The 2017 MegaMat Duo 10 vs. the 2016 MegaMat Duo
Exped informed us on some exciting updates to the 2017 version of the MegaMat Duo. The two main changes are aimed to improve the deflation and packing up of this model, which was an area of weakness in the 2016 version we reviewed. Check out this quote from the manufacturer:
For 2017 the MegaMat Duo 10 and entire MegaMat line received a new larger deflate valve that makes for faster, quicker, and easier deflation/packing. The whole MegaMat series also gets a new stuff sack called the "Sidewinder" which is a side opening duffel bag style stuff sack, making it easy to pack and allows room to store items like the sheet and/or pillows all in the same bag. Finally, the mat is also now available in Green (new for 2017) or Ruby Red.
Besides the new color addition, it's tough to tell these mats apart.
Here's a summary of the key differences:
- Larger Deflate Valve — The latest version of the MegaMat features a larger deflate valve intended to speed up deflation time. In our review of the older version, we were disappointed by the long amount of time it took to deflate it. We're excited about this apparent improvement, which is seen across the entire MegaMat line from Exped.
- New Stuff Sack — Exped switched up the stuff sack for the MegaMat line. The new "Sidewinder" stuff sack has a large side opening. In our experience, larger openings for stuff sacks result in easier packing up, and we expect this to be the case with the update. It also has room to store bedding. There is also an exterior strap to ease transportation of this mattress.
- Price — The new version can be yours for the price of $369, which is $20 more than its predecessor.
- New Color — In addition to ruby red, this new mat is available in green as well.
We have yet to test the new 2017 version of this mattress. After reviewing the changes made, we expect improved performance from this mattress in its latest version. The text and analysis below reflects the 2016 MegaMat Duo until we get the chance to complete a full review of the new one.
Hands-On Review of the 2016 SIM MegaMat Duo
The Exped Megamat Duo is one of four mattresses in this review that are queen size and therefore perfect for two people. Keep in mind, these mattresses are not only
for couples, as a single person can happily starfish across the whole thing in lounging fashion, but they are designed with two people in mind. The Megamat Duo is different from its competition in that it is a self-inflating air mattress, instead of an Air Bed, like the REI Relax Airbed
, the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed
, or the Lightspeed 2-person
. This means it is not nearly as thick as these air beds, but provides greater warmth and comfort due to its interior foam cushioning, something they lack. Where the air beds are superior is when it comes to ease of use (they are easier to inflate and especially deflate and pack up) and packed size (the Duo has the largest packed size in the review). The air beds also come at a much lower price, but will "cost" you a lot in comfort, warmth, and versatility. Overall, the Megamat Duo is the same amazingly awesome mattress that won our Editors' Choice Award, sized up for two.
The Megamat Duo perfectly fits in the back of a pickup truck, making for a wonderful night's sleep in a wonderful location!
The foam that fills this mattress serves many fine purposes. Not only does it insulate from the ground, but it pads as well, especially at those pressure points, like the butt, feet, and shoulders, where your weight sinks deeper into the pad. It also evens out the cushioning under your body, dampening the air mattress effect. We felt that the most comfortable way to use this pad was much less inflated
than other air mattresses. This way your body is equally supported by the air and the foam, and more importantly, the mattress wasn't so full of air that when one part of your body sinks into the pad, the other parts would naturally rise with the displacement. Luckily, the inflate valve system with rubber flap to impede air from escaping while inflating allows you to blow this thing up as rigid as you want it. You can then let air escape as you lie on it till it feels just right. Additionally, the face fabric is smooth and comfortable to the touch, without a hint of rubbery, nylon-y, or plastic-y feel. Compared to the air bed alternatives, this mattress reminds us of that old television commercial where someone is jumping up and down on a mattress with a glass full of wine next to them. This one will absorb the movement of the other person without disturbing you, while with an air bed you might just get bouncy castled straight off the bed should your partner thrash too much. We gave this mattress a 10 out of 10 for comfort.
Ease of Use
At 5 out of 10 points, this was the lowest scoring mattress in the review for Ease of Use. In truth, it isn't all that
hard to inflate and deflate this beast, it just takes the proper strategy and a bit of time. All of the same tactics and inconveniences of the MegaMat 10 apply here, but double the size means double the work.
The mini-pump in action. Attach one end to the inflate valve, and then repeatedly step on the inflated balloon, like you are trying to crush an aluminum can. While this is a sort of a cool design that doesn't require using your lungs or an external power source, you will need to stomp on this balloon about 300 times to fill one of these mattresses.
For inflation, it is best to open the inflate valve, roll out the mattress, and let it inhale air for a while as the foam cushioning inside expands. After 10 minutes or so, one can inflate it the rest of the way with the provided "mini-pump," a small, whoopee cushion-like device that works as a tiny foot pump. While we liked how small this pump compressed, and the fact that it existed at all, saving us the effort of manually inflating it with our own hot air, it still takes some patience and the willingness to stomp on a whoopee cushion a few hundred times to fully inflate this mattress.
This mattress has two separate valves, one for inflation and one for deflation. Oddly enough, both of them feature airflow inhibiting flaps of rubber.
Deflation is where the real challenge comes. The technique we found most convenient is to open the deflate valve, fold the mattress over, and lie on top of it, forcing the air out, which can take a minute or two per fold. We had to repeat this process three to five times to get 90 percent of the air out of the mattress, closing the deflate valve after each time to prevent it from inhaling more air again. Finally, we folded the mattress in half, then rolled it up from the end, which was again not as easy as other mattresses due to the thickness of the interior foam, until we reached the end, where we let out the last 10 percent of air. This process took patience and about five minutes most days, in order to roll it small enough to fit into the stuff sack. Patience, grasshopper!
For some unknown reason the deflate valve on the Exped mattresses also has a rubber flap to inhibit airflow. We find it is much quicker to deflate these pads if you stick your finger through the flap, allowing a bigger opening. If we owned this mattress personally we would probably just tear out this flap.
After fully wrestling the air out of the Duo mattress, all that remains is to fold it in half and roll it up. Constant pressure is needed in order to keep the mattress tightly rolled so it will fit in the stuff sack.
The ample foam cushioning that is found inside this mattress helps it provide an R-value of 9.5, far and away the highest in this test. R-value is a measurement of how well any given material, or combination of materials, impedes heat (or cold) transfer. The higher the number, the better a job it does. Other self-inflating mattresses, like the REI Camp Bed 3.5
or Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP
, had a rating of around 5, while the three Air Beds only had an R-value of 1. The ground, or metal frame of a vehicle, that is underneath your car camping mattress is always going to be colder than you are, so a critical function of your mattress is to insulate you from absorbing that cold. This mattress does the best job at that task, and so we gave it 10 out of 10 points.
We could only give the Megamat Duo 5 out of a possible 10 points for versatility, which is still a point better than the Air Beds we tested. This mattress is absolutely gigantic when packed down, and is likewise heavy as well, ensuring that you won't end up carrying it anywhere (its as big as a backpack!). It doesn't separate into two mattresses for individual use, and also can't be broken into component parts like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream
or Big Agnes Sleeping Giant
. This bed needs to be used near, or inside of, the car, limiting its versatility. However, it can
be used in any season due to its great insulation, something that cannot be said of the air bed alternatives.
The thicknesses of the four mattresses in this review designed for two people. From bottom to top: The Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed, REI Relax Airbed, Lightspeed 2-person, and Exped Megamat Duo. Of these four, the top one is the only one with built-in foam for cushioning and warmth purposes.
This is the single largest packed mattress we tested, by a long shot. We felt that this warranted the low score of only 3 points. By comparison, the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air bed, and the other two air beds as well, were among the very smallest in terms of packed size.
The nine camping mattresses arranged in order from smallest on the left to biggest when looking at their packed size. Left to right: Lightspeed 2-person, Thermarest NeoAir Dream, Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed, REI Relax Airbed, Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, Exped Megamat 10, Thermarest Luxury MAP, REI Camp Bed 3.5, and on the bottom the Exped Megamat Duo.
This mattress is designed for two people and is best used inside of or very close to a car. It will work equally well on the ground inside a tent, or in the back of a van, truck, or camper setup. It is wide enough that it will not fit inside a backpacking tent, so to use it in a tent would require a three-person tent, or a large family- sized car camping tent. It also works great as a spare mattress in your home. Due to its ginormous packed size, it is really not appropriate to attempt to carry this thing anywhere.
Hard to beat this view from the back of the truck. Looking out from the hills of the Eastern Sierra.
The Exped Duo retails for $349. That is a whole lot of money for a car camping mattress, and over three times as much as an air bed will cost you. However, it is only $140 more than the Megamat 10, meaning when you break it down per person, you are getting a "buy one, get the second half off," kind of deal. Since we think that it is the very best mattress you can buy for two people, and is still quite a bit cheaper than buying two single person mattresses of the same quality, it is a good value.
The Exped Megamat Duo the best car camping mattress for couples, just like its smaller brother, the Megamat 10, is the best car camping mattress period
. The only difference between these two fantastic sleeping pads is the size and cost. Compared to the other two-person options available today, namely inflatable air beds like the three that we reviewed here, this mattress is light years more comfortable. If you need a mattress for two people, this is without doubt the one we would recommend.
Other Versions and Accessories
Exped Megamat 10
- The best overall car camping mattress we tested for one-person use
Exped Air Pillow
- Editor's Choice Award Winner
Exped Air UL Pillow
- Inflates with a few breaths
- Difficult to use and uncomfortable
- Our least favorite camping pillow in our review