Hi fellow hammockers,
As a follow up to a previous post, I'm doing a review on the exped downmat 9 here.
The exped downmat 9 (ED9) is an inflatible pad that has an incredible R-rating of 8 (good to -38C or -36F). It is filled with down to provide that incredible insulation and comes in two lengths, about 180cm and the dlx version in 198 cm.
The inflation system works by pumping it by hand (for an example see exped's youtube channel, this links shows the inflating process which I find to be a good way to get yourself warm right before diving in you sleeping bag which is a Good Thing. It doesn't take that long, but it takes more time than any other system, about 2-3 minutes for me. The pumping systems is easy to use, especially if you follow a couple of 3 minute video tutorials from exped themselves.
specs of the regular:
- Size: 183x52x9 cm / 72x20x3.5“
- Weight: 990 g / 34.6 oz
- Packsack 22 g / 0.8 oz
- Packed: 24x16 cm / 9x6“
- Fill Weight**: 250 g / 9 oz
- Temperature: -38°C / -36°F
specs of the dlx:
- Size: 197x65x9 cm / 77.5x26x3.5“
- Weight: 1270 g / 44.8 oz
- Packsack 24 g / 0.8 oz
- Packed: 27x16 cm / 11x6“
- Fill Weight**: 320 g / 11 oz
- Temperature: -38°C / -36°F
I have the dlx version since I'm 1.98 myself.
I've slept on it on sand, ice, forest ground, and snow in the last few months and it finally solved my problem of cold bottom insulation. After going around with thermarest prolite (R-value of about say 3) in combination with CCF of about half an inch, I decided I never wanted to be cold again.
Enter the exped.
I opted to go for the warmest model, the ED9, so I'd never ever again had to question my sanity whether it was me or my insulation system.
I can now finally say that it definitely WAS my insulation system.
The exped has been very satisfactory giving me a warm pad to sleep on in all the conditions I've tried. I havent' pushed it to the extreme specs, but I am going to Finland in a month (70 degrees North) and will test it there for a full week in colder conditions. coldest conditions so far were about -10C/14F but absolutely no problems there.
It doesn't feel vulnerable.I use a small groundcover to protect the mat from sharp stuff on the ground, I do that for all my inflatible setups anyway, just good practice.
Repairing it doesn't seem to hard, same as the thermarest stuff, and again, there is good (real life) footage of repairs on the exped youtube channel. So no steep learning curve there. Be prepared though and watch that before you go out, since in my experience there always comes a time when a Pad Goes Flat (PGF).
manufacturing quality is excellent and the material is very nice. It has great reviews and bad reviews. The bad mostly comes from personal preference and some failures. Every inflating pad can fail, the DL9 is no exception. I asked several stores and they didn't have many coming back, the percentage was lower than that for thermarest I was told (very subjective of course). I have had no problem whatsoever. the old models seemed to have some problem with the valves, but in the new line (2010) this was fixed.
The comfort of it is incredible. The ED9 DLX is wider than the ED9 RGL so I have a lot of space. It is thick and so you do not feel anything from the ground, no hard points etc. I found it to be very grippy, no slipping underneath you, it has a stable lay. As stated, warmth is as good as it gets IMO. Also, because it is thick. you can easily feel it through your sleeping bag/bivy cloth to check if you're still on it when tossing and turning in your sleep. As an added benefit: you're a littlebit of the ground so if there is floating water, you have a good chance of staying dry, as opposed to less thin mats (like CCF's and thermarest prolites etc). As another bonus, the pack functions as a pillow: you can attach it to the DL9 and stuff your fleece in it (or something else) and it stays put. The DL9 has attachment points for it and the pack has some cords to attach it to the DL9. Smart move. It also adds length to the mat since the pillow is not on it but at the end of it. so 1.80 meters becomes 180cm with the extra pillow length = 2 meters. Gives you more options.
Deflating is easy and has the same issues as a normal pad: you have to compress it to pack it. I found it to be easy though. What I could not do is suck out the last bit of air, as I'm used to do with the thermarest for better folding, since the valve system does not allow you to do that. No breath allowed in the ED9 so the down does not get moist from it. Good thinking exped.
It packs relatively small for such a big bag and it is possible to fold it too, I like to do that since it allows for more efficient packing and space usage in my backpack.
The weight is a little much for some of you out there, I appreciate that. But it gives you a lot of comfort and possibilities.
I like the ability to go to the ground and be comfortable and this mat (and any mat) gives you that possibility. I had a hammock fail on me once and that was a valuable lesson. Also, you can go easier on the sleeping bag and save weight there if you like that, since the ED9 provides so much insulation.
Isolation with an R-value of 8: incredible!! a very high number. You probably all know that the warmth of your sleeping system is dependent on your ground insulation in combination with your sleeping bag insulation. Even more so for down sleeping bags. Also, sleeping bag temperature values (comfort, limit, extreme) for the EN13537 standard are measured by using a sleeping pad with the same rated R-value as the sleeping bag. Which means that if you have a sleeping bag rated to comfort of 0F, that rating comes from using a bottom insulation also rated at 0F. So don't think having a sleeping bag rated 0F keeps you warm at 0F with a .5 inch CCF mat, just doesn't work that way....
As stated, for me, this is the best ground insulation so far, no more cold bottom layer.
And now the hammock experience:
Let me state up front that I have never used an underquilt so I cannot relate to that. My only experience in the hammock is with pads and lots of experience with pads on the ground.
I use the DD frontline hammock for now since I'm starting my DIY next week probably .
My experiences with pads were good. Yes, they move, but it is very manageable. I stopped using DD's double layer, where you insert the pad and just use it in my hammock, since I found that it is much easier to use and to adjust when it is just in the hammock. Some cut pieces of CCF for my shoulders and I'm good to go, with the option to go to the ground. I've used CCF and have used the thermarest prolite 4 large and have slept comfortable. The thermarest really shapes to the hammock.
This weekend I tried out the DL9. I inflated the DL9 to about 80-90% and put it in the DD. Since it's fairly large it took up almost the whole hammock from head to feet, but since it is thick, this gave me some nice compartments at my head to put stuff, like my sweater, t-shirt etc for pillow function. because of the thickness, it stayed in the right place all the time. not so with thinner pads which allows stuff that is put there to travel freely in the hammock.
I was still able to put my jacket up over the hammock and fix the zipper underneath, to get an extra compartment for my feet, but just barely. The width of the DL9Ddlx would be too much for smaller jackets, so be aware of that.
the width did not turn out to be a problem for lying it in the hammock, I had enough hammock cloth on either side so that it stayed in the hammock and it actually made the cloth fold over a littlebit when I wasn't in the hammock so it did not have any place to go but stay in the hammock. I like it.
Actually, the width was a very good thing. It turned out that I did not need the shoulder pads since my shoulders weren't actually touching the hammock Of course, when you are a bigger guy, this may be different for you.
The mat was very easy to position in the DD, easier than the thermarest since the TR is more prone to sliding IMO. Once put there, the DL9 stayed there for the entire night.
I was able to sleep on my side very comfortably. some tossing and turning and the DL9 stayed where it was. I tried moving it both upward/downward and sideways and it wasn't a problem in both cases. Actually it was very easy to do, which gave me a lot of confidence going into the night that I would be able to readjust the position if needed. Turns out it didn't need repositioning
Because of the thickness and the amount of air I found that it negated a littlebit of the comfort of a full hammock experience with a thin mat or without mat. The DL9 at 80-90% provided some stiffness in the shape of the hammock, therefore making the lay a little flatter. this can be adjusted by playing with the amount of inflation you use. It still conformed fairly well to the hammock shape. When inflated more, you will of course get a different lay as well, but also more insulation value.
The combination of the hang of the hammock (angles of suspension, ridgeline etc) and the amount of air in the DL9 will probably make you able to adjust it to your specific liking.
I rehung my hammock for the second night last weekend (more flat lay, my feet were a little lower the first night) and it was even better than the first night and both nights were absolutely very very nice. temps were -7C/19F for both nights and I was very comfortable in my north face blue kazoo sleeping bag (comfort -4C/25F) and without CCF shoulder pads. I used a 1 liter nalgene bottle with hot water in it to provide some extra warmth for the evening/night. This setup was the same (except for the DL9) as the weekend before where I slept with the TR and I have to say I was warmer and more comfortable with the DL9.
I would highly recommend the DL9 for normal camping on the ground and for cold weather hammock camping with a pad. I found it to be warm, comfortable and very stable in the hammock, providing a good night's sleep.
I'll have to get more experience with it, but so far it has been a great experience.
COmbined with my CCF, my thermarest and the DL9 I feel I now have the options for all season hanging with different weight and warmth combinations. My search for pads has ended.
Which of course doesn't mean I won't buy others
I hope this will give you a good insight in it's uses, if you guys have any questions, let me hear them
PS, no foto's of the ED9, but the picture attached is a regular setup for me with the thermarest in the hammock