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Hands-on Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map Review

Therm-A-Rest Luxury Map
Price:   $169 List | $79.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Comfortable, easy to use, warm.
Cons:  Softer foam means not as protective to underneath objects, large packed size.
Bottom line:  A canít-miss choice for a self-inflating mattress, although not as high scoring as our Editorsí Choice winner.
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Cascade Designs

Our Verdict

The Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP is a single person self-inflating mattress that uses innovative pressure mapping to customize its supportive foam layer to most comfortably match a person's pressure points while sleeping. Cutouts in the foam in the areas where there is the most pressure allows one to sink deeper into the inflatable mattress, providing a more even sleeping surface overall than a single density foam found in either the REI Camp Bed 3.5 or the Exped Megamat 10. Besides the use of pressure mapping technology, this camping mattress is comfortable, easy to inflate and deflate, and provides the second highest R-value for insulation in this review. It is a solid selection that won't disappoint, designed and produced by the leader in the inflatable mattress market for the last 20+ years — Therm-a-Rest.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Camping Mattresses and Pads of 2017

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Score Product Price Our Take
86
$229
Editors' Choice Award
The best mattress in the review, the one we would lend to a friend.
83
$180
Our favorite option if you need a narrower comfy pad. The second highest scoring pad in our tests.
82
$260
Top Pick Award
The most versatile option among the car camping mattresses while still performing excellently.
78
$369
Top Pick Award
The Best Car Camping Mattress for Couples
76
$120
A good option for those who already own a sleeping pad but want an upgrade in warmth and softness for car camping.
70
$169
A can't-miss choice for a self-inflating mattress, although not as high scoring as our Editors' Choice winner.
68
$130
Best Buy Award
A fantastic pad for the money, backed by REI's 100 percent satisfaction guarantee.
59
$130
Tied for the best air bed in the review, with its own unique perks and detractions.
59
$119
The best choice among air beds for its firm feel and low cost.
55
$120
The lowest scorer in our review, not a product we would recommend.
45
$22
Best Buy Award
Lowest scoring in our tests but a cheap option for the occasional camping trip or house guest.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Tuesday
October 4, 2016

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The Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP is a single person self-inflating mattress, most comparable in this review to the Exped Megamat 10 and the REI Camp Bed 3.5. In terms of overall score, it ranked as the middle of the three. This mattress is a great example of a fantastic and comfortable choice that anyone would be happy with if it was the only thing they owned. However, we like to test items by comparing them to other products in their category, and only by doing this does the Luxury MAP seem like less of a mattress. But we assure you, it is not! We loved the pressure mapping technology, and felt that it did indeed live up to Therm-a-Rest's claim that it provides a more even sleeping surface, especially when compared to the Camp Bed 3.5. We loved that this mattress was far less expensive than the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream, but the fact is, if we only had one to choose, it would be the NeoAir Dream. Overall this mattress is comfortable, warm, and relatively affordable, but was middle of the pack when accounting for all testing metrics in our review.

Performance Comparison


Despite featuring "only" three inches of inflated cushioning  the Luxury MAP supports the body exactly where the pressure points are  like under the shoulders  behind  and lower legs.
Despite featuring "only" three inches of inflated cushioning, the Luxury MAP supports the body exactly where the pressure points are, like under the shoulders, behind, and lower legs.

Comfort


We awarded this mattress 7 out of 10 points for comfort, the same as the REI Camp Bed 3.5. It incorporates pressure mapping technology to ensure a smoother sleeping surface. What this means is that Therm-a-Rest studied the patterns of where the most pressure is exerted by the human body while sleeping in multiple different positions, and then used different density foam in those places within the mattress. One would think that they would use denser foam in those areas, but we were surprised to discover that they actually cut out and removed foam in the high pressure areas, making them less dense. The effect is that your body sinks deeper into the mattress than a typical inflatable air mattress, eliminating much of the air displacement effect in air mattresses that can cause one area to rise unnaturally when another pushes firmly against the pad. The end result was a more natural feeling sleeping surface that was indeed very comfortable. The reason we didn't score this mattress higher for comfort was that these areas of less dense foam allow one to sink perhaps too close to the ground, potentially touching intrusions from below.

The pressure mapping pattern visible in the places where a human body needs the most cushioning when lying on a sleeping mat. That is the idea behind this pad  which includes denser support foam where the diamond patterns are.
The pressure mapping pattern visible in the places where a human body needs the most cushioning when lying on a sleeping mat. That is the idea behind this pad, which includes denser support foam where the diamond patterns are.

Ease of Use


The Luxury MAP is a very easy air mattress to use, although the foam cushioning means that it is slightly more work to deflate and roll up than the NeoAir Dream or the Big Agnes Sleeping Giant with a QCore pad inside. It has two easy twist nozzles that allow for quicker inflation and deflation, and screw tight to inhibit air flow. We found that this mattress didn't self inflate in quite the same awesome way that the Camp Bed 3.5 did, but was still better than the Megamat 10.

The dual nozzles on each corner shown here make it easier to deflate this mattress. However  without an included pump  the only way of inflating it is opening the nozzles to let it self inflate as much as it will by itself  and then using your lungs to finish off the job.
The dual nozzles on each corner shown here make it easier to deflate this mattress. However, without an included pump, the only way of inflating it is opening the nozzles to let it self inflate as much as it will by itself, and then using your lungs to finish off the job.

To inflate, we opened both nozzles, rolled out the mattress, and let it inhale as the foam expanded. After about five minutes we needed to add 24 breaths to top off the mattress totally full.

To deflate the mattress, simply open both valves and squeeze the air out with your body weight while folding it over many times. When it is virtually empty, close the valves and roll it up, squeezing out the last of the air at the end of the roll. It is much easier to roll up and fit into its stuff sack than either of the other two self-inflating mattresses, but not as quick and easy as the super wide-nozzled air beds.

Rolling up the the Luxury MAP sleeping pad involves first squeezing as much air as possible out  then  with the valves closed  rolling it by hand on the ground  further pressing out the rest of the air.
Rolling up the the Luxury MAP sleeping pad involves first squeezing as much air as possible out, then, with the valves closed, rolling it by hand on the ground, further pressing out the rest of the air.

Warmth


This mattress has an R-value of 6.8, making it the second most well insulated mattress in the review. For this reason we gave it 8 out of 10 points. While sleeping in the back of our van, where the metal frame below us absorbs and conducts the cold temperatures, we were perfectly warm while using this mattress.

Versatility


The Luxury MAP falls into nebulous middle ground when it comes to versatility. On the one hand, it certainly does not suffer from problems like no insulation and reliance on heavy power air pumps like the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed, but it also isn't adaptable and super small when packed up like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream. While its superior insulation makes it more versatile, its large packed size isn't going to inspire you to carry it anywhere. We gave it 7 out of 10.

The Luxury MAP on the left and the NeoAir Dream on the right for a side-by-side comparison. Notably  the Dream is thicker  has a more comfortable face fabric  and packs up into a smaller package  all making it our Top Pick.
The Luxury MAP on the left and the NeoAir Dream on the right for a side-by-side comparison. Notably, the Dream is thicker, has a more comfortable face fabric, and packs up into a smaller package, all making it our Top Pick.

Packed Size


As alluded to above, the Luxury MAP does not pack down very small. In fact, it is in the group of single person self-inflating air mattresses that all have the second largest packed size. While it easily fits into its provided stuff sack, that sack is a 30 inch long tube. Five out of 10 points for packed size.

The nine camping mattresses arranged in order from smallest on the left to biggest when looking at their packed size. Left to right: Lightspeed 2-person  Thermarest NeoAir Dream  Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed  REI Relax Airbed  Big Agnes Sleeping Giant  Exped Megamat 10  Thermarest Luxury MAP  REI Camp Bed 3.5  and on the bottom the Exped Megamat Duo.
The nine camping mattresses arranged in order from smallest on the left to biggest when looking at their packed size. Left to right: Lightspeed 2-person, Thermarest NeoAir Dream, Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed, REI Relax Airbed, Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, Exped Megamat 10, Thermarest Luxury MAP, REI Camp Bed 3.5, and on the bottom the Exped Megamat Duo.

Best Applications


The Luxury MAP is appropriate for all season use due to its good insulation. Since it doesn't pack down very small, you aren't going to want to carry it on your backpack, but it will work great for any single person who wants to use it for car camping purposes.

Value


This mattress retails for $169, which is $40 more expensive than its most similar competitor in this review, the REI Camp Bed 3.5. This difference is what inspired us to declare the Camp Bed 3.5 our Best Buy on a Tight Budget mattress. In reality, the Luxury MAP scored a little higher than our Best Buy winner, and furthermore, there are no durability complaints to be found on the internet, nor did we experience any. We think this mattress is a good value for the money.

The Luxury MAP on the left compared to the grey Camp Bed 3.5 on the right. These are very similar mattresses  although the 3.5 is obviously half an inch thicker. While the mattress on the left scored a bit higher due to ease of use and packed size  the one on the right is our Best Buy Award winner because of its very affordable price.
The Luxury MAP on the left compared to the grey Camp Bed 3.5 on the right. These are very similar mattresses, although the 3.5 is obviously half an inch thicker. While the mattress on the left scored a bit higher due to ease of use and packed size, the one on the right is our Best Buy Award winner because of its very affordable price.

Conclusion


The Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP is a quality car camping mattress that is unique because of its pressure mapped foam cutouts. This enables it to provide the most natural feeling sleeping surface of any self-inflating mattress we tested. We think that anyone who buys this mattress is likely to be happy with their purchase, and only in comparison to all the other great mattresses that we tested could it possibly be described as second rate. For those wanting to spend less than two Benjamins but still wanting great quality, we wholeheartedly recommend this mattress.

Other Versions


Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP - Regular
  • Cost - $110
  • Same mattress, different dimensions: 20 inches wide and 72 inches long

Therm-a-Rest Luxury MAP - Large
  • Cost - $139.95
  • Same mattress, different dimensions: 25 inches wide and 77 inches long
Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: October 4, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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