I needed something better than the cheap blow-up air…
Price Paid: 110 euro
I needed something better than the cheap blow-up air mat I've been using for camping during Summer, because I wanted to start winter camping. And in Sweden in Winter it can get pretty cold, even in the south it can dip down to -20 or below, and the problems I'd had with cold had always been from below.
So I read a lot of reviews and the bottom line seemed to be that the Exped down mats cost a good bit, but were worth it. The model I got was with the integrated pump, and that took a little to get used to, but now that I've used the mat a few times it takes only a minute to get it pumped. In fact it's so fast that I just throw up my tent and mat in ten minutes before I plan to hit the sack. And the pumping usually gets me nice and warm for sleeping.
The mat can be pumped up a LOT, I found out that you really can put a huge amount of pressure in it, and that way you don't get any contact with the ground even if you're sitting up in the mat with all the weight on your elbows, reading a book or something. It also makes for a very comfortable nights sleep, the stiff support and slightly 'grippy' black surface mean you don't slide around on the mat like with other blow-up models I've used.
And it packs down very nicely, the instructions are really well thought out. You pop open the valves, roll it up once, unroll and fold it in three and re-roll it, and then it fits easily into the stuff sack.
One nice trick is to bring along some dyneema cord or equivalent and use it to tie the stuff sack to the loops on the head of the pad, that way you can stuff the bag with a fleece and use it as a pillow, which also extends the length of the pad as you have your head off the pad.
I would definitely recommend the pad to friends, it has the Exped quality I've enjoyed with my Vela 1 tent. Lots of attention to detail and a good solid feeling to the equipment.