In my life, camping is typically a thrown-together ordeal involving multiple dogs, cold weather, late-night setups, and hard crashes after long days afield. The glamour of social media is suspect to me. A smiling dog in a perfectly setup tent translates into a sleeping pad flattening under the duress of paws and claws.
And if you’ve spent the night — as I have — on a flattened mat far in the backcountry, you think twice before purchasing that fancy, ultralight, supposedly “durable” sleeping pad.
Enter the Exped Dura 8R sleeping mat. After a series of exhaustive, painful, and flattening sleeps through many pads, this is the only one that has stood up to actual months of battering — from the mountains of Montana to the beaches of South Carolina.
In short: In my experience, the Exped Dura 8R is the only sleeping pad that’s held up to my type of long-term regular use. For car campers, short backcountry trips, or pack-supported expeditions, this is the only mat I trust to stay warm, inflated, and comfortable through a long night away from home.
Exped Dura 8R Sleeping Pad
- Temperature -5 F (-40 C)
- R-Value 7.8
- Shape Rectangular
- Pump system Schnozzel Pumpbag
- Capacity One person
- Season 4-season
- Weight 30.2 oz. (med.) / 33.9 oz. (wide) / 36.9 oz. (long wide)
- Length 72" (med.; wide) / 77.6" (long wide)
- Packed dimensions 12.6" x 5.5" (med.) / 13.8" x 5.9" (wide; long wide)
- Width 20.5" (med.) / 25.6" (wide; long wide)
- Foot width M: 20.5" (med.) / 25.6" (wide; long wide)
Exped Dura 8R Sleeping Mat Review
Up front, if you’re looking for something lightweight, the Dura 8R ($250) is not that. At 30-37 ounces, it outweighs a lot of the mats on the market by a decent margin. But with heft comes reliability.
And that heft is mostly provided by recycled 75D/170D ripstop fabric. Additionally, this stuff boasts a face feel that isn’t unpleasant or plasticky. Within the mat, Texpedloft is welded to the top and bottom of the air chambers, and it’s temperature rated to a frigid -5 degrees. Height-wise, the mat tops out at a cushy 7 cm.
Exped offers three size options n the Dura 8R. The Medium and Medium Wide are 72 inches in length, while the Large Wide offers nearly 77 inches in length. The wide options offer nearly 26 inches of space across with the regular clocking in at 20.5 inches. Personally, I chose the Medium Wide as I wanted a smaller option for sleeping in the back of my short-bed Chevy on a Decked system. Thankfully, it fit like an expandable glove.
Beyond that, like most mats these days, it offers a marked “in” nozzle for inflation and an “out” nozzle for deflation. It also comes with the handy Schnozzel Pumpbag for easy inflation (more on that below).
Exped Dura 8R in Use
Sleep, to me, is king. I’m not a 4-hours-and-crush-it kind of person — and if I’m on the move, I’m looking to sleep well on the road.
The 7 cm of lift on this pad is plush. I like to manage the air in my sleeping pads so that the pad gives as I move in my sleep, and the easy-access “in” flap allows me to rate that fill as I’m laying down.
I’ve slept on this pad in both hot and cold weather. Unlike many pads, I haven’t experienced substantial inflation loss due to cold air. The insulation holds up, and it continues to keep sleepers warm throughout the night.
I also sleep with a Border Collie and a Boykin Spaniel. Both are often at my feet or curled up near enough to add extra pressure or stand on any pad I attempt to use. This, as one would expect, doesn’t always go well. Surprisingly, the Dura 8R holds up to puppy claws with ease. Barring teeth, I think this is a big win for anyone who camps with their dog.
I tried the inflatable bag that doubles as a pump and a stuff sack, and it’s impressive once you get the routine down. You scoop air, close it quickly, and feed the air directly into the pad. I like this method. But I also own a small portable air pump. It’s hard to beat the efficacy of that little machine in getting the job done.
At $250, the price is, well, a commitment. But I think that if you compare buying a cheaper pad twice due to damage, it’s actually a pretty big win. So we’ll say that this pad is fairly priced.
What Could Be Better?
Is there anything I’d change about the Dura 8R? Honestly, it’s pretty hard to beat.
Yes, it’s heavy. But that heaviness equates to prolonged performance, so I’ll take it. It’s not the cheapest pad on the market, but you get what you pay for.
I haven’t had a single issue with the Exped Dura 8R for what I expect of it. Honestly, Exped nails the Dura 8R for my use-case as someone who car camps a lot with dogs and variable temperatures.
Exped Dura 8R Final Thoughts
No need to beat around the bush here: It’s going to be tough to trust other sleeping pads after putting my faith in the Exped Dura 8R sleeping mat.
Exped maintains a grip on a few corners of the sleeping pad market with this one. It’s portable, packs down really small (Nalgene-sized), and durability is literally in the name.
I stand by that. This is the best pad I’ve used in years of gear testing, and I hope it lasts a few more years into the future. If you’re looking for a pad that can withstand a lot of torture and give you a great’s night sleep, this is the one.