Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite
A technologically advanced closed-cell sleeping pad, offering very good warmth and lightweight in this class. Though it is less durable in comparison to traditional pads, and its ridged surface may not be liked by everyone.
- Virtually indestructible in comparison to inflatable pads
- Good warmth for a closed-cell foam pad
- Quite soft foam
- Hi-tech look
- Metallic coating is not durable enough
- The caves between ridges collect sand and debris
- Difficult to clean
- Some people don’t like the ridged surface without particular reasons
- Disadvantages of closed-cell pads vs. inflatable pads (bulkiness, insulation, comfort)
I’d been using this sleeping pad (in Regular size) from 2013 to 2016. Before and after this one I'd used the traditional closed-cell foam pads with smooth surface.
The bulkiness is not a problem for bicycle tours, as the pad always rides outside the bag, and it also makes a good storage for a rain cover (inside the roll).
I prefer slightly thicker pads than most—about 15 mm (⅔ in)—and the thickness of Ridgerest SoLite is just right for me. Generally we don’t use inflatable pads (except for second bottom layer in winter) due to risk of accidental damage when used outside the tent. We really love the multi-functional nature of closed-cell pads, which may be used as a table, outdoor seat, wind cover, and even as a protective package for bicycle (not in case of this particular pad).
But in comparison to most traditional closed-cell pads the Ridgerest SoLite is different. First, it has the distinctive ridged surface, intended for reducing weight while keeping good insulation level. Second, on one side it has metallic coating, which equals to 10% increase of pad thickness.
So this pad has a some sort of aerospace look, and in brand new condition it is definitely better (e.g. warmer and lighter) than regular pad. The foam is quite soft, so the pad is comfortable to some degree and it’s easy to roll in and out in comparison to traditional pads.
After a season of use the metallic coating shows significant wear. My wife despises the uneven surface of this pad.
But its design has several weaknesses too. After a dozen nights on this pad the wear of metallic coating became visible. After several seasons there remain only traces of original coating. It doesn’t peel off though—only grows thinner every night. This makes questionable paying more for SoLite model, while there is cheaper Classic model without the coating.
Another compliance is the ridged surface itself. My wife simply hates the idea about sleeping on ridges, while there is no particular reason for that—to me the pad feels as comfortable as any other. But the real problem is that these caves between ridges are prone to collecting sand, dust, and crumbs. My first long-range trip with this pad included lots of time spent inside the tent on sandy beaches, and the debris in these caves became a real problem. I had to shake my pad out twice a day.
Among two cheap smooth pads in 2016, shortly before retirement
Also if your pad gets dirty while riding the bike, it’s much more difficult to clean it properly in comparison to smooth pads. The latter may be cleaned by wet cloth, while it’s not enough to remove the dirt from between ridges.
Nevertheless I was quite satisfied with my Ridgerest SoLite until it appeared to me that its wear is too noticeable. It looks like during these years the pad has flattened down (due to its soft foam and reduced amount of material) and doesn’t offer much insulation. So in the beginning of 2017 I replaced it to traditional pad.
If I lived in the U.S., I’d consider replacing it with a Ridgerest Classic, but the excess price in Russia makes it a poor value for money (the traditional pad cost is about 10 USD versus 27 USD in case of Ridgerest Classic).
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: about 40 USD
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Current Retail: $64.99
Historic Range: $3.00-$83.99
Reviewers Paid: $40.00