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Every item of equipment you choose to buy, is tainted by compromise. A balancing act, a trade-off between one attribute and another. You might decide to buy something that’s a little heavier than you’d like because it packs smaller. A slightly less robust item may have been selected because it was considerably cheaper than the alternative or you might sacrifice a degree of comfort in exchange for less weight.

We make decisions based on our circumstances, priorities and requirements. Many of us do it subconsciously, giving up a bit here and a little there in order to gain something extra elsewhere. No piece of equipment is free from compromise. Even if it perfectly fulfills its role, the weight-weenie within you will always think it could be a touch lighter and part of you, will always want it to be a few pounds cheaper. Although we have to accept that ‘perfect’ is unobtainable, it shouldn’t stop us from trying to minimise the amount of compromise we have to accept in the pursuit of meeting our own self-imposed criteria … the less compromise you have to swallow, the happier a camper you’ll be.

Whether I’ll ever pack it this small again, we’ll have to see.

A sure sign that something is as near to the Holy Grail of perfect as we’re likely to get, is how often you use it. An item that you pack and use on every trip without giving it a second thought, is probably a  good piece of kit – it may not suit everyone but it’s obviously working for you. One such article that accompanies me on every trip, is the Exped Synmat UL7 sleeping mat. Does it insulate me from the cold ground? Yes, even down to below freezing. Is it comfortable to sleep on? At 7cm thick, it certainly is. Pack nice and small? Smaller and you might lose it. Is it easy to use and faff free? Pretty much foolproof. Does it cope well with prolonged use? Three years and counting. As good as it sounds, remember it’s not perfect … if it was, it would weigh 36g, pack into a matchbox cost less than a fiver.

As you’d expect, the Hyperlite features the Exped ‘flat valve’

So, if the Synmat UL is as good as I say it is, could it be made even better? Honestly, I don’t know yet but I’m assuming the R&D department at Exped feel it’s possible, otherwise why would they have introduced the Synmat Hyperlite mat? The Hyperlite has a slightly higher R rating than the UL, it packs noticeably smaller and weighs over 100g less, which is a fair old chunk to knock off something that wasn’t portly to begin with. Some of this weight saving can likely be attributed to the new tapered shape but as long as it doesn’t detract from the mats comfort or usability, it may actually bring benefits, especially to anyone naive enough to try and fit two people inside a two-man tent. If, the Hyperlite performs as well as the UL, then it’ll be a great mat but if it turns out to be even better … then who knows, compromise could become nothing more than a memory.

Should be comfy!

If you can’t wait to find out, pop across to Exped and have a look.

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