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Therm-a-Rest UltraLite
Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest UltraLite


Page Type: Gear Review

Object Title: Therm-a-Rest UltraLite

Manufacturer: Cascade Designs

Your Opinion: 
 - 21 Votes


Page By: John

Created/Edited: Jan 3, 2002 / Jan 3, 2002

Object ID: 110

Hits: 16922 


What Cascade Designs claims as "the lightest and most compact self-inflating mattress on the planet." Using LiteFoam, the Performance Series UltraLite mattress weighs 20% less and rolls up 30% smaller than their original UltraLite mattress. Covered with new Staytek™ Lite fabric on the bottom.

Available in two sizes: The UltraLite mattress weighs a mere pound and a half, while the UltraLite 3/4 weighs exactly one pound and rolls up smaller than a bivy bag.

  • Designed for backpackers, UltraLite is made with innovative, die-cut, open-cell LiteFoam™ for comfortable insulation with less bulk and weight
  • Non-slip, highly-texturized Staytek™ Lite polyester top is more durable than ever and keeps your sleeping bag in place
  • Durable high-tenacity nylon bottom resists dampness and dirt
  • High-flow inflation valve with free-spinning head for easy use even with mittens on


Viewing: 1-19 of 19

JScolesUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I have had mine now for well over 8 years and it is still going strong though it is begining to show its age.

It does not inflate fully now but goes up to about 80% which is still ok. More likely becuase of the way I store it than anything else.

It is quite compact and just as tough as the other bigger Therm-a-Rests I have owned. It has never punctured even when I have slept directly on course rock without a ground sheet.

It is very narrow which makes it very good for camping in a small tent or bivy sack.

I only dropped it one point because I find in very sevear cold (>-40c) the very mild melting that happes at night becomes a problem.

Not a pad for the tall or the wide but good for 90% of common uses.

All in all an exelent product which should last you many years
Posted Feb 18, 2002 9:27 am

William MarlerUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

Good Basic Pad. I have had mine for 12 years. Collapses well. I remove the staves from my pack and fold the pad three times to line up with my back. Gives the pack some volume and protects the pad from puncture from outside elements. As I get older my hip join tend to ache at night. I have now moved up to the thicker verion. Takes a little more space. But I sleep better. I have never had a puncture as yet...knock on wood. Very tough and sturdy outside even on uneven surfaces. I use it with a crazy creek chair so I can sit up in the tent. Works well together.
Posted Mar 26, 2002 8:52 am

rpcUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

....thought I had mine for a long time now (2 years) until I read the other reviews!!! Excellent pad. Used it on all sorts of surfaces - sharp rocks, pine cones, snow.....whatever. Never punctured. Not sure what length I have, but I never noticed it being too short for me (I'm 6'7").

Thunmbs up!!!
Posted Mar 28, 2002 1:50 pm

pauleUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

My Therm-a-Rest works great! The weight, compressed size make it hard to beat. What is really weird that there are so many size and dimensions of them to choose from. I recommend the UltraLite series one that is 20 x 72. It will completely "cover" most sleeping bags with reasonable tolerance so you don't end up sleeping half on / half off. Probably the biggest thing to keep in mind if you get one, is that just like a sleeping bag, you should not store it rolled up for any long period of time in storage. If you find that it is not airing up very well, then this is most likely your problem.

Here is a little trick I discovered, and do the day before I go on a trip: If your Therm-a_rest pad is old, or you do not think it is airing up as good as it should, then open the air valve all the way, and manually blow it up until the pad is tight and consistent. Then, quickly close the air valve. Let it lay flat for about 24 hrs. Open the air valve the following day, and collapse and roll the pad up as tight as you possibly can, then close the air valve. You will probably be surprised that when you go to actually use it, it will be more responsive and air up quicker and have better fullness. Hope this helps.
Posted Jun 28, 2002 12:55 am

Rahel Maria LiuUntitled Review

Voted 2/5

I'm not convinced of the self inflating Therm a Rests. I destroyed my first one very soon, so that it got punctures. One, which still does not have any puncture, does not self inflate. It's hard to get air in it at all. I used one on a glacier in winter at -30°C/-25.6 F, and I was freezing until I put some clothes between me and the sleeping pad. Afterwards it was o.k. and I started to sweat in my very warm sleeping bag. So the reason for my freezing at the beginning was the insufficient insulation of the sleeping pad and not a bad sleeping bag. Although I have not tested my Therm A Rest Ridge Rest in similar conditions, I would prefer to use it, because of the very good insulation, because of better sleeping comfort, because of less weight, because it's more robust, because it does not take any place away in my backpack (since I carry it on it's top), and because of the better price (if I destroy it one day in the future ...).
Posted Aug 14, 2002 3:07 pm

GlencoeUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Best pad for going lite. I use a 3/4 length one. I lie on the pad and put my feet in my backpack, straps down. Plenty warm enough, even in the winter. It packs down very small.

The only times I've ever had a Therm-a-Rest break was once with two people sitting on it on fine skree and another time when it caught on fire. Both problems were user error and field repair was easy and flawless.
Posted Sep 29, 2002 7:23 pm

Jerry LUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Great pad. Buy it.
Posted Oct 4, 2002 6:23 pm

Martin CashUntitled Review

Voted 1/5

Not very impressed with this version of the Therm-a-Rest. First, it pops extremely easily. I had to patch mine five times, before I junked it. Also, they have skimped too much on the insulation, I had to put a ridge rest under it or I froze my but off. Get one of the new Strat-A-Rests, or a Mountain Hardware Highmountain instead. You'll never have to worry about popping it again.
Posted Oct 31, 2002 10:20 am

Alan EllisUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

This pad is worth it's weight in gold. Light weight without compromising comfort. I am lately into ultra light, and sometimes take a lighter closed-cell pad. But on backpacks without climbing gear, it's worth carrying the few extra ounces. I've had mine for years without a puncture.
Posted Dec 2, 2002 8:09 am

DeanUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Mine is going on 4 years old. Yes, you read that right. I've owned the thermarest standard that weighs a lot more but bought the ultralight when I really shifted towards going lightweight in all my gear. This one hasn't let me down yet but I am careful in what it is put down on and I don't use it as part of a thermarest camp chair. BTW, I use the full length pad as I can't tolerate the 3/4 ones .

I've made sure to let it "air" out after every use and I don't leave it compacted (similar to the way you need to treat a down sleeping bag). I leave the valve open so any moisture has a chance to escape. Moisture? Yes, as one other reviewer mentioned, I find it necessary to add several puffs of breath prior to settling down on it for the night. When I set up camp, the first thing I do is get this pad out (it packs up really small) and lay it out and open the valve. Then just before I go to bed, I add several puffs of air to get it where it is most comfortable for me. Too date, no leaks or punctures. My previous standard model wasn't so fortunate. I really like this pad.
Posted Jan 14, 2003 4:31 am

bigwallyUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

A Wonderful Product, if you don't need extra padding. I've owned one for about ten years and used it constantly some time ago. It Never developed rips or tears and it is TRULY Ultra-Lite. As years passed and my lumbar discs flattened I found need for additional padding, and the ultra-lite was no longer my camping pad. I did discover, however that it fit PERFECTLY into my Porta-Ledge, so it became my Big Wall Pad, both keeping me warmer at night and cushioning the more fragile items in our haul bag. Stll not a rip or a puncture. I can Happily endorse this and the rest of the Thermarest line !!!!!
Posted Feb 26, 2003 8:59 pm

43moonUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

I love the compressed size and weight of this pad. In combination with a 20 degree sleeping bag, it manages to keep the cold ground from bothering me at night (as low as the high teens, I haven't used it any colder than that yet).
Posted May 25, 2003 7:00 pm

Alan ArnetteUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

Kept me warm from the cold on Everest high camps. Lightwieght and worth it. Don't go for the 3/4 length ... you pay the price with cold feet all night long ... even on top of your pack!
Posted Jul 6, 2003 8:18 pm

grandwazooUntitled Review

Voted 5/5

I suppose I haven't used mine in any extremly cold weather, besides Rainier, Hood and some winter camping in the Utah\Colorado area, but it has kept me high and dry\warm on every outting...without a pop.
Posted Nov 21, 2003 5:00 pm

Brett AUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I had a 3/4 length ultralight for several years that I used on long backpacking trips. I wasn't too impressed with it and finally went for the cheaper full length foam z-rest, which I've been happier with.
The ultralight had a tendency to slide around a lot and wasn't very comfortable. Although mine never punctured, I know some that have.
Not bad if you're looking for something that will roll up very compact, as this does. There's no need to strap it to the outside of a pack, as it easily fits inside. 3.5 stars
Posted May 27, 2004 2:31 am

woodstriderUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

3/4 Therma-a-rest Ultralite

I have just about every therma-rest ever made, but this is the one-by far, that I take on most of my trips (the exception being the winter ones).

It packs down so small and light that I can easily pack it in with my sleeping bag. But most of the time I use it inside the main compartment of my top loading pack. It goes in first, like a big cylinder (deflated), and I pack all my gear inside this. This gives my very light weight pack more form and stability.

One thing I discovered is that I do not need a full length pad, not in the summer. I use my pack as a pillow and for my shoulders and upper body, and the pad for my body. But take this with a grain of salt- I'am only 5'4"

The only down side- but this goes for all inflated pads- is that it can still get an air leak. I'am waiting- you guys- for that miracle puncture proof pad. I'll be the first in line to buy the 3/4 length one
Posted Jun 28, 2004 7:40 pm

Erik BeelerUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

This is a great product if used correctly.

Light weight and comfortable this pad has also turned out to be durable for the last five years with not a single leak.

To be light weight this pad has had to give up some of the padding but it is still think enough to even out the rough spots and the occasional pebble.

This is not the ultra plush model. It is light and comfortable on fairly flat ground and is not designed to keep you warm in cold temperatures. Any one who wants to use it during the winter should add a close cell foam pad under or over it for the best insulation. I have used this pad by itself and found that I had melted a patch of the snow below me right to the ground! Not best used during the winter by itself!

Thermarest offers more insulated models for winter use.

Also I have never thought of this pad as "self inflating" maybe if you let it sit for a hour of two with the valve open but I have always just blown it up.
Posted Nov 30, 2004 9:52 am

tarolUntitled Review

Voted 4/5

I don't use this pad much anymore, just on winter trips when paired with a Z-rest. I have found the Insul-mat Max Thermo to be much more comfy for about the same weight and packed size. But pre-Insul Mat this UL was my pad of choice. I also have the chair kit and have never had any problems with leaks.
Posted Feb 10, 2006 11:13 am

sdubbalancing act

Voted 4/5

I've used a 3/4 Ultralight since the mid ninties. It has the 2nd gen plastic valve and no Staytek. I'm 5'-11 3/4" (or so) and it goes from shoulder to hip just fine. My real problem is that I'm a side sleeper which is inherently less stable, so shifting around can be an issue. Also, it hasn't self-inflated in a long time. I've never used it in true winter conditions but it's been warm enough for 3 seasons as long as you find something else to elevate your feet.
Posted Mar 26, 2008 3:26 pm

Viewing: 1-19 of 19