Hey friends,

With the recent snow, I’m probably packing it in for the rest of the year on overnight hikes so I was starting to store some gear for the winter and figured I’d do a quick review of some pieces as I put them away.

So, let’s take a look at maybe the least sexy and best piece of gear I use. It’s a Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol sleeping pad. I used to use this pad exclusively, but went with an inflatable for awhile until late this summer when I got a small puncture in it. Such is the deal with ultralight inflatables. You need to be super careful with them and I’m not. I’m rough on gear. I try to be careful but it’s just my nature and at this point, I’m probably not going to change.

So that’s primarily the reason I use closed-cell foam. It’s me-proof. But that’s not the only reason. It’s got several uses. At Christmas I’m switching out my pack for a small frameless pack, and I’ll stuff this in my pack and use it as support for my back. The other thing about this pad is I can use it during breaks as a sit pad. This might not sound like a big deal but when you want to relax by a waterfall and you find the perfect rock, there is nothing like a little cush on your tush. There’s one final reason this pad is the winner. I don’t have to blow the friggin’ thing up. Seriously, it’s a pain after hiking all day and then blowing up a pad to sleep on. The Therm-a-Rest is accordion-style, so I just toss it on the ground and boom, it’s set up.

Your burning question is probably how well do I sleep on it. The answer is … just OK. Don’t kid yourself. It’s not as comfortable or as warm as an inflatable. I’ve had friends my age so “There is no way I can sleep on foam anymore. My back kills in the morning.”  I hear ya. I’m fortunate that I can still sleep just about anywhere and get a good night’s sleep.

Now, everything comes with a trade-off. Foam is not as warm. I counter that with sleeping under a really warm quilt and bundling up if it’s going to be cold at night. It’s also not long enough for my 6-foot frame but that’s entirely fine with me. I generally sleep curled up anyway, so the length of the pad isn’t really an issue for me.

Here’s what Term-a-Rest says about it:

  • Aluminized surface reflects heat, returning it back to your body; increases overall warmth from previous model by nearly 20%
  • Pad is engineered for extreme alpine climbing, adventure racing and long-distance backpacking when reducing weight is paramount
  • Egg-carton pattern increases softness and adds insulation by trapping warm air under your sleeping bag.

It only weights 10 ounces. I love super lightweight gear that is simple to use and serves more than one purpose. This things does it all.