Author: [ trailpeak ]   Contact Author: trailpeakFri Jun 07 17:29:48 UTC 2013

Review : EXPED XP 9 LW Sleepmat.

You can refer to the product using it's initials XP 9 LW or you can just call it "Glamping in a high-tech lightweight format that will make friends envious".

No serious adventurer wants to be known as a Glamper (you know, car camping with giant inflatable queen sized mattresses). But, let's be honest, we all want a great sleep after a day of trekking or biking. So let's cut to the chase, wouldn't you carry a few extra grams of weight (it's only 1215 g so not much more than the XP) for warm (packed with down) and luxurious sleeps on frigid nights. Yes, you would. Well, I would - and will.

The construction is you guessed it, 9 inflatable baffles to create support and insulation during your sleepy time at over 3 inches of plushness. The materials are high-tech and durable, and, the new inflation mechanism is leaps and bounds better than what it used to be -- I've been using EXPED for years now.

Let's discuss this. In 2009 we reviewed some EXPED mats. They were great then too, but the innovative means of inflating (without blowing it up by mouth and putting humidity into the down) was using the very bag that the mat was contained in. It worked, but the bag was too small and stiff -- you spent more time than needed and friends laughed (Moab, 2009). Today however, the XP 9 comes with a very thin stuff-sack type bag that is large. I'd say greater or equal in volume to the largest pair of lungs; as I opened the bag, closed it, and squeezed using my legs and a free arm to fill the mat in record time. Very impressive. Now you can laugh at your friends.

Now for comfort adjustment. The XP 9 comes with two valves, one for inflating, one for deflating. I found out that while resting on the mat, I could reach behind my head at the top of the mat and open the deflation valve cover without losing air. So far so good. Now I tweaked the inner valve to let some air out then stop again and do a comfort check. How many times have you opened a valve to have all the air come gushing out, requiring a re-pump. Not this time. I don't like the mat inflated too hard, and when the inflation is set just right, I am going to argue you get a sleep comparable to a pillow-top mattress. Possibly better as the sounds of nature and fresh air unburden you of your worries. The thickness is up there at 3.5 inches, much thicker than the traditional "plank" styled mat, so you're getting some real comfort here.

The down in the mat is not for creating softness underneath, that's the job of the mats' baffle design and inflation system. The down creates an insulation layer between you and the ground -- and you know even from spring or summer camping in the rainforest, the ground can be cold. Winter camping is another story, that's where the DOWNMAT system is a must. But I like the XP 9 LW because it's relatively light for the comfort I get while having a long and wide footprint. I am 6'3" and over 200 pounds, I am not going to sleep on a 1 inch mummy legged mat.

All the technical specs are online at EXPED, but the essentials are:

* R Value 8

* 5 year warranty

* 700 fill down

* moisture repellant fabric

* 777.5 inches by 26 inches by 3.5 inches thick

* slip resistant fabric

* I-beam baffles keep the cold out

* very efficient pump-sack doubles as compression sack

* rated to -38c (-36F)

EXPED is part of what I'd call the all-star cast of back-country gear. When you combine with a light pack from Osprey, a light tent perhaps from MSR, and other goodies that are made for fast-packing, you've got a winning combination that still gives you comfort. So get out there, 2013 is going to be a good year in the mountains. This mat is ideal for back-country skiing or winter camping of any sort, and frankly, any 3 season camping or cold damp summer camping. I remember a 2 day canoe race up the sunshine coast, and the rainy wet +12 temperatures by day got downright frigid at night, and, I couldn't keep warm. I'll be trucking this mat around 4 seasons, and lightening up my top cover from a selection of sleeping bags.

Kurt - Founder www.trailpeak.com

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