EXPED SYNMAT HYPERLITE REVIEW: SLEEPING PADS
When every ounce counts, many backpackers sacrifice comfort in exchange for lightweight sleeping gear that won't take up too much room in their pack. But in recent years, a new generation of ultralight pads that provide backpackers more cushion and warmth yet weigh less and pack up smaller than traditional foam mats have been developed.
With its tapered shape and innovative insulated baffles, the Exped Synmat Hyperlite delivers the luxury of a much bulkier sleeping pad but squeezes down to the size of a water bottle and weighs less than 1 pound.
Weight & Packed Size
Ease of Use
|Sleeping Pad Type||Air Pad|
|Sleeping Pad Shape||Semirectangular|
|Repair Kit Included||Yes|
|Stuff Sack Included||Yes|
If you've ever had the misfortune of sleeping on a cheap ultralight pad or - even worse - if you've ditched a sleeping pad altogether and slept without one just to save some weight, then you know how critical a good quality lightweight sleeping pad can be. Often, this one piece of equipment can mean the difference between enjoying and merely enduring a hiking trip.
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In comparison to other self-inflating or foam pads, the Synmat Hyperlite is a reasonable alternative. Once inflated, it is one of the most comfortable ultralight pads available.
The unique lengthwise baffles and slightly higher "Air Rail" baffles on each side keep your body properly positioned in the center of the sleeping pad throughout the night. If you find it difficult to sleep without plenty of cushion and support, you'll appreciate that this pad does a good job of distributing your body's weight without creating pressure points at the hips and shoulders. For this reason, this pad is also a great option for side sleepers or for individuals who have had orthopedic surgeries.
The impressively low weight of this sleeping pad is one of its primary advantages over self-inflating sleeping pads and traditional foam pads. The upper surface of the pad is 20 denier fabric to save on weight, and the microfiber insulation takes the place of heavier options such as closed cell foam. By making use of a tapered mummy shape instead of a more standard rectangle, Exped has saved even more weight.
The company was also mindful of one of the main objections to this shape and made it possible to use two of the pads side by side. Couples or hiking partners sharing a small tent will appreciate that - unlike other ultralight tapered sleeping pads - two Synmat Hyperlite pads will fit together seamlessly and allow two people to sleep side by side without a gap between their pads.
Each of the three sizes come in at under one pound, with the medium sized pad weighing just over 12 ounces, and the largest pad weighing just under 16 ounces. Keep in mind that those figures do not include the weight of the stuff sack.
The Exped Synmat Hyperlite boasts an R-value of 3.3. This is mostly due to the lofted microfiber insulation tucked inside of the baffles. The insulation is bonded to both the top and the bottom of the interior of the pad. When the pad is inflated the insulation expands and offers a decent amount of protection from cold and rough, stony ground. This feature keeps the Synmat lighter than many self-inflating mats which rely on bulky foam yet gives it more warmth than inflatable air pads that have no insulation whatsoever.
Keep in mind that the pad is only a few inches thick once it has been inflated, and isn't as warm as sleeping pads which make use of heavier materials or closed cell foam. Overall, the Synmat Hyperlite offers an acceptable compromise between warmth and weight, but if you are in need of a pad for use in sub-freezing weather, you may need to find a sleeping pad with better insulation.
An additional aluminium mat being used in conjunction with the Exped Synmat to help keep warm in winter.
Exped has done two things to make inflation simpler when using the Synmat Hyperlite. First, the pad uses a FlatValve which not only resists leaks and allows for quick inflation but also has an attached pin for easy deflation. Because the valve is flush with the pad's surface, it eliminates the discomfort of sleeping on a hard protrusion, yet it still allows for easy access during inflation.
Additionally, the pad is also compatible with Exped's Schnozzel pump. The sack-shaped Schnozzel pump acts like medieval bellows and makes it easy to inflate a pad with minimal time and effort. Often, the Synmat Hyperlite can be inflated in a matter of seconds with a single sackful of air. Many hikers also use the Schnozzel as a stuff sack for their pad, eliminating the need for a separate stuff sack and saving a few ounces of weight in the process.
It's inevitable that an ultralight sleeping pad will need to make sacrifices somewhere, and while it is an excellent sleeping mat in most respects, durability is the one area where the Synmat Hyperlite stumbles. Exped has done an admirable job of ensuring that all exterior seams are welded, and leaks from these seams are all but unheard of. But while the 150-denier polyester bottom surface adequately resists wear, the thin 20 denier upper surface material is vulnerable to punctures.
The company provides a patch kit with the pad, which is appreciated, but you'll want to keep dogs, tools, and other puncture dangers outside of the tent if using this pad. Concerns have also been raised about the bonding of the internal baffles. Although leaks between the baffles will not cause the pad to deflate, some users reported that ruptures between the internal compartments caused significant bubbles or lumps to form in the pad.
Just like any other backpacking equipment, you'll want to keep your skill level and destination in mind. If you need a pad with lots of insulation or if you are an extreme ultralight hiker and demand that your pad weighs as little as possible, you can probably find more suitable options than the Synmat Hyperlite. But for the average backpacker, this pad offers an excellent balance between comfort, cost, and weight. Struggling with a cheap mattress which leaks and deflates overnight or carrying an overly bulky sleeping pad can make anyone miserable. The Synmat Ultralight is ideal for three season camping, is made from high-quality material, and is perfectly adequate for most people's needs.
One of the more frequently noted criticisms of this sleeping pad is its cost. While there are lower priced options available, a sleeping pad is one piece of gear that is worth spending extra money on. As the market for ultralight sleeping pads expands, more and more low-cost options appear. These are often made of cheaper materials and weigh more as a result. The best lightweight options are inevitably more expensive due to the quality of materials used in their construction and the attention to details such as leakproof seams. Although you'll pay a higher than average price for the Exped Synmat Hyperlite sleeping pad, you'll find that it is worth it. It would be difficult to find a quality sleeping pad that is as comfortable and as lightweight for less, and it matches the performance of much higher priced pads.
The Synmat Hyperlite comes in three sizes: medium, medium wide, and large wide. It also comes in a rectangular shape for people who don't mind a few extra ounces of weight in exchange for more leg room. But Exped also recently introduced the Synmat Hyperlite Duo, a pad which can be used for two people, or which can comfortably sleep an individual who likes to sprawl out on a larger sleeping pad. Exped also produces the Airmat Hyperlite, an even lighter version of its popular sleeping pad, and the SynMat WinterLite a slightly heavier version which is more insulated and can be used for four season camping.
All of these sleeping pads are compatible with Exped's Schnozzel pump which is worth purchasing. Although the Synmat Hyperlite doesn't take long to inflate the old fashioned way, the Schnozzel pump makes setting up your sleeping pad almost effortless. Additionally, it can be used as a stuff sack when not in use.
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If budget is your primary concern, then it's difficult to beat the Z Lite Sol. At 10 ounces, this closed-cell foam mattress is lighter than the Synmat Hyperlite and is also less expensive. The simple design of the Z Lite Sol provides minimal support, but the foam is encased in a reflective material which not only will insulate you from the cold ground but also radiates your own heat back to your body. If you're willing to sacrifice comfort to save weight and save money, the Z Lite Sol is worth a look.
The Z Lite Sol is part of the Therm-a-Rest's Fast & Light series of mattresses that lets you feel unparalleled comfort without the added weight. The Z Lite Sol packs smaller and weighs less than other mattresses, and it is one of the best ultra-light three-season camping mattress on the market.
For seasoned backpackers who need a sleeping pad that can reliably see them through cold winter nights, the NeoAir XTherm Mattress has the highest warmth-to-weight ratio of any pad on the market.
This pad incorporates a unique and highly innovative baffle design which uses two layers of triangle-shaped chambers at its core to reduce heat exchange while providing lots of support and cushioning. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the NeoAir XTherm is also one of the more expensive sleeping pads on the market, but for backpacking in extreme conditions, this pad is worth it.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is a high-performance product that offers you comfort and great pack size in only 12 total ounces. This pad is perfect for use in most weather conditions in the spring, summer, and fall.
Like the Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus, the XLite has patent-pending technologies that give it excellent performance with little weight and bulk. It is small enough that it can fit inside a one-liter water bottle. The XLite is made of a softer fabric that is still pretty durable and adds to its comfort level, all without adding more weight.
This is the best choice for those looking for both comfort and something to keep the weight of your pack down. It is a slightly more expensive, but it is worth slightly more for the warmth and comfort you’ll have.
In an age when everyone seems to be locked to their small blue screens, I am vehemently passionate about getting more people outside to enjoy the wonder of nature. I grew up with the outdoors on my doorstep, and when I headed off to university I picked a degree in geology that allowed me to spend a lot of time outside on field trips! Over the last 30 years, I have camped or hiked through the wilderness on 5 continents. I hope my posts are informative for both the grizzled veteran and the complete novice alike.