Thursday, February 24, 2011

DownMat 7 Pump review.

Due to global warming sleeping on a bed of moss or getting fancy with a floor of  boughs is not as good as it use to be (thats what I'm blaming it on). In fact where I once had some of the best sleeps as the cool night wind blew in my face; I have tossed and turned and was bloody exhausted by day 5.  Being a soldier I have slept in some of the most superb places. Including such places as getting ate alive by sand fleas, counting AK tracer rounds like sheep. A covert observation post dug deep into a hillside....deep enough that it turned into a functional well/ water bed the first rainfall. On the Croatian border sleeping in a bivysac during a huge snowfall in the mountains with a raging thunderstorm. I never seen snow and thunder before but it's the truth. Fact is as I advance in age this sleeping on the hard ground shit is getting real old.

My mattress I have been using on my trip to support my "lightweight" travel mentality had the thickness of toilet paper and the comfort of printer paper. I would awake every morning with my shoulders and neck killing me. Due to a ice covered obstacle course years ago I fell 16 feet onto concrete on my side.  My shoulder ended up on my chest as I screamed like a little girl before passing out. At 20 that pain went away....then slowly creeped back to remind me of the glory days. Every morning that shoulder was aching; not a great start to a great day of paddling.

This season my main focus is coming up with a better sleeping system based on size and comfort.

So I began my research.

As you all know I have a MEC fetish. What I like about their website is the honest feedback it presents with each product by real trippers like you or I. Not some dink dressed in Northface talking about sleeping in a Bivy in shark infested mountains. My favorite comment started  " I'm a overweight 40 plus woman." Sure bet if this product sucked she would be honest enough throw that out there. The Exped DownMat 7 Pump had 
nothing but raving reviews.

While a little out of my price range, I figured I'd spend the extra cash now and hopefully have some goodnight sleeps out there. Of course being in MEC I couldn't just walk out with the one thing I went in for. I can honestly sympathise with some women who just "neeeeeeedddd" shoes. I neeeeed kayaking gear. So I grabbed some Evo Tails for my MSR snowshoes. Which in my opinion should come with the snowshoes in the first place.
Taxes are not something to be celebrated. After bully's beating me up for my lunch money everyday, they decided at the end of the year to "buy me lunch". The Bittersweet tax return.

I was very impressed with the compressed size of the mat in it's carry sack. I figure this will actually save room in comparison to my old thin, yet ackward one. Stored inside my sleeping bag it will actually save me ton's space.

Hauling it out I got angry at how long it too to pump up. The internal pump just didn't seem to blow up to compress the air into the chambers. After pumping and looking it over my wife advised I should allow it to expand 24hr's as per the instructions. Smart ass.

**enter 80's video montage**

24 hours later the pump had expanded and worked like a charm pumping full in under a minute. Very very comfortable. Then came the moment of truth....Will I ever fit this huge comfortable pad back into that tiny storage sac. We've all tried to put a tent into carrying bag only to have it fit perfectly for two inches before having to remove it and re roll. First try success. Tons of room. Thumbs up.

The Exped has a pile of impressive values that really are great. However if your like me and about as technical as a earthworm, the proof is in its size and comfort. I agree with that "overweight 40 year old woman", its a wonderful piece of kit. Most comfortable thing I have ever lid on for outdoor use. Price is a little steep but with a field repair kit and a 5 year warranty I think it was a good use of money.

The real test will be march 17 when me and a couple other kayakers hit the northern parts of the Ottawa river for a few days.

DownMat 7 Pump. Expensive but worth every penny.


  1. we have had our Exped downmats for a couple of years and used them mostly in summer but some in the winter to.
    And we like them a lot!

  2. I'm still waiting for a opportunity to get out and use it. However its the best mat I've lid on yet!

  3. Lee is that one smaller than the one we get issuesd? And more comfortable? Or were you talking about a Ridge rest?

  4. This one packs a hell of a lot smaller and is about 4 times as thick. Ive slept with it a few nights back in around -5 to -10 on rock and was warm as heck. this is the best piece of kit ive ever purchased for camping. Its down filled partially and makes for a bed like sleep.