The Vault Regulars

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The weight to go.

  I must be slipping. I have put weight on in the pack! I decided that enough is enough of the Neo-Air mat which weighs a fantastic 260gr. in small size. I have never come to terms with it though, i have never found it comfy.

  I have been looking at other offerings from Pacific Outdoors, Vaude, Exped, Trangoworld, Big Agnes (kindly lent to me by Maz whose blog The Journeyman Traveler is well worth a read), Kooka Bay and others for quite some time. I have given them all the 3rd degree, read lots of your excellent reviews and now i have decided on what i want.

  Well not just decided but ordered and delivered.

  Eventually i went for the Exped Synmat UL 7. It was touch and go between this and the Exped Down Mat, that Robin at Blogpackinglight had kindly suggested to me, but all round the UL7 was my best choice.

  I bought it from RoughGear for the Princely sum of £70 for the M size which is 1830mm long x 520mm wide and 70mm thick. The mat has vertical tubes which i have found to be much more comfortable than the Neo Air's sideways tubes. The 2 outer tubes are slightly larger diameter than the 6 inner tubes and UL7 also has synthetic microfibre insulation that has been laminated to both top and bottom of the tubes and the R value is 3.1.

  Weight 460gr,  that's 200gr more than my small Neo-Air. I saved 100gr on the Creon Lite Rucksack so i am only 100gr on the wrong side at this moment in time, although i have now got the comfort of a full length mat.
Packed, it is about the same size as a 1L water bottle.

Exped Synmat UL7 with Exped pillow attached.
  The quality of Exped equipment i find to be second to none. You don't go wrong buying Exped.
The valves, of which there are 2, are flat with the mat and work superbly well and very reliable. The warranty is 2 years.
You can buy a separate lightweight pump for all Exped valved kit that eliminates moisture from your breath entering the tubes.
Now i just need to get out and try it properly. More to follow.


afootinthehills said...

I'm pretty sure I'll be looking for a new mat after our forthcoming trip in May Alan! I've never been tempted by the Neo-Air simply because of what you and others have said about it. I can't think of anyone who has given it rave reviews.

I'll be interested to hear what you think of your new mat after a night or two, although I'm not keen to add any weight given that I don't travel all that light anyway!

AlanR said...

I am working on the weight at this minute and i will get more than 100gr out of my current kit to compensate.
I was always one for buy small, to keep the weight down, and put your feet on or in the rucksack. That was until i borrowed the Big Agnes mat and realised that it is so much more comfy having a body length mat again.
It has certainly taken me some time and patience to chose this mat.

The Neo-Air, made everyone take notice and i thought that it was the best thing since sliced bread. But it didn't suit me for the reasons i have posted about previously. I stuck with it though. The other manufacturers have now caught up and passed in my view. Although they are bringing out a new lighter version of the Neo Air, it still has sideways tubes. The new shape has gone more like the old Prolite mats and has a good R value of 3.5.

Phil Ross said...

I'm happy with my Neo-Air but have heard good things about the Exped UL7. I'm looking for another mat for when my wife or kids join me on a camp out. As it happens I was thinking about the the UL7, so I will be interested the see what you think of it.

AlanR said...

Hi PhilR
For some reason i sleep better on the vertical tubes. I slept very well on the BiG Agnes mat so i expect this to be very similar.
I am looking forward to a good nights sleep and i will be reporting back.

Martin Rye said...

TerryBnd used that on a trip and raved about it. I would be tempted to get it. I binned the Neobackache way back. Needing to deflate a mat to get some comfort is pointless. Good buy Alan.

AlanR said...

Thanks Martin,
I don't think i read TerryBnd review if he did one. I will pop over and have a search.
Neobackache! I like that.

markswalkingblog said...

Good choice Alan, I have that set up in your photo. I find it very comfortable. See for more info

-maria- said...

A good night's sleep is definitely (imo) worth the weight penalty, Alan. I believe the vertical tubes are better. I look forward to your reviews as like PhilR, I will be making new purchases when more and more family members join me on trail (at least I hope that happens!).

AlanR said...

Hi Mark,
Yours was one of the first reviews i read. I kept it somewhere in the back of my mind. Thanks

AlanR said...

Great improvements have been made in sleeping mats. At one stage i would never have gone full length mat because of the weight being near 1k.
I took some time with the decision but i think it is the right one for me.
Family backpacking is great fun. My youngest was about 5 when she did a full week backpacking in Cumbria.
She carried all her own gear over the high passes. I must post some old photographs. That will make her day. Ha

Сергій Сосницький said...

Hi Alan,
A few months ago I also bought an UL7, but a 160cm version. I also have an Exped Pillow and to my big disappointment there's no way to attach the pillow to the mat :(
Have not tried the mat in the field yet (well, except for a single night at -4C) as it is not warm enough for winter.

AlanR said...

Hi Sergiy,
What i have done is buy some 3mm wide elastic from haberdashery. I tied the elastic to the rings on the pillow and then stretched the elastic around the mat. Its not the perfect solution but i will try it and see how it works.
I must admit, i thought there might be a way of joining the 2 items together that was properly designed by Exped.
Maybe we should send them emails.

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