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Zlite Comfort?
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Joel Stephenson

Locale: Northumberland, UK
Zlite Comfort? on 04/23/2014 14:15:08 MDT Print View

Can anybody give me an idea of the comfort the Thermarest Zlite offers when compared to your standard super cheap sleeping pads? I'm not sure I would want something as uncomfortable as my current thin pad, but I definitely don't need the luxury of an air pad. A warmth comparison would be great too! I will be cutting it down to 3/4 if I purchase it.

Slightly off topic, but I also suffer with condensation between my sleeping bag and my pad. After a nights sleep, I always wake up to a fairly wet pad under my torso area - maybe my cheap pad is not insulating me from the ground well and so the heat difference between the bad and pad is making it wet? Anyway, it makes my bag damp which is less than ideal when I'm trying to cover lots of miles with not very much camp time to dry things out.

Edited by fooby on 04/23/2014 14:57:01 MDT.

zlite on 04/23/2014 16:49:21 MDT Print View

I personally dont think it rates anywhere near as good as a blue foam pad from walmart.

All I think it has going for it, is it folds up neatly.

Younger thru hikers under about 25 seem to tolerate it well enough.

Its not as good as a full thickness ridgerest, or even a ridgerest solite.

Edited by livingontheroad on 04/23/2014 16:50:05 MDT.

C g
(cgraf) - M

Locale: So Cal
Zlite Comfort on 04/23/2014 16:57:05 MDT Print View

Personally I think it partly has to do with sleeping style and hiking region.
1. The pad is not really that thick and when sleeping on my back was fairly comfortable...on my side which is predominate, not nearly as much.
2. While living in the PNW and most trips were to the Olympic National Park, the soft terrain/ground made using one tolerable.....upon moving to SoCal with the ground much harder, I quickly moved on to an inflatable.

Adam Sloan
(duelle) - F

Locale: Midwest
Ridgerest on 04/23/2014 17:00:13 MDT Print View

As someone who used a Z-Lite until it was basically flat, then bought a Ridgerest: the Ridgerest is way more comfortable. If you're looking for the most comfortable foam pad go for the Ridgerest Solar. I use a short Ridgerest Solite and have no issues. The Z-Lite isn't even lighter than the Ridgerest (Solite) and it's also not as warm.

Edited by duelle on 04/23/2014 17:02:36 MDT.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Condensation on 04/23/2014 19:02:31 MDT Print View

"After a nights sleep, I always wake up to a fairly wet pad under my torso area - maybe my cheap pad is not insulating me from the ground well and so the heat difference between the bad and pad is making it wet?"


It certainly could be.

It would depend on the temp difference and RH difference. But to be honest, most closed celled foam pads (asiming thats what you have) are rather vapor impermeable. Have you ever tried a poly/plastic tarp under your sleeping pad? If not, you could add something like this to act as a vapor barrier between it and the ground. A huge amt. of moisture can originate from below us, just waiting to condense when the conditions are right.

In winter camping, I have experienced condensation between two different pads beneath me. But never between the sleeping bag and the pad itself.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/23/2014 21:07:44 MDT Print View

Lay on the floor. That's what laying on a Z-Lite is like. Fine when you have a nice flat spot to pitch on, not so fine where there's nothing but roots and rocks.

I'm a very warm sleeper, and have used a Z-Lite small to around, and just below, freezing with a 40F bag many times. Would probably want some more r-value if going much lower. Don't know what to tell you about the issue with your current pad...

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Fold in Half? on 04/23/2014 22:55:50 MDT Print View

One thing you could do with the Z-Lite is fold it in half as a torso pad. I have one that I bought to use as a meditation mat because the real thing is far too bulky and heavy to carry on my bike. Normally I take an inflatable pad backpacking, so I decided to experiment with using the Z-Lite for its intended purpose by sleeping on the floor at home. One thickness of it isn't very comfy, but doubled, it's pretty nice, even while sleeping on my side. Plus, this makes the pad much warmer.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/24/2014 01:28:40 MDT Print View

My experience is that the Zlite pad is not very comfortable. It's pretty much like laying on the ground, as others have said.

I also had issues with condensation (in this case, sweat) collecting on the Zlite. It would pool in the eggshell indentations overnight and I'd find the little puddles in the morning.

These foam pads can be relied upon for warmth (down to about freezing) but not for comfort, IMO.

Edited by dmusashe on 04/25/2014 01:45:47 MDT.

Joel Stephenson

Locale: Northumberland, UK
Re: Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/24/2014 01:59:30 MDT Print View

Thank you all for the great feedback!

It sounds like I might be better off with my original plan of going with an Xtherm / Xlite and using a cut down Zlite to make sure it doesn't get any puctures and use as a seat. I will be spending a lot of months spending almost every night on it, I don't want to have the comfort that a hard floor can provide!

Edited by fooby on 04/24/2014 02:00:03 MDT.

Ito Jakuchu
(jakuchu) - MLife

Locale: Japan
Re: Re: Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/24/2014 02:44:01 MDT Print View

Some people use a thinner pad like from Gossamer Gear and then a torso sized ZLite. You could do that, or take it one more step to comfort and take full length ZLite, with a torso sized XTherm/Exped. Just something to consider.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/24/2014 07:42:43 MDT Print View

Zlite Comfort?

No such thing! :)

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Try It on 04/24/2014 14:06:54 MDT Print View

I find a lot of this to be subjective. A lot of these UL'ers wouldn't dream of going out on anything other than an XL Thermarest Air pad.

I, however, use a Thermarest Z-Lite all the time. My girlfriend sleeps on one, too. We used it just last week, on top of snow, with a temp of about 32ยบ and we slept fine.

I sleep on it when I stay over friend's houses, too. It's a tried-and-true pad by loads of thru-hikers and regular campers, too.

Try it before you spend 3x as much on an air pad. You might be ok. Luxurious, it's not, but it's way better than the thinlight pads and the MEC pads I've tried. Oh, look, there's one in my profile pic!

Edited by mdilthey on 04/24/2014 14:07:45 MDT.

Jim H
(jraiderguy) - M

Locale: Puget Sound
My own recent test on 04/24/2014 15:10:27 MDT Print View

I recently bought a zlite and an InsuLite pad. Stacked, I find them "comfortable enough" on my back, and "doable" on my side (tested by napping a couple hours on my hardwood floors). Together, they're 2oz lighter than if I had gone for a long Xlite on top of the InsuLite. But I'd have readily paid the 2oz weight penalty if they were the same price.

For the zlite alone, I don't think I'd be comfortable on granite, but I'd be fine on duff or sand. That 1/8th inch pad made fore difference than I thought it would, honestly.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Zlite Comfort? on 04/24/2014 15:26:19 MDT Print View

If I could sleep well on a foam mat alone, I would definitely go that route. No hassle of blowing up, deflating, or worrying about punctures. And foam is nice for lounging around camp.
But I feel pretty bad in the morning (and a lot of the night) if I try sleeping on a foam mat. A neoair Xl on a 1/8 inch foam mat has become the sweet spot for me. I use the foam mat to lounge in camp and use it under my inflatable for protection. Its moderately light.

Anthony Britner
(ant89) - F

Locale: North Wales, UK
Re: Re: Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/26/2014 05:25:35 MDT Print View

" I will be spending a lot of months spending almost every night on it"

How long exactly? for a few nights, then a foam mat will be ok, but for the duration that you are suggesting Go for an air pad. Your better off having a good nights sleep from the very start of your trip than ending up getting fed up from having a bad night sleep.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Zlite Comfort? on 04/26/2014 07:10:00 MDT Print View

No. If you sleep on the back or stomach, you might be OK. Sde sleepers do not like these except as a part of another system.

Foam can shrug off punctures that would put any air matress out of commision. So, for long term use, say a season of hiking, they are the way to go.

It will likely take two pads, a blue wally world and a Z-lite, to keep your hips from getting sore. Now, over a couple weeks you "can" train yourself to sleep on your back, but it will be no fun changing a long standing habit.

Another alternative is the Luna pads. These are 3/4" and full lenghth. They can be tailored to your needs, just like the others, to reduce some of their 12oz weight. I use a smaller fan-fold NightLite pad, same thing, really. This was a bit shorter at 69" long (no longer sold) at around 7-8oz. After cutting/taping it was just over 50" and fit into the pad pockets on Gossamer Gear and other packs.

A similar (but longer) pad can still be purchased at Nunatac: By nesting the bumps/taping this will produce a nice pad for any ground conditions at about 2-1/2" backing thickness in a pad keeper. It does not work real well on hard decks, though. A second "hip" and "knee" pad are still required for side sleepers.

zlite on 04/26/2014 07:27:13 MDT Print View

The real kicker is, the zlite isnt all that light even. .
It folds up and lays out quick and convenient. ( I do hate rolled up pads that wont lay flat for a while after you unroll them)

My goto combo is usually a short xlite, and a cut down torso nitelite. The nitelite is used for sitting on during day (my butt likes this) and under lower legs at night, and the short xlite provides good under body cushioning. If it dies a horrible death, then I still have the nitelite for something to sleep on for a while, as uncomfortable as that is. For a total of about 9.6 oz, I havent figured out how to do better yet.

Nathan Wernette
(werne1nm) - M

Locale: Michigan
zlite on 04/26/2014 18:58:51 MDT Print View

I used a zlite at philmont 8 years ago. It is now my vestibule pad/sit pad/knee pad. as far as durability its in great condition. I did cut it in half though.

As far as comfort its terrible for side sleepers (me) and tolerable for any other style of sleeping.

Bought an army surplus self inflatable (made by thermarest) two years ago, its now our car camping winter pads (doubled up with our expeds)

I now have an Exped UL7. pricey yes. w/ an REI discount and dividend though, doable.

I would suggest ponying up the cash for an air pad. mine weighs 22 oz of GOOD weight i like to call it.