Exped Ultra 3R Sleeping Mat Review

Getting a good night sleep when you’re backpacking or camping is important. It’s hard to enjoy the trip when every night is a struggle.

Exped have been making sleeping mats since 1997 and know how to make warm, comfortable mats that can stand up to the backcountry. They recently revamped their entire line to be easier to understand and offset to be entirely carbon neutral.

This review focuses on the lightweight Ultra 3R Sleeping Mat from Exped but we’ll touch on where this fits in the whole new line of Exped mats.

The Ultra 3R uses SynMat synthetic insulation

Quick Specs

A few quick specs before we head into all the details:

  • Medium Rectangle size (72 x 20.5 x 3 inches)
  • 16.4 ounce
  • 10.5 x 5.1 inches packed
  • 2.9 R-value
  • Recycled 20D ripstop nylon face
  • Certified Carbon Neutral by MyClimate
  • Oeko-Tex 100 certified
  • Bluesign certified Texpedloft Fibre
  • Synmat Technology: 60 g/m² Texpedloft insulation
  • 7 cm (3 in) thick
  • Includes Schnozzel Pumpbag UL for inflation
  • $149.95 USD
The outer tubes are larger than the inner ones

The Ultra 3R Sleeping Mat

The Ultra 3R is part of the Ultra line of sleeping mats from Exped. The Ultra is focused on light weight and packability for backpacking and other times when weight and size are important.

Inside the small stuff sack there is a repair kit, the mat and a Schnozzel Pumpbag UL. We’ll talk about using that pumpbag to inflate the mat below.

The 3R in the name refers the 2.9 R-value, or the amount of insulation and warmth this mat has. It’s a good 3-season mat to keep you warm in most weather above freezing. If you are looking for something for the snow and winter temperatures, you’ll likely want something with 7 or 8 R-value like the Ultra 7R or Dura 8R from the new line.

This 3R is a medium rectangle shape and is 16.4 oz and ends up being 10.5 x 5.1 in packed and 72 x 20.5 x 3 inches inflated. The 20D ripstop fabric is thinner and keeps the weight down.

The insulation is a new iteration of Exped’s older Synmat line of mats.

Exped uses vertical baffles with larger outer tubes

Insulation

Exped used to organize their sleeping mats by what type of insulation was inside. Airmat for just air, Downmat for down feathers and Synmat for compressible synthetic insulation.

With the new line they still use the lightweight compressible Synmat insulation but the names have been revamped to make it easier to find what you need.

The Synmat insulation means there is Texpedloft insulation inside, 60 g/m² in the Ultra 3R. It’s welded to the top and the bottom of the air chambers so it doesn’t move around leaving cold spots.

The Texpedloft insulation compresses down smaller than the older SynMats

Vertical Tubes

Exped mats use vertical tubes and have since they started. The air chambers run from your head to your toe. They’re comfortable to sleep on and distribute weight well.

A new addition for the Ultra line is the Comfort Cradle. The outer tubes are slightly larger than the inner ones. It’s not a huge difference but just enough to help keep you on the mat inside of rolling off the sides. The outer tubes end up compensating for your weight and just feel flat and supportive like the rest of the mat, instead of feeling like a sloped hill to the ground like some other mats.

My tester was an early sample of the mat before the name changed. The outer tubes create a flatter edge and nudge you back towards the middle

FlatValves

Valves are always an issue on sleeping mats. They’re the most complicated parts. They’re fragile and often the first part to fail on a mat.

I really like the new FlatValves on the Ultra 3R and the rest of the new Exped line. They are simple and flat in the bottom of the mat, not fragile plastic pieces that stick out. They can be stepped on without worrying your sleeping mat is toast.

There’s an ‘In’ valve and an ‘Out’. The ‘In’ port has a 1-way valve so you don’t have to worry about any air coming back out. It’s easy to attach the Schnozzel pump bag or just blow it up with your mouth. If you need a tiny bit less air, then there’s a small plastic tab to tap the 1-way valve a bit to let out some air.

The ‘Out’ or deflate valve is a large whole that lets you dump air quickly. Especially with the larger mats, it can take a while to get all the air out. With a large ‘Out’ valve, it’s faster to dump the air and roll up.

The FlatValves are more durable and very easy to inflate and deflate

Inflating with the Schnozzel Pumpbag UL

I’ve used pump bags in the past and it was kind of a pain. It took longer and was just easier to blow up with my mouth. Inflating with a bag is better as it puts less moisture inside the mat and insulation but setting up camp at the end of the day, I just wanted to get it done.

The Schnozzel Pumpbag UL surprised me. It was easy to start using (still working on my technique) and is big enough to fill up the mat quickly. When I get a good scoop of air, it takes about 2 bags to fill up the mat.

The small nozzle locks onto the inflate vale on the mat and with the FlatValve’s 1-way valve the air doesn’t leak back out. On the other side from the nozzle is a toe loop to step on, keeping the bag on the ground when scooping the air. I love little details like this. They make it easier to use.

The PumpBag UL packs down very small and can be used as a waterproof stuff sack

With a quick motion, lift up the bag and bring the top together, trapping a pocket of air. Roll the top of the bag a couple times and squish it down. The air in the bag goes through the nozzle into the mat. If you just need a little bit more, grab a couple more handfuls of bag and squish.

This part takes a little practice but doesn’t take long to do well. Good technique traps enough air for 2 bags to fill a rectangle or mummy mat. Even my first time using, I only needed 4 or 5 smaller bags to fill the mat. When it’s full, it won’t push any more into the mat.

The Schnozzel bag also makes a great sleeping bag stuff sack. Roll the top down, squish all the air out using the nozzle. It’s waterproof to keep your sleeping bag dry.

The Schnozzel PumpBag UL is large when unfolded and pumps mats quickly

Expeds New Mat Line: Ultra, Versa and Dura

Exped has completely redone their line of sleeping mats. It’s easier to find what you need. Instead of all being named by their insulation, like SynMat or DownMat, they’re now named by their intended use and warmth rating.

Their uses, from Exped, are:

  • ULTRA: for when weight and pack size are of utmost importance
  • DURA: when durability is paramount
  • VERSA: an upgrade from traditional foam mats, offering great value and ease of use

The number after the name is the warmth rating, like 3R or 5R. Those stand for the R-value of the insulation inside. 3R will be about an R-value of 3. 3 is a lower insulation R-value, meant more for 3-season kind of camping and backpacking.

The higher R-values like 7 or 8 are meant for winter and cold camping. You can sleep on these in the summer if you like. They are heavier with more insulation.

Within each of the Ultra, Dura and Versa lines there are mummy and rectangle shapes for one person and a Duo shape for 2 people.

The mummy and rectangle shapes have 3 sizes: M, MW and LW. Medium (M) is 72 inches long and 20.5 inches wide. Medium-wide (MW) is 72 inches long and 25.6 inches wide. Long-wide (LW) is 77.5 inches long and 25.6 inches wide.

The Duo shapes have 2 sizes: M and LW. Medium (M) is 72 x 41 inches and Long-wide (LW) is 77.6 x 52 inches.

Ultra

The Ultra series is made from lightweight 20D fabric on the top and bottom

  • 1R – AirMat
    • Rectangular – M, MW, LW
    • Mummy – M, MW, LW
    • Duo – M, LW
  • 3R – SynMat (60 g/m²)
    • Rectangular – M, MW, LW
    • Mummy – M, MW, LW
    • Duo – M, LW
  • 5R – SynMat (60 g/m²)
    • Rectangular – M, MW, LW
    • Mummy – M, MW, LW
  • 7R – DownMat (700 fill RDS down)
    • Rectangular – M, MW, LW
    • Mummy – M, MW, LW

Dura

The Dura series focuses on durability and warmth. The SynMat versions have 160 g/m² Texpedloft microfiber insulation with the 8R using Down insulation. The fabric is recycled polyester outer, 75D on the top and 170D on the bottom.

  • 3R – SynMat (160 g/m²)
    • Rectangle – M, MW, LW
  • 5R – SynMat (160 g/m²)
    • Rectangle – M, MW, LW
    • Duo – M, LW
  • 8R – DownMat (700 fill RDS down)
    • Rectangle – M, MW, LW

Versa

The Versa series focuses on value. It has 160g/m² insulation and 75D polyester.

  • 2R – SynMat (160g/m²)
    • Rectangle – M, LW
  • 4R – SynMat (160g/m²)
    • Rectangle – M, LW

Certified Climate Neutral by MyClimate

One of the best parts of the new line of mats is they’re certified climate neutral. They’re the first and only climate neutral sleeping mats on the market right now.

Climate Neutral (or Carbon Neutral) means that all climate-impacting emissions are calculated and offset. The entire process is looked at, not just manufacturing, from producing the raw materials, all transportation and even out to the disposal or recycling of the product. These emissions are then reduced as much as possible and offset as much as possible.

Offsets are money paid into carbon reduction projects supported by MyClimate, one of the companies that can certify Climate Neutral. Exped is supporting a project in Northern Tanzania that supports better land and forest use plans as well as protecting endangered animals from poaching.

The sleeping mats went entirely Climate Neutral early 2022. Sleeping bags, liners, pillows and booties will all follow in 2022 and 2023. With these massive advancements 70% of Expeds line will be Climate Neutral.

Comments

What do you think of the Ultra 3R and the new line of Exped mats? Have you tried an Exped mat before and what did you think of the vertical baffles?

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