Inflating Exped Synmat UL 7

The Exped Synmat UL 7 packs up small and is ideal for bikepacking. Perhaps you’ve read my review. The downside is that it isn’t self-inflating so manual inflation is required. In simple terms, that means huffing and puffing until it’s filled. It only takes a few minutes to blow it up by mouth, however your exhaled breath is full of moisture, leaving our mouths at about 35°C and 95% humid.

Where does the moisture go? Into your mat, where it can create condensation and that can cause black mould to form on the inside. Not only will it look disgusting, but accidentally breathing in the spores is bad for your health.

Inflating Exped Synmat UL 7

Exped make a gizmo called a  Schnozzel Pumpbag to make inflation swift. It’s a great word, schnozzel, don’t you think? It’s available for around twenty five british pounds, or forty bucks for those of you from the US. Way too pricey for me. And as I always get the job of blowing up the mats when we’re bikepacking, I wanted an easier way to do it.

So, being a fan of recycling and as tight as a duck’s arse when it comes to spending money, I’ve devised a yoke for inflating this mat that will cost you nothing except a few minutes of your time. All you need is a heavy duty plastic bag, an old plastic coated wine cork, a pair of scissors and a drill. In fact, you don’t even need a drill, I only use it for effect, to make me look a bit tougher than I am. And I took less than six minutes to create the gadget and inflate the sleeping mat in readiness for a good night’s sleep.

DIY pump for Inflating Exped Synmat UL 7 

How to inflate an Exped Synmat UL 7 without getting out of breath.

Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? Feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Sleep tight.



Meraid Griffin

Freelance writer, adventurer and public speaker. Descibed in the Sunday Times as a 'modest explorer'. Nothing modest about me.


  1. Meraid

    What a brilliant idea. I had been contemplating buying one of those bags but like you I felt they cost too much. So you have solved the problem for me. Save travels


    • Meraid Griffin

      Why thank you Ted. It’s great to know I’ve helped solve a problem and saved you money into the bargain. 🙂

  2. Great idea but would it not be easier to use your tire pump then you would not need to carry bag ,cork ,drill, vice and generator to power drill?

    • Meraid Griffin

      That wouldn’t work Marcus, because the inflation valve is as wide as a cork and would take forever to pump including leaving you with an aching arm. And you know as well as I do that I wouldn’t be bringing anything more than the cork and the bag with me. 😉

  3. Hilary Searle

    I’m afraid I splashed out on a pillow pump, does work as a comfy pillow as well as a pump though.

    • Meraid Griffin

      Hilary, I was wondering if anybody actually bought these and I see that they do. I can’t claim that the plastic bag will work as a pillow, so you have that advantage. I use my clothes stuffed into a dry bag as a pillow.

  4. Excellent !!! I am not familiar w this brand of mat, but I wonder, if its orifice is as wide as the cork, then drill a larger hole; whatever is closer / almost equal to the smallest restrictive orifice (behind mat’s cork-size opening?).
    In either case bravo !

    • Meraid Griffin

      T Henderson, you are correct about the width of the valve. And indeed, I would have drilled a wider hole if I could have found a bigger drill bit. (Very untidy toolbox).
      Thanks for the bravo. 🙂

  5. I glued a salvaged valve cut from a scrapped delaminated synmat on to a 3″ length of plastic tube(from B&Q) for a better seal to the replacement mat. I’ve abandoned the plastic bag /Schnozzle system of inflation & now simply push my Thermarest Mini Pump onto the other end of the tube & get on making a brew.
    The Mini Pump costs a tenner more than the Schnozzle but is smaller, 6g lighter & impressively frugal on batteries(2 x AAA last me over a fortnight). With a bit of ingenuity it can be adapted for use with most inflatable mats (or even fanning up wood fires!).
    Tiny, light, effortless. The definitive solution for this cycle camping pensioner….

  6. Meraid Griffin

    Hufty, from CTC Forum suggests the following: “Instead of the cork you could cadge a short section of 22mm plastic pipe off a friendly plumber.”
    That seems like a good plan.

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