Best Sleep Ever
I have the LW version of this mat, and believe that its comfort and high R value are worth a few extra ounces. The quality is excellent, it makes much less noise when rolling around than its Thermarest competitors. It packs down ultra small. For tall folks, the extra coverage of the LW is appreciated, and the width certainly helps in colder temperatures, especially when using a quilt. The surface is fine to sleep on directly as is, though the cover Exped sell is an upgrade and I use it for trips when weight does not matter. A great product. Expensive, but worth it.
Best camping sleep I've ever had
My boyfriend bought one of these sleeping pads a couple years ago, and I was skeptical. It seemed like an awful lot of money to spend on a sleeping pad, when we both already had perfectly acceptable thermarestsIt. Plus, I wondered about the warmth and comfort of a pad that didn't have any of the foamy stuff I'm used to in the thermarests. Then, he got the pad and started sleeping on it. And raving about it. And raving about it some more. Finally, I got my own, and it is truly awesome! I always thought slightly iffy sleep was just a part of backpacking, but this pad is SO much more comfy than my old one. I'm a side sleeper, and my hips and shoulders used to get so uncomfortable. Not with this pad! It gives tons of cushioning, and is warm, too. I worry a bit about the durability -- the outside fabric doesn't seem as sturdy as what I'm used to, but in a year of heavy use, I haven't had any problems. Also, I love how tiny it packs down -- about the size of a standard Nalgene bottle! It's perfect for ultra-light backpackers. This has helped me get my gear down to fit in a large daypack for weekend trips, which is awesome! One thing to note -- you shouldn't fill it all the way firm - it needs to be a bit squishy for the best comfort. Oh, and I highly recommend getting one of the mini pumps or pillow pumps to go with it. You can fill it up by blowing into it, but it's annoying. The pump makes it SO much easier. Worth every penny!
I've switched over to this pad from my Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Mummy pad, so if you're considering that cheaper option let me give my 2 cents... My main reason switching was simply size. The Big Agnes pad is reasonably comfortable, but as a side sleeper who tosses and turns it was impossible to stay on. I would constantly wake up slipping off the pad and it made it impossible to sleep. The Exped in long and wide is the same weight as my old pad, yet a solid 6" wider makes it much easier to actually sleep on. In terms of comfort, I don't think there is any real significant difference. Perhaps a slight edge to the Exped, the thinner material makes it feel slightly "softer". The Exped also has a similar R value to the insulated air core. I will say the air core definitely seems more durable, just from looking at it, it is clearly made with a thicker and stronger material. The Exped UL seems like it will last just fine but there is no denying the fact that the material is thin to save weight, and thus probably more easy to puncture. The Exped is also significantly easier to inflate than the air core, which seems to take much more lung force. Obviously, due to the increased size, the exped takes longer but it feels like less work. The valve design is also brilliant, you can blow air into it and take a break without worrying about the air rushing back out (as it did in the air core). Whoever came up with the dual one way valve system has my gratitude. My only real complaint with the pad is that I find deflating it and packing it away to be a bit more of a challenge. I need to roll it up multiple times to get all the air out and even then rolling it up tight enough to fit back into it's sack is a bit of a challenge. The air core did seem much easier to get packed away. Overall though, I'm happy. For the same weight I've gained comfort and the ability to stay on the pad all night.