I own multiples of every category of backpacking gear â€“ three tents, two backpacks, four stoves, two sleeping bags, three water purification systems.
Some people would call me a gearhead, someone addicted to buying gear.
Okay, I admit it. I am a gearhead. It is difficult for me to stick with one old loyal and trusty piece of gear when a newer, lighter, better, more high tech version comes on the market. However, most of my purchase of â€œextrasâ€ evolved out of my quest to go ultralight.
Exped Downmat 7
In this pursuit, I have gone from heavy to extremely light and back to somewhat light. One item in this category is the Exped Downmat Sleeping Pad 7 that my wife, Gerry, bought for me at Christmas a few years ago. Gerry reads Backpacker Magazine religiously (though she would never actually go backpacking), in her quest to show interest in my hobby. She pointed out the Exped, noting it is filled with down and suggested that it was â€œpretty light.â€
At the time, I was using a 1 pound, 4 ounce Thermarest, so a 2-pound Downmat didnâ€™t seem â€œpretty light.â€ Still, I was intrigued by its size and weight-to-feature ratio, if there is such a thing.
From an ultralight perspective, however, the Downmat 7 packs down as small as some of the smallest pads, then stuffs in the kind of waterproof bag kayakers use. Featuring a no-slip surface, the waterproof bag doubles as an air pump since the moisture in a personâ€™s breath will cause the down to get moldy.
The trade off in weight is more than made up for in comfort and insulation between you and the cold earth. This warmth factor allows you to stay warmer in a lighter sleeping bag, in my case a 16-ounce Western Mountaineering Highlight.
This is one of the more comfortable, plush pads you will every find. Is it worth the extra pound over the lightest, sub 1-pound pads? I think so. However, you need to decide if there are other places to reduce your weight to compensate for this luxury.
Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.
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