Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thermarest Z-Lite Sol Sleeping Pad - Review

For a long time I was a true believer in self-inflating foam sleeping pads/mattresses.  I own a Thermarest ProLite Plus and have used it extensively.  Then I purchased a Thermarest Z-Lite closed cell foam pad to have as an extra pad when one of my kids joins me backpacking, or to layer under my self-inflating mattress in freezing temperatures.

Well, now I am a true convert to Z-Lite pads.  They are as light as can be (14 oz.), fold up small, can be easily strapped to the outside of your pack without worrying about damage; they have multiple uses, and they are relatively inexpensive.  I find them more comfortable than inflating pads even though they are thinner (0.75 in vs. 1.5 in), I think because of the stiff egg-crate design.  Also, I find the Z-lites warmer than my inflating pad despite the lower R-rating (2.6 vs. 3.8), I think because those egg-crate valleys trap body heat.

I've found that because the Z-Lite pads are so rugged, I use them for other purposes, like as a kneeling pad when cooking, or as a sitting pad around camp - fold it in half and it's twice as comfy.  Just when I thought that it couldn't get any better, I received a new Z-Lite Sol for Christmas.  The Sol version is the same 72-in x 20-in size, same weight, and same R-value; but where the original Z-Lite was colored brown and grey, the Z-Lite Sol is yellow on one side and has a silver aluminized reflective surface on the other side.  This reflective surface is designed to reflect back more body heat, and thus be warmer, even though the R-rating isn't any higher.  While I don't have any scientific proof, all I can say is that it feels a bit warmer.

I've tried the Z-Lite Sol alone, under my inflating pad, and over my inflating pad; and I have to say that I don't notice any benefit over using the Z-Lite by itself down to temperatures in the teens.  Try one yourself and you'll be a convert...


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