Insulated Air Mattress
Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo
$279, 1 lb. 12 oz. (with stuff sack)
Let’s face it: Side-by-side air mats in a tent have a way of taking the love out of camping, because when curled up with your partner, one or both of you tend to slip into the gap between the mats. Not any more with the SynMat Hyperlite Duo. My wife and I shared it happily for three nights on a mid-July rafting and kayaking trip on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument, and were surprised at how much more comfortable it is even than we expected.
I also slept on it by myself for a night of car-camping in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley just because it feels like I’m sprawling out on a double bed. At nearly three inches thick, it’s plush, comparable to many air mats that are heavier and bulkier (per person). At 72 inches long, it accommodates six-footers, and it’s wide enough (41 inches at the shoulders, tapering to 32 inches at the foot end) that you rarely bump into your mate—no more than you would in any lightweight, compact, two-person tent. In fact, it covers the floor of many ultralight or midweight backpacking tents, which I found a nice convenience that just makes a tent more livable because you’re virtually always on an insulated, cushioned floor. It also eliminates the problem of two separate air mats sliding around or overlapping one another.
Really nice feature: The SunMat Hyperlite Duo has two sides with separate valves that inflate and deflated independently. That minimizes the degree to which one person’s nighttime shifting around disturbs the other person, and allows each person to personalize his or her mat firmness. Plus, one side of the mat still holds air if the other side leaks. The 20-denier polyester fabric is lighter than what’s used in many air mats—it’s fairly tough and will resist puncture, but don’t throw it down just anywhere. (I’m always careful to make sure there’s nothing sharp, whether rocks or vegetation with needles, where I lay it down.)
With an R-value of 3.3, it has adequate insulation for three-season camping even when temps dip below freezing. Exped gives it a temperature rating of 21° F. The Duo packs down to 8×5.5 inches/1.6L, slightly smaller than two already-compact SynMat Hyperlite single air mats, although the Duo’s weight is exactly double the weight of the one-person Hyperlite, so you’re not reducing pack weight with the Duo.
I inflate the Duo using the Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag UL ($39, 2 oz., sold separately), a 42-liter/2,563 c.i., waterproof stuff sack made of ultralight, silicone-coated, 15-denier ripstop nylon with a valve that mates with the Duo’s valve: Simply connect the Schnozzel to the Duo’s valve, expand the sack to let air into it, then roll up the sack to force that air into the Duo. I’ve consistently found that it fills the Duo on the third time I roll up the sack of air, taking only a few minutes and requiring no dizzying 20 breaths from my lungs.
My advice: Put the love back into your camping relationship with an Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo.
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See all of my reviews of air mattresses and all of my reviews of backpacking gear at The Big Outside. See also my related Pro Tips articles “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “10 Pro Tips: 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.