Model: Flexmat Plus
Closed-cell foam pads are usually longer-lasting and more affordable than inflatables. But one thing they’re usually not: luxe. With the FlexMat Plus, Exped has created a comfier, warmer foam mat without compromising the durability and price point that make them a favorite of budget-conscious hikers.
It all comes down to thickness. The FlexMat Plus is 1.5 inches thick—twice as plush as the market-dominating Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol—yet when packed it’s only 2 inches thicker, and weighs just 4 ounces more. (As with all closed-foam pads, though, it’s much less packable than an air mat.) This puts it in the same weight range as many inflatables, but at a third of the price. The secret is in its texture: The accordion-fold pad’s egg-crate-like dimples are each about an inch wide, twice as big as its competitors’; when folded up, they nestle inside each other like stacked cups.
The result is a pad that doesn’t tack on too much weight, and feels great. “I’m a side sleeper, and on most foam pads I wake up every half-hour with sore hips,” our tester said after sleeping on the FlexMat Plus for five nights during our Editors’ Choice trip to Bears Ears. “With this one, I barely stirred.” Thanks to the extra height, the pad is warm, too: It has an R-value of 2.2, and kept us cozy on 25°F nights in conjunction with a 20°F bag. $55; 1 lb. 2 oz.; 72 x 20.5 x 1.5 inches