51920FR - Exped MultiMat - Kurt Papke
- Jan 4, 2009Also due Tuesday...
I 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. Bummer.
After 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.
Next use was December 8-10, 2008, a 3-day trip to the Superior Hiking
Trail along the Beaver Bay to Penn Creek section. Temperatures 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).
Elevation ranged from 750 to 1250 ft (230 to 380 m). This was clearly
a winter 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
Folded MultiMatIn order to get maximum insulation I first tried
folding the MultiMat along its long dimension, and 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 suggested themselves 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 laying 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.
1. Effective insulator and vapor/water and wind barrier.
2. The substantial width of the MultiMat makes it an effective
insulator of an entire hammock bottom.
3. Easily removed and restowed in the supplied sack.
4. Flexibility of the mat - I could easily fold into different
configurations to get more insulation where I wanted it.
5. The color makes it easy to see the mat at night.
6. Nylon ripstop on one side and EVA foam on the other allowed me
to chose whether I wanted the "sticky" side or the "slippery" side up.
Areas for improvement:
1. 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.
This concludes my Field Report for the Exped MultiMat. The Long Term
Report will follow in approximately two months.
Many thanks to Outdoor Research and BackpackGearTest.org for the
opportunity to test this product.