We had originally purchased the Outwell Cimelia Sleep System which was not suitable for me, so I needed to buy a new mat. We have purchased a smaller tent a Coleman Cobra 3 to go mountain climbing and for the more basic camping experience so I need to consider firstly my comfort, then the size and weight and how warm it’s going to be.
I asked for some recommendations on our TentLife Facebook group and the Exped Megamat 10 was recommended. However when I looked, it was rather bulky (not compared to some of the sleeping mats and beds available) and heavy to put in a Rucksack. I then found the Exped Synmat 12 (now MegaMat 12 Lite) and the Exped Downmat 9, so I had a decision to make. The Exped Megamat would have probably been the best for my spinal problems but like I’ve already mentioned it’s not for backpacking due to it’s packed up size. I plumped for the Synmat 12 because the thicker the mat the more comfortable, however it had a lower R-Value (R-Value is a measure of thermal resistance, you lose heat through the ground and also the cold from the ground comes through your mat and makes you cold, so the higher the R-Value the less cold from the ground comes through and the less heat your going to lose to the ground therefore the warmer you will be, this is a simplistic explanation of R-Valve). The Downmat 9 has a R-Value of 8 and is 9cms thick, the Synmat 12 LXW as a R-Value of 5.30 and is 12cms thick.
I unpacked the mat when it arrived it’s orange and grey in colour, the packed size is quite small 6.23L Packed height: 31 cm Packed diameter:16 cm considering the size it inflates to 197 cms x 77 cms x 12 cms, it is also light, the mat is 1390 grams. The Schnozzel Pumpbag is 160 grams and the Packsack and repair kit is 25 grams totalling 1575 grams or 1.575 KG.
The Exped Synmat 12 comes with a Schnozzel bag to blow it up, this can also double as a waterproof stuff sack. You shouldn't use your mouth because the moisture from your breath can cause the internal thermal fibres to go mouldy. When inflating it in our kitchen it took sometime to fill the schnozzle bag with air, because is was excited like a child and I wanted to try the mat out. However when out in the field with the wind aiding the filling of the schnozzle bag, it's very quickly filled with air. The mat was up in 4 half bags of air, the mat as two valves at the end of it, one for inflation (which is equipped with a non return function), the other valve is for deflation. Once up I lay on the mat for a short period of time (once I’d fought the dog off, she likes kisses and hugs) it felt comfortable I wasn't experiencing any stabbing pains in my spine and no feeling of pins and needles in my legs.
I then deflated the mat, folded the mat into a third lengthways and rolled it up, closed both valves and returned it to it’s packsack. I took the mat on a family camping trip that weekend for four nights, yes the Schnozzel Bag was easier to fill with some breeze about. The first night was a bit of mixed bag, the mat was easily adjustable when I wanted to let some air out of it and I adjusted that twice. During the night the weather changed for the worse and we spent the night and most of the following day holding up the tent in very high winds and rain. So I couldn't honestly say that I’d had a great nights sleep, so when the weather eventually broke I took to the Synmat and had a nap for an hour, which was both refreshing and comfortable. We went out for a meal as we were tired and not in the mood for cooking and returned to the tent for a goodnights sleep.
I found that I could lay on my side for a while which is novel, I have a Tempur Mattress at home and I find that if I fall asleep on my side I awaken in pain during the night, so being able to lay on my side on the mat for even a short period was impressive. I slept the night through on my back and I had feeling in my legs when I awoke, which was also novel. I was certainly warmer because I had slept all night with my sleeping bag open. I found that it was easy to let a little air out whilst I was lay on it, to adjust the firmness. It also carries a 5 year warranty on materials and workmanship, which is good to know, it shows that Exped believe in the quality and the durability of the product!
The only problem I encountered was a pain in my spine just below the shoulder blades, I have put this down to needing a better pillow (which I will be researching in due course). So after four, well 3 and a half nights sleeping on this mat I’ve been comfortable and warm and I'm hoping that this is the solution to my sleeping woes.
I purchased this product without seeing it first, which I didn't really want to do given my last predicament and waste of money. I did go to our local Go Outdoors as they stock some, but the Stockist List on the Exped website isn't accurate as it simply lists stockists of any Exped products not specific products. I know that you can return things when you buy online but it can be a ball ache and sometimes it costs you money. I haven't got an answer to this problem, but it is a problem, if you to want to see/feel/try the product before committing to the purchase. Hopefully some of our equipment reviews will help answer some of your questions and allow you to buy with a little more confidence. If you have any questions about the ExPed Synmat 12, please feel free to use the comments section below and we will reply if we can help.