Updated for 2015, the new Thermarest Prolite Plus is now lighter and more packable than ever. The self inflating Prolite sleeping pad has won over ultralight backpackers for years due to its comfy padding and lightweight construction, but does the 2015 revision improve on the old design, or does it fall flat?
Atmos Foam is the newest innovation to Thermarest’s foam sleeping pads. Produced in a closed, controlled atmosphere it’s allowed to form and rise unhindered , which creates a loftier, more even foam without dense spots that lower performance and increase weight. The foam is also bored out at angles, reducing bulk and improving pack-ability, without reducing the r-value or overall comfort of the pad. The pad uses this to its advantage as the foam is distributed throughout the 1.5 inch thick mat. The pad self-inflates thanks to the pressure of the foam returning naturally to its original shape, sucking in air along the way. The pad only requires a couple of breaths to finish up the job after being laid out for a few minutes. Aside from the Atmos Foam, the pad is constructed of a rugged 50d mini Hex Rip Polyester, right here in the U.S.A. The small plastic valve allows for easy inflation and deflation. The Regular model tested here has an r-value of 3.4, weighs just 1 lb 4 oz (480 grams) and is 72″ x 20″. MSRP is $89.95.
What I liked
I was instantly impressed with the comfort of the Prolite Plus. The internal foam provides an even padding throughout that standard inflatable pads lack. When pressing against the pad I didn’t feel like I was pressing against a bubble. Instead, I felt cushion. Resembling that of a real bed, the Atmos Foam compresses under my body weight, creating more of a spring mattress sensation than that of laying on a pool inflatable. The difference is certainly significant, especially for those side and stomach sleepers where weight distribution and the ability to contour to the body is vital to a good nights sleep. This is the only light weight pad I’ve ever tested that didn’t leave my arms falling asleep or shoulders sore when I woke up in the morning. Even at just 1.5 inches, this pad has produced some of the most consistently good sleep I’ve ever experienced in the backcountry.
Build quality and durability overall is quite impressive. The rugged 50d polyester is thicker and tougher than most in its weight class, and provides a better slip free contact surface with the silky nylon of today’s tents. This is one of the few pads that I’ll actually take outside of my tent without fear that I’ll punch of a whole in my slumbering life boat. I’ve had no issues with leaking, fraying, or abrasions of any kind and have no doubts that this pad will last a very long time
The fact that it’s self inflating is very nice. I was able to just roll it out and walk away, handing other more vital tasks, like dinner. About 5 or 10 minutes later the pad was practically ready to use. Just turn the valve and you’re good to go. Those who want a firmer nights sleep can expel a couple of breaths of good ol’ Co2 for a full inflation.
89 bucks for one of most comfortable, durable sleeping pads on the market? That’s a solid.
What I didn’t like
while the pad only weighs a touch over a pound, the packability is a little less than ideal. While not terrible by any means, the pack size of about 11″ x 4″ when stuffed into it’s stuff sack is larger than many of similar weight. It’s better packed without the stuff sack, as you can slide it behind a sleeping bag or along the spine of a pack where it takes up less room.
While I’ve never had any lasting issues with leaving a self-inflating pad stuffed and deflated even after a year of non-use, it’s recommended to leave the pad inflated and unrolled while stored. This is something that’s difficult to do in many situations when space is an issue. I personally just leave mine mostly uncompressed and placed loosely on a middle shelf with the valve open, and I’ve never had an issue. I roll is up gently, less out the vale and slide it onto a shelf to let it decompress naturally. It seems to work great, and takes up less space.
Just because tradition inflation pads are thicker, lighter, and pack smaller, that doesn’t’ always mean that they’re the best option. Having a foam layer not only allows for self inflation, but with the right engineering it can provide a supremely comfortable night sleep devoid of the painful pressure spots that plague air core pads. The Soft, compressible foam molds around the body, creating a more natural feeling padding that resembles that of a real spring mattress. Such comfort lined up with exceptional durability and a fantastic price point makes for a pad that’s hard to complain about. When comfort and light weight takes precedence to pack-ability, the 2015 Prolite Plus becomes and obvious choice.
The highest of recommendations
For more information on Thermarest pads and the Prolite Plus, check out www.thermarest.com
for information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a big thanks to Thermarest for their continued support and for providing us this great pad for review. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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