< Go to Sleeping Pads - Men's

Hands-on Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest EvoLite Review

Price:   $120 List | $74.89 at REI
Compare prices at 5 resellers
Pros:  Self-inflating, comfortable, feels more stable than most air construction pads
Cons:  Bulky when packed, not particularly lightweight, not warm
Editors' Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest

Our Verdict

Self-inflating and plush, the Therm-a-Rest EvoLite has it all when it comes to ease of inflation and comfort. This was the easiest 2 inch pad to inflate of any in the review. We loved its smooth surface and the internal foam made the pad feel stable in comparison to other pads of similar thickness. All around, our testers liked this model, but it didn't hit it out of the park in any one area. It is more bulky than most of its competitors, isn't super lightweight, and isn't very warm. Its greatest assets are ease of inflation and comfort. We think that most people looking for a self-inflating mat will find the EvoLite to be an improvement over older designs like the Therm-a-Rest ProLite.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sleeping Pads of 2017

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Type R Value Weight
75
$200
Editors' Choice Award
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 5.7 15 oz.
70
$200
Top Pick Award
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells/Synthetic Insulation 5 25.5 oz.
68
$160
Top Pick Award
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 3.2 12 oz.
67
$140
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3 16 oz.
65
$169
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3.3 12.3 oz.
65
$170
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells/Synthetic Insulation 4.2 20.5 oz.
65
$180
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 3.2 16 oz.
64
$109
Self-inflating/Foam Insulation 4.2 26 oz.
64
$160
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 4.9 24 oz.
62
$120
Self-inflating/Air Construction/Foam Insulation 2.1 17 oz.
61
$100
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells 0.7 12.5 oz.
60
$130
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 4.9 30 oz.
59
$95
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 4.4 19.6 oz.
59
$100
Air Construction 2.2 24 oz.
59
$70
Best Buy Award
Air Construction/baffled insulation 1.8 21 oz.
58
$90
Self-inflating/Foam Insulation 2.4 18 oz.
55
$45
Best Buy Award
Closed Cell Foam 2.6 14 oz.
55
$110
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3 24 oz.
55
$30
Closed Cell Foam 2.8 14 oz.
49
$70
Air Construction 1 9.1 oz.
47
$70
Air Constuction 1 22 oz.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 13, 2015

Share:
The Therm-a-Rest EvoLite is a good pad for the majority of backpackers and is great if you want a pad that self-inflates. Continue reading to find out how it competes with other top scorers.

Performance Comparison



The chart above displays the overall score received by the EvoLite (highlighted in blue) throughout the testing process. Below, we dissect this model's score in each individual metric.

The EvoLite was pretty comfortable and durable enough for use directly on grass.
The EvoLite was pretty comfortable and durable enough for use directly on grass.

Comfort


The EvoLite is one of the most comfortable self-inflating (or semi self-inflating) backpacking sleeping pads that we've ever had the pleasure of sleeping on. Although our testers generally find air construction pads more comfortable overall, many people love self-inflating mats and will purchase them them just for this feature even though they aren't as comfortable. The EvoLite is a fantastic pad because it gives you the best of both worlds. If you let this pad sit for half an hour or so, it only takes 8-11 breaths to fully inflate. Talk about a win/win!

To ensure that your pad self-inflates as well as possible, make sure you don't compress the internal foam during storage. Hang the pad vertically with the valve open so that the foam expands.

The EvoLite is constructed with horizontal strips of foam throughout the length of the pad. As seen in the photo below, the pad has a fairly smooth surface that proved to be a comfortable sleep surface. Many people also find the more stable surface of self-inflating pads to be more comfortable. The most frequent comfort related complaint that our testers cited is that the pad is quite narrow. While it wasn't any more narrow than most of the ultralight pads in the review, it certainly was much more trim and mummy shaped than pads we found to be super comfortable like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture (our Best Buy Winner). In the end, we gave the EvoLite a comfort score of 7/10.

The surface of this pad is pretty smooth except for the slight ridges caused by the open cell foam.
The surface of this pad is pretty smooth except for the slight ridges caused by the open cell foam.

Warmth


When used in the summer, this pad was warm enough for most of our testers. With a stated R-value of 2.1, it is warm enough for most three season use. For winter use, you should supplement it with a foam pad like the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol or upgrade to a warmer model like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. One tester used the EvoLite in a dugout snow shelter in the spring and complained that it felt much colder than his personal sleeping pad that has a similar R-value.

R-value is a linear measurement, so adding a foam pad with an R-value of 2 underneath the EvoLite (R-value of 2.1) will equate to twice as much warmth.

We used this pad directly on snow inside this cave/deadman snow shelter. Our reviewer used a 15 degree down sleeping bag and was chilly all night. The pad itself felt cold and pulled much more heat than pads with higher R-values.
We used this pad directly on snow inside this cave/deadman snow shelter. Our reviewer used a 15 degree down sleeping bag and was chilly all night. The pad itself felt cold and pulled much more heat than pads with higher R-values.

Weight


At 17 oz, this is far from the lightest pad. However, it strikes a great balance between comfort, weight, ease of inflating, and packed size. If you are concerned about shaving every last ounce off your kit, we recommend you check out the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, which won our Top Pick for Ultralight trips.

Packed Size


The EvoLite packs to a relatively small size considering that it self-inflates. It was much smaller than the REI AirRail 1.5, but bigger than the Therm-a-rest Prolite. Still, the EvoLite is double the size of many air construction pads when packed.

This pad packs down pretty small for a self inflating mattress  but is much bigger than most air construction models.
This pad packs down pretty small for a self inflating mattress, but is much bigger than most air construction models.

Durability


For durability, we gave this bag a score of 5/10. It was far from the least durable, but certainly doesn't feel as burly as the Nemo Astro Insulated. We didn't have any issues with leaks throughout the extent of our review; however, the pad we tested did have one issue with delimitation resulting in a lump the size of a watermelon. We learned that it's super uncomfortable to sleep on a pad that looks like it has a large tumor. Thankfully, Therm-a-Rest stands behind their products so this wasn't a long-term issue. Without testing large batches of this product, it is impossible to tell if we received a lemon or if this is part of a larger quality control issue.

Notice the watermelon sized lump on the orange EvoLite caused by delimitation. Thankfully this falls squarely under the company's warranty.
Notice the watermelon sized lump on the orange EvoLite caused by delimitation. Thankfully this falls squarely under the company's warranty.

Best Applications


We love using this pad for summer backpacking trips and as a "raft" on lazy river days in the mountains. If you want a pad that is easy to inflate and pretty comfortable, this one is tough to beat! Many backpackers will love the self-inflating design and won't mind the added bulk or weight. However, you may not like this pad if you want something that is ultralight or ultra-packable.

Value


For $120, this pad is more expensive than other self-inflating models and more expensive than many higher scoring air construction pads. Considering that you can get pads that are either more comfortable or lighter weight or pack smaller for cheaper, we don't consider the EvoLite to be a great value unless you really want a thick, self-inflating pad.

Conclusion


The EvoLite is an excellent pad but it wasn't as high performing as others. This is a good pad if you highly value self-inflation over other metrics like weight, packed size, and warmth. If you don't really care about the self-inflating feature, you may be better off with a pad that is a little lighter, a little warmer, a little more comfortable, or a little smaller when packed. The EvoLite put up a good fight in each of our categories, but didn't hit it out of the park enough to win an award.

When folded on itself  the EvoLite turns into a decent camp chair.
When folded on itself, the EvoLite turns into a decent camp chair.

Other Versions


Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus
  • Comfortable, warm all-purpose inflatable foam pad
  • 3.4 R-Value
  • 1 lbs 4 oz (more comfortable but heavier than the ProLite)
  • $100

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite  Women's
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite and Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's
  • Top Pick Award Winner!
  • Most comfortable lightweight sleeping pad available
  • Regular size weighs 12oz
  • Small size weighs 8oz
  • Women's specific includes reflective layer for added warmth
  • Packs down to 1L size
  • $159.95

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm
  • Editors' Choice Award Winner!
  • The best winter sleeping pad available
  • Ideal for cold weather camping (recommended as the pad to buy if looking to own a single, multipurpose inflatable pad).
  • Regular size weighs 15oz.
  • Packs slightly larger than 1L in size
  • Consistently proven to be the warmest, most comfortable, lightest and most compact sleeping pad available.

Accessories


The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack is our favorite tool for inflating winter pads  which are susceptible to failing due to moisture vapor from your lungs.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack
  • Used to inflate any Thermarest pad
  • Functions as a stuff sack also, doubles as a camp seat by placing rolled and partially inflated NeoAir pad inside sack
  • Ideal for wintertime use when air from your lungs condenses inside the pad, decreasing the warmth
  • 3.8 oz
  • $29.95

Thermarest Compact Chair Sleeve
Therm-a-Rest Compack
  • Turns any pad into a camp chair with back support
  • Works with all Thermarest Pads, including NeoAir and self-inflating pads
  • 6oz.
  • $29.95
Jeremy Bauman

  • Share this article:
You Might Also Like

Where to Buy?


Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 9, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (2.5)

50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
3 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 0%  (0)
3 star: 67%  (2)
2 star: 33%  (1)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 2 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jul 9, 2016 - 12:50pm
ClaudeCere · Camper · Quebec
I have right now a problem with Evolite mattress and it is the second time that it occurs. The store has changed the product a year ago and it happen again with the new one.

Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Sep 23, 2015 - 12:33am
Coloradeaux · Backpacker · Denver, CO
Great warm weather pad if you want a self inflating pad but also want some of the weight savings of pad you have to blow up. Side sleeping is possible with average weight people, but a heavier friend (235 lbs) struggled getting a good night's sleep on his side.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Therm-a-Rest EvoLite?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
 
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
REI $74.89  -  38% off!
Backcountry $74.95  -  38% off!
MooseJaw $74.95  -  38% off!
Compare prices at 5 sellers >

*You help support OutdoorGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.


Follow Us


Unbiased.