ProView – Exped AirMat Ultra Light
I took the Exped AirMat up on Washington Column in Yosemite Valley to see how it faired for a few nights on the wall. I wanted a lightweight sleeping pad so hauling would be easier, and I wanted to test out a blowup pad for more comfort than my usual foam pad. Later that week I slept on the ground while I spent some time tent camping during Yosemite Facelift.
Exped AirMat Ultra Light
Product Description: Ultralight, ultra-compact, air-insulated mat in a comfort-oriented rectangular shape. Designed for fast-and-light adventures in warmer temperatures, but with the surface area of a rectangular mat. EXPED's GripSkin anti-slip coating, proven FlatValves and thick air cushion combine for maximum summer comfort.
Offer price: MSRP: $129.00 - $149.00
The ultralight Exped Airmat LW is a great ultralight sleeping pad with some really cool features. It is easy to set up, very comfortable to sleep on and easy to pack away because of its small size.
- Super lightweight
- One-way valve for inflation is super useful
- The ‘blow up bag’ is gimmicky, difficult to store, and not very useful
Going up on Washington Column had been a dream of mine for a while. I wanted to sleep on the ledge, stare up at half dome, and do some free climbing a few thousand feet off the ground. The giant ledge three pitches up called ‘diner ledge’ seemed like the perfect place to test out the Exped Airmat Ultralight LW. It was a nice night, the moon was full, and we ended up having a few friends on the ledge with us for a small evening party.
Let’s talk about the most important part, comfort. The Exped AirMat is certainly comfortable. When it’s fully blown up it feels quite comfy, especially since I’m used to the hard foam mats. I slept two nights on a rock hard ledge (literally) and slept soundly. The anti-slip GripSkin technology on the surface of the mat kept me from slipping and sliding all night. I find with some blow-up mats I’ll wake up in the middle of the night half off the sleeping pad and laying on the ground.
This was never a problem with the Airmat.
I am a light sleeper, and I did notice that when I moved around at night there was a slight crinkle sound from the mat. I usually sleep with earplugs when I’m camping (I can’t stand the sound of my neighbors snoring) so it wasn’t a problem for me. However, if you are a light sleeper, or you have someone sleeping near you who is a light sleeper, you will notice the crinkling sound when you roll over or move at night. If this is a problem for you, I would consider getting ear plugs!
The features I like most about the Airmat are the one-way inflatable valve, and the quick release deflate valve. The Airmat comes with a large one-way inflatable valve, which is genius! You can blow up the mat halfway, take a moment to adjust your tent or sleeping position, and then keep inflating the mat without losing progress. This is a brilliant design. The quick release valve for deflating it is also very clever. Pull off one tab and the whole mat deflates in a matter of seconds. There’s no need to spend extra time pushing all the air out of your mat before you pack it up, it’s already deflated!
The Exped Airmat comes with what they call, the Schnozzel Pumpbag. It’s meant to make blowing up this ultralight sleeping pad even easier, and prevent moisture from your breath entering the sleeping pad and affecting the insulation. However, as a user, I feel like they missed the mark. The pumpbag is cleverly designed. You hold it out in front of you, open the widest side to ‘catch’ some air, close the large opening and then roll it shut. Finally, there is a valve that connects with the one-way inflatable valve. All you have to do is squeeze the pumpbag and all the air from the sack transfers to the mat. It takes about two rounds of doing this to completely fill your Airmat.
I practiced this at home a few times and found it both fun and unique. But out in the wild, I found it took way too long to set up. As a user it was frustrating to fill the pump sack and fiddle with the quick release valves until I had a full sleeping pad. On top of that it was difficult to store the pumpbag, and in the end it felt like just one more thing I had to keep track of. After two or three uses, I just gave up on the pumpbag and blew up my mat the good old fashioned way.
Other than that, the Exped Airmat met or exceeded my expectations. It’s extremely light (ultralight, even) at total of 13.8oz (including the pumpbag). It packs down to slightly larger than a coke can, and (other than the pumpbag) was incredibly easy to use.
The Final Word
In summary, the Exped AirMat is an excellent ultralight sleeping pad. It’s comfortable, easy to use, and packs down quite small. There might be some people out there who find the pump bag to be a useful tool to have in their back pocket, but for me, the whole experience was better without it. The one-way inflation valve is a clever design element that made the experience of blowing up the mat by mouth much easier, and the quick-release deflate valve was great.