A few years back I went on a drunken snow camping trip for a buddies birthday. Aside from getting a truck stuck in deep mud up to the chassis, I froze my ass off because I was using only an uninsulated Big Agnes pad I borrowed for the night. Not too long after that in Jan of 2015, I found a helluva deal on the Exped Synmat UL 9, a pad that could be used well below zero Fahrenheit. Being a stubborn cheapskate I used it as my pad for all seasons until 2017 when I finally got a lighter Neoair for three season use.
I used it this past weekend over top of a thermarest zlite foam pad. It was overkill, but I like to have backup on winter trips. I’m sure glad I did because it felt like my Exped pad had lost its ability to insulate since I used it last winter. For most of the night I was cool to cold, particulary my hips and upper body. Below the knees, all the way to the tip of my toes I was toasty.
I thought the synthetic insulation had pooped out like it typically does in jackets and sleeping bags. Turns out I was sorta right. On the Exped site, they say they now laminate the insulation to both the top and bottom of the pad so it will keep fluffing up and thus, insulating you from the cold, cold ground.
I blew my pad back up. By feeling around, I could tell that my insulation feels like it is glued only to the bottom of the pad. This way, the insulation stays flat and is for all intents and purposes worthless. Insulation needs to be fluffy to do its job. So now I have a pretty heavy, thick pad that doesn’t insulate much better than my Thermarest Neoair that weighs a half pound less. It is pretty cush, but not up to the job of winter camping anymore. Bummer man.
UPDATE: I had assumed my pad only had the insulation laminated to the top in the first place but it turns out it was delaminated both top and bottom. The Exped service rep said that moisture from blowing it up with your mouth can cause the insulation to delaminate. In the future they recommend only using the schnozzle with it to inflate it. It can’t really be repaired, so they’re replacing it instead 🙂