Exped Ultra 5R Sleeping Mat | Review - Outdoors Magic

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Exped Ultra 5R Sleeping Mat | Review

A light and warm sleeping mat that gives a comfy night’s sleep through all four seasons

Exped have been making sleeping mats for quite some time. Since 1997 in fact – that’s when they produced their first ever self-inflating model. Today, their sleeping mat collection is not only expansive but also very good. We’ve tested a lot of their range, including the SynMat Basic 7.5, the Synmat UL 7, the FlexMat and more and we’ve always been left impressed.

This, the Exped Ultra 5R might be our favourite so far. It’s a winter sleeping mat that provides an impressive amount of insulation, that’s easy to inflate and deflate and that’s light and packable to boot. 

Pros: Comfortable and stable, excellent warmth-to-weight
Cons: Not a winter mat for those who sleep cold, quite expensive

OM editor Will using the mat in Ryvoan Bothy, Scotland. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

The Ultra 5R is available in three mummy and three rectangular sizes, including a regular width, a wide width and as a long and wide pad. So much choice. We tested out the rectangular, medium model.


This has vertical baffles and while this type of construction might make it look like a swimming pool lilo, it brings a lot of stability, particularly at the edges. If you move around a bit at night, this type of construction will suit you.

“It stays nice and quiet when you move around on it.”

It’s inflated via airflow through a one-way valve. Where this airflow comes from is up to you, you can either blow into it (if you’ve got the lungs for it) or you can use the pump sack that comes with it. Handily, the pump sack is waterproof and is designed to double as the sleeping mat’s stuff sack – you do get a more conventional stuff sack with it though as well. To deflate it, you simply open up the ‘out’ valve and Bob’s your uncle. 

Packed up, it’s reasonably small. There are lighter and more compact mats out there, but not many (if any) we can think of with the winter warmth this one has.


The shell is made from a recycled 20D ripstop nylon. This feels quite tough but, as with all mats, you don’t want to bash this thing around too much. Inside, there’s 160 g/m³of Exped’s own specially-developed microfiber insulation which is bonded to the top and bottom of each baffle. The bond, Exped say, is specifically designed to prevent bacteria growth, so, if you blow into the mat, the moisture in your breath won’t cause the insulation to get all nasty. Also, because this doesn’t use an internal heat reflecting film like you’ll see in a lot of insulated mats, it stays nice and quiet when you move around on it – you don’t get that crinkly sound.

This insulation gives the mat and R-value of 4.8. While there are higher R-values out there, it’s still a good number, especially for a mat as packable and light as this. It makes it good for winter use down to zero degrees fahrenheit (-18C).

This is a bit of a tangent but it should be interesting information nonetheless. It’s the story of where the R-value came from. You see, Exped were one of the earliest adopters of the grading system. They picked it up as a way to quantify and communicate the insulation properties of their products to their customers and, by doing so, they contributed to an industry-wide shift towards using R-values as a standardised measurement for sleeping mat insulation. This change made it easier for outdoor enthusiasts to make informed decisions about their gear, taking into account the specific conditions they would encounter on their adventures.

Tester’s Verdict

Will Renwick, editor of Outdoors Magic

I used to not give a hoot about what sleeping mat I slept on. If I wasn’t on the cold hard ground then I was happy. This year, however, something strange happened. I’ve suddenly become fussy. Why this is, I couldn’t tell you.

I used to be more than happy on my ultralight Therm-a-rest NeoAir Uberlite, but now I find it too uncomfortable. Maybe I’m getting old. Anyway, this mat from Exped is one that I’ve found I’m happy on. I think it’s a combination of its depth, stability and the big platform that the rectangle cut provides.

Other aspects I’ve liked include the non-slip texture to the topside and the fact it doesn’t rustle at all – it gives a super quiet night’s sleep to you and your tent companion.

Despite the Exped Ultra 5R’s large volume, I found the pump bag makes it really quick and easy to deflate. You just need about 6 or so squeezes of the pump bag and then one or two puffs through your cheeks to fine tune the firmness to your needs. There are pump bag inflated sleeping mats that I’ve used in the past that have been frustratingly difficult to use and slow to inflate – luckily this one is a breeze to inflate.

I haven’t used this in very cold conditions yet but from what I’ve experienced so far and what I’ve read, most people should find this warm enough for a cold UK winter. It should probably be regarded as a three-season mat if you tend to really feel the cold though.

Exped Ultra 5R

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Winter 23/24
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