My Top 3 Therm-A-Rest Camping Items (Celebrating Therm-A-Rest’s 50th Anniversary)

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2022 is an anniversary for both Therm-a-Rest and myself. It’s Therm-a-Rest’s 50th anniversary after launching in Seattle in 1972 and it’s my 10 year anniversary of when I bought my first Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad in 2012.

I don’t normally celebrate my kit anniversaries (and I’m sure no-one else does hehe) but Therm-a-Rest has served me well over the years. It started with my first sleeping pad, that bizarrely I can remember exactly where and how much it cost me and 10 years on, I’ve used many of their different products on my camping trips and long distance walks!

Here I am going to share my thoughts on Therm-a-Rest and let you know my top 3 favourite products.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and let me know what your favourite Therm-a-Rest product is?

This post is sponsored by Cascade Designs; however all thoughts and opinions about the products are my own. 

Who are Therm-a-Rest and Cascade Designs?

Firstly, before I jump into my experience, I’ll share more about Therm-a-Rest. In 1972, the company Cascade Designs was formed in Seattle and created the world’s first self-inflating sleep pad. Fast forward to 2009 they created the well known and loved NeoAir insulated air pad and from there the company has continued to grow. Read more about their full story here.

It wasn’t until 1985 that Cascade Designs spread their wings to Europe and opened its European headquarters in Ireland, which is where nearly all the sleep pads are made for the European market.

My Therm-a-Rest experience

Therm-a-Rest Corus and XLite
Jubilee Camping Trip in the Lake District

When did I first begin using Therm-a-Rest?

On a family camping trip I tried out my brother’s Therm-a-Rest sleeping mat, wow, it was so comfy, I immediately wanted one. My next Saturday shopping trip I popped into the upper floor of JD Sports, (where the running and hiking gear was). It’s then when I noticed the sleeping mat by the tills, ooo, it was a Therm-a-Rest, same as my brother’s, £80, that’s totally worth it for a comfy night’s sleep (remember this was 2012 prices).

The mat I bought was the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite and it’s first camping trip it went on was June 2012 – the Golden Jubilee anniversary camping trip with my siblings.

From there, the NeoAir XLite came on various camping trips, including my 6-month round the world trip where I camped on the Rongai Route up to Kilimanjaro, took on a 4×4 camping adventure on Fraser Island in Australia and also slept on plenty of airport floors haha.

Hanging out in my tent on Kilimanjaro trip (spot my Therm-a-Rest in the corner)

Then I began using it for wild camping, my first wild camp was in 2016 with my sister but after that I braved a couple of places on my own in the Peak District.

In 2017, my camping and adventures really stepped up a gear, I was made redundant from my job and set off on a mini UK adventure, hiking and camping in all 15 of the UK National Parks. I wild camped in Scotland and stayed in a basic camping pod in the Lake District, where the Therm-a-Rest XLite was very handy.

By 2018, I was wild camping regularly in the Lake District, Peak District and Snowdonia. I had also met a group of like-minded people who loved hiked and camping as much as me so adventures became a massive part of my life. And only a year later, I began working with brands including Therm-a-Rest where I had the opportunity to try out their full product range on my adventures.

My wild camping adventures using the Therm-a-Rest

Winter Pennine Way hike – staying in Greg’s Hut!

I’ve done a variety of different hiking challenges and adventures over the last few years, using different Therm-a-Rest sleep set ups. If you have read any of my hiking guides then you’ll know I share my camping and hiking kit list for each trip. If you’re planning a trip and wondering what sleep set up I used then you can check out my hiking guides below (or pop me a question in the comments).

These are the trips I have guides for but I’ve also done many wild camping adventures throughout the year. You can read my guide for wild camping kit list here.

About Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads

Therm-a-Rest Women’s XLite camping pad

Since I began my Therm-a-Rest journey the sleeping mat was the main item I used (and only one I knew about initially). I’ve tested out a few of the sleeping mats, these are the ones I’ve tried out on various trips, as you’ll see the Neo-Air features a lot!

The photo below is a family camping trip, where my nieces and nephew may have used the sleeping mats as a trampoline, no Therm-a-Rest mats were harmed during this incident!!

The basic difference between the NeoAir pads is the weight and R-value, meaning the better the R-value the heavier the pad. Roughly there’s only 200 grams difference in weight between the lightest NeoAir UberLite and the XTherm, but when every gram counts on a long distance trail you notice the difference.

I select my sleeping pad for the trip depending on the season, what the weather and temperature is predicted and how long I’m planning to be away.  

MSR Habitude 4 tent review
Family camping trip – before the kids arrived and messed it up

What other products do Therm-a-Rest do?

For years I assumed that Therm-a-Rest just did sleeping mats, that was my only experience so far, but I was wrong, Therm-a-Rest have a some other brilliant camping items which I’m sure you’d love to hear more about!

Here are the other products that Therm-a-Rest do:

  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping quilts
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Poncho
  • Sit mats 
  • Unique camp chair
Therm-a-Rest Parsec 4 season
Keeping cosy in the Therm-a-Rest Parsec

I’ve been lucky enough to try out several of these products, my Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down pillow comes on every camping trip, I used the Parsec (limit -18) sleeping bag on my winter wild camps, including my winter Pennine Way hike, the Corus Quilt (limit 0) is my go to spring to autumn sleep set up combining with one of the Neo-Air sleeping mats.

I have also used the Argo blanket on a few camping trips but the majority of the time I have it as an extra blanket on my own bed! And the camp chair is something I bought back in 2012, it combines with the Therm-a-Rest sleeping mat to make a camp chair, although I mostly take on car camps and not wild camping trips.

What is Therm-a-Rest customer service like?

Hiking the Jurassic Coast

Before I began officially worked with Therm-a-Rest, I used the sleeping mat on all my camping trips. On 24th August 2018, I set off on my first solo wild camping adventure along the Jurassic Coast 95-mile route. This was first long-distance walk where I was wild camping (I’d previously done Hadrian’s Wall and Coast to Coast in accommodation). 

After a few one-night wild camps where I felt I was going to collapse under the weight of my pack for this trip I started paying attention to the weight of my kit and coincidently without knowing back in 2012 I’d bought a fantastic piece of kit, weighing only 360 grams. 

However, this trip was where I encountered a different side of my comfy sleeping mat, on night 4, I woke up to a slightly deflated mat, thinking I’d not blown it up properly I didn’t pay too much attention, until the next night (luckily my final night) it happened again.

Back home, I tried to find the hole to repair, which included filling my bath with water and looking for the air bubbles, but I couldn’t find it anywhere!

Eventually, I contacted the company Cascade Designs who are based in Ireland and look after the European side of Therm-a-Rest as well as a few other fab products. They suggested a few ways I could find the hole (most of which I’d already tried) but in the end, I returned my mat. Since I’d purchased it over 6 years ago I had no clue where the receipt was or had proof of purchase.

I waited and about 2-3 weeks later I received a brand new sleeping mat, wow, I couldn’t believe it, I was more than happy and impressed with how they had dealt with it.

Read more about Therm-a-Rest warranty here.

What are my Top 3 Therm-a-Rest products?

I decided the best way to celebrate Therm-a-Rest’s 50th Anniversary is to come up with my top 3 favourite Therm-a-Rest products so here they are:

1.Therm-a-Rest Corus Sleeping Quilt

Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt
Therm-a-Rest Corus Quilt on Beacons Way

Switching from a sleeping bag to a sleeping quilt was a total game changer for me as regards to a comfortable night’s sleep, I mostly sleep on my side and although I do stretch my legs out I often find myself with one leg bent up and the other behind (not sure if I’ve explained that very well) but basically in a sleeping bag my body touches both sides and it can feel restrictive.

The concept behind the quilt is that you have a foot pocket at the bottom and extra material that wraps around you, as a quilt at home would do. There is also a popper at the top so you can still feel like you’re in a sleeping bag but with all the luxury of space for your body. And finally, so it doesn’t fall off in the night there are two thin straps that fit to your sleeping pad. 

The Corus Quilt I have has weighs 560 grams, it’s filled with 650 Fill Duck Nikwax Hydrophobic Down. It has comfort rating of 5 degrees and goes down to a limit of 0 degrees. View this model here.

I’ve used on many trips and I swap my sleeping pad for a thicker or thinner one depending on the time of year I’m hiking.

They also have another quilt which suits slightly colder temperatures, the comfort rating is 0 degrees and limit is -6 degrees. This model weighs 730 grams. View here.

2. Therm-a-Rest Air Head Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Air Head Pillow
Therm-a-Rest Air Head Pillow

Next on the list is what I’ve classed as my luxury item. For years, I managed with either clothes rolled up or maybe my backpack and ignored those mornings I woke up with an achy neck or those times I simply struggled to sleep.

Then I was sent the Air Head pillow to test, the reason I class as a luxury item is that is weighs 145 grams, maybe doesn’t seem much but I am keen on reducing weight but this is one item that always goes in!

The pillow is self-inflating so packs pretty small but it’s so comfy, I often use as a back rest against the tent when I’m having dinner too so multi-purpose! The pillow material feels so soft and is lovely against your face. I absolutely love it.

If you’re gone pillow less up until now then maybe now is the time to treat yourself, it’s more expensive than some other pillows but you won’t need to upgrade again!

3. Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Therm-a-Rest XTherm
Therm-a-Rest XTherm on my winter Pennine Way trip

And finally, one of the sleeping pads hops on my list! I love the full NeoAir range but if I had to pick one it would be the NeoAir XTherm every time, yes, I know it weighs a bit more (450 grams) but it’s so comfy and I always have a good night’s sleep.

My only one grumble is I have an old valve so it does take a little longer to blow up. (The new valve now has a function that doesn’t let the air escape when you’re blowing it up so in summary you can inflate quicker and with less breaths).

The XTherm is slightly longer, which means it’s perfect for winter camping so your feet don’t fall off the bottom and it is a slightly more robust material, meaning the fear of popping on a thorn is minimised. Although, since my Jurassic Coast deflating incident I’ve had no other issues with any of my sleeping pads. And I use them a lot!

Any more questions?

What are your thoughts on Therm-a-Rest? Do you have any of their kit or are you looking to treat yourself for some more comfortable camping adventures?

Pop any questions about Therm-a-Rest kit below. I’m happy to answer any more questions, especially if you’re looking to buy the same items that I’ve tried out 🙂

 

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