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Gear Review: Z-Lite Sol Thermarest Sleeping Pad

Gear Review: Z-Lite Sol Thermarest Sleeping Pad

Gear Review: Z-Lite Sol Thermarest Sleeping Pad

Value Rating: 10
Durability Rating: 8
Overall Rating: 9

Location of Test: From the side of Mt. Hood to the living room floor at Blair's house.
Duration: 5 years

Product Name: Z-Lite Sol camp pad
Product Brand: Thermarest
Best Use: Sleeping like a baby
Sizes Available/ Specs:
Regular (14oz, 72""x20""x0.75"" laid out and 20""x5.5""x5"" packed)
short (10oz, 51""x20""x0.77"" laid out and 20""x5.5""x4"" packed)

Z-Lite Sol Sleeping Pad


Thermarest Z-Lite Sol Sleeping Pad


The Full Review

The first time I used a Thermarest Z-Lite I was amazed how soundly I slept. It's a simple closed-cell foam pad which means it's light and tough. The downside of these types of pads is their bulk and the fact that they're not particularly comfortable. The Z-Lite uses its folding structure and egg crate pattern to make it more packable and more comfortable.

The Sol version of the Z-Lite also uses a light weight reflective material to boost its R-value to 2.6, a sweet spot of warmth vs. weight. These pads offer good insulation for summer camping and the ideal minimal insulation for shaving weight on alpine climbs. I've taken a few alpine naps on this bad boy and while it's not as warms as some others it certainly lets me sleep.

The Z-Lite is also a versatile tool when you're not asleep. I've used it under my butt on long belays and keeping fake patients off the cold ground during Wilderness First Responder course.

When sleeping you lose a lot of heat through the ground but often overlook ground insulation when planning a sleep system. The human nervous system is best at detecting change, so the constant slow drain of warmth into the ground gets muted by cool air moving across your face and the rustling sounds outside your tent. The problem is, the ground is very dense and can conduct a lot of heat away from the body even if your sleeping bag feels warm. The Z-Lite is a great layer of insulation, especially in mild weather. If you know you'll need a good nights sleep in truly cold weather it's worth considering a pad with a higher R-value.

This is where the Z-Lit really shines: light weight durable warmth in the summer or as added insulation on top of an inflatable pad in colder weather. It's also great for an impromptu yoga mat, to stand on while changing into ski boots in a slushy parking lot, or even a good ol' power nap on the grass.

The Good:

Light, tough and gets the job done at a fraction the cost of an inflatable pad.

The Bad:

Not as cushy or as insulated as the inflatable pads.

The Bottom Line:

The Z-Lite Sol from Thermarest is versatile, durable, and affordable!

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