Hands-on Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest DreamTime Review

Therm-a-Rest DreamTime
Price:  $189 List
Pros:  Incredibly comfortable, memory foam top, washable liner, very warm.
Cons:  Cover gets dirty easily
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest

Our Verdict

Product Discontinued
This product has been replaced by the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream.

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.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Camping Mattresses and Pads of 2018

Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Last Updated:
Sunday
February 5, 2012

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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.

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 use 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.

Dislikes


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.

Jack's Plastic Welding Paco Grande and Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime.
Jack's Plastic Welding Paco Grande and Therm-a-Rest Dreamtime.

Accessories


Want to bring new life to your old sleeping pad? If you already have a large pad, you can get DreamTime Comfort Cover. It is the DreamTime minus the Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad.
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 26, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (4.7)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 75%  (3)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   May 26, 2016 - 09:57pm
Underdog
This product needs to be reviewed again. Therm-a-rest has brought this pad back from the dead and the new model is different. I would be curious to see how is compares to what is out there now. I tried the alternative (neo-air dream) model that was listed here as a "replacement" and let me tell you it is no replacement for the Dreamtime, Neo-Air dream is extremely noisy and took forever to inflate. A completely different pad. Dreamtime was always big and bulky and perfect for car camping. The smaller NeoAir Dream is designed to pack down into a small tight bundle. Time for an updated review of Dreamtime (please).?

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Oct 31, 2012 - 01:30pm
pschwa · Hiker · Washington, DC
I actually bought my first Dreamtime (an XL sized one) just before my wife gave birth to our daughter, having heard from various sources that the couch/bed thing they have in the hospital room for husbands to sleep on are awful (one example - a former WWII-era submariner turned crotchety OB/GYN said it was worse than canvas sub bunk set up in a torpedo room). I had a feeling my old Thermarest Guidelight wouldn't cut it, the review of the Dreamtime on Outdoor Gear Lab seemed like a ringing endorsement, plus I wanted to take advantage of a great excuse to buy some admittedly pricey gear. The Dreamtime worked out perfectly, and I slept great (even without the benefit of the Fentanyl drip that my wife had going through an epidural following a C-Section).

I later bought a second Dreamtime (an L size), which, when coupled to my XL one using the included sewn-on straps and snaps, creates a 55 x 77 inch behemoth mattress that covers the entire width, and all but about a foot and a half of the length, of our older Sierra Designs Meteor Light 2 tent (a big 2-person three-season backpacking tent that we also use for car camping). I cannot begin to describe how comfortable this setup is. It is extremely warm and cushy, and between the webbing straps and snaps, there is no way for a gap to form between the coupled pads. This is great if you and your close friend have your sleeping bags zipped together - neither one of you has to suffer the indignity of slipping down between the pads onto the cold tent floor. Also, having almost the entire floor of a tent covered by the Dreamtime pads is unbelievably welcoming on a cold, wet day when you are trapped in the tent, especially with a restless 10 month-old romping around inside.

One note on cleaning the microfiber top of the cover - if you are really picky about it collecting dirt, hair, and down), get one of those velour-style lint brushes (not a sticky roller type) and use it to brush of the cover every now and then. It takes only about a minute to brush off a whole XL size pad, it can be done at camp without the need of a vacuum, washer, or other electric gadget, and it gets the top of the cover looking practically as clean as it was when new.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Mar 3, 2012 - 02:48pm
Butch · Kayaker · Central California
I have the XL version that I use with the Therm a Rest fitted sheet & large Ventra down comforter and it rocks!!! Any problems with the cover getting dirty are completely eliminated with the fitted sheet, the sheet has snaps and attaches neatly to the pad cover, then the comforter snaps to the sheet. It really is the perfect sleep system and the sheet is easily removed for washing which means keeping things clean without the hassle of removing the pad cover. If you seek ultimate comfort while in camp BUY THIS SETUP!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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