When people reveal that they don’t like camping, I’m always intrigued to ask why. Invariably, I’m told that their lack of canvas-love primarily comes down to the cold, wet weather or an uncomfortable night’s sleep. Admittedly, torrential downpours wouldn’t necessarily be my preferred choice when sleeping outdoors, but achieve around eight undisturbed, cozy hours in your ‘Dome Sweet Dome’ and you can pretty much face anything the next day.
Although you can hardly blame folks when they grimace at the thought of those paper-thin, yoga-style roll mats, which might be ideal for assuming the downward-facing dog position, but are simply unable to adequately insulate the body, let alone accommodate it with any lasting comfort throughout the dark wee hours. Forget the morning dynamic stretching, waking up chilled and to a spine that’s in bits the following morning is unappealing to the back and beyond. Thanks to Therm-a-Rest’s 40 years of innovation in outdoor comfort, their esearch and development team has evolved a sleeping mattress that will conveniently take care of your needs while slumbering soundly the whole night through.
ProLite Plus mattress (regular)
Featuring in Therm-a-Rest’s ‘Fast & Light’ range, the unisex ProLite Plus mattress in poppy red provides all-season warmth courtesy of a redesign in 2015, which also bears less weight and bulk. Complete with the added joy of self-inflation, once the pad has been laid out flat and given a few minutes to expand, no more than five breaths into the mat—depending on preferred firmness—means that you’re ready to close the valve and seal the deal for a good night’s sleep.
At 1.5-inches thick, the regular-sized mattress has an ample width of 20-inches and can accommodate anyone up to 6 foot. Alternatively, there’s a smaller version that would better suit those less than 3-foot, 9-inches or a size large, which enjoys a wonderful 25-inches in width and 6-foot, 4-inches in length.
With size taken care of, the top fabric—a 50-denier mini Hex Rip Polyester—sits on top of an equally robust 50-denier Polyester bottom. Inside is where the promise of four-season warmth resides; a thick yet lightweight, urethane foam is the key to the mattress’ efficient comfort. More so because the foam is a patent-pending diagonal-cut, which has been tested to deliver greater warmth than the more common vertical channels. At 1 pound, 4 ounces, Therm-a-Rest has worked hard to retain lightness in the foam so as to lighten the load in your backpack and improve compressibility for easy packing—down to a cylinder shape that’s a mere 11-inches long by 4.8-inches in diameter.
Despite the sweet spot of where you’ve made rest for the night, there’s no pleasure when the chill probes your body with such glacial fingers, you wake up shivering. Having used the ProLite Plus for the last five years, I have long ago said my farewells to the frigid, tedium of winter camping, that is, for the warm welcome of a snug night’s sleep. Over the last two years motorcycling the length of the Americas, it has endured particularly heavy usage; frequently sat on gravelly ground in Argentina; been subjected to freezing conditions for months from Patagonia to Bolivia; laid over sandy floors in Chile’s Atacama desert, exposed to harsh sunlight during Mexico’s summer and lain amid the cacti in California’s national parks. Awash in sunscreen, dust and dirt, buckets of sweat and bug repellant, have neither deteriorated nor perished the mattress. And survived admirably all things considering, with no tears or punctures. Although I carry a puncture repair kit, periodic cleaning using a soft bristle brush with a mild detergent has infinitely elongated the mat’s life.
Women’s ProLite Plus mattress
Identical in its redesign, weight, pack-size, material, thickness and width—bar the colour—the women’s ProLite Plus mattress outwardly looks the same as the regular ProLite Plus equivalent. The only variables, other than the cayenne exterior, comprise a standard length of 5-foot 5-inches and its supreme insulation against the slow transfer of heat—measured in R-values.
Due to a special pattern incorporated in Therm-a-Rest’s selective density diagonal-cut foam, the women’s ProLite Plus pad comes in at a whopping 4.2 R-value, which compared to the ProLite Plus at 3.4, really does make the mattress the hot choice for anyone with a tendency to feel the cold when temperatures drop. Designed with the aid of extensive thermal imaging data from sleeping men and women, the die-cut pattern employed is very specific to achieve maximum weight savings, comfort and warmth. In the women’s mattresses, fewer die-cuts are made in areas where more warmth is needed—the hips, feet and torso areas of the mattress. Anatomically, the added hip foam provides added support for side sleepers, a thoughtful detail and made from Atmos foam, reduces overall weight by nearly 10 per cent. Namely, the best just got better for women.
As a woman, have I noticed any notable differences between the ProLite Plus and the women’s equivalent? Actually, yes. As someone that is 5-foot, 5-inches, the women’s ProLite Plus is akin to Cinderella’s slipper; it fits me perfectly. And because its length is shorter, conveniently takes up less room in the tent. Describing myself as “nesh”—namely I’m the first one to feel the chill—the mattress does feel a little warmer, further increasing my comfort levels during cold night camping. More so when I’m able to ditch the canvas for sleeping on the ground directly beneath the stars. Aside from the fact that it’s an exceptionally light, four-season self-inflating pad, it’s perfect for any cold sleeper that fits on the mattress, regardless of gender, looking for a boost in their overnight warmth.
Complete with a limited lifetime warranty, Therm-a-Rest mattresses are guaranteed for the life of the product against defects in materials and workmanship, where automatic repair or replacement will take place. Ultra compressible, whether you’re an ounce-counting mountaineer, a luggage-conscious wanderer or an indulgent, road-tripping fun hog, the ProLites are body-warming no brainers. And for me, the women’s version has the finishing touch on true outdoor comfort.
ProLite Plus mattress is rated 4.1 out of 5 stars from 91 cusomter reviews on Amazon.