Exped MultiMat Sleeping Pad
Test Series by Kurt Papke
Backpacking Background: mostly in Minnesota - have hiked all of the
Hiking Trail and Border Route.
Preferred/typical backpack trip is one week. Dayhiking in
Michigan, Wisconsin, Utah,
Colorado and Oregon. Mostly Spring/Fall seasons.
Comfort-weight hiker: I try to carry as few items as possible, but do
not go to extremes to reduce weight of items carried. Hammock
camper: always looking for ways to stay warm on the bottom.
|| Kurt Papke
|| 6' 4" (193 cm)
|| 220 lbs (100 kg)
|| kwpapke at gmail dot com
|City, State, Country:
|| Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
|Year of manufacture:
Measured weight (with stuff sack):
|19 oz (540 g)
19.54 oz (554 g)
|79 x 39 x 0.12 in (200 x 100 x
77.5 x 39.25 x 0.12 in (197 x 100 x 0.3 cm)
|Listed thermal resistance:
|R-value of 1.2 (unfolded)
|Available in one size only
The Exped MultiMat is an EVA closed-cell foam pad
designed for use as a picnic/seating pad, tent carpet or light sleeping
pad. Its length is approximately equal to a typical sleeping pad,
and its width about double, allowing it to be used for two people, or
folded in half along its length for additional insulation for one
person. The mat has ripstop nylon on one side (the nylon can be
seen in the photo at left - the mat is on the ground beneath my
hammock) to protect the foam. The mat is waterproof.
The mat can be
folded in half and rolled up tightly, and comes with stuff sack.
See photo to the right. When rolled into the sack, the dimensions
for packing are roughly 20 x 4 in (51 x 11 cm).
Quality of materials and "fit and finish" of the mat are
excellent. I could find no instances of poor workmanship, foam
seams, nor frayed threads. Uniformity of color across the mat
surface was good. The mat is easily removed from its sack, and
equally easily rolled up and restored to the sack for packing.
I have two primary intended uses for the MultiMat:
in the photo at left is the MultiMat inserted in my hammock: above the
SuperShelter undercover, but below the hammock itself. The large
gray area to the right is the bug netting of the hammock, the orange is
the mat, and just peeking out on the left is the edge of the
undercover. In this configuration the mat makes a "sandwich"
between the undercover and the hammock. The goal is the
undercover will hold the mat snugly against my backside while sleeping,
but I will not be directly on the mat so it will not move when I toss
and turn (I do that a lot). In this first configuration, the mat
is complete unfolded, so I have only a single layer of insulation.
- As a sitting pad at sporting events and for snowshoeing.
Having a sitting pad when snowshoeing is a real comfort - sitting on a
snowy/icy spot is very cold and can result in a wet posterior.
- As ancillary bottom insulation in my hammock shelter. My
Hennessey hammock and its SuperShelter undercover can be seen in the
first photo above. Keeping warm from below is a major challenge
in cold, or even cool weather when hammock camping. My goal would
be to use the MultiMat to augment my current insulation components.
This is how I began my first night in my backyard with the mat, and
remained this way until about 3:00 AM. During the night the
temperature dipped to about 50 F (10 C). I was wearing mid-weight
Polartec Power Dry long underwear tops and bottoms, and used a down
mummy sleeping bag rated to 30 F (-1 C). I began the evening
using the bag as a quilt, but after an hour or so switched to the mummy
configuration as my backside was chilly. I was warm enough when
sleeping on my side, but chilled when I slept on my back.
AM I removed the mat from the sandwich, folded it in half along its
length, and brought it into the hammock itself. See photo at
right. This doubled the thickness of insulation beneath me and
assured no air gaps between me and the pad. The tradeoffs were
that now I had a much narrower pad where my shoulders extended beyond
the edges, and I had to deal with keeping it from sliding out beneath
This configuration was quite a bit warmer, but I did suffer from cold
shoulders when sleeping on my back.
My first impression of the pad is that indeed it can be successfully
used as bottom insulation in a hammock down to 50 F (10 C), but with
During the test period I will attempt to use the mat in a number of
different configurations with my hammock:
During the Long Term Report period (December through January) I will
also use the MultiMat as a sitting pad while snowshoeing. If I do
some winter camping with my tent, I will explore the use of the
MultiMat as auxiliary insulation beneath my Therm-a-Rest.
- Alone as described above
- With a space blanket to assist with radiant heat loss
- As an adjunct to the open-cell foam pad supplied with the
- With both the open-cell pad and a space blanket for very cold
I will attempt to assess:
This concludes my Initial Report on the Exped
- Usability: how easy is it to pack and unpack? How much do I
have to wrestle to get it into, out of, and retained in my hammock?
- Reliability & robustness: how well does the mat survive
- Functionality: how effective is the insulation? Does it
keep my underside dry?
- Aesthetics: what does it look like after 4 months of wear and
tear? Do I still like the color at the end of the period?
How easy is it to keep clean?
- Multitasking: do I find multiple purposes for the mat, especially
on the same trip?
intended to carry the MultiMat with me on a 10-day October vacation to
Utah and Colorado where I planned some dayhiking, but as I prepared for
my departure I found that the mat does not fit into my daypack.
It is too tall to fit, as can be seen in the picture at left.
returning from Utah, I immediately left on a 4-day backpacking trip
along the Southern end of the
Superior Hiking trail in Northern Minnesota from October 13-16.
This trail section varies in altitude from 650 to 1200 ft (200 to 365
m). The terrain is forested with granite outcroppings.
Temperatures ranged from a high of 60 F (16 C) to a low of 28 F (-2 C)
at night. A picture of my hammock set up at the Split Rock River
is shown at right. Though it cannot be seen in this view, the
MultiMat is inside the hammock undercover.
I also used the MultiMat multiple nights in my backyard, from October
19-22, also in my hammock. During this time nighttime
temperatures ranged from 40 F (4 C) to 29 F (-2 C). Winds were
light during this test. I did some more backyard testing on
December 3rd and 4th in preparation for a winter backpacking
trip. Nighttime lows were 7 to 9 F (-14 to -13 C) with humidity
in the 70-90% range, winds were light. During this testing the
MultiMat was used with the SuperShelter pad and a "space blanket",
placed beneath the SuperShelter foam pad, resting on the SuperShelter
Note: The SuperShelter foam pad is of Open Cell Foam (OCF) construction
and fitted to the hammock bottom. It is fairly thin, about 1/4
inch (6 mm). It attaches to the hammock ridgeline with two
elastic loops which hold it snug against the bottom of the
hammock. The Undercover is a silnylon under-hammock layer also
held in place by two elastic loops. It supports the foam pad and
protects the insulation from the elements.
Next use was December 8-10, 2008, a 3-day trip to the Superior
Hiking Trail along the Beaver Bay to Penn Creek section.
ranged from a low of -2F (-19 C) to a high of 15F (-9 C). Winds
were generally calm, but during one night gusted to 16 mph (26 kph)
creating a wind chill factor of approximately -20 F (-29 C).
ranged from 750 to 1250 ft (230 to 380 m). This was clearly a
camping outing, and I used the MultiMat primarily for under-insulation
in my hammock. I thought
I would use it more on breaks and in camp, but I found it more of a
hassle to drag it out than to just sit on the ground or a log.
The mat acts as a vapor barrier - note the frozen condensation in the
photo above taken in the morning after a night under my hammock.
During this trip the MultiMat was used in a "sandwich" configuration,
with the MultiMat on the bottom, the SuperShelter open cell foam pad
and space blanket on top, and other insulating materials layered
between the two pads. These other materials included a down
jacket and a Polarfleece pullover.
How I used the MultiMat
In order to get
maximum insulation I first tried folding the MultiMat along its long
again in the short dimension as shown at left. In the picture
there is some rolling of the mat at the bottom of the picture, but this
was not an issue when held down by my body weight or the hammock.
These folds are natural as this is how the hammock was
packaged in the stuff sack, so that mat "wants" to be folded at these
My position on the mat
at night can be seen in the photo at right. With the two folds, I
have four thicknesses of the mat beneath the upper part of my torso,
two thicknesses beneath the lower part of my torso, and nothing below
my knees, similar to a 3/4 length mattress. I also tried
reversing the up-down orientation to get more insulation under my low
back and butt.
Placement in the hammock: during the Initial Report period I either
laid directly on the MultiMat, or placed it just beneath my space
blanket. During the Field Report period I found that I could more
easily position the mat beneath my OCF pad and above the Undercover,
and the Undercover held the mat sufficiently close to my body to
provide good insulation.
The evening of October 21 I tested the MultiMat in the bottom of my
hammock with no folds, so only a single layer of insulation underneath
the OCF pad. The rationale for this configuration is when I sleep
on my side, my knees and butt get cold because they are pressed against
the uninsulated side of the hammock. With the MultiMat fully
unfolded, I found that it covered the entire width of my hammock bottom
giving me full protection. From this point on I used the MultiMat
solely completely unfolded to provide maximum coverage.
In the early December backyard testing on the second night (December
4th) I added a down jacket and a Garlington Insulator (garbage bag
stuffed with light materials) between the MultiMat and the OCF
pad. This greatly increased the warmth against my backside.
These pictures show use of the mat with the nylon top facing up.
In practice, I found I achieved greater warmth with the mat placed
upside-down with the nylon on the bottom, and lying on the EVA foam
pad. This also prevented other insulating materials from slipping
against the pad.
- In both my backyard and Superior Trail uses I found that my
backside was much warmer than normal when using the MultiMat.
When I rolled over onto my side, I could tell from the sensation in my
knees or butt when I was off the edge of the mat.
- With the MultiMat fully unfolded the cold problems with the knees
and butt in a side-sleeping position was alleviated, but it seemed like
I was not quite as warm when laying on my back due to fewer layers of
the mat beneath me.
- The MultiMat can be used to "sandwich" other insulation materials
between it and the hammock bottom. When placed with the EVA foam
facing up, I found that additional insulation items "stuck" to the
MultiMat nicely and would not move around.
- The MultiMat was easily deployed in my Hennessey hammock by
slipping it into the Undercover beneath the OCF pad. I found it
stayed nicely in place during the night despite my tossing and turning
- Packing: though it did not fit into my daypack, I had no problems
stowing it in my backpack. I was able to quickly remove the mat
from its stuff sack, and quickly roll it up and re-insert it into the
sack for packing. During winter camping I needed to strap the
MultiMat onto the back of my pack, which worked well.
The MultiMat is an effective adjunct to other bottom insulation for use
in hammock camping. Used alone its temperature range is limited,
but in conjunction with the SuperShelter it allowed me to sleep
comfortably warm down to the freezing point. When used as a
"sandwich" where additional insulation is placed between the
SuperShelter pad and the MultiMat, it can be used as part of a deep
winter sleeping system that rivals the performance of a down underquilt
at much lower cost.
I did not find it as useful for casual sitting and breaks as I thought
I would. It just seemed like more of a hassle than it was worth
to unpack it and remove it from the stuff sack, and then repack it
after the break was over.
- Effective insulator and vapor/water and wind barrier.
- The substantial width of the MultiMat makes it an effective
insulator of an entire hammock bottom.
- Easily removed and restowed in the supplied sack.
- Flexibility of the mat - I could easily fold into different
configurations to get more insulation where I wanted it.
- The color makes it easy to see the mat at night.
- Nylon ripstop on one side and EVA foam on the other allowed me to
choose whether I wanted the "sticky" side or the "slippery" side up.
This concludes my Field Report for the Exped MultiMat.
- Perhaps modify the sack size and factory folding to do two folds
along the long axis to allow the mat to fit into smaller packs.
Of course I could fold it this way myself, but then it wouldn't fit
into the stuff sack.
|January 11-13, 2009
|February 12-14, 2009
|Superior Hiking Trail near Finland, Minnesota
|Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, Michigan Upper
|1322 ft to 1726 ft (400 m to 525 m)
|778 ft to 1600 ft (237 m to 490 m)
|High of 15 F, low -27 F (-9 C to -33 C)
|Highs around 30 F (-1 C), nighttime lows around
15 F (-9
|Forested with lakes and rivers
|Forested with lakes and
rivers. The trail was along an escarpment with some steep grades.
The January trip
first time I strapped the MultiMat to my pack as shown in the
photo at left. The mat is attached vertically with two
compression straps on the right side of the pack. This packing
strategy worked very well.
The mat was accessible for use when taking a break, didn't take up
space in my pack, didn't snag on brush, and was held very securely.
With fast and
easy access to the mat, we did use it as a sit pad on a break as seen
in the photo at right. The mat was very comfortable and warm, but
as the photo clearly depicts the mat had a tendency to curl up at the
ends. We had a tough time getting it to not roll up all by itself.
I stored the mat for several weeks during this test period in the stuff
sack. The curling is likely due to not storing it flat.
These were also the coldest conditions in which I used the mat.
On the second night of the hike we had the coldest night in Minnesota
in 4 years. I used the MultiMat as I had before on the bottom of
my hammock undercover, but this time I augmented the insulation with my
down sleeping bag to keep my back warm. The EVA foam was facing
up and did a great job of keeping the bag in place all night
long. Many hammock campers are curious about how much insulation
and warmth the pad contributes in this situation, but I didn't have a
means of measuring it.
On the Porcupine
Mountains trip I strapped the MultiMat to the bottom of my pack as
shown in the photo at left. This made it a bit more susceptible
to snags while bushwhacking, but it was out of the way when accessing
water bottles, etc. This is my preferred way to carry the mat.
Once again the mat was used both nights as under-insulation in my
hammock and performed beautifully. The temperatures were a bit
warmer as described in the Test Conditions
table, so I didn't need to augment it with the down sleeping bag, just
my down jacket.
Both nights on this trip were pretty breezy. I have no way of
measuring it, but the trees were bending pretty well and my tarp was
flapping in the wind. The MultiMat was impervious to the wind and
I never felt a draft on my back.
The Exped MultiMat was useful both as a sit pad for snowshoeing breaks,
as well as an adjunct for my under-hammock insulation in extreme
cold. It attaches nicely to the outside of a backpack. It
has held up very well over the test period. It is very
durable. It does not look any different at the end of the test
period than it did when it first arrived.
After being rolled up for several months the "memory" of the mat causes
it to roll up at the ends all by itself. If I pressed it for an
extended time in a flat position, it would likely straighten out.
This is a great piece of gear for backpackers looking for a multi-use
mat. It is light enough that I don't mind carrying it for day use
provide a soft, dry spot to take a break. It is perfect as a
adjunct insulation beneath another mat in cold conditions. I wish
I had the opportunity to use it beneath me while sleeping on the
ground, but unfortunately during the test period I camped only in my
hammock and did not have the opportunity to use my tent. I do
intend to continue to use the MultiMat after the test period is over,
as I've grown to like it.
After I filed the Long Term Report on the Exped MultiMat I had an
opportunity to do some winter camping/backpacking where sleeping on the
ground instead of a hammock was expected. Since I was not able to
test the mat in this mode during the test period, and since
multitasking is what this mat is all about, I thought it was important
to add the results.
The trip was on March 6-8, 2009. The destination was the Eagle
Mountain area of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern
Minnesota. This was a bushwhacking trip, with the initial portion
along the Cascade River channel to the base of Eagle Mountain.
Altitude of this portion was from 1700 to 1850 ft (520 to 565 m).
From there we summited the north face on snowshoes to its peak of 2300
ft (700 m). This is the highest point in Minnesota.
Temperatures were warm, and the sun was shining during the day for most
of the 3 days. Nightly lows were 15 F to 25 F (-9 C to -4
C). Temperature at the time of departure, 6PM March 6, was 35 F
(2 C), but it was much warmer during the day causing a lot of snow melt.
The result was very damp conditions both nights from the moisture
coming up from the melting snow. We "cowboy camped", so we had no
tent nor even a tarp to keep the moisture out. I was using a
sleeping bag rated to 0 F (-18 C), but both nights required wearing my
down jacket in my bag to keep from shivering in the damp cold.
The first night we camped on the frozen surface of the Cascade
River. Here's a photo of my companions setting up camp at 10 PM:
We all had Therm-a-Rest ProLite 4 self-inflating mattresses on top of a
space blanket. In addition, the one woman in the group had a
Z-Rest, shown in green in the above photo. The two campers at the
top of the photo also had a ground sheet beneath their space blanket to
protect it from the sharp snow crystals. Ken, at the bottom of
the photo, had a ruggedized space blanket where the silver mylar was
bonded to a stiff backing.
My configuration was a sandwich of the MultiMat, space blanket, and
As can be seen from the photo, I use the MultiMat with the foam side up
to prevent sticking to the wet snow and to minimize slippage.
This was a very effective on-snow camping combination. My
backside was warm at night, and it was very comfortable sleeping on the
mat sandwich. The MultiMat also helped prevent dampening my
sleeping bag on the damp snow when I inevitably slid off my ProLite pad
while tossing and turning. I can highly recommend this
combination for campers wanting to sleep directly on the snow and not
carry a ground sheet.
It was a bit of a hassle deploying and packing the space blanket, and
had it been windy I might have had problems keeping it down while
setting up and breaking camp. I could certainly have taped the
space blanket to the MultiMat if necessary. This trip makes me
wonder if there is not a market for the MultiMat with the silverized
mylar bonded to the foam side!
Many thanks to Outdoor Research
and BackpackGearTest.org for the
test this product.
Read more reviews of Outdoor Research gear
Read more gear reviews by Kurt Papke