Gear Review: Exped Downmat UL 7 M & Klymit Cush
Exped DownMat UL 7:
When camping, the ground on which you will be sleeping is the biggest point of contact for your body, (unless in a hammock!). The ground then acts somewhat like a heatsink for a great deal of the heat given off by your body whilst you sleep, channeling it out of you by way of conduction. As such, if needing a sleep system capable of keeping you alive, warm and comfortable, a good insulating mat is of as much importance as a good sleeping bag. Down mats, or synthetic alternatives use the body heat that seeps down through the mat to warm air trapped in the down/synthetic filaments, thus providing you with a semi-passive, self-sustained bed of warm air to sleep on.
In this context, the Exped DownMat Ul 7 M is an excellent invention. It contains 700 fill power goose down filled baffles, (170g of down), that utilise your own body heat to warm air trapped within the down filaments, producing an R-value, (a little advice and information from REI), of 5.9, so it is well able to insulate you from the ground. Does it work? Emphatically, yes! At no point have I ever been anything less than toasty, even at temperatures of around -10C, (it’s rated down to -24C!). The down baffles are oriented length-ways, which means that you don’t roll off easily during the night!
The somewhat wackily named pump, (the Schnozzel pump bag), is a brightly coloured, low denier silnylon bag with an attachment at one end and a roll-top closure at the other. The pump comes with the mat in this case, and works by filling it with air, closing the roll-top end and forcing the resulting trapped air out of the pump, into the mat. The process is relatively effortless, with the mat becoming fully inflated in perhaps 2-3 iterations if the pump bag can be fully filled each time, though in places where space is an issue and the pump doesn’t fill completely, it might take a couple more tries. The nozzles are clearly marked and the pump can double-up as a lightweight drybag, or maybe a pillow if wrapped in a fleece or jacket when filled with air.
The mat is constructed from a 20 denier polyester material with a TPU film providing some water and chemical resistance. The UL 7 M is quite expensive and weighs a bit more than other ultra-light’s in its category, tipping the scales at 630g in a medium however, it packs down to around the size of a wide-mouth 1L Nalgene bottle, has the best R-value in it’s class, does a very good job of keeping you warm and is very comfortable on the ground.
Pretty clever, well- designed and actually useful!
Weighing 85g, the Klymit Cush is a lightweight, packable and very versatile pillow/sit mat! It has several, foldable sections that can be used to easily vary the pillows size and shape. This provides better comfort for those who sleep on their side, or for those like me whose back problems are exacerbated by their sleeping posture, it allows you to shape it to support your spine, as well as your head.
The latter ability has helped me a great deal on my overnight trips, I can’t imagine camping without it. It takes about one breath to pump it up and it fits right in the hood of my sleeping bag. Can’t go wrong really.