[leadin]A bed-like experience in the wild — that’s how Swiss outdoor company Exped bills its latest sleep system.[/leadin]
To mimic a bed, Exped rolls four products into one system: the nearly five-inch-thick pad, a plush 700-fill sleeping quilt, a fitted sheet, and an inflation bag.
We’ve been testing the DeepSleep System ($500) all summer long and unanimously agree it offers a great night’s rest, at home or in the woods. For comfort, it’s hard to beat.
But when compared to sleeping bags, pads and other systems, this one has some disadvantages. It’s also expensive.
Here’s our rundown of Exped’s cushy sleep system for the campground and beyond.
Car Camping Bliss
Let’s get the two elephants in the room cleared up right away — this product is pretty heavy and expensive, but not crazy when compared with alternatives.
The complete system weighs in at more than 5.5 pounds, which will make an ultra-light hiker cringe but isn’t out of the realm of possibility if sleep is of premium concern. For comparison, a modestly light pad and sleeping bag will weigh at least 3 pounds, so the penalty here isn’t huge.
For those striving for a great sleep in easy range of a car, river raft or canoe (or even for house guests), this is a comfy way to sleep.
Of course, you can buy a plush sleeping bag and a thick foam pad for car camping for $150 or less. It will be bulkier than the Exped setup, however, and not conducive to stowing in a canoe or strapping on a backpack to hike it in to a mountain base camp.
Complete Sleep ‘System’
The DeepSleep is indeed a system, and it requires some time to set it up right. But once ready, you can leave it intact between trips.
At $500, this system is a significant upfront investment. But when you break it down, it’s not that unruly. An insulated pad from a competitor (Sea to Summit or Thermarest) will set you back between $150 – 200. A similar down quilt can run another $250 – 300.
Granted, buying individual items helps spread the dent in your wallet over time. But if you find yourself tossing and turning for good sleep on family camping trips, this kit is worth a look.
Waterproof Storage Sack
The system is stored in a seam-taped pump sack/dry bag (provided), keeping the kit completely dry and packed tight when hauling to and fro.
Inside, the quilt and mat are wrapped tight with a velcro strap. To set up the bed, you unwrap the pump bag and pull out the mat and quilt and then unfurl the system. The quilt comes attached to the fitted top sheet already wrapped around the pad.
The five-inch-thick insulated Synmat 12 LXW pad is as cush as it gets in Exped’s line. It has two valves: a unidirectional inflation and a bi-directional deflation valve. To inflate the pad, make sure the deflation valve is closed then couple the pump bag to the pad’s inflation valve.
Let the pump bag fill with air, roll the bag’s top shut, then proceed to roll the air out of the bag and into the pad.
Inflating the pad looks quick and easy when you follow the instructional video posted on Exped’s site, taking just a few rolls. In the woods, this proved to be a little more laborious. But it’s a necessary process; it would take too long and too much lung power to inflate the pad otherwise.
The top sheet wraps snugly around the pad much like the top sheet you use at home on your bed. A single cord keeps the sheet secured around the pad’s midsection. The sheet’s mesh side-walls prevent moisture or condensation from leaching up onto the pad.
The 700-fill down quilt snaps to the perimeter of the top sheet and has a nice foot box to toss the feet in on cold nights. If things warm up, pull the feet out or unbutton one side and let the heat spill out.
A small pocket sits under the right side of the quilt, with enough room to store a phone or wallet.
A quirky add-on, a 12″ zipper sits awkwardly in the middle of the quilt. My aha moment was when a friend unsnapped the quilt and threw it over his head and wore it around camp like a poncho. It’s nice, but if you are carrying a 5.5 lb. sleeping system around, you’ll likely be hauling a 20oz puffy jacket in the trunk of your Subaru.
Made in: China
We used the DreamSleep system car camping, at hotels as a spare bed, and on river trips. All our testers came back wanting one of their own. At 5 inches thick, it snubs out any underlying protrusions and at 77 x 30 inches, it’s the California king of outdoor pads, providing restless sleepers ample room to roll around.
The pad can be used coupled with a warm sleeping bag on winter trips. The quilt is plenty warm for summer sleeping. We used it as low as the high 40s, which amply buffered the alpine chill, but it won’t cover your keister on winter nights.
You can use the quilt alone as a summer bag, but at just over 2 pounds, it’s not a lightweight contender.
We found that inflating the pad took some time to get a hang of. We loved the top sheet (it eliminates that sticky sweaty feeling from laying right on the pad), but taking it apart and putting it back together between washes was a tedious process.
With the quilt snapped to the top sheet, you have to wiggle into bed or snap the quit back around you while you are in the bed.
Who Should Buy It
The DeepSleep caters to the car camper or river rat, those with roomy means to throw a bulky kit in the trunk without worrying about the cost in space. It’s great for campers with a bend for comfort over roughing it. The DeepSleep also stores away tight at home and can provide a quick and easy bed for unexpected visitors.
SynMat 12 LXW Pad
- R-Value: 5.3
- Rating: -4 ˚F
- Weight: 49.2 oz
- Thickness: 4.7 in
- Length: 77.6 inches
- Width: 30 inches
DreamWalker Uno 300 Plus Quilt
- Fill: 700
- Fill Weight: 13 oz
- Total Weight: 33.9 oz
- Quoted “comfort range”: 41 ˚F to 34 ˚F (with extreme limit down to 14 ˚F)
- Weight: 89.2 oz (5.6 lbs)
- Packed size: 15.7 × 11.8 × 18.9 in
- Warranty: 5 years
Contact Brand/More Beta: Exped