Hands-on Gear Review
Compare camping pads & mattress ratings side-by-side >
Street Price: $189
Pros: Incredibly comfortable, memory foam top, washable liner, very warm.
Cons: Cover gets dirty easily, less durable than Paco pads.
Best Uses: Car camping.
The Them-a-Rest Dreamtime turns worst nightmare rocks and roots into Stage 3 NREM sleep. Warning: waking up may be difficult.
The DreamTime is made of a 2.5” x 25" x 77” classic Therm-a-Rest inflatable pad, 1” of memory foam, and a removable nylon-microfiber cover. This is the most comfortable car camping pad available; the inflatable pad provides customizable support, the memory foam a cushy surface, and the microfiber cover a super soft next-to-skin layer that rivals Egyptian Cotton. It's also the only car camping pad we tested that can easily and securely be mated with another. Snaps on the side of the pad turn Two DreamTimes into the ultimate portable bed for couples.
The DreamTime is more comfortable and more supportive than “budget” luxury pads like the Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map ($130) and REI Camp Bed ($120). If backpacking pads are Motel 6 the DreamTime is the Raj Palace Hotel’s Presidential Suite ($45,000 per night). The pad’s only drawback is the microfiber cover, which tends to collect dirt, sand, hair, and down from your sleeping bag more than the average pad. If you basecamp for extended periods we recommend covering the pad with a sheet. Multi-month or multi-year road warriors should consider spending the extra cash on the Jack's Plastic Welding Paco Grande ($263), which is less comfortable, but more durable and easier to clean than the DreamTime.
Looking for something a bit cheaper?
Go for the REI Camp Bed 3.5, the best value inflatable car camping mattress.
Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
In addition to over a month of car camping in Yosemite, Bishop, and Lake Tahoe, this author tested luxurious sleeping pads by selling his queen-sized mattress and sleeping on different pads, side-by-side, for six weeks. The DreamTime is the clear winner when it comes to comfort.
The pad is comprised of three pieces: a 25” x 77” x 2.5“ thick inflatable pad, one inch of memory foam, and a machine washable cover that zips on and off. The cover has a durable nylon bottom and sides and a very soft microfiber top. This system is more comfortable than other “luxury pads” like the REI Camp Bed and Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map because it provides more support and can be comfortable both when it’s firm and when it’s soft. Our testers found the two above-mentioned pads can be too squishy if they aren’t inflated enough. Similarly, we found the DreamTime to be more comfortable than the Paco Grande because the inflatable pad-memory foam combination allows you to customize the pad’s support. (The Paco Grande is just a big chunk of foam with a burly inflatable cover.)
Another benefit to a car camping pad such as the DreamTime is its warmth. This pad has an R-value of 9! (The average backpacking pad’s R value is around 2.5) A warmer pad is better because you can use your sleeping as a quilt or us a lighter bag in temperatures that would normally (on a thinner, narrower, and colder pad) require a warmer bag.
The Dreamtime comes in Large (25” x 77”) or Extra Large (30” x 77"). We tested the Large and prefer it to the XL because most tents with reasonable performance aren’t wide enough to fit a DreamTime and your friend’s standard 20” wide pad. Check the specs on your tent before getting this pad.
The DreamTime is a stellar sleeping pad. Our only complaint lies with the microfiber top, which collects dirt, hair, and down like a magnet. The cover can be cleaned in a washing machine or by vacuuming, or both. We found that down tended to work itself into the microfiber top, making removal by hand necessary. The cover and memory foam are also more susceptible to spills than other pads. For example, spilled coffee goes right through the microfiber and gets absorbed by the memory foam – pretty yucky. Those looking for the most durable, easy-to-clean pad should consider the Paco Grande (think multi-month or multi-year road trip). Most people, however, will find the DreamTime to be better for their needs and it’s definitely more comfortable.
Want to bring new life to your old sleeping pad? If you already have a large pad, you can get Therm-a-Rest DreamTime Comfort Cover. It is the DreamTime minus the Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad.
— Max Neale
Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: October 31, 2012
Related Best-in-Class Review
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Related Gear Reviews
Other Gear by Therm-a-Rest
Recent Best-in-Class Reviews