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Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Sleeping Pad
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Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Sleeping Pad

Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus Sleeping Pad

A few weeks ago I wrote a rave review of Therm-a-Rest´s NeoAir series of sleeping pads, specifically citing the XLite as a top choice among avid backpackers. And I still stand behind every word of that review...but let´s be honest, not everyone is ready or willing to lay down $160 on a sleeping pad, which is understandable. Most sleeping pad consumers are only utilizing their pads a few times a season, and many are willing to put up with more discomfort than normal knowing it is only for a night or two. If this sounds like you, or someone you know, be assured that there is truly a large range of sleeping pad offerings, and just because you don´t buy the top of the line, doesn´t mean you have to suffer. This is where a pad like the Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus really shines. Despite my love for the XLite, I have yet to bite the bullet and buy one for myself. Occasionally I get my boyfriend or mom to lend me theirs, but the pad I have used now for hundreds of nights of camping has been my trusty ol´ Prolite Plus. This is a durable, comfortable, and warm sleeping pad, that while heavier and bulkier than the NeoAir series, still holds its own at 22 oz., and is compact enough for me to carry all over South America.

Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus

Weight: As mentioned above, the regular size of the Prolite Plus weighs only 22oz., while the small weighs 15 oz. and the large is 30oz.. Obviously there are lighter pads on the market, but in the self-inflating category, and with the warmth this pad offers, you could do much worse.

Warmth: The Prolite Plus is the warmer, thicker version of the classic Prolite. I appreciate the Plus´ versatility as a 4-season pad, and have used it multiple times snow camping. The R-value on the Prolite Plus is 3.8, while the smaller and lighter Prolite is only 2.2. When you´re pushing the limits of your sleeping bag´s warmth rating, and trying to get a good night´s rest, those 1.6 points really make a difference.

Comfort: This is the category that keeps me sleeping on my Prolite Plus. With 1.5 inches of thickness, my hips stay off the ground, and I have enough back support to keep me happy. I think the classic self-inflating design is easier for a beginner to get used to, because the pad is quiet and you´re never rolling off in the middle of the night. Every morning that I wake up rested and pain-free, I know I have my Prolite Plus to thank. On a side note, my boyfriend originally bought a Prolite sleeping pad (before investing in the NeoAir) and he never quite got used to the 1" of cushioning. I also tried it for a few nights, and desperately missed my Prolite Plus. I guess 1/2 inch makes quite the difference.

Durability: If, despite my reassurances, you still feel an airpad is just too delicate for your kind of camping, then by all means, stick with a self-inflating pad. Sure, these pads can pop too, and people manage to do it all the time, but after 4 years, hundreds of nights, and a few less-than-responsible sleeping surface chocies, I´m proud to say my sleeping pad has held tough. I feel confident carrying it in my pack without a bag, sitting on it with my crazy creek chair, and even using it outside my tent on dirt or cement surfaces. With all gear, you´ll get out of it what you put in, but this is one item that really shouldn´t cause you much concern. Plus, if you do get a hole, it is impressively easy to find the hole by sticking it in water, and then patching it up. I always carry a couple patches with me when I backpack, just in case!

Price: The Prolite Plus costs $109.99 in the regular, $89.99 in the small (which is a 3/4 length for the torso only), and $129.99 in the large (which is also 5 inches wider). It is still not an ¨inexpensive¨ pad, but it is $50 less than the NeoAir XLite, which puts it in a slightly separate category. It´s just nice to know that as a consumer, you have choices...and they´re all good!

One more important note: The Prolite Plus also comes in a Women´s Regular, which is the exact pad that I own. It is a little shorter than the regular (66" long), weighs 21 on., and most importantly of all, has an R-value of 4.6. It costs $109.99. And just a thought...men can buy this pad too! It is all just a matter of what works best for you.

Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus
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