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Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol closed-cell foam sleeping pad

Super light, but not very comfortable.


  • Ultralight
  • Multiple uses
  • Durable


  • Bulky
  • Uncomfortable

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.


  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Packs fast
  • Affordable


  • 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...


Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $35

Super light. Perfect for thru-hiking.


  • Light
  • Warm
  • Relatively comfortable


  • Not for side sleepers
  • Has to be stored outside your pack, and it takes up space
  • Collects condensation in the dimples.

I love this sleeping pad. I used to use an inflatable pad, but opted for this one because it is so much lighter. It's easy to use, won't get any holes, and it is pretty comfortable if you sleep on your back. It has an R-value of 2.6. So it's pretty good and it's cheap.

It's durable. It's held up over time and I've even cut a couple corners off of it to use as padding when my shoulder got a nasty blister. I've had it for 8 months and it's in great shape.

If the size doesn't bother you, you can't go wrong with this sleeping pad. Super light. It's great.

Edit: The dimples in the sleeping bag seem to collect condensation during the night. I think that the pockets of air within them are warmed and cooled during the night as I shift around in my sleep. This causes parts of my bag to become a little damp over the course of the night. It isn't a lot of moisture though, so it dries pretty quickly. It's a small tradeoff for the price and weight of the pad.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $40

Love this sleeping pad! Perfect for backpacking. Light. Durable. Will not break the bank.


  • Light
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive
  • Warm


  • Not as small as air pads

I love this pad. I have dragged it all over New England and New York without any issues. It insulates well (even with a little snow on the ground), it is light, it was inexpensive, and it is surprisingly durable.

The only downside is it's a little bulky (compared to the air pads), so will you have to strap it on your pack. It may catch a little when you're trying to squeeze through tight spots, but it has not been damaged yet despite my best efforts (I am not careful) and you could always strap it on lengthwise if your pack will allow it.

It did seem thin to me when I first bought it, but both myself and my fiancé find them very comfortable. If mine ever does need to be retired I will deff get another Z Lite Sol.    

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $34.95

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Price MSRP: $44.95
Current Retail: $47.95-$57.95
Historic Range: $24.47-$57.95
Reviewers Paid: $34.95-$40.00
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