Sleeping At The Airport

Therm-a-Rest Mattress: A Godsend!

Sometimes you discover a piece of backpacking equipment which you would never again do without while on the road. Therm-a-Rest have one in mind in the form of a handy sleep tool, and if you find yourself sleeping on a lot of floors, then this may prove to be a very handy guide.


Essential Equipment for this Backpacker

My Therm-a-Rest mattress is one of the best items that I carry with me as a backpacker.

I bought the body-length ‘Prolite Therm-a-Rest’ in August of 2009. I bought it orange. A few days later, completely satisfied with the performance of this ultra-light camping mattress, I returned it for the even smaller half-body version of the same calibre. Only I bought a pomegranate-coloured one this time.

Traditional foam mattresses will never go out of style. They have high usability and can stand up to the worst of beatings. In order to really express to you how much more I prefer the Therm-a-Rest over these traditional camping mattresses, I will use the age-old foam mattress pad as a tool of comparison in the following analysis. Enjoy!

Therm-a-Rest Usability While Travelling


Now, the Therm-a-Rest gets its power from the advanced technology it uses within the Nylon top fabric. The urethane foam within the Nylon holds the secret to the incredible efficiency of this mattress.

How does it work?

Well, these mattress are not like foam pads, because the foam within the Nylon shell must be inflated. There’s a small black valve that you simply twist to the left in order to open the airway, into which you blow for about a minute in total. After that, your mattress is inflated.

As you sleep, your body loses heat through conduction heat loss, that is, through contact with the cold hard ground. Therefore, insulation is a priority. The foam within the Therm-a-Rest works a lot like down material works in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. It takes the air and insulates it, keeping it warm. The more insulated air, the better your body heat is preserved. The inflatable Therm-a-Rest mattress insulates your body from the cold of the ground much better than a static foam pad.

The usability is top notch. I’ve slept on plenty of regular pads that don’t have the same bottom grips that the Therm-a-Rest does. With my Therm-a-Rest, I’m not slipping off the mattress as it crawls around under my weight. The star-punched pattern in the Nylon surface allows for a slight bit of air to escape from between you and the Nylon for a comfortable rest. Otherwise, you’d sweat like a madman. Though, it’s never recommendable to sleep in shirtless contact with Nylon.

Therm-a-Rest Packability for Backpackers – Useful Tips


Traditional sleeping pads are bulky, and usually need to be strapped somewhere to the extra frame or canvas of your backpack. I’m telling you straight that once you travel with a Therm-a-Rest, you’re not going to want to travel again with a regular pad.

The Nylon top fabric of the Therm-a-Rest is ultra-thin, and the urethane foam is an extremely lightweight material. The die-cut foam can be rolled tightly, and the ability of the Therm-a-Rest to deflate allows you to compact the item and fit it into your bag. I fold mine in half and slide it right along the back plate of my pack. It’s as though it’s not even there.

Therm-a-Rest Durability on the Road

The Therm-a-Rest mattress comes in various sizes and with optional features. As I’ve already mentioned, I bought the full body length mattress before deciding on the half-body. The full body is a better option if you’re expecting to spend a lot of time in the cold. That being said, if you opt for the half-body size, you can always tuck your legs into your backpack to keep them off the ground.

The advanced chemical construction of the interior foam will hold up against very cold climates. The main concerns for the Therm-a-Rest are things like thorns. You can choose to buy your Therm-a-Rest with a special super-durable bottom coating. I did not purchase mine with that coating, and I’ve never had a problem. I instead spend extra attention to the details; meaning, I make sure that the ground is clear of obstructions. The traditional mattress might seem longer-lasting, but I might beg to differ.

Therm-a-Rest Repairability

Therm-a-Rest Compare

I’ve used my Therm-a-Rest as a flotation device in a lake and the salty Pacific, and have even bared witness to a cat clawing at the Nylon. Having used my awesome mat in climates that drop below freezing, and those that cause my skin to swelter in the heat, I can still boast that I’ve yet to have to repair my Therm-a-Rest. However, I am quite prepared for that day. Two products will solve a leak in a heartbeat: silicon and duct tape. I will simply dab a bit of silicon at the puncture point, and tape some of that heavy-duty duct tape over it once it has dried.

Therm-a-Rest Availability

The one problem when it comes to considering the Therm-a-Rest as a legitimate option is its availability. However, considering the durability and long-lasting potential of this super pad, global availability is not quite enough to deter you from buying one. Made in Seattle, the Therm-a-Rest can be found in many outdoor sporting stores in the U.S. and Canada, including the famous REI outlets. It can also be purchased in some countries in the EU. Just use the ‘dealer locator’ on their website at

Therm-a-Rest Advancement

The company that produces the Therm-a-Rest has been advancing their technology ever since I bought my first one over two years ago, in 2009. Since then, their capabilities have really improved. Whereas once my ‘Prolite’ was the company flagship mattress, now it is the ‘NeoAir’. This new generation of inflatable foam mattresses is said to be 20% more efficient in preserving heat.

If you are convinced to buy the Therm-a-Rest, then I should tell you that the one thing that will make you crazy is being somewhere in the world where the ‘new upgrade’ of the Therm-a-Rest cannot be found!