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Exped SynMat 7 Sleeping Pads

Exped SynMat 7 Sleeping Pads

It’s camping weather out there!!  When the leaves turn bright colors and the air gets brisk, Craig and I start itching for a nice fall bicycle tour.  We’ve been bike touring for many years and after much experimentation we’ve finally fine tuned our camping gear to perfection.

Camping and sleeping comfortably on our bike tours is a top priority. Long gone are the days when I could just throw my sleeping bag on any old gravelly patch of ground, fill it with my young limber body and get a good night’s sleep.  These days using an inflatable sleeping pad is a necessity.  My creaky old body has enough trouble getting comfortable on our king size memory foam mattress at home.  So you’d think that making a comfortable bed in the woods would be nearly impossible… NOT SO!  But it took me a bit of experimenting before finding the right solution for comfortable snoozing in the woods.

There is a fine balance to be achieved when it comes to sleeping out in the wild between comfort and portability.  Thicker, cushier (more comfortable) sleeping pads are usually going to be heavier and bulkier.  Smaller pads are easier to pack onto our bikes but not usually as comfortable.

If bulk isn’t an issue, there are tons of monstrous air mattresses out there.  When Craig and I go “car camping” we fill up our Honda Element to the roof with all sorts of ridiculous luxuries, including a Taj Mahal sized tent and an air mattress the size of a queen bed.  The first time we pumped that thing up, laid down in it and gazed up at the inside of the tent roof towering 25 feet above us I wondered what in the world we needed all that space for.  All that roomy comfort is great for car camping but it’s not an option on a bike tour.  Bicycle tourists are always looking for ultralight camping gear that folds down into the smallest possible package.  We’ve got to cart all this stuff around with us on our bikes.  So every ounce counts!

Camping along the C&O Canal Path

Camping along the C&O Canal Path

My first sleeping pad purchases were the green self inflating Thermarest pads.  I tried the quarter and full size pads but could never get comfortable on those things.  The Thermarest options that roll down small enough to pack onto the bikes aren’t thick enough.  I always had an elbow or hip digging into the dirt.  And rocky ground meant a sleepless night.  But at the time I just assumed that was as good as it was gonna get.  Good sleep just wasn’t a part of the camping experience.

Then one day all that changed… we were shopping at the Alpine Shop with bicycle tourist friends of ours who introduced us to the Exped camping mat SynMat 7.  I had never heard of these strangely named sleeping pads before.  So Dorrie grabbed one off the shelf, pumped it up with air using the convenient built in hand pump, spread it out on the Alpine Shop floor and told me to try it out.  Boy was it comfy!  The $140 price tag was a bit scary but that thing was so comfortable I bought it immediately.

It was the best camping gear purchase I have EVER made.  This sleeping pad is worth EVERY PENNY and it has completely changed the way I think about camping. It IS possible to sleep comfortably on camping trips with this air pad. It is so comfortable that I feel like I’m sleeping on a bed. Until I bought this, I had NEVER once slept well while camping but with the Exped I sleep like a baby all night long.  And it packs down smaller than the Thermarest pads.  I will sing praises of this amazing sleeping pad forever.

So imagine my horror during our last camping trip when I retired to our tent to find that my cushy plump Synmat was COMPLETELY FLAT!!!!  We were camping on a gravel bar next to the river.  This was the absolute WORST place for this to happen.  I pulled it out of our tent and examined the pad to see if it was fixable but the plastic air valve was cracked.  It couldn’t be patched.  BUMMER!  It was not a very comfortable night.

And so it was time for the ultimate test of the Exped SynMat 7… how was their customer service???  As soon as I got back home I sent the following email to the Exped folks:

Hello Exped!

I purchased my Exped Synmat 7 with internal pump a little over three years ago and I’ve just loved it.  It’s so comfortable that I sleep like a baby when I’m camping now.  I had a Thermarest pad before and could never sleep on that thing at all.

I was very sad this past weekend to find that my Exped has developed a leak.  We were on a three day float trip and camping on gravel bars each night… large pointy uncomfortable gravel.  So the timing was pretty unfortunate for me.  I was able to sleep on top of several life jackets but it was nowhere nearly as comfy as my Exped!  It appears that the air intake valve has broken.  There are several tiny cracks around the valve and air escapes through the intake valve while I’m pumping it up and after I’ve closed the plug.  I’ve never had any other leaks in my Exped.  I do have the patch kit but since the leak is caused by cracks in the plastic valve, I don’t think it is patchable.

I’ve used my Exped mat many many times all over the world and it’s past the two year warranty so I don’t think I am eligible for a refund.  But I still love my Exped and want to either get it fixed or get another one as soon as I can.  Have you seen this type of leak occur before and do you offer any repair services?

Thank you!

~ Blue

Within 30 minutes, Nick replied and told me that my Exped was still under the 5 year warranty (even though I thought the warranty was only 2 years) and that I should package it up and mail it to Exped and they would fix it right up for me.  He even asked me to let him know if we were planning a camping trip within the next 3-4 weeks so they could make sure to get it back to me in time.  Wow.  That’s good service!!!

So I packed it up and shipped it off to Exped.  They didn’t fix it for me.  Nope.  Instead they sent me a brand spanking NEW Exped Synmat!  No charge whatsoever.  Well I’m pretty happy!!  And I can safely say that I’ll be an Exped Synmat user for a very very long time.

Exped Air Pillow. Pair this inflatable pillow with the Exped Synmat 7 and you’ve got one comfy camp bed. There’s no need to be uncomfortable at night on your camping trips anymore. This little pillow is amazingly comfortable and packs down to the size of a fist. Stop trying to sleep on your wadded up clothes and buy one of these!

1 Comment

  1. It sounds like this mattress is almost a miracle of comfort, better than the regular air mattress. I wonder how they do that. I’m really impressed by the response you got from Exped. I never experienced this kind of great customer service in England when I lived there but I’ve found it’s not unusual in the U.S. and it’s one of the things I appreciate.
    Have an enjoyable bike tour if you’re planning one soon!

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