NEMO Tensor Alpine Air Pad, which is its closest competitor in terms of weight and R-value.
|Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Extreme
|Exped Ultra 5R
|NEMO Tensor Alpine Air
|NEMO Tensor UL Insulated
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women's
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
|Mountain Equip Aerostat Down
Simplified Product Naming Scheme
Exped simplified its sleeping pad product line naming scheme this year to make it more understandable to consumers. They now offer three series of backpacking pads:
- Model: Ultra (ultralight), Versa (versatile), and Dura (durable).
- In two shapes: Mummy and Rectangular
- In multiple R-values (it varies by model – for example, 1R, 3R, 5R, and 8R)
- Three dimensions: Medium: (72 x 20.5 x 3″), Medium Wide: (72 x 25.6 x 3″), Long Wide (77.6 x 25.6 x 3″)
Exped’s Ultralight line of pads is recommended when weight and pack size are important; the Versa line offers value and ease of use, while the Dura line is recommended when durability is vital. Being Exped, there are a LOT of different versions (SKUs) available and you might have to hunt around to find a retailer that carries the one your want since few will carry them all.
Exped has always made excellent insulated air mattresses that are warm and bombproof in terms of durability and this new Ultra 5R air mattress is completely consistent with that tradition. The Ultra 5R is thick enough to protect you from roots and rocks if you have to camp on a poor campsite while providing warmth in cold weather. It’s covered with a durable polyester fabric made from recycled plastic and rolls up compactly. I think Exped’s new pricing model is very favorable to consumers and that the Ultra 5R is a good value, especially if you want one pad you can use year-round.
Disclosure: Exped donated this pad for review.
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