When it comes to inflatable backpacking-sized sleeping pads, the Exped Ultra 7R and 5R stand out as exceptional choices. After extensive testing in various cold, and warm weather camping conditions, we can confidently say that these pads are the some of the most comfortable pads on the market.
Where to Purchase
The Exped Ultra 7R and 5R are available through various retailers, including outdoor gear stores and online marketplaces. Some recommended options for purchase include:
Shop around to find the best deal and consider any available discounts or promotions.
Testing the Exped Ultra Series
Our team took the Exped Ultra 7R and the 5R on cold weather camping trips, backpacking trips, car camping trips, hot weather camping, and more. It quickly became our favorite for one compelling reason: comfort. This pad provides a level of comfort that surpasses any we’ve experienced in its category. Its generous thickness and supportive design make it feel like you’re sleeping on a bed, even when the ground is unforgiving.
During our testing, we considered key factors that matter to campers:
Warmth / R Value: The Exped Ultra 7R boasts an impressive R-value of 7.1, indicating exceptional insulation. We can attest that it delivers on its promise of keeping you warm in sub-freezing temperatures. Even on the coldest nights, we experienced minimal heat loss from the ground, ensuring a comfortable night’s sleep. This pad comes in various R values allowing campers to choose the best warmth for them. The 5R is plenty warm enough for us well below freezing. We discuss the specific temperature ratings down below.
Comfort: Comfort is key when it comes to sleeping pads, especially during extended trips. The Exped Ultra pads’ generous dimensions and supportive design provided a restful sleep experience. Its 3.5-inch thickness allowed us to snooze comfortably, even on hard terrain.
Durability: We put the pads through rugged conditions, including rocky campsites and sharp debris. The durable materials and construction held up exceptionally well, with no signs of wear or punctures after extensive use.
Ease of Use: Inflating and deflating the pad was a breeze thanks to Exped’s convenient inflation valve and pumpbag. Packing it down to a compact size for transport is easy (though not as easy as other pads), ensuring quick setup and teardown at camp.
Versatility: While designed for winter camping, the Exped Ultra 7R proved to be versatile enough for year-round use. Its insulation and comfort features make it a reliable choice for all seasons. In addition to various R values, campers can choose sizes and shapes to save weight, or use for car camping/two people. The weight and size make this a backpacking sleeping pad that is as comfortable as many non backpacking style sleeping pads.
One standout feature that enhances the Exped Ultra 7R’s appeal is the included “Schnozzel Pumpbag.” This accessory significantly expedites the inflation process, making it far quicker and more effortless than traditional methods. With the pump bag, we were able to inflate the pad in approximately 2.5 minutes and get it ready for the tent. The added inflation time is a small trade-off for the extra comfort this pad provides.
The Downsides (Cons)
While the Exped Ultra 7R and the 5R sleeping pad has secured its place as one of our all-time favorite options, it’s important to highlight a few downsides that come with its exceptional comfort:
Carrying Bag: The carrying bag that comes with the pad is a bit of a tight fit. Packing the pad into the bag can be a bit cumbersome and time-consuming. However, it’s a minor inconvenience, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it over time.
Inflation Time: Due to its impressive thickness, the Exped Ultra 7R does require a considerable amount of air to fully inflate. Using the Schnozzel Pumpbag, as mentioned earlier, alleviates this issue and speeds up the process significantly. Without the pump bag, it takes about twice as long to blow up as our other pads. Roughly 2.5 minutes with the pump bag, and about 5 minutes without it.
Size and Weight: Admittedly, this is not the lightest or most compact sleeping pad on the market. The Exped Ultra 7R’s generous size, insulation, and thickness make it a bit bulkier than some alternatives. However, for those who prioritize comfort, the trade-off in size and weight is well worth it. We also want to note that this is still a lightweight and packable sleeping pad, just not as small as the smallest and most compact pads on the market. As you go down in R value, these pads get lighter as well. The 5R is impressively small and lightweight, and other less insulated variations are very lightweight.
Expensive: This is a top tier sleeping pad, and is on the more expensive end of inflatable sleeping pad options.
This very well could be the most comfortable backpacking sized sleeping pad on the market. I am a side sleeper, and thinner pads leave me touching the ground frequently. This is one of the few pads that keeps me comfortable even while sleeping on my side.
5/5 – This is our most comfortable sleeping pad option.
Price and Value
While the Exped Ultra 7R may not be the lightest or most compact sleeping pad, its exceptional comfort, durability, and the added convenience of the Schnozzel Pumpbag make it a valuable investment for campers who prioritize a good night’s sleep. The combination of warmth, comfort, and ease of use justifies its price tag, and the pad’s durability ensures it will be a reliable companion for years to come.
4/5 Stars – This is a top tier pad, but it is quite simply very expensive.
Ease Of Use
This is a very easy to use sleeping pad. The two nozzle system is fantastic, and the pumpbag works great. Overall, very easy.
5/5 Stars – Even though it may take a little longer than other pads to inflate, the system is easy for anyone.
M: 72 in
MW: 72 in
LW: 77.6 in
M: 11 x 5.5 in
MW: 11 x 5.5 in
LW: 13 x 5.5 in
5R (Actually 4.8)
M: 12.2 x 5.1 in
MW: 13.4 x 5.9 in
LW: 13.4 x 5.9 in
M: 20.5 in
MW: 25.6 in
LW: 25.6 in
Schnozzel Pumpbag UL
-20 °F (7R)
-5 °F (5R)
7R:M: 22.9 oz
MW: 27.9 oz
LW: 30.2 oz
M: 20.6 oz
MW: 23.1 oz
LW: 24.7 oz
Recommendation and Overall Thoughts
In conclusion, the Exped Ultra 7R is an outstanding sleeping pad that sets a new standard for comfort in its category. Its remarkable warmth and support, coupled with the Schnozzel Pumpbag’s efficiency, make it a top choice for 3 to four season camping. While it may not be the lightest or most compact option, those who appreciate a comfortable night’s sleep in the wilderness will find this pad to be an indispensable addition to their sleep system.
Whether you’re embarking on a frosty alpine expedition, a winter backpacking adventure, or simply camping in colder conditions, the Exped Ultra 7R promises a level of comfort that’s unmatched. Embrace the added inflation time and pack size as a small trade-off for the exceptional luxury it provides. For those who refuse to compromise on camping comfort, the Exped Ultra 7R is the ultimate choice.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about