Therm-a-Rest is one of the best sleeping pad manufacturers in the world. To this day Therm-a-Rest mattresses are proudly made in Seattle, Washington, USA. I find one’s sleeping system (sleeping pad and sleeping bag) is the most critical area to not skimp on quality if you value a good night’s rest while camping. Yes, you can spend less on pads but I’ve found out the hard way that low priced inflatable pads aren’t as comfortable, tend to puncture, and wear out easily. It’s far better to purchase more durable, proven pads for camping. That said, keep in mind that the majority of negative reviews on inflatable pads come from inexperienced backpackers who don’t take precautions to protect their pad from punctures. I’ve thoroughly tested Therm-a-Rest pads while backpacking and trust them with my sleep.
I know how hard it is to find honest recommendations and to narrow down American made gear. This is why I started American Gear Guide. I take my recommendations seriously and only recommend the best of the best. Of course this is my subjective opinion but I’m confident it won’t disappoint. Here are a few reasons to trust me:
The XLite is an ultralight pad that’s a little warmer than the Therm-a-Rest Uberlite but still weighs only 12 oz (reg size), packs to the size of a 1L nalgene bottle, and has thick 2.5″ cushioning with a warm R-value of 3.2. I’ve personally used an Xlite and XTherm pad for the past five years and highly recommend them for a comfy ultralight pad. One thing to note is the Xlite and XTherm pads produce a crinkly sound when you move around, it doesn’t bother me but it might bother some sensitive sleepers. For bigger folks I highly recommend getting the large size as the regular is too short and too narrow for my shoulders, and I’m a slim dude.
Looking for the lightest and comfiest 4-season pad, the most advanced ultralight mattress available? You can lay this pad down in any condition including right in the snow. I love my XTherm pad and have comfortably used it down to -20F with a closed cell foam pad and a Feathered Friends -25F Ptarmigan Sleeping Bag while winter camping in Canada’s Kootenay National Park. The XTherm pad has a high R-value of 5.7, weighs only 15 oz (reg size), while providing thick padding for rocky ground. My personal XTherm is pictured at the top of the page. Like on the XLite, I recommend the large size as the regular is too narrow for me, and I’m a slim dude.
When you’re car camping and simply want the comfiest pad possible then the MondoKing is the top choice. This self inflating pad has 4 inches of plush foam supported loft, a super warm R-value of 7, and soft friendly fabric to deliver a restful sleep like your home mattress. Check out any of the reviews and you’ll find they rave about the comfort of this pad.
The Trail Scout is a classic 3-season self inflating sleeping pad that’s comfortable, durable, and affordable. With 1″ inch of loft and an R-value of 3.1 I find that I sleep well on Trail Scout pads. At 1 lb 6 oz (reg size) its not too heavy for backpacking and packs a lot of comfort over a thin foam pad. If you’re unsure about spending twice as much on a pad and you don’t need the weight savings of the NeoAir pads, I recommend the Trail Scout.
These closed-cell foam pads provide the insulation necessary to keep you warm from cold ground. Many minimalist backpackers sleep well using only a Z Lite or SOLite pad, but they’re not for the light sleepers. I used to sleep well using thin foam pads; the trick is finding smooth or duffy sleeping spots. I now use inflatable pads like my XLite which can comfortably bed over pointy rocks.
The main difference between the Z Lite and SOLite are the Z Lite has an egg crate like design that folds up as a rectangle while the SOLite rolls up like a burrito. I prefer the Z Lite because it lies flat instead of curling up. Some advantages of these foam camping mats is that you can use them as a seat, a windscreen for your stove, a sarong, padding for a backpack, or a yoga mat. They’re also cheap and you won’t worry about getting holes (though I’ve found ThermaRest air mattresses to be plenty durable.) When winter camping, I always use a closed cell Z Lite pad under my inflatable pad to add insulation.
Inflatable pads are getting ridiculously light, and this is the lightest 3-season pad. If you value comfort and Therm-a-Rest’s strict durability standards while keeping weight at an absolute minimum, then the Uberlite is your pad. The Uberlite weighs an insane 8.8 oz yet still has 2.5″ of cushioning. The superlight fabric is less durable as a result however, so make sure to protect this pad from punctures. Get the large size if you don’t want a super narrow pad.
This self inflating pad is great all around for a reasonable price. The Prolite Plus is a foam and air combination pad with 1.5″ loft and weighing in at 1 lb 7 oz. It has a great R-value of 3.2 for the low weight and loft. Another Prolite version exists (without the plus) but I find the larger R value and greater loft make the Plus a better buy for a small price increase.
The photos below illustrate my American made Thermarest NeoAir Xlite, XTherm, and Z Lite sleeping pads in the field through the Winter, Summer, and Fall. Of course the XTherm is the one in the snow (with a Z Lite underneath) at -20F in Kootenay National Park, Canada.
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