User Review: Exped DownMat 7
Price Paid: C$125
I bought my Downmat 7 a couple of months ago and have just had the opportunity to use it this past weekend. I decided it was time to update my sad little blue foam pad with something a little more technical and, let's face it, useful.
I spent about two hours deciding between the Exped Downmat 7 short and the Thermarest Women's Prolite 4. Basically they were the same price when you added the cost of a stuffsack to the Prolite, but the Downmat is a lot thicker and supposedly warmer (higher R-value) which is important to me as I always wake up cold in the middle of the night.
The only "downside" of the Downmat is the short length I chose - the long one seemed unnecessary as I am 5'5" and typically sleep while hiking with my feet on my backpack, in addition to the significant added weight of the long mat which is also a lot heavier than the Prolite 4. However, if you can't get past the fact that your feet are not on the pad and weight is not a huge issue, then I would still go for the Downmat.
I did do some test runs at home before taking it out (just in case I wanted to return it for some reason!). All I can say after using it this weekend is that I'm in LOVE. After a tough 6 hour hike with a lot of elevation gain (read: every muscle was sore) I woke up the next day feeling GREAT. This pad feels more like a mattress than a sleeping pad; you will not notice any rock, bump or tree root underneath you. I did not slide off it at all even though the tent was on a bit of a slant (maybe something to do with the "tube" construction?) and I actually slept through the night without getting cold.
A nice feature is a simple thing - two tabs on one end that you can attach a pillow too which effectively lengthens the pad a little. As for pumping it with the stuff sack, it only take about a minute or two but I usually find that the sack pops off the mattress nozzle at least once which sets me back...still working on my technique there. And I have topped it off with a breath or two to fully inflate it although even when I didn't do this I didn't actually notice any loss of comfort.
Maybe I would be enthusiastic about anything better than the blue foam at this point but I stand by my decision and strongly endorse this pad for comfort and warmth.