Exped Synmat 7.5 Basic

Thanks to rare visit to the forums my memory was prodded and here is a belated look at the now slightly dogeared Synmat 7.5 Basic.

I moaned about the integral pumps in Exped mats at every opportunity, they seem so pointless, if your lungs are good enough to carry it up a mountain they’ll manage to inflate it surely? Still, some folk like so what the hell do I know? Talking back then to a now ex-representative of the brand: nothing.
Fast forward to a year or more ago and I got an “Aha!” from Si at Lyon Equipment “This’ll stop your whining!”. A Synmat free of the stupid internal pump, I rejoiced. Of course if came with a pillow that also acts as a pump, and as well as it worked, and as comfy as it was, it went on a couple of trips before being safely stored, and a year on I can’t find it for the photie…

So, to get to the point finally, this is a badass mat. 3″ thickness of heat-retaining all-night comfiness. I remember the bottom of this mat being frozen to the floor of the tent in the morning in a pool of ice and the top being warm: that’s a bit of kit that’s doing it’s job. It’s rated down to to -11°C, but whether that’s air temperature, ground temperature, defrost ice cube tray now tremperature I don’t know, but it repels cold to a fine degree.
It’s just short of 700g in its stuff sack and it packs to something between a toilet roll and kitchen roll size tube, but that’s not a killer at all. The fat insulated tubes catch condensation in the gaps between them and tend keep it away from your sleeping bag, a feature I’d always worried about being a heat loss area, but a trade off is fine it turns out.
The fabric is tough, I slept on Microspikes with this at one point (you should see the floors of my tents), and should clean easily, something unpacking it made me realise it needs.

I mentioned the pillow-pump, well without carrying that, this means you have to pucker up and blow into the big belly button valve thing which is a rather amusing and not unpleasant experience, certainly heats you up at a cold camp. It inflates easy enough, deflates and rolls up much easier than the integral pump one.

The Basic has been well used and I like it. It’s a silly tag to attach to it “basic”, makes it sound like you’re getting something with corners cut rather than tuned up for a faster lap.
Good kit, recommended.

16 thoughts on “Exped Synmat 7.5 Basic”

  1. Looks good. Like the colour too, gotta be worth an extra couple of degrees :-)

    Wondering now why I didn’t go for this instead of the Ether Elite. Seems you can get them for a reasobale price. Choice of mat for Norway would’ve been a no brainer. Only thing that bugs me is having two leaky down mats with less than 5 years intermittent use I wonder if they’re a bit tender (I’ve not been sleeping on micro spikes either). From what I can see the material looks to be the same as that on my down mat.

  2. Same fabrics across the board I think, I’ve the Airmat too and it’s the same.
    I’m actually dead jammy with kit, everybody was returning Neoairs and I’ve sleeping on rocks and mine’s been fine.

    I often wonder if storage is the killer for a lot of plastic kit, folds in seams and what have you. I remember Thermarest saying (maybe still do?) that the mats should be stored flat. Yeah, I’ll do that…

  3. Dave, we’d all need a second home just to store gear they way they recommend!

    Tomas, do you mean the moisture content of blowing the mats up with lung power? That’s one of the things I’ve always wondered about, over the long term how much would the insulated mats be affected.
    Difficulty wise, the Synmat is easy enough to blow up without the pump.

  4. I blow my downmat up with my lungs. To be hnsest, there’s more damp in the atmosphere I’d have thought at times than there could ever be in my lungs, so I don’t worry about it. It’s a couple of years old and I’ve not noticed any deterioration of insulation and i was camped out at -9c this last Friday night in the lakes.
    Always stored flat with the valves open tho.

  5. They say you can revitalise the down mats by opening both valves and blowing warm air from a hair dryer in through the pump sack. Never done it and now it’s pointless but something I would do after each trip if I blew them up with lung power.

  6. I’ve seen the mini clear plastic downmat sample that’s been doing the rounds for a few years, repeated inflations by a reps breath has made the down fill a little er, brown :o)

    But, I wouldn’t bother my arse, sleeping in a down bag and sweating and breathing into it is no worse.

  7. PTC*,
    I got one of the old Downmat 7’s just as the pump models were introduced on the strength of one of your comments that the pump models were more bulky packing. I persevered with the annoying heavy pump sack / bag for a couple of years but last year treated myself to the Exped pump pillow (and Air pillow for the summer when I don’t need a down compatible pump) which has transformed the inflation of the mat with no weight gain as I can use a lightweight stuff sack now. I think there is now an argument for Exped to start making a downmat 7 ‘basic’ to be used in conjunction with their pump pillow. If it is very cold I use an Alpkit Pipedream 600 inside a Big Agnes Lost Dog 50 synthetic topbag in an attempt to move the dew point outside of the downbag. This topbag also stops me rolling off the mat even if you pitch on a slight slope. All this stuff together is a bit bulky though and if I am on a single nighter it is not critical if the downbag picks up a bit of condensation during the night.

  8. soularch, I’m lucky, I rarely slip right off my mats, I seem to revolve on the spot with my bag. This means I have woken up on occasion with my face stuck to my sleep mat :o)

    Ah Mike, I remember the Lost Dog, and that’s a good way of working with it, that’ll be a toasty combo on the coldest nights.
    Topbags are great, I always think it’s the closets thing to being hom ein bed you’ll get in a tent.
    Exped should do all that mats in the Basic format, it saves so much packed bulk.

  9. Yes, it is strange that I quite like the BA Lost Dog 50 as it is almost completely inadequate from an insulation point of view as a stand alone bag for even high summer. But as an overbag it is very useful. When we go car camping I have two opposite hand models as overbags (picked up cheap from George Fishers!) for me and the girlfriend that stop our dog creating havoc when he jumps around the tent as they keep our inner sleeping bags clean and they are very easy to wash compared to a ‘proper’ insulated bag.
    Talking of bags I am very interested to see how your Crux Torpedo performs when you use it in anger. It seems that the Event would prevent the down getting wet from outside sources but I was not sure whether it would slightly increase condensation problems within the bag. I see that Sea to Summit are also bringing out some new bags with 3D Nanoshell technology which basically means that they have a thin layer of synthetic insulation over the down. They might work quite well in a similar manner to my combo.

  10. As I said on that other forum, the synmat is great! Being a fat lad the neoair looked risky! The synmat handles the pressure whilst being very comfy and warm.

    I also have a downmat 9 and to be honest struggle packing it down, the air gets stuck in the ‘tube’ the pump is in. Take me ages getting it flat enough to roll. Might just be me with this problem though!

  11. Mike, I was lying in the Crux in a semi frozen bog without a groundsheet last week, so I know it’s waterproof at least!
    The dew point and washing it are the big issues I think. Well, and the huge pack size.

    Roughyed, packing up anything but a Neoair or a Karrimat at camp is a battle I think!

  12. Things are moving fast: Exped have made the Synmat Basic marginaly wider and heavier for 2011 (at 50 cm). There are now also two Ultralight Synmats. A Synmat UL at 470 grams and R=3.1 and a Synmat Basic UL at 420 grams in size regular and R=2.9. The latter is a cheaper and perhaps marginaly warmer alternative to the Neoair. However, Thermarest have not been resting on their laurels either, and have announced a Neoair All Season with R=4.9 for 540 gram and heavier stronger material. For all those situations where the standard Neoair is too cold and/or too fragile, this could be the mat to have.

  13. It’s always good for us when one brings out something the others have to react to!
    I just got a Vaude Norssken mat in for test, quite weighty, but the packsize isn’t hugely different to a full sized Neoair, plus it’s got some sort of Primaloft fill in there.
    I do like the way sleepmats are going.

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