Thermarest pads

I bought my first Thermarest while in the Air Force. Flying all over the world in military aircraft, the two things I always took along (well three if you count TP) was my thermarest and my pocket hammock.

Once, aboard a Tanker, I lay my thermarest on the deck, placed my water-cup next and took a nap. When I awoke an hour later, the water was frozen but I was still fine. I LOVED that thing!

So, I take it camping now (retired) but had a problem…

Basically, I open the valve, purge the pad, roll the pad, close the valve and tie the pad into the roll and strap it on my deck.

Last trip, I unrolled the pad and the seam for about 8" is blown!

Fortunatly, a paddling-buddy had some gorilla glue, some small closepins and repaired it for the night but i wonder… HOW did that happen?

Could the little air trapped inside expand as I am driving over the mt pass?

So, anyone have any hints? ideas on how to prevent a recurrance? or just impressions on thermarest in general and how you deal with packing, carrying and using them?

“Could the little air trapped inside expand as I am driving over the mt pass?” Yes.

Would that generate more pressure than is on the seam when the pad is inflated and you are sleeping on it? I doubt it.

Wear and tear is my guess
Nothing lasts forever. Self-inflating pads have been the bane of my existance, just so wonderful when they work. Not worth spit when they don’t hold air. Slumberjack and Thermarest still make the best. Get another of those and you’ll be happy until IT breaks down.

  • Big D

Open ,roll tightly, close valve…
possible you did not have the valve fully open when you “Purged” it…did you fold it up and put a knee or other weight on it to force the air out?..if the valve was not fully opened, when you folded it and placed your weight on it, you placed to large a pressure on the mat, blowing the seam…

just as well Thermarest
has a lifetime warranty on their mats.

If you honestly think that it was not your fault leaving a LOT of air in the mat (even just half deflating the mat, the remaining air could not expand that much) claim warranty.

So far Thermarest has honored their lifetime warranty with me. I had the first generation of perforated closed cell foam (Swiss cheese) and the lamination gave up very soon. Replaced without an argument.

So far I have/had about 10 mats from Thermarest and only had one warranty claim.

I can’t say the same for the knock offs (Chinese copies).

Can I ask a sub-question about
Therm-a-rest? I don’t mean to butt-in on someone else’s thread, but I just want to know which Therm-a-rest model is best for kayak camping trips space/use wise?

I have a TrailLite. Are there better options?

REI camp bed
They are rated excellent and on a good sale 3.5" around $35 and 2.5 inch around $25. Similar to thermarests - self inflating mostly.

I ordered some but haven’t received them yet. The comfort is rated supreme over thermarests but the downfall …yes of course…they are pretty heavy. So, if weight isn’t an issue, then these might be worth a looksee.

Thermarest has a new pad
and it rolls up super small and is super expensive, around $150±, but I can’t remember its name. I believe it is mostly air filled unlike their normal foam pads. Saw it at the O.R. show last summer, and it’s pretty cushy. I’d love to have one but the price is a bit steep, even at cost! It would be awesome for kayaking though, if money was no object?

That would be Neo Lite

– Last Updated: Jan-12-09 10:12 PM EST –

here is more info

Thermarest is getting into the backpacking air mattress race.

I have a Prolite 3 and the 20x72 air mattresses roll up to a similar space. I have the MEC Kelvin and the Big Agnes pad.

Both are similar in weight to the Prolite 3 but of course an inch and a half thicker. Its up to you how much hot air you want to invest into inflating a pad.

If you purged it, no
Even if you didn’t purge it, I doubt the pressure from going to higher altitude would be enough to blow the seam, UNLESS you overinflated it in the first place.

I’ve taken my ThermaRests up and down mountain passes countless times with no problem.

I even had the air pressure descending from 10K ft to 6K ft change so drastically that it literally sucked in the rear deck of my kayak (watertight hatches for sure). When I pulled off a hatch, the entire deck popped back to normal shape. But nothing was damaged. So although your pad undoubtedly had some interesting changes while going through different altitudes, the blown seam was probably just due to wear and tear/age.

When you roll tightly, there is a shear
force applied to the seam. It is strongest where the pad is rolled the tightest. Try to be a little less aggressive when you start rolling the pad. I don’t think you’ll see that problem again.

CALL THEM!!! if it has really lasted
that long then they might be swinging some fixing stuff your way!!!

(or if it was me i would be swinging you a new pad-but then i do not work in the sales dept of Cascade Designs)

Five years of backpacking in NH
and my self-inflating thermarest is still going strong. I’m thinking of replacing it with the half lefgth versions to save weight. I roll tightly with valve open, carefully keeping pressure to force all air out, use two compression straps or tie ropes to tie it down, one last squeeze down, then close the valve. This is how I travel with it. Usually I keep it on the bottom of my packpack. Makes for a nice cushion when I lean or sit on a rock. Only complaint is if you are bigger than average sized, your arms hang off when you sleep on your back.

you have a long way to go!
I have had my Basecamp one since they first came out…that would have been at least the eighties.

Maybe earlier. The only reason for a collection is going lighter and smaller.

Prolite 3 in short

– Last Updated: Jan-13-09 3:31 PM EST –

That thing is so small and compact when deflated. It's great. Campmor has them on sale (blems) for something like 70 bucks right now. The Prolite 3 is so small, I can't imagine paying twice as much for a matress, no matter how much smaller it rolled up.

I have been folding and rolling mine
very tight (like kneeling on them after they are already deflated once and rolled out again and rolled again back)for years. Ever noticed how tight are they packed from factory?

As mentioned before even Thermarest is not forever but the warranty IS :slight_smile:

Unless you overinflated the thing (pumped it by mouth very tight) drove to a very high pass and left it in a hot car the matt was just faulty.

Claim warranty. That’s why Thermarest costs more than others…

I love mine, have had it for about 13 years. Only mishap was the directions said “store unfolded with the valve open” so I put it under the bed. Ha!!! the cat found it and decided it was for scratching. Had several punctures close enough together which I was able to fix with a 3" square coated packcloth patch and contact cement. That was 10 years ago and it’s still going strong. It is stored on top of a cabinet now, LOL. As for your seam letting go, I can only think it got way too warm, but the seams hold with my 300lb bulk on it. Sooooo, who knows?

New Thermarests
I have my 2 thermarests self-inflatables for about 10 years now. I have the kit that makes them into a chair. They are still in excellent shape.

If you bought it from REI, they mostly take anything back.

There are new thermarests on the market since I bought mine. Some have a gripping top to keep you in your sleeping bag from sliding off. I think hubby bought the new prolite, but it seems a bit too narrow to be comforable. It may be worth your while to look at what’s new on the market if you can’t fix what you have and it’s always a great excuse to get something updated, and lighter.


I need something. Help decide.
I don’t backpack, and probably won’t camp where everything I need must fit inside my kayak. Base camp, delivered by vehicle, drive to paddle or whatever. Ie, I don’t care so much about weight and space.

That said, I want comfort. I’d like to say money is no object, considering how much a good night’s sleep is worth, but it is. Forgetting about size/weight/price, what’s going to offer more comfort, an REI 3.5" Camp Bed like this: or a twin air mattress like this:

Price is similar, though width is significantly better on the mattress. 25" seems a bit narrow for me, but then again, in a small tent, a mattress takes up a lot of room too. Assuming all pros/cons are equal, price is near equal, which is more comfortable?


After I got a self inflating pad
… I swore I’d never willingly sleep on an air mattress again. I actually look forward to spending nights on my thick Big Agnes self inflating pad (looks very similar to the REI one you posted). For me there’s no question. Looks like you found a great deal on one too.