Insulated Air Mattress
Exped SynMat Hyperlite
$169, 14 oz. (medium, including stuff sack)
Medium (72×20.5×2.8 ins., packed size 3.5×7.5 ins.)
Medium wide ($179, 72×25.6×2.8 ins., packed size 4×7.5 ins.)
Long wide ($189, 77.6×25.6×2.8 ins., packed size 4×8 ins.)
How light and compact can an air mattress get and still deliver a comfortable night’s sleep on the ground? Under a pound for a full-length, insulated air mat, I discovered after using the SynMat Hyperlite on backpacking trips on the 34-mile Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon, the 41-mile Timberline Trail around Mount Hood, the 34-mile Rockwall Trail in Canada’s Kootenay National Park, and a weekend of camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve.
A full-length air mattress with nearly three inches of thickness, the SynMat Hyperlite nonetheless packs down to the size of a one-liter bottle and weighs under a pound—less than every other air mat I’ve reviewed except the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, which is slightly thinner. Credit the compact package to a few design factors: light, 20-denier fabric (compared to more-durable 75-denier in some air mats), which is also used in Exped’s SynMat UL and DownMat UL; a tapered, mummy-style design, which is fine for people who don’t flop around a lot in their sleep; and using less insulation while retaining enough insulation for three-season camping.
I slept comfortably every night, on ground of packed dirt at Mount Hood and the City of Rocks, and on a flat, sandstone ledge and atop ground littered with small stones in the Grand Canyon. I could inflate the SynMat with 14 strong puffs of breath. But I preferred using the Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag UL ($39, 2 oz., medium), which has a valve that mates with the SynMat’s valve: Using it, I could inflate the air mat in about a minute. (Connect the valves, open the sack to fill it with air, then roll it up to force air into the air mat). The Schnozzel doubles as a roll-top, water-resistant stuff sack large enough for a sleeping bag.
The SynMat Hyperlite carries an independently measured R-value of 3.3—pretty respectable for its size and weight. (R-value is a measure of the insulation’s ability to resist heat transfer—to prevent your body heat from passing readily through the air mat to the colder ground.) Temps dropped to around 50° F on my nights in the Grand Canyon, on the Timberline Trail, and at the City of Rocks, for which the mat had more than enough insulation. Exped provides a temp rating of 21° F for it.
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Microfiber insulation fills each of the tubular chambers making up the SynMat. Exped bonds the insulation to both the top and the bottom of each chamber, so that the insulation expands and fills the chamber after you unpack the mat; otherwise, synthetic insulation can remain compressed, compromising how well it insulates you from the ground.
While it’s not quite as plush as the most comfortable backcountry air mattresses I’ve slept on, it’s certainly comfortable, which makes its low weight and compact size very attractive.
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See my other reviews of backpacking air matresses that I like and all of my reviews of backpacking gear. See also my Pro Tips articles “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”
NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.