View Full Version : Standard vs. Ultralite Thermarest

12-19-2002, 11:13
I am considering trading my full length Standard Theremarest for a full length Ultralite Thermarest to save over a pound. I would only like to hear comments from those that have used both and their opinions, comfort comes first, but if theres not much difference between the two, i'll ditch the pound.

Im not interested in other pads either nor going to a 3/4 length.

12-19-2002, 13:26
What temperatures do you sleep in? This may affect the answer. The ultralight is not a cold weather pad, but not having used it, I will refrain from further comment.

12-19-2002, 13:49
I used the 3/4 lenght Ultralight this year on my hike. The Ultralight Therm-a-rests are fine for the conditions you will encounter on the AT. I had no trouble with warmth even in colder weather.

12-19-2002, 14:12
That's strange. I have taken my ultralight out in winter many times. Haven't had a problem despite sleeping on snow in sub-zero temperatures. Am I missing something?

On my first winter camping trip I used a cheap foam pad from walmart and a 20 degree bag. I got about 1 hour of sleep. When I got up in the morning and packed up you could see I melted about 1 inch of packed snow... Boy, that stunk. Never had that problem with an ultralight so I'm guessing it insulates pretty well. I do have a 0 degree bag now though with more insulation (down) underneath.

On our thruhike we started with ridgerests. Shortly before NOC we spent a night in a shelter and we froze. You could feel the cold coming up through the pad. We switched to 3/4 ultralights at NOC and never had another problem despite much colder temps. Although for winter I use a full length.

12-19-2002, 14:16
how is the comfort level of the ultralite ....... thats my main concern, is it much different than the Standard.

12-19-2002, 15:18
I used to carry a full-length Standard Therm-a-Rest and moved to the 3/4 Ultralite to save weight. I find that the Ultralite is fine from a comfort and cold weather insulation standpoint. However, I found that my heels and feet tended to dig into the floor of the lean-to through the bottom of my sleeping bag. I've solved this several ways. You can put your empty pack under your feet, or a loose stuffsack with clothes, or a sit pad if you bring one. But my most creative cold weather solution was to wrap my feet and ankles in my fleece pants, forming a cushion that kept my feet off the floor, warm and comfy.

12-19-2002, 15:25
Depends on how heavy you are, but at just over 200 lbs, I find that the ultralight is just as comfortable as the regular. I sleep on my side regularly and as long as I blow the matress up enough I don't hit the ground underneath. If you like you matress soft (i.e. not much air in it) then you might have a problem with your hip hitting the ground underneath.

Go to the store, blow them up, and lay on them in your prefered sleeping position and see how you feel about them. If you get the heavier one, you will most likely switch to the ultralight full length to lose the weight. Then later you will probably switch to the 3/4 to save that weight.

Yes, I have three thermarests :)

I really should sell my standard... I never use it..

Oh, I think that the ultralight is also cut narrower. You should make sure it is wide enough for you.

And the ultralight packs A LOT smaller. It's nice to be able to get your pad in the pack, rather than this huge thing hanging off the outside...

Gravity Man

12-19-2002, 17:08
I believe that the only difference between the "standard" and ultralight series is interal foam. The standard has a full foam core. The ultralite has a cookie cutter foam core. Less interior foam, and less weight.

I don't think that foam itself effects performance, assuming the same thickness of pad.

12-19-2002, 20:29
The ultralight is thinner than the standard. 1 inch for the ultralight vs. 1.5 inches for the standard.

12-20-2002, 03:14
Pushing Daisies is on the mark...the standard is thicker. The ultralight like Peaks mentioned is die-cut...so it won't keep you as warm cause there is more air in the pad. And in the past Cascade Designs has made the ultralight pads in lighter materials, which may be different now. I personally find the ultralight halfway decent in comfort.

12-20-2002, 08:16
I got a new lease on my hiking life when I bought the Standard LE Thermarest. A bit heavy, but this is my luxury item. I get a good night's sleep on this, where on the Ultralite I did not. Not to get too personal, but how's your love life been going lately?(I can't help asking, I followed your adventures earlier this year).


Ultralite: 29oz. 20x72x1in, R-Value 2.6
LE : 37oz. 20x72x2in, R-Value 4.1
For the extra 8oz., in my humble opinion, you get you get way more comfort value than the extra weight indicates.(I am 59 years old, for younger people the additional comfort factor may not matter)

12-20-2002, 09:24
Originally posted by PushingDaisies
The ultralight is thinner than the standard. 1 inch for the ultralight vs. 1.5 inches for the standard.

Thermarests come in various thickness. Standard may be 1.5 inches. I suspect that the guidelite is 1.5 inches also, but with the die cut foam, while ultralite is a little thinner. Obviously, the thinner the pad, the less "comfort."

12-20-2002, 09:26
There was a previous thread that addressed these issues:

General Gear Talk > Therm-a-rest Question

12-20-2002, 14:13
Originally posted by LBJ
Not to get too personal, but how's your love life been going lately?(I can't help asking, I followed your adventures earlier this year).

LMAO ....... Oh' the evil one has been history for awhile now. What a waste of ten years ... huh! I've had a few short and satisfying relationships since, but am still looking for the hiker woman of my dreams.

12-21-2002, 04:00
I had the hiker/paddler woman of my dreams but when I was in a bind with work and a place to live she offerd no help so I moved on...fate would have it that a clinical chic caught me eye and offered me a place to stay-for free! Well I was emotionally into her anyway and took her up on the offer thinking she and I would have a life but my hiking life would be solo...but after a few section hikes on the AT she is already starting to warm up to the idea of an overnighter, and if that goes well we will do a 4 night hike in Virginia...I never would have guessed that she would have liked hiking at all and now she is studying 2 man tents with me and last week bought her first real pair of hiking boots! What I learned it that many woman, even those cushy types doing the office thing really dig the outdoors and just need a little guidance or push, so dont give up, you'll find her in the strangest of places.

12-22-2002, 00:46
Hey there, I'm Erica. My friend Amy talked to you some time ago and said that you were looking for a girlfriend. I beleive you two exchanged pictures and from the looks of the picture she gave me, I'm very interested in meeting. I'm looking for a relationship that's not too serious but not too casual. I don't like to put stereotypes on relationships but I would like a "friends with benefits" type of relationship. Maybe we could be exclusive, I'm not really into sleeping around. Anyway I have a little web page that tells some more about me, check it out and tell me if you'd be interested in getting together. If not, I'm sorry to bother you, my friend just said you might be interested.

12-22-2002, 09:55
Cue the 70's disco music and break out the lava lamps folks... its love connection. *70's sounds*

01-01-2003, 12:04
Currently I have the following Sleeping Pads...

1.Therm-A-Rest Explorer 3/4 Length
- 20"W x 47"L x 1.5"H, 1lb 6oz, $35
- My Main Pad. Excellent. I wish it was full length though.

2.Therm-A-Rest Ultralite Full Length
- 20"W x 72"L x 1"H, 1lb 13oz, $70
- Too thin. Piece of crap.

3.Therm-A-Rest Z-Rest Full Length
- 20"W x 72"L x 0.75"H, 1lb, $35
- Crap. It's about as thin as a fleece jacket when you lay on it.

My sleeping pad is my ultimate piece of splurge gear. I can't stand waking up to a sore body from sleeping on too thin a pad. The ultralite is ok so long as your on thick grass, but I get too many pressure points if I'm on hard dirt ground. You may lug an extra pound or so with a thick pad, but your body will be more thankful the next day when you wake up feeling great, instead of rubbing your hip, shoulder, neck, etc...

I'm actually looking for an even thicker pad. I would also like something full-length and wider. I'm looking at the following item...

4.)Therm-A-Rest CampLite Full Length
- 25"W x 77"L x 1.6"H, 2lb 12oz, $85

Pick what is comfortable to you. Saving 1 pound isn't worth a poor nights sleep.

Bandana Man
01-01-2003, 16:39
When hiking with my wife, we each carry a full-length Therm-A-Rest Stata-Rest 20. Each weighs 2 lbs, 9 oz. but the comfort is extraordinary. She has some health issues that can make sleeping on the ground difficult and painful. She has tried heavier air mattresses and foam pads on canoe trips and car camping trips but none of them were as comfortable for her as the Strata-Rest. I can sleep on my side with this pad and my hips don't hurt in the morning.

For solo hikes, I carry a Therm-A-Rest Ultralite 3/4 AND a Therm-A-Rest Ridge-Rest 3/4. The combination weighs 1 lb. 9 oz. I put the Ridge-Rest under the Ultra Lite and shift the Ridge-Rest down a little bit where my feet are. By overlapping the air mattress and pad like this, it's kind of like having a full-length pad. They are very comfortable when used together, but not comfortable enough when used alone, at least for me.

Funny, when I was a teenager and into my twenties, I didn't even need a pad. Started using a thin foam pad in my thirties, but now at 47 I need even thicker sleeping pads. Forget ozone depletion. Someone needs to investigate what gelogical phenomena is causing the ground to get harder and harder every single year!

01-02-2003, 16:59

I would love to bed down on this at night on the trail.


I am so tempted but telling myself NO!

This one would be acceptable though...


Another tempting bed...


01-02-2003, 22:55
I started off years ago with the full length ultralight thermarest and just last year cut back to the ultralight 3/4 to save some weight. I'm 5'10" and 175lbs (at the beginning of a thru-hike) and find the ultralight to be sufficient in all temperatures I've ever encountered on the AT. I do believe though that the key may be the size/weight of the hiker and whether the mattress is capable of keeping you up off the rocks and roots.
I think pretty much everyone already does this but it may be worthwhile mentioning for newer hikers. Once the mattress has self inflated you need to "top it off" by mouth. You'd be amazed at how much more comfortable a fully inflated mattress can be, ultralight or otherwise.
Another thing I started doing last winter was to spread out one of those mylar coated foam auto windshield reflectors under my mattress. They weigh about 3oz so I don't notice the weight in my pack and I have experienced a lot better insulation from the cold ground

01-03-2003, 13:51
Personally I prefer the LE (Luxery Edition) Therm's...I've tried them all, and I get the most bang for the weight with the LE (i.e., the best night's sleep). I can skimp on just about every other piece of equipment, but if I don't get a good night's sleep, then the next day hiking is going suck anyways, so it's a trade-off I accept.

Bandana Man
01-03-2003, 14:13
The outfitter where my wife bought her Strat-A-Rest had a plywood sheet approx 2-feet by 6-feet with dozens of large and small rocks glued to the sheet. You could lay on this sheet using various pads and compare how each pad protected you from the rocks. That's how she chose her pad.

I thought this was a really good idea that other outfitters might want to include at their shop. Everyone has a different comfort level and it was nice to be able to test each pad before buying one. Just trying out a pad on the floor at the store isn't an adequate test of the conditions encountered in the woods.

01-03-2003, 17:12
If you order from CampMor, just be careful with it and try it out on the trail. If you don't like it swap it for another one. All you pay is $7 shipping each time you swap. I'm going to be ordering a thicker/longer/wider pad tomorrow. The Performance CampLite. It's 25"W x 77"L x 1.6"H and weighs 2lbs 12oz (Lol). I'm going to use the down quilt method, so I need a good sleeping pad. Hopefully my quilt will only be around 1lb 8oz, so it offsets the weight of the pad some. This will also be a 4-season system rated to 0*F.

I've found that I need 1.5" of thickness for comfort. I'm about 225lb, and squash pads pretty easy. I'm 6'1, so my head and feet rest on the tapered edges/ground of the standard 72" lengths (sucks). So the 77" length will accommodate my taller frame. The 20" width is also only as wide as my torso, so my arms rest right up against the edges of the pad on the ground. I look like a chicken with it's wings tucked into its ribs. I hope 25" will be wide enough. I'll keep you posted on the results. I may end up swapping for a Luxury LE CampRest. 25"W x 77"L x 2.5"H and weighs 3lb 7oz (AAAHHHHHHH!). I'd rather not though...

01-04-2003, 10:59
Raging Hampster,
Why not get the LE at 37 ounces. You get two inches of foam at a lighter weight than the one you propose to buy that only has an inch-and-a-half of foam?

01-04-2003, 12:42
I need a 25" width and 77" length. The LE is thicker and lighter, but has a 20" width, and 72" length. The LE CampRest would certainly work, but it's 11oz more than the Performance CampLite (and an inch thicker with 20% better insulation). I'm tempted to try this 3lb 7oz behemoth, but keep telling myself "NO!, your trying to remove pack-weight not add it!". So I'm going to test the Performance CampLite First. If it ends up sucking, I'll have to weep (and smile at days end) as I add a three and a half pound pad to my equipment list.

I'm trying to keep my Pack, Shelter, Bag (Blanket in my case), and Pad under 10 pounds. My pack, shelter and blanket will all be custom. I'm going to be making the tent and blanket within a couple weeks. And the pack last, once all my equipment has been established. I'm shopping for the pad this week. My estimates are as follows...

Tent 2.5 to 3 pounds.
Blanket 1.5 to 2 pounds.
Pad 2.5 to 3.5 pounds.
Pack 2.5 - 3 pounds.

This means I'm somewhere between 9 and 11.5 pounds for my core equipment. My cooking and water treatment systems total together to 2 pounds even. The rest of my equipment excluding clothing comes to 2.5 pounds. Not sure about clothes yet. I'm aiming for a Dry pack weight (no food/fuel/water) of less than 20 pounds.

6 Days of food will be ~10-12 pounds, 2 quarts of water is 4 pounds, and 20fl oz of Methanol (probably way too much) will be around 1.5 pounds. This brings in a total weight of about 15 pounds for my consumeables on day 1.

Obviously I'm not going Ultra-Lite, but more of a lite-weight classification. I've drifted way too much in my post (LOL!).

01-04-2003, 15:37
Oh man, I feel so guilty. I ordered the Therm-A-Rest LE CampRest.

It's a gluttoness (Word?) 3lb 7oz, 25"W x 77"L x 2.5"H. More than my tent weighs lol (cry).

I know I said I was going for the 1.5" think performance pad, but I was sucked in by thoughts of 2.5" cloud resting.

I just have to keep on telling myself that I'm a big guy, so big-loads are simply proportional (regardless of the Crisco to T-Bone index lol).

Well I'll be carrying an extra 11oz than I planned on. Perhaps I can make it up somewhere else amongst my gear...

note: If it's too heavy I can always swap it for the performance series. But oh the comfort! I wonder where I can buy some helium on the trail. I could use it like a hot air balloon!

01-06-2003, 12:46
Pads used
full length orange thermarest standard
Hand me down, tiny valve (never retrofitted newr style valve)
pretty comfortable
3/4 ultralight
got it in '91, comfortable if blown up by mouth after self
inflation, but prone to leaks, very small pack size
3/4 guidelite
bought last year for my wife, way more comfortable than ultralite or standard, not much more weight than u.l. probably my pick
full length "mega rest"
I think this is similar to the LE luxury series. Wide, I think 2 of these equal a queen size, the pad almost fills my clip flashlight, more comfortable than our expensive matress at home. Bought this before a car camping trip to edisto island S.C. and my wife loved it. Not even an option for packing, huge and heavy
cut down mt washington
My current masochistic selection, not too comfortable compared to any of the above but way lighter.

Good luck on your choice I think I might go with a full guidelite over a full ultralight if choosing between the two if comfort is a big concern.

01-09-2003, 10:59
Oh my is this comfortable. I may just have to bite the bullet and carry it with me. I hate when I say 3lb 7oz though. The length and width are perfect, I could go with a 1.5" thick pad though.

I will use it as my bed at home (which I've been using an old therm-a-rest for), and I'll try it on the trail sometime in the near future. I'm going to buy a Stratarest 20 from CampMor which is on sale for $19.97, and test that too.