The Therm-a-rest Dreamtime is a durable workhorse of a mat, great for car camping and summer camps, or ready to leap from the closet and save the day when the cousins come to visit. This pad takes up lot space when it's rolled up, and you wouldn't want to pack more than two of these things into the hatchback, but it feels almost as comfortable the Editors' Choice award-winning REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL, has a toasty R-value of 10 and has a removable, washable cover. These features earn the Dreamtime our Top Pick for Convenience, though we lament, it not as convenient as the discontinued Neoair Dream, which has a much lighter and packable removable air mat that could be used for backpacking. You can remove the air pad from the Dreamtime, but it's still a little bulky compared to the sleek sleeping pads we like to use for backpacking.
Therm-a-Rest DreamTime Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Comfortable, removable cover
Cons: Very large packed size, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Heavy? Yes. Bulky? Sure. But for sleeping comfort, the Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime does the trick. We slept on this mattress side by side with the Exped MegaMat 10 and couldn't tell which was more comfortable. This "self-inflating" mattress takes substantially less lung power to inflate than the Alps Mountaineering Outback and requires no pumping like the portable Nemo Nomad and the Camp Dreamer XL.
The Dreamtime scores very high in the comfort metric because of its luxurious foam topper and 2.5 inches of inflatable foam core. Only the Alps Mountaineering Outback scored higher because it has more surface area to sprawl out on.
We slept multiple nights with the Exped Megamat 10 butted right up against the Dreamtime with a sheet on top, and one tester couldn't tell a difference in comfort when each pad was fully inflated to maximum firmness. The cover has a soft, fleecy feel, unique to the Dreamtime. We appreciated the soft cover on warm nights when we slept mostly outside our sleeping bags. The foam topper doesn't have any baffles or ridges, just a smooth, uninterrupted sleep space just like our own beds at home.
Ease of Use
On the bottom of the pad are two straps that keep the pad rolled up in storage. Squeeze the buckles on the straps and the pad will roll out. Open the twist valve and the pad will very slowly start to inflate. Top it off with five or ten breaths for the desired firmness, close the valve (quickly, this is a two-way valve) lay down, and go to sleep (or go to dream time in this case). Wake up! Open the valve and roll up the pad while forcing the air out with your knees, close the valve, clip the storage straps and walk away while easily carrying the pad with built-in shoulder straps.
Alternatively, you can wrestle this pad into its storage sack. We don't recommend it unless you'll be putting the pad away for a long time, because it takes some time and way more effort to roll the Dreamtime up tight enough to fit into the sack. This mat has the same twist valves used on all the Therm-a-rest pads, which don't leak or easily come open in the night.
This mat has an R-value of 10. Weight and portability aren't as much as a concern for camping mattresses, and most of the mats in this category have higher R-values than the lighter mats in the sleeping pads category.
Not surprisingly soft foam core mats have all have a high R-value, so the Dreamtime, the Exped MegaMat 10, and the Alps Mountaineering Outback all have high R-values that will make sure you stay warm, even on top of snow and ice, provided you have a warm sleeping bag. Mats whose structure is only air like the SoundAsleep Camping Series do not provide any insulation from the cold ground. Many of us have spent nights camping on top of the snow with a sleeping pad that has an R-value of 4 and found it sufficiently warm, so even reluctant cold sleepers don't need to worry if they're sleeping on the Dreamtime.
The removable cover-ups allowed for additional versatility for the Dreamtime. We liked being able to loan out the mattress to guests, easily wash and dry it, then have it ready to go for the next visitor or our next car camping…expedition. This pad loses points in versatility because of its large packed size. You're not going cram this pad into a suitcase or carry a very long way from the car or the closet.
Additionally, this pad's large 77 X 30-inch dimensions are going to require a giant 60-inch wide tent to accommodate two of these comfy behemoths. On the other hand, this pad does give the option of removing the foam topper, lightening the whole package and leaving you with an air pad you could take backpacking, but still isn't as light as our favorite lightweight sleeping pads, Finally, this mat has some connector straps for connecting two mats together for a double-wide.
This pad is among the largest when rolled up and packed away, even taking up more space than the more spacious Alps Mountaineering Outback.
If storage space is a big concern for you, the Nemo Nomad stuffs down to a quarter of the size of the Dreamtime. You can also ditch the foam topper if space is tight, but it greatly reduces the comfort and warmth factors.
This pad is awesome to have on deck for the unexpected guest or your next car camping trip, provided you've got space in your car. It's much more comfortable than the air-constructed mats like the Nemo Nomad and the bouncy PVC constructed SoundAsleep Camping Series. Your couch surfing itinerate friends will thank you for a comfortable place to sleep, and you'll appreciate being able to remove the cover and remove their endearing filth in the washing machine. One of our testers felt this model was more comfortable than his regular mattress. Thought this mattress isn't large enough for two, the connector straps allow for a gap-free connection between two Dreamtimes for a more cuddly camping experience.
The Dreamtime costs cringe-worthy $230, more than a cheap memory foam mattress on Amazon, and the same as a much lighter (but less comfortable) sleeping pad. The removable cover adds some value and longevity to this product. If the removable cover feature isn't important to you, we say go with the best mat money can buy, The REI Camp Dreamer XL.
While this pad isn't the best value out there, Therm-a-Rest makes a quality product, and their ultralight products are always at the top of our lists - the Dreamtime is no exception. This mat is simple, all its straps and packing buckles are attached to the bottom of the cover, so there's nothing to lose and no extra pre-trip searching for a pump or special parts, just load it up and go. These features earn it our Top Pick for convenience. You can land this mat out or send it off to camp with the kids and not worry about essential pieces getting lost, and it's very easy to inflate.
— Matt Bento