Selection: There's never been any doubt in my mind that if I was going to camp on snow then I'd want an Exped Downmat with me, a mat with a high insulation value is essential for winter camping. Until recently the standard Exped Downmat was a relatively heavy option at 880grams for a Regular, then cam along a plethora of Exped Downmat 'Ultralight' mats which had lighter face fabric, no integrated pump and a single valve, bringing the weight down to a very respectable 565grams.
Even more recently Exped introduced mummy shaped versions of their best mats so they could offer even lighter options. The Downmat Winterlite has one of the highest insulation values available and yet weighs only 486grams, this brings it down into the range of the lightweight backpacker and yet it offers winter performance.
The packed size is phenomenally low as well meaning it helps keep the size of your pack down, another disadvantage with the standard downmats was their large pack size.
Performance: There's a lot of information around about these mats including a couple of very good videos from Exped accessed from our web page, so there's no real need for me to describe what its like - I'll concentrate on how it performs. I was using a Lightwave Firelight 750 sleeping bag which has a comfort limit rating of -13C, which is handy, because I took a max/min thermometer with me and the lowest temperature recorded was -12C.
I know that without a high insulation mat I would have been cold, but with the combination of Firelight 750 and Downmat Winterlite I was very cosy, and that's with just a thin baselayer, longjohns and bedsocks (Montane Fireball Footies to be exact).
I had also been a bit wary of taking a mummy pad rather than a rectangular one, because the consequences of your legs rolling off are more serious when camping on snow than in the summer. Again though everything was OK, I managed to stay on the mat without a problem - and I am a mover.
If you've watched the video you'll know that the Downmat Winterlite comes with a Schnozzel pumpsack because Exped don't recommend you use your mouth to blow it up as this introduces moisture to where the down is. I have to say that this pump works great, much better than blowing it up anyway - I was scpetical initially but when I used one for the first time I was amazed at how little effort was required to inflate the mat.
Other Comments: Its hard to find fault with such a comprehensive yet lightweight product and all I can say is that it was tough getting it rolled tight enough to get it back into its stuffsack, especially wrapping it with the Schnozzel Pumpsack and having cold hands.