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Therm-a-Rest ProLite Review

Price:   $90 List | $39.95 at MooseJaw
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Pros:  Self-inflating, durable, gives a smooth and stable sleep surface
Cons:  Not as comfortable or as light as air construction pads, not warm enough for winter use
Bottom line:  Durable and self-inflating, this model is ideal for backpacking and expeditions that demand low weight and robust designs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest

Our Verdict

A time tested favorite, the Therm-a-Rest ProLite is an excellent self inflating pad that won't break the bank or your back. For just over a pound, this pad provides a smooth, stable, and firm sleeping surface. It didn't win any awards because other pads are more comfortable, warmer, lighter weight, and pack smaller; however, this pad has been around for years for good reason. One of its main benefits is its self-inflating design that makes inflation as easy as a couple breaths. A self inflating rival of this pad is the Therm-a-Rest EvoLite that weighs one ounce less, self inflates most of the way, and is more comfortable (though $60 more). The REI AirRail 1.5 is very similar to the ProLite but many testers thought it was more comfortable because of the unique side rails; that said, it is 8 ounces heavier and much bulkier. Overall, we think the Therm-a-Rest ProLite is best suited to backpacking trips where you want a durable, hassle-free pad.


RELATED REVIEW: The Best Sleeping Pads of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 13, 2015

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The Therm-a-Rest ProLite features a time tested self-inflating design that has been improved to be a little warmer than past versions. When rolling into camp, it's super nice when you don't have to worry about inflating your pad.

Performance Comparison


This pad features a classic design with small improvements over the years. It is a simple inflatable pad that offers lower weight and bulk than many other self-inflating mats.
This pad features a classic design with small improvements over the years. It is a simple inflatable pad that offers lower weight and bulk than many other self-inflating mats.

Comfort


The ProLite earned a cozy 5/10 in the comfort category. This pad's flat surface and self-inflating foam were the most loved features of this pad. One great thing about this pad is that it resists the bouncing sensation caused by air mattresses; it feels firm and stable. The REI AirRail 1.5 feels very similar in this respect, but most of our testers would sleep on the AirRail if given the chance because it has two vertical baffles on the edges that help keep you on the pad. To the ProLite's detriment, it is only an inch thick, making lumpy ground and pine cones an issue. This pad just doesn't have the thickness necessary to absorb bumps and lumps as well as thicker pads like the Therm-a-Rest EvoLite. With that said, some testers found the ProLite just as comfortable as thicker pads when sleeping on the flat ground typically found in designated campsites.

We loved the ProLite's self-inflating design. Just throw it in your tent when you get to camp and let the pad do the work for you. No more having to sit there for a minute or two wasting breath. After about ten minutes of self-inflating time, you'll only need a few breaths to fill this pad to a nice firm level. If self-inflation is not a major draw for you, and you're looking for more comfort (but less warmth) for the same price, consider our Best Buy winner, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture.
As you can see  this pad is about an inch thick. Back sleepers didn't mind the lack of cushion but side sleepers preferred thicker mats.
As you can see, this pad is about an inch thick. Back sleepers didn't mind the lack of cushion but side sleepers preferred thicker mats.

Weight


At 17oz, this is far from the lightest pad we reviewed, but there were many pads much heavier. The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm weighs 2 oz less, but is more comfortable, and packs smaller. But, it is double the price and less durable. Although they feel similar when sleeping, the REI AirRail weighs an astonishing 10 oz more.

Warmth


With a stated R-value of 2.4, the Therm-a-Rest ProLite has enough warmth for most three season backcountry adventures. This pad was perfectly adequate for backpacking through Rocky Mountain National Park all summer. Of the nine people who used this pad, none of them complained about being cold. Unfortunately, we never had the opportunity to use this pad in the snow, but we were able to test it in temperatures in the low 40s and are confident that it would be warm enough until the temps drop to just above freezing. If you want to use this pad in the winter or are a cold sleeper, consider purchasing this pad in addition to the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol. The combination of the two pads is the perfect combo for snowy trips.

Packed Size


The bane of self-inflating pads is that they are much more bulky than their air construction counterparts. The newest version of the ProLite uses a perforated foam construction that cuts down on bulk compared with past iterations.
For a self inflating mat  this pad packs down pretty small. Though it is one of the most compressible self inflating pads we've used  it's still much bigger than most air construction pads.
For a self inflating mat, this pad packs down pretty small. Though it is one of the most compressible self inflating pads we've used, it's still much bigger than most air construction pads.

Durability


Made with 50d mini Hex Rip Polyester, this pad feels plenty durable for use and abuse. We've used past versions of this pad for years without any durability issues. We expect that with a little bit of care, this pad could last for years. It's also a great option to consider if you like to bivy out in the open without a ground cloth. If you puncture this pad, you'll have an easy time patching the flat surface. Other pads with complicated baffle systems are much harder to mend on the go.
This pad is made with 50 denier polyester making it durable enough for heavy use.
This pad is made with 50 denier polyester making it durable enough for heavy use.

Best Applications


This pad excels at traditional backpacking and extended expeditions were low weight and high durability are paramount. The tried and true design is reliable and versatile for nearly every kind of backpacking.

Value


For under $100, this pad is a decent value. We can't say it's a great value because there were several pads at the same price point that scored higher because they were either lighter, warmer, or more comfortable. This pad provide a great level of durability without the expense of weight. If that's what you're looking for, then the ProLite will be a great value for you.

Conclusion


The Therm-a-Rest ProLite has an age-old design that has been surpassed in many ways by air construction sleeping pads. If you are looking for a lightweight self-inflating pad, this one is an excellent choice and will stand up to years of abuse. Some testers think that air construction pads feel too bouncy and loved the stable flat surface of the ProLite. We think this is one of the best self-inflating pads on the market.
Putting the Therm-a-Rest Pro Lite to the test on a summer backpacking trip.
Putting the Therm-a-Rest Pro Lite to the test on a summer backpacking trip.
Jeremy Bauman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: May 3, 2017
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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  • 5
 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
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 (4.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 25%  (1)
4 star: 25%  (1)
3 star: 50%  (2)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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   May 3, 2017 - 03:09pm
Mattyboy · Backpacker · Boonsboro, Maryland
Easy up, easy down. Simplicity.

Cost drove this purchase. As I am a soloist, I have to keep an eye on self sufficiency. IF I get a leak in this, repair is just a bit of duct tape away, unlike some pads with their wavy surfaces. It has thus far been perfect though.

I am a side sleeper, at 190lbs I am not the lightest (ok, 195), and I sleep well. Fits in my old Osprey Aether 60 liter along with the rest of my gear.

Great value.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 23, 2015 - 12:30am
Coloradeaux · Backpacker · Denver, CO
Great value as far as weight, convenience, and comfort go. As thin as this pad is, it's only really appropriate for average weight (and lighter) hikers who sleep on their back. Side sleeping is next to impossible with your hip digging into the ground. I use a small sized one for my dog who seems to love it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Sep 10, 2015 - 06:05pm
Dangalla · Climber · Eau Claire, WI
This should be the standard in pads, Ive guided many trips and have seen lots of pads this guy has never failed me and always comes out on top.

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