Since 1971—when it introduced the first self-inflating sleeping pad—Therm-a-Rest has been synonymous with comfort in the outdoors. Take the usage of the term “Therm-a-Rest,” for example—most everyone calls their pad a “Therm-a-Rest” even if it’s some other brand. That’s how you know when something sets the standard.
This year, the iconic brand celebrates the 50th anniversary of its official founding.
Jim Lea, one of three Therm-a-Rest founders, invented the first self-inflating pad in that inaugural year. In 1972 Lea, along with John Burroughs and Neil Anderson—all former Boeing engineers from Seattle—launched the brand. Originally inspired by a foam gardening pad, the founders set their sights on a more comfortable night at camp—and a product that was highly packable and durable.
1972 marked the beginning of a five-decade-long run of firsts:
- 1986: Therm-a-Rest brought the ultralight and ultra-durable RidgeRest mattress to market. Three years later, Therm-a-Rest introduced the slightly lighter and more compact Z-Rest [now the Z Lite and Z Lite Sol] to the line. It remains the go-to closed-cell foam pad for hikers seeking ultralight comfort.
- 1996: Therm-a-Rest builds an in-house Cold Chamber to accurately test and measure the R-value of its sleeping pads and the warmth ratings of its bags. The in-house testing facility is the only one of its kind owned and operated by an outdoor gear manufacturer.
- 2009: Therm-a-Rest introduces NeoAir technology, the single greatest innovation in outdoor sleep comfort since the original Therm-a-Rest pad. The patented Triangular Core Matrix technology delivers the best warmth-to-weight ratio in sleeping pads today.
- 2011: Sleeping bags were re-introduced to the line along with many new design features including ThermaCapture technology, Toe-asis foot warmer pockets, Zoned Insulation and SynergyLink Connectors.
- 2020: WingLock and TwinLock valves are developed to make the inflation and deflation of sleeping pads faster and easier than ever.
We’ve picked a couple of Therm-a-Rest pieces that we’ll be taking out into the backcountry this summer.
Ohm 20F/-6C Sleeping Bag
Boasting a lot more warmth and packability than your average summer bag, the Ohm 20F/-6C is hard to beat. (Therm-a-Rest’s true summer bag is the Space Cowboy. But Canadian summer nights can turn cold without warning, particularly in northern Ontario, B.C. or Quebec. And with a -6C rating, this bag will serve for spring and fall, too.) Weighing in at just 1 lb. 6 oz (635g), the Ohm brings balance to backcountry pursuits with a roomy fit and the ability to convert into a two-person quilt.
High-loft 900-fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down, delivers unbeatable warmth-to-weight performance with moisture-resistant insulation that dries fast and compresses small. We especially like the full-length zipper that extends completely around the footbox, allowing it to be opened flat as a quilt for added comfort and mobility. (This is a particularly useful feature on a hot summer night when you don’t want to be cocooned in your bag.) And, two fully unzipped Ohms can be stacked and zipped together to create a double bag for friendly duos.
Comfort SystemsComfort Systems
Hydrophobic DownHydrophobic Down
Trail Pro™ Sleeping Pad
It seemed fitting to feature a self-inflating pad in honor of the very first Therm-a-Rest. The ever-reliable Trail Pro brings year-round warmth and legendary support. The self-inflating foam measures 3 inches (7.6 cm) and features StrataCore construction, a design that provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any self-inflating foam construction. The Trail-Pro may not be as light or compressible as the NeoAir series (nothing else is) but we like the convenience of self-inflation, and the toughness of the material. This pad can handle plenty of rough days and nights.
The Trail Pro’s 4.4 R-value allows adventurers to enjoy backpacking and camping year-round. The WingLock valve boasts three times the airflow rate of the classic valve thanks to a larger opening and one-way inflation. Like all Therm-a-Rest pads, the Trail Pro is made in-market to ensure quality and minimize environmental impact.