ProView – Exped FlexMat
Over the last month, I’ve had the pleasure of testing the Exped FlexMat on several multi-day solo backpacking trips. Piggybacking my lookout shifts with backpacking trips is the best idea I’ve had yet. These hybrid trips meant that I got to experience some real ‘dirt-under-my-nails’ backcountry camping along with some glamping in the lookout’s structure and protection.
Product Description: Light, durable and versatile closed-cell foam mat in a rapidly-deployable folding form. FlexMat can be used alone for alpinism and ultralight backpacking, or under an inflatable mat as puncture protection and added insulation.
Offer price: MSRP: $25.00 - $30.00
The Exped FlexMat is a lightweight and versatile basic sleeping pad that is good for camping, backpacking and alpinism. It is also a good base layer for added insulation and puncture protection under an inflatable mat.
- Foam easily worn if carried through brush on outside of pack
My time this summer in the backcountry has not only been necessary for my work as a Fire Lookout Host but also for my emotional well being. Exploring the majesty, peace, and quiet is medicine for my soul. Bathing in the healing of the forest always soothes and inspires me. I’ve been exploring new trail networks and deeper into the backcountry of the San Jacinto Mountains than ever before.
Summer in the San Jacinto mountains at around 8,000’-10,000’ made for warm days at 75-80 degrees and cold nights around 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. I used the FlexMat as a sitting and lounging pad for comfort at the lookout and on the trail. I stopped regularly to rest, read, write, and practice yoga on the pad. Of course, I also used it as a sleeping pad in my tent and on the lookout porch overnight.
The FlexMat is constructed with IXPE closed cell foam technology. It’s listed with an R-Value of 1.5 and is appropriate for temperatures as low as 42.8 degrees. Closed-cell technology helps keep your body heat close to your body. As you move during the night, the heat will remain in the cells. The body won’t need to reheat cells after some tossing and turning. I like that this feature helps save some energy. Especially on long-distance adventures, I need to save all my energy for the trail. The temperature where I camped some nights, however, was slightly colder than the rating on this pad. So, some of my body heat was being used up and transferred into the ground rather than being held in the mat. It made for some restless sleep and calorie burn, though not the fault of the mat. The mat worked well, given the conditions. I suggest looking at the night time temperatures of camping destinations to ensure that the mat you choose will have enough insulation.
The FlexMat is .7” thick, packs at 4.3”x20.5”, measures 72” long, and weighs only 11.5 oz. It’s lightweight and is the perfect length for me to fold up a bit extra under the head for more pillow cushion. At only .7” thick, it gets the job done for basic padding while keeping the product lightweight. As with all foam pads, it’s best for back sleepers rather than side sleepers. If you are a side sleeper or need more comfort, cushion, or insulation, it would be best to use the FlexMat as a base under an inflatable pad.
I carried the pad on the outside of my pack. It became worn a bit from brush and rock scrapes, but that is to be expected with any foam mat. The few scrapes weren’t substantial and didn’t affect the performance of the gear.
The Final Word
The Exped FlexMat is a great basic foam pad that met my needs as a lightweight pad for backpacking. It’s versatile and works well as a base layer to an inflatable pad for comfort and insulation. The rapid-deploying technology made it easy to set up and pack up, and I love the orange color on the high-vis side. As with any foam pad, it can take a beating from brush if worn on the outside of your pack.
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About the Gear Tester
Kika has worked as a fire lookout host for two seasons and with schools and non-profits delivering outdoor experiential education programming in Southern California. She is also passionate about contributing to her local community through her work developing and implementing community interpretive yoga and meditation hikes. When she’s not spreading her love and passion in nature, she is busy practicing and teaching yoga, speaking at corporate conferences, SUP’ing and working at Trader Joe’s. You can connect with her on Instagram at @commonthreadyoga.