“What a joke!” laughed my dad as I sat in camp hunched over the built in hand pump on the EXPED SynMat sleeping pad. “What a yuppy gimmick!” he ribbed. Meanwhile, I was torn. The pump is rather ingenious, using the palm as a valve to push air in while foam inside expands sucking more air in between pumps. Still, my dad seemed to have a point. Why not just blow? It did seem rather gimmicky.
I joined in the mat-mocking but couldn’t help loving the EXPED SynMat when it came time for bed. It slid right into my Big Agnes sleeping bag keeping me from getting tangled and for the first time, my back wasn’t cold! When you sleep on a basic air mattress, which is what I typically do when I camp with the family, the air underneath stays cool. We pack a heavy blanket to place around the mattress along with our sleeping bags to try and keep warm. The Big Agnes and other sleeping bags with sleeping pad sleeves are particularly terrible in this sort of situation because they are not insulated on the underside. Rather, they rely on the the sleeping pad to provide the insulation.
In this respect, the SynMat delivers! I was warmer in my 15 degree Big Agnes than I had been in any 0 degree, fully insulated bag EVER! The synthetic filler, almost undetectable when the mat is rolled up flat, became a rock star keeping me warmer than I’ve ever been while camping. I didn’t get tangled due to the fact the mat kept the bag in place. I couldn’t feel any contours from the ground much less a stick or rock. I slept like the dead.
Still, the ribbing about the pump bothered me. So I asked the boys at USO Store, “What is the deal
with the pump? Is it simply for conversational flow around the campfire? Is if for the exhale challenged? Why the gimmick?”
They explained that the first edition of the EXPED sleep pad, the DownMat, needed the pump to kept the down fill from collecting moisture from breath. The SynMat, filled with a synthetic fiber, is less sensitive to moisture. Still, the pump was so popular in the first version, that EXPED slapped it into the SynMat due to consumer demand.
So yes and no, the pump is necessary in the DownMat, gimmicky in the SynMat. Still, I can handle a little ribbing for such a wonderful night sleep. And did I mention it takes up less packing space than a 6-pack? Which means you can pack a second 6-pack. SOLD!
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