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Therm-a-Rest Z-Rest

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: Therm-a-Rest Z-Rest closed-cell foam sleeping pad

It exceeded my expectations. I like the compactness.


  • Very compact for a foam pad
  • Makes a great pillow
  • Durable
  • Inexpensive, even at retail price
  • Light


  • On the soft side for my preference, maybe it was worn out
  • I still prefer my Ridge-Rest

When I saw this at the flea market, I immediately snatched it up. I had been seeing these on the mountain and they looked cool all folded up and compact in people's packs. I was worried though; wouldn't the material fatigue along those folds and fail?

I talked the seller down from $8 to $5 

This pad, when I bought it, looked to be in about 70% shape; somebody had used it well.

I'm a bigger boy (220lbs) so the first thing that I noticed was that it wasn't quite as firm as my RidgeRest, which I love with something just shy of worship. The material seems softer but I think that is essential so that it doesn't tear with repeated foldings.

Being inferior in comfort to my favorite pad I gave it up to my son (he is 12) after three or four nights of use.  He has less room to store stuff in his pack so it works well for him. He loves it. His sister asked to borrow it for summer camp once and he looked at her as if she had asked for a kidney. He claims to have never slept so well outside and I caught him several times using on his bed at home. 

I guess that all of those summers sleeping on my old grey USFS foam pad made him appreciate something more modern.

Side by side you can see how the corrugations on the Z-Rest (on the left next to the RidgeRest) nest nicely in each other and how compact it folds:


The answer to my question:  No, it has yet to show any signs of fatigue cracking or tearing along the folds, despite some severe abuse by my son!

The pic: Last summer, sleeping under the rainfly on rocky, uneven ground, this pad did its job very well. It wasn't a legit campsite, just a flat spot in the bushes. We pitched camp on top of several huckleberry bushes, roots and rocks. The Z-Rest is on the left in the picture. We woke up rested.


We also used this pad on Mt. Adams in the snow at 9000 feet. 

I do kind of envy my son because his pad fits inside his pack whereas my bulky pad has to ride outside. 

I still say that there are more comfy options out there but for light weight and compactness it does very well. 

This pad has a place with people who want an inexpensive, soft, light foam pad that will pack smaller than the average foam roll. 

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $5

The Z-Rest is a Therm-a-Rest product, but it's not an air-filled type — rather it's closed cell foam. It's light, durable, and versatile. I've had this one for at least 20 years, maybe 25 and I'd buy another tomorrow (but I don't need to!).


  • Strong
  • Durable
  • Light
  • Versatile — can be folded, e.g. as a seat
  • Won't ever go flat!


  • Bulky
  • Possibly heavier than the lightest alternatives.

The model Z-rest I have is 520mm (2.5") wide and 1.8m (6') long. There are other sizes. It folds in a concertina-style and its egg-carton pattern (do you have egg cartons in the US?) enables each segment to nest. That same pattern means its effective thickness is about twice its nominal thickness.Z-rest-for-Trailspace.jpg    Z-rest-folded1.jpg
I bought my Z-rest about 25 years ago and I've used it, and abused it, constantly. I use it even in DOC (Department of Conservation in NZ) huts on top of slab foam mattresses. I use it under my sleeping bag in tents and on the ground outside under my bivvy bag - including on snow.

I was in my early 40s when I started using it and now I'm 67 I find it just as warm and comfortable. Of course tolerance of cold is subjective. To carry it I always sling it on the outside of my pack or on top of my cycle panniers — it certainly doesn't need to be kept dry.

On my recent odyssey through the High Pyrenees my two companions had inflatable Therm-a-Rests; one was some sort of hybrid of air and foam, I believe, very light but not the lightest which my friend said he'd tried but every time he moved it woke him up with its rustling.  I was struck by the palava of blowing them up each night and then having to squeeze the air out of them every morning. At night I just shook my Z-rest out flat and in the morning collapsed it in concertina folds — about 10 seconds and 30 seconds respectively. Also, I didn't have to carefully examine the ground to make sure there were no puncturing objects!

When we stopped for lunch or a meal I had a seat in about 30 seconds — very handy on wet or stony ground.

So, is this the miracle sleeping pad to end all sleeping pads? Does it render all others obsolete and unnecessary? No. It's bulky, and it weighs about 400-450gms. But actually I can't think of any other downside.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Can't remember

I have the original Z-Rest that I purchased in Waynesboro, Virginia, while I was on an all summer hike. I started out with another pad that wasn't adequate, so when I got to the first outfitter on an in town visit I thought I'd give the Z-Rest a try.

It is a durable pad and relatively lightweight. I really like the fold up and into itself design. And as an insulating pad it is very good. But for comfort it is in my opinion very uncomfortable.

Price Paid: too long ago

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Price Historic Range: $24.95-$24.99
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