Exped Downmat XP 9 M
Sleeping in the woods in the heart of winter may not peak the top of your list – it never did mine at least, until the past few years where I’ve grown to recognize the perks. There’s no mid-summer crowds contending for your favorite spot, all bugs (and bears, depending on where you live) are retired for the season, and there’s something mystical about the muted sounds of a fresh snowscape that brings everything in closer. My wife’s side of the family, who immigrated from the Netherlands, often use the word gezellig (gah-zell-egh) to describe all things cozy, nice, close and comfortable. With proper planning, winter camping can be down right gezellig. You and a handful of friends under a clear, star-lit sky, your comfiest camp chair and warmest blanket, all nestled ’round a roaring fire. It’s the perfect late-season medicine for a work-wearied mind, and I absolutely recommend trying it.
If you’re planning a winter outing, something to note is most state campgrounds are closed for the season. Your best bet is to find your nearest national forest (https://www.fs.usda.gov) If you’re in Michigan, try Nordhouse Dunes National Lakeshore or The Manistee National Forest. You’ll need the right gear, and addition to a warm sleeping bag, (I use a 0 degree, down) you’ll need to have a quality sleeping pad with an R-value above 5. This term’s used to describe how well a material or barrier resists the conductive flow of heat. Most camp pads have an R value between 2 and 5. The higher the number, the better protection from the frozen ground. During a Northern Michigan overnight trip last weekend, I tested the Exped Downmat XP 9 M, the latest in down pad technology, procured by our friends at Bill and Paul’s Sporthaus.
I bore some jokes from my buddies for my premature turn-in time, but with a newborn baby at home, I desperately wanted rest. Around 9:00pm I had my final yawn and headed into my tent to take full advantage of peaceful night’s sleep. Sleep is an understatement. I woke only once during the night to pee, and slept like a stone until I heard the boys stoke our fire back to life around 7:00 a.m. 10 hours sleeping in the woods? Not bad. Not bad at all. This pad has a lot going for it. In fact, it’s my favorite to date. It’s very durable, incredibly warm and down-right comfortable. Here are the details:
-Length: 72″(183 cm) Width: 20.5″ (52 cm) Height: 3.54″ (9cm)
-Packed dimensions 9.4″x 6.3″
-Weight: 31.6 oz
-Swiss design includes incredibly durable 75d seam-welded laminate, both comfortable and slip resistant.
-Full length baffles eliminate cold spots and improve stabilization.
-Contains 700 fill down (IDFL/RDS certified).
-Includes a clever waterproof inflator bag, repair kit, and a 5-year limited warranty.
-$229 (as tested) or $249 the slightly longer & wider version, both available at Bill and Paul’s.
If you’re looking for a way to keep your phone warm on a winter overnight, there’s a company called Phoozy creating products to protect our modern electronic investments. There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving the trailhead with full bars to find your phone drained by dinner time. This isn’t just annoying for the missed photo opportunities, but safety issues may come into play when you’re not looking to be cut off completely. This type of product I don’t normally place in my checkout cart, but after using it I may reconsider.
I tested the Phoozy XP3 XL. This handy little soft-sided compartment is insulated, nylon backed, and velcro enclosed to keep your smartphone protected while you play. For the gear nut who seems to have everything, add this one to the list.
$49 at Bill and Paul’s