SLEEPING PADS

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress: Great Outback Comfort

Henry Silva
Written by Henry Silva

Are you an explorer? Do you enjoy trekking through dense forest paths, or up high mountains, or across vast strips of land? If so, then chances are you can’t always get from point A to point B without staying a night in-between. Heck, you may be trekking out there with the sole intention of spending many nights in one place (aka camping).

When thinking about an overnight trip, it’s important to consider not only where you’ll be sleeping, but what you’ll be sleeping on. That’s why we’ve written this review on the Therm-A-Rest Z Lite SOL Mattress.

The Z Lite SOL Mattress from the Therm-A-Rest brand is considered by many to be the perfect outdoor camping mattress for both active day hikers staying overnight and passive campers staying at a fixed base. You might consider it the best sleeping option for backpackers during their travels too.

Weighing in at just 10 ounces in its small size and 14 ounces in regular size, the Z Lite gives people of most any body type, the ability to carry it with them on their hiking expeditions without too much effort. It’s got a streamline design that provides comfort and insulation without adding any unnecessary weight to your backpack. This sleeping mattress is also incredibly durable, with a closed-cell foam pad design which has been specifically created to be nigh on indestructible.

Product Specification

  • Advanced warmth: ThermaCapture surface on sleeping pad reflects radiant heat back to your body
  • Compact design: Folding design is compact and easy to pack.
  • Extra durable: Virtually indestructible closed-cell foam provides lasting comfort.
  • Space savings: Peaks and valleys work together to add support while trapping heat and nest inside one another, to save space when packed.

Check the price on Amazon

A decent sleeping spot is often overlooked by inexperienced campers or hikers because they don’t realize that after water, food and shelter, sleep is the fourth most important survival element. You will be able to enjoy the outdoors and your trip a whole lot more if your brain is functioning at its full capacity. In order to meet the next morning happy and energetic instead of groggy and uncomfortable, you need to get yourself a decent sleep-on item.

REVIEW

You can choose for yourself whether the Z Lite SOL Mattress is the best choice for you among its competitors on the market with this detailed review. So without further ado, let’s get into it. Positives come first, so here are some of its great features.

Packaging

This pad does not come with the detachable components you would expect to find in mummy bags. However, it comes with a closed shell form that acts a barrier to moisture and keeps you dry throughout the night. Its egg-crate shape keeps the air flowing and its material offers perfect insulation from the ground.

Two Thermarest Z Lite Sol Mattress attached to backpacks

You can use this product with inflatable for a more comfortable experience. Its foldable design makes it ideal to carry around as the product can easily be stored in the backpack.

Design and Durability

With an extremely durable foam pad make-up, the Z Lite SOL Mattress provides overnighters the option of folding parts of it up double in order to even out the rough terrain and enhance their sleeping experience. These factors and others are summarized briefly in the table below.

Best use: Camping, hiking, backpacking
Color: Silver and yellow
Unfolded Dimensions: 51 x 20 x 0.75 inches [Small]

72 x 20 x 0.75 inches [Regular]

Folded Dimensions: 20 x 5.5 x 4 inches [Small]

20 x 5.5 x 5 inches [Regular]

R-Value:2.6
MaterialClosed-cell foam – ThermaCapture
Unfolded ShapeRectangular
Folded ShapeCylindrical
CostAround $30USD [Small]

$40 USD [Regular]

Shipping Weight1 pound

Another particularly impressive thing about the Z Lite is its durability. Quoted as being nearly indestructible, it’s nice to know your investment will go the distance with you. When buying any outdoor item, you should opt for the roughest and toughest version – that way you don’t have to worry about your gear when deciding on which locations and terrains to go exploring in. The world becomes your oyster.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattresses on the ground

If there’s a reason to purchase this product, it is because the Z Lite Sol is as tough as it can be. By far, this pad is the toughest and most durable products as it is able to withstand harsh weather and hardship zones. The aspect of comfort aside, this pad can be used in sharp rocks, uneven surfaces, or on cacti (although not recommended).

You can even take a hole to this product without destroying it. Its greatest advantage lies in the fact that the Z Lite Sol is indestructible in the field. If two parts of the pad come apart as a result of extreme folding (which is hardly conceivable), you can still tape them back together and your product is good to go!

Comfort

The Z Lite Sol is not the most comfortable pad on the market. Due to its small thickness, it is quite impossible for this gear to compete with other products that have a much higher thickness such as the 2 inch-Therm-a-Rest XLite. When you are using it on the ground surface, you’ll discover that this pad doesn’t have the thickness needed to provide adequate support for your nook and crannies.

When used on uneven surfaces, the Z Lite Sol is outdone by the thick air construction pads since they are unable to absorb lumps. With that in mind, there are better ways of using the Z Lite to provide the comfort you would need when you are sleeping in the wilderness.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress and a sleeping pad near a water

When using this product, there are a number of things which will assist you to get an amazing sleep. Anytime you are about to go to bed, you need to make sure you have selected the right site on which to place your pad. If you can find a place that has a level and smooth surface, then you are on your way to an excellent night’s sleep. If you find a non-clumpy grass or pine duff, that will be a plus for you.

Additionally, you can try sleeping on your back so you can reduce the pressure points on your side or hip. Perhaps, one of the best ways to ensure you get the best out of these pads is to hike and trek enough so you can be very tired. That way, you will be too tired to feel any discomfort when you finally put your head to rest.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress on the ground in the forest

There have been instances when people have complained about this product the first time they use it, but on the second night, they are too tired from the long day of trekking and therefore sleep the entire night and wake up rested and ready for the following day’s explorations.

If you like hammocking, the foam pads such the Z Lite Sol will perform much better compared to their inflatable counterparts since the suppleness of the pads places the under you. On the other hand, the inflatables usually slide out from under making them quite uncomfortable. Although comfort is not Z Lite’s strongest feature, this pad definitely delivers on other aspects.

Weight

If you are in need of a super lightweight mattress to use in your outdoor adventures, the Z Lite is an excellent option which is ideal for your countless ultralight endeavors. The small version for this gear weighs just about ten ounces, making it the super light option. Additionally, you can cut its weight by customizing the edges to create a mummy shape.

The short version of Z Lite Sol is also preferable due to its lightweight aspect and performs extremely well when supplementing your winter inflatable pad. For four ounces or more, you can have the regular version of this product which is seventy-two inches long.

One of the greatest benefits of the foam pads is the fact that they can be used in replacing the back panel of almost all backpacks. The versatile Z Lite Sol is particularly suitable for this task due its excellent folding capability. You can fold it into two sections by stacking the two halves in parallel and sliding in inside your backpack.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress attach to a backpack carried by a woman

Of course, this will deduct your internal space, but a lot of backpack frame-sheets will have just about the same weight if not more. That way, the foam pads are able to equate to approximately zero additional ounces if they can be used to replace the frame!

When you compare the Z Lite Sol to other pads, you’ll notice that this product packs down small thanks to their accordion style and dimples. According to the manufacturers and experts, this product packs down to approximately nine liters unless it’s trimmed smaller.

If you own a backpack that has a removable back panel, you may opt to use the Z Lite Sol in place of the panel, although some volume in your pack will be lost. Alternatively, you can attach the Z Lite to the outside of your pack such that it takes no volume inside the pack.

Unique Features

The Z Lite Sol is a gear that comes with so many unique features to make your outdoor expedition a memorable experience. These features are as follows:

  • Has a share-able unisex design
  • Aluminium surface for heat reflection
  • Easily maintainable with water wash and dry
  • Comes in two sizes to give consumers greater choice of length
  • Egg-carton foam pattern increases the overall comfort of the pad
  • Durable foam can withstand years of abuse

Warmth

The Z Lite SOL improves upon old designs by adding a silver reflective coating to boost warmth. With an R-value of 2.6, this pad is warm enough for three-season use, but should be supplemented in winter, or rather, this pad should be used to supplement an inflatable pad.

Though it isn’t very warm in itself, the Z Lite Sol is a superb pick if you’re looking for a foam pad that you can couple with another pad for winter. Remember, R-value functions in a linear way, so if you add this pad, to a pad like the XLite that has an R-value of 3.2, in ideal conditions you’ll have an added R-value of 5.8!

Two Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress on the grass outside

If your plan is to use the Z Lite Sol during the winter, there are a number of things you will need to consider. First, the dimples in the pad are meant to assist the product to fold up smaller and enhance its warmth. However, the fact that these dimples get filled with snow makes the pad a little less desirable. You will need to brush the gear completely to get rid of the snow before you can go to sleep or you risk having the snow melt into your gear.

During the winter, any sort of moisture is undesirable and must be battled with all means necessary. Placing the Z Lite Sol on the ground under another inflatable pad will help mitigate this problem since any melting snow will get trapped between the inflatable and the Z Lite Sol.

Two adults sitting on Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress in the winter time outside

Another drawback with the dimples is that these features increase the pad’s surface area, particularly on the bottom, maximizing the degree of heat that could be lost. If you’re camping in a tent, it is advisable to place the pad on top of your inflatable after you have brushed the snow off the dimples.

Overall, this product is an excellent foam if you intend to supplement the inflatable. However, a special amount of care is needed if you are to get the best out of the Z Lite Sol.

Value for Money and Guarantee

The Therm-A-Rest Z Lite SOL Mattress is a brightly colored rectangular foam sleeping pad. Priced from around USD $30 to USD $40 for the small and regular sized versions respectively, this is a very affordable pad. What’s surprising is the amount of functionality the designers are able to provide within this price bracket

MAIN COMPETITORS

Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest

The virtually indestructible Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest is a revitalization of the original. Utilizing the toughest and most durable foam, this product is sure to last a lot of years, offering exceptional value to outdoor enthusiasts in need of basic comfort.

For aspects such as easy packing, lightweight, durability, and simple comfort, it’s quite challenging to outdo the Therm-a-Rest Classic. Made from the ultra-durable material with heat-trapping ridges, this product offers the right amount of utility for those seeking excellent night’s sleep.

This product has been around for a long time and has hardly changed because there hasn’t been a need to. If you are in need for cost-effectiveness and simplicity while on the trail, the Therm-a-Rest Classic is just what you need.

ALPS Mountaineering Foldable ALPS Mountaineering Foldable

The ALPS Mountaineering Foldable is an excellent accessory to have in your outdoor expeditions. Its accordion folding design and its light weight make it easy to carry around. Its comfortable egg crate surface insulates and protects.

At such a lower price, it’s difficult to complain about this product. You can camp and backpack with this product as much as you want and you can use it under the Thermarest as it’s excellent for that.

Nonetheless, when used alone, it will not provide that maximum comfort you would get when used with a Thermarest, although this is expected, bearing in mind it only cost approx. $30.

Nature Worship Mountaineering Nature Worship Mountaineering

The Nature Worship Mountaineering has been designed with the ultralight idea in mind, using high-grade foaming elements. It is resistant to tearing and offers excellent flexibility. The Mountaineering Foam is made of an accordion design, making it smaller than the usual mat of similar dimensions.

This mat also comes with a Double Egg Slot design, excellent breathability as well as thermal insulation quality. The Mountaineering Foam is ideal for four seasons. It is ideal for outdoor applications such as camping, hiking, crossing, biking, and a variety of other outdoor sports. This product can also be utilized as a yoga mat.

OVERVIEW

The Z Lite SOL Mattress from the Therm-A-Rest brand is considered by many to be the perfect outdoor camping mattress for both active day hikers staying overnight and passive campers staying at a fixed base. You might consider it the best sleeping option for backpackers during their travels too.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress on a wooden table near a water

Weighing in at just 10 ounces in its small size and 14 ounces in regular size, the Z Lite gives people of most any body type, the ability to carry it with them on their hiking expeditions without too much effort. It’s got a streamline design that provides comfort and insulation without adding any unnecessary weight to your backpack. This sleeping mattress is also incredibly durable, with a closed-cell foam pad design which has been specifically created to be nigh on indestructible.

To summarize, this is a quick list of pros and cons mentioned by real users of the Z Lite Mattress:

Pros:

  • Comes in two sizes
  • Great insulation warmth
  • Easy to set up and pack up
  • Lightweight
  • Reasonably priced
  • Highly durable

Cons:

  • Thin material can make for an uncomfortable bed base

Once again how you interpret the above results will depend entirely on what is important to you personally. Overall, however, we’d say that users seemed very satisfied with the Z Lite Sol Mattress. Even so, it’s worth comparing this item with other products on the market, so here’s our take on that.

Lightweight, durable, highly insulating and easy to pack up/down, the Z Lite Sol is capable of meeting the needs of most avid hikers and campers when it comes to sleeping bases. We like that it comes in two sizes so that you can have more choice over what you are going to be getting.

Remember to think about where you’ll most likely be using the Z Lite Sol Mattress and to choose the sizing appropriately. A decent insulated item to sleep on will improve your camping experience tenfold.We’d highly recommend the Z Lite based on all the information in this review.

If you found our research helpful, then let us know what you liked in the comments below so we can keep including what’s important to you in our product reviews. If you’ve personally used the Z Lite then we’d love to hear from you too! Just leave us a message in the comments section below.

With a range of other sleeping base products on the market, the Z Lite has been carefully designed to fill a certain niche. That niche is no-nonsense hikers and campers who want something hassle free that is easy to set up and take down as well as lightweight and small enough to be portable. In terms of meeting this niche need of users, the Z Lite takes out first place on the market.

If you’re looking for a more comfortable night’s sleep at the detriment of portability you might want to consider other options such as the Intex Pillow Rest Airbed, Insta-Bed Queen Airbed or the Rhino-Rack Stretcher Bed. These are all heavier and larger items than the Z Lite Sol Mattress but do provide a more comfortable night’s sleep.

Buyers who compared the Z Lite Sol Mattress to other camping pads on the market said that they preferred it because it wasn’t overpriced and effectively supplied the exact same experience. They particularly loved that it was a long term investment because of its high durability. What are you looking for in your sleeping base? If you fit into the niche the Z Lite is aimed at (described above) then we think you’ll be incredibly happy with it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Henry Silva
Henry Silva

Henry was hiking since he was 4. He was lucky enough to be born in Boulder, Colorado and enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park hikes growing up. His favourite is Longs Peak, which rises to 14,259 feet (4,346 m) above sea level. It is the highest point of the park. Henry likes to explore new hikes and spend his spare time in the wilderness.

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