Model: AirMat Basic UL 7.5 S
[warm and affordable]
Over the years, our testers have been big fans of Exped’s down-filled pads for the ultimate in lightweight warmth. But priced upwards of $200, they’ve remained a bit out-of-reach for hikers who don’t need a winter-ready ultralight. So we were glad to see this new option: a bargain model with a 4.5 R-value that still delivers three-plus-season insulation (our tester stayed cozy through early-winter snowstorms in Wyoming’s Wind River Range). The cost savings come from affordable materials, such as 75-denier polyester and 650-fill duck down (compared to 20-denier nylon and 700-fill feathers in Exped’s premium models).
The armor-like shell fabric makes this pad a few ounces heavier—and more durable. “On rough sections of the PCT that had other hikers carrying foam pads, I enjoyed puncture-free reliability and enviable comfort,” reports one happy user. Cushioning is plush, thanks to two fat inches of feather-lined air that smooth over uneven rock and clumps of grass. Oversized edge baffles keep sleepers centered on the pad. A whoopee cushion-sized accessory pump (included) makes for fast, huff-free inflation, and a deflation valve helps when packing up. Tester’s take: “I wish I’d had this last year in Nepal, where I struggled to blow up my pad at 17,000 feet!” $99; 1 lb. 7 oz.; 72” x 20” x 2”; exped.com
Ultra light (UL) construction, 20 denier fabric, air filled mat, mouth inflated or with available Exped pump, 2 year warranty