I've been using Exped sleeping mats for a number of years now and really like them, until now every one has been rectangular in shape, which is the obvious shape to make them. The new series of Exped mats break this mould and are 'mummy' shaped. Mummy shaped mats more closely match the human body shape, so the maximum width is at the shoulders and the mat tapers to its narrowest point at the foot.
That's all very well if you sleep on your back but few people remain in the same position all night, if you sleep on your side for example the mummy shape is less appropriate and if you toss and turn a lot then you can find that your feet are off the mat at the bottom where it's narrowest. So the bottom line is that rectangular mats can be more comfortable if you move around a lot in your sleep.
I move around a lot - but I usually use a mummy shaped mat, the reason is that they are lighter, and even though they are quite narrow at the foot I somehow manage to stay on them and generally get a good night's sleep. The only real exception is winter camping, where I like to use a rectangular mat because the consequences of coming off the mat are colder.
So, Exped have really taken a forward step with the new Hyperlite and Winterlite mats, previously I could get a lighter mat in a mummy format than Exped’s lightest rectangular offering – but now I can buy an Exped Mummy shaped mat and save weight over most of the competition, if not all.
In the world of ultralight sleeping mats inflatable insulated airbeds are the kings of comfort, and thee thicker they are the more comfortable they will be – so a 9cm mat will generally be more comfortable than a 7cm may – unless you don’t weigh much – in which case there won’t be much in it.
I used the 7cm Hyperlite for a recent trip to Scotland and found it pretty comfortable. The insulation value of a mat is also quite important, as a poorly insulated sleeping mat will let valuable warmth to see through to the ground – whereas a highly insulative mat will add significantly to your ability to keep warm and cosy. The Hyperlite mat is a three season model, so, appropriate for the Scottish trip I had in mind and it proved adequate for the task in quite cold conditions – although if I was making my gear selection again I would have opted for the Winterlite as it got quite cold during the night.
Most Exped mats have two valves, one for inflation and one for deflation, the inflation valve is a non return valve which makes it easier to blow the bed up without loosing air as you take a breath. It also allows the use of Exped’s various pumps that make inflation easier.
The new Hyperlite and Winterlite mats compromise on the valves to save weight – there’s the standard non return inflation valve, but no deflation valve at all. In order to deflate the mat there’s a plastic ‘pin’ that you use to keep the valve open while you compress the mat to let the air out. This is straight forward but a bit fiddly until you get the idea.
Hyperlite and Winterlite mats are a good move from Exped especially for those of us who want the lightest option without necessarily compromising on comfort.