Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35
Super light, but not very comfortable.
- Multiple uses
This foam mattress is one of the most popular sleeping pads for ultra-lite backpackers, and for good reason, it only weighs a scant 14 ounces. I bought this last year while planning my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, which I had to cancel do to a back injury. I wanted something to sleep on that I didn't have to blow up every night, and wouldn't ever go flat.
Other than the weight, that's the best thing about this pad. You reach your campsite for the night, unstrap it from your pack, toss it in the tent, and you are done. You don't even need a tent either. Set the pad on the ground, it won't damage it in any way. Need a chair to sit by the fire? Fold it up, it works great. It's durable with multiple uses, and compared to the inflatable pads, it's very inexpensive.
The problem is that the ultra-lite weight comes with a catch. The first, and most obvious, is that it's bulky. Unless you have a really big pack, you'll have to strap this to the outside, which in itself presents a new problem, how to protect it from the rain. Therm-a-Rest does not sell a stuff sack sized for the Z-Lite, so you'll have to either find one that fits, or make one yourself if you want to go that route. The other option is to buy an over-sized pack cover, or a poncho that will cover both you and the pack. Even if it get's wet, in my experience it did not soak or retain any moisture, so wiping it down with a camp towel or a piece of clothing could work too.
My biggest issue with this pad is comfort. Through my youth and even as recently as last summer, I slept on the bare ground while out in the wilderness. Hard ground never bothered me. As I've gotten older however my sleeping style has shifted to more of a side posture, which is just fine in a bed.
On the ground or the Z-Lite however, I've found myself waking up in the middle of the night in pain or with a dead arm, which sucks. On my back or stomach I sleep fine. Ground selection is something to really consider when using this pad. You don't want to lay the Z-Lite on hard or rocky ground, because you'll feel it in the middle of the night.
I can't really comment on the insulating qualities. I've mostly used this pad in Arizona in spring and summer where the nights rarely get below 50. I used it for a 5-day 50-mile trek around the Seven Devils in Idaho last August, and with my sleeping bag, I never slept cold into the 40's.
If you don't mind trading comfort for light-weight simplicity then I would recommend the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite. It's easy, durable, and you don't have to worry about it going flat in the middle of the night. I've read plenty of cases where this pad lasted an entire 2,000 mile-plus thru-hike. But if you're a side sleeper, or need the comfort of a soft bed, then you may want to reconsider.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35
As a backpacker on a budget, the Z Lite is a very good choice for both the experienced and novice backpacker. This pad has provided me ample backside insulation and has taken all the trail abuse I have put it through. It packs fast and weighs under a pound but packs large compared to inflatable pads.
- Packs fast
- Not too comfortable for side sleepers
- Packs big
Prior to purchasing the Z Lite, I wanted to find a good quality sleeping pad that met both my comfort needs as well as my wallet needs. Looking through the various options, I finally decided to purchase the Z Lite due to the accordion style packability, the trusted thermarest name, and ultimately the price.
This pad has come along with me on various trips and it hasn't failed me yet. It's very convenient to deploy on stops and when setting up camp for the day. This pad has truly taken the trail abuse and it is still going strong.
A couple downsides that I can see for this pad is how it packs at the end of the day. Compared to inflatable pads, this packs quite large due to the material (closed cell foam), however, it more than makes up for it through it's weight (14 oz.). The other downside is if you're a side sleeper, this may not be the best option for you because it does not provide ample cushion for your hips and can cause some discomfort.
Overall, if I had to get another one, I have no doubt in my mind that I would buy another one.
Here are some pictures of it deployed...
Here's a photo of it used as a ground pad to place your gear on top of...
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Key Features of the Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOLAdvanced WarmthCompact DesignExtra DurableFoam type: Closed CellFill material: XL PolyethyleneTherm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOLGreat product for long distance backpacking trips while being super light, the Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOL is the most compact closed-cell mattress is now warmer than ever: a new, aluminized surface reflects heat, increasing overall warmth by nearly 20 percent, the thermal reflective barrier, sends the heat back to your body, what increases the heat. The proprietary foams are softer on top for extra comfort and denser on the bottom for extra strength; the indestructible closed cell foam provides long-lasting durability. The Lite Sol pad is excellent for uneven grounds because this pad allows you to double up sections, to fill in the low spot for a better level. You can also use the double up section from this Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite SOL pad as an extra cushion for your hips.
Therm-a-Rest added a thermal reflective barrier to its Z Lite SOL Sleeping Pad to boost warmth by twenty percent. Super-lightweight and ultra-durable, this closed-cell foam mattress offers backpackers and campers a simple solution to their search for a comfortable night's sleep in the backcountry.
New for 2012: Our lightest, most compact closed-cell mattress is now warmer than ever: a new, aluminized surface reflects heat, increasing overall warmth by nearly 20%. The proprietary foams are softer on top for extra comfort and denser on the bottom for extra durability. Wherever you're headed, the Z Lite Sol mattress is the right choice for ultralight, warmth, durability and comfort. Advanced Warmth: Thermal reflective barrier sends heat back to your body, increasing warmth. Compact Design: Folding design is compact and easy to pack. Extra Durable: Virtually indestructible closed-cell foam provides lasting, economical comfort.
- Mountains Plus
Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad DECENT FEATURES of the Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad Our most compact closed-cell mattress uses an aluminized surface that reflects heat, increasing the overall warmth by 20% The Z Lite Sol mattress is the right choice for anyone seeking warmth, durability and comfort that carries light and sleeps anywhere The original Z Lite mattress is available without a reflective barrierin.Coyote/Gray The SPECS of the Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad Thickness: 0.75in. / 2 cm Fabric: Cross Linked Polyethylene The SPECS for Small Dimension: 20 x 51in. / 130 x 51 cm Compressed Dimension: 20 x 4 x 5.5in. / 51 x 10 x 14 cm Weight: 10 oz / 290 g R-Value: 2.6 The SPECS for Medium Dimension: 20 x 72in. / 183 x 51 cm Compressed Dimension: 20 x 5 x 5.5in. / 51 x 13 x 14 cm Weight: 14 oz / 410 g R-Value: 2.6 The SPECS for Large Dimension: 20 x 72in. / 183 x 51 cm Compressed Dimension: 20 x 5 x 5.5in. / 51 x 13 x 14 cm Weight: 14 oz / 410 g R-Value: 2.2 This product can only be shipped within the United States. Please don't hate us.