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We rolled the unfeasibly small Exped Synmat UL into our bikepacking luggage and spent many nights exhaustively testing its capability.

exped synmat ul 7m
Best for...
Adventures where pack size and weight are as important as comfort
Overall Score
Terrifically small pack size while still offering decent insulation and impeccable comfort
Pricey, and an ambitiously small stuff sack which makes packing an exact science.

As long-time users of the very similar Thermarest NeoAir range, this Exped inflatable mat came as quite a revelation. In many ways it is identical - excellent pack size, several inches of air-filled comfort - but that is where the similarity ends. Exped have gone the extra mile to iron out a few of our, admittedly minor, gripes about the competition.

Firstly, the valve and inflation systems are nothing short of excellent. Dedicated inflation and deflation valves make each job - pardon the pun - a breeze, with a one way inflation valve meaning any air you blow in won't come back out the moment you take your eye off the ball. A completely open deflation valve pours air out for speedy packing too. But the best feature is the superb 'Schnozzel Pumpsack' supplied, which is basically a standard, superlight, drybag with a valve shaped push connector on the bottom. Simply connect, open the drybag to gather air, then close and squeeze the air into the mat. Only around half a dozen large squeezes is enough to inflate our size small mat (chosen for lighter weight), which is far better than the competition.

Exped have also specced a pleasant, soft flock material for the surface which is grippy yet comfortable, packed in a substantial repair kit, and have included enough synthetic insulation in the air pockets to mean you are theoretically good down to -6C. We only tested down to freezing but it felt good enough at that temperature to suggest -6C would be comfortable too.

Our only criticism is the ambitiously small stuff sack. You really need to be squeezing every last breath of air out of the mat, then accurately rolling it up in folded thirds, to get it in and this led to a few frustrated stuffings when the weather was chasing us off a windy and rainy camp. But, on the flip side this is great for pack size - our small is only around that of a 1 litre Nalgene bottle and 508g.

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