Therm-a-Rest was founded by Seattle engineers and climbers Jim Lea, Neil Anderson, and John Burroughs, who wanted to design a more lightweight, comfortable, and durable sleeping pad than the thin, closed-cell foam mats of the time.
While gardening, Jim noticed air escaping his ground pad's closed chamber and considered if open-cell foam could be secured in an airtight chamber with a valve to control internal air pressure. The foam-and-air combination would protect and thermally insulate campers, and the open-cell foam would rebound, allowing the pad to self-inflate. In 1972, with a patent application filed, the Therm-a-Rest was launched.
Today, Therm-a-Rest offers mattresses, sleeping bags, blankets, hammocks, and more. It is owned by Cascade Designs, the parent company of MSR, Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, SealLine, and PackTowl outdoor brands.