Thermarest Prolite Plus

Should I buy this or something else?

19 messages
21/02/2012 at 16:11


I'm thinking of buying one of these for all year use including winter camping on snow if necessary. I fancy the small version so it's a bit lighter.

Is it a comfortable matress ?Is there something else I should look at ? I don't think I want to go for a manual inflatable matress as I don't think it will be as durable as a self inflatable one.

21/02/2012 at 17:13

Thermarests are plenty comfy enough if you don't sleep on your side. If you do sleep on your side, they're noticably less comfortable than something like an Exped synmat. I don't know if a plain old thermarest is warm enough for camping on snow, though a synmat certainly is.

A punctured thermarest isn't going to be a whole lot better than a punctured synmat. Both will need fixing if you're expecting to have a warm and comfy night's sleep on them. Neither has significantly tougher fabrics than the other. I've not managed to puncture a sleeping mat in about 12 years of using self and manual inflating mats.

21/02/2012 at 17:31

I use a short prolite 4 in winter.  I have an old metal-valve short standard which is a bit thicker for car-camping.  That used to be my winter mat.  I sleep on my side & have slept on a punctured prolite on concrete at less than -4c & didn't notice until the morning.  

 I think the foam in a thermarest provides more redundancy than the fills in the synmats in the case of a puncture.  

 I've noticed from reading here on OM that folk are tending towards the bigger, thicker mats or double mats for regular UK winter conditions. 

21/02/2012 at 18:16

I use a Prolite Plus as my main matt. I used it on its own on snow this winter. It was not warm enough, the snow under me was completely melted by morning, I slept but I wasnt comfortable.

A couple of weeks ago I again camped on snow on Pen Y Fan. I took the Prolite and a half length rollmat (the thick kind). This is a great way of converting a Prolite for UK winter use. It just isnt sufficient on it's own in my opinion.

21/02/2012 at 19:00
Rosswm wrote (see)

 I sleep on my side & have slept on a punctured prolite on concrete at less than -4c & didn't notice until the morning.  

I would venture that this renders your opinion on the comfort and warmth of sleep maps utterly irrelevant for the rest of us poor folk 
21/02/2012 at 19:13

I've had various self-inflating mats SIMs over the years. I'm currently using an Alpkit 'Wedge' for car-camping and a Mountain Equipment Helium 3.8 for lightweight camping.

For comfort (in terms of padding} the Wedge is fine, the Helium slightly less as it's thinner (I am a side sleeper). Mind you, I can get to sleep on just a rollmat, albeit not very comfortably.

In terms of warmth - insulation from ground cold - my SIMs have proved adequate in cool autumn or spring weather. But I augment a SIM in winter by placing a rollmat between the SIM and the groundsheet. That certainly works down to about minus nine centigrade (the coldest night I've spent in a tent).

If I'm car-camping and staying on a pitch more than one night, I also use flattened-out corrugated card cartons as an insulation layer in the tent, especially where I'll be sitting. Corrugated card with its trapped air is excellent free insulation material. When it gets damp just bin it.

21/02/2012 at 19:48
Serriadh wrote (see)
I would venture that this renders your opinion on the comfort and warmth of sleep maps utterly irrelevant for the rest of us poor folk 

Thanks - you comment has cost me money!  Asked what I was laughing at, I explained to my partner about the new-fangled down filled mats & she now wants one!

22/02/2012 at 00:32
Alastair you know about the Thermarest Xtherm and its predecessor Thermarest All Seasons? There is also the Xlite which isn't all-year but there is the warmer Women's Xlite. The shorter the pad the more you need to use other gear to make a lower-leg rest such as your backpack if its dry. Thermarest seem to be agressively tapering their mats as a lazy way to save weight, I bought an Xlite small and immediately returned it, very narrow at the hips.

Currently, the only mat I own is the Prolite 4. I tried the All Seasons and it was warm but too thick for my tent to use as a chair. A strange excuse but a real one. I've yet to form a solution myself.
22/02/2012 at 10:17

Serriadh, I take your comments about Exped synmat, but I think it is at least 200g heavier than a Prolite Plus Small ? Can the Exped synmat puncture more easily just going by feel of fabric ?

Rosswm, "I think the foam in a thermarest provides more redundancy than the fills in the synmats in the case of a puncture". Do you mean incase of a puncture , you will not be affected as much when using a Thermarest over a synmat?

Alexander, I have heard from another exactly what you say about Thermarest Prolite Plus in winter on snow - it's not sufficient on its own but with a foam mat it is fine. I have a cheap ASDA foam mat, not the really think ones, would this be okay to use with the Prolite Plus on snow?

Nigel, "the only mat I own is the Prolite 4." which is the predecessor to the Prolite Plus. Do you use your 4 on snow and iff so how do you like it.

Skip, you've confirmed other opinions which is , the thermarest SIMs arenot suitable on their own on  snow. The Prolite Plus description on the Cascade Designs website indicates that that matress is suitable on snow, which is clearly not the case for several people I have heard from on this thread and elsewhere.

22/02/2012 at 17:30

Hi Alastair - aye, with the foam in a Thermarest you still have some insulation in the event of a puncture. 

We have a long Prolite 4 I've used for weeklong use in snowholes & camping on snow with no problem.  Not sure if I have the Plus - any way of telling?

22/02/2012 at 18:58
Alastair Soutar wrote (see)

Serriadh, I take your comments about Exped synmat, but I think it is at least 200g heavier than a Prolite Plus Small ? Can the  Exped synmat puncture more easily just going by feel of fabric ?

200g heavier, but much warmer and also much more comfy to my mind. Exped do uninsulated versions (presumably just called 'airmat') which will be lighter and substantially cheaper. The synmat fabric feels slightly tougher than the prolite shell, if anything... but neither are going to stand up long to thorns or pumice or the like.

The insulation that a deflated thermarest provides is minimal. If you're really worried, take a puncture repair kit.

22/02/2012 at 20:43
Alastair Soutar wrote (see)
Nigel, "the only mat I own is the Prolite 4." which is the predecessor to the Prolite Plus. Do you use your 4 on snow and iff so how do you like it.

I've never camped on snow. Partly is not having the right kit (I never thought of Prolite 4 being warm enough, and my winter bag was enormous and only car-camping practical) and partly I've been bike-camping which can't be done safely on snow. But I've been progressively steering ultimately towards better cold-weather gear owning more 800fp/900fp bag and jacket and lightening my kit so hiking is more practical.

The Neoair All Seasons is noticeably warmer than Prolite 4 and comfy, about the same packed size, but I am thinking a short airbed and a short Prolite to give me both comfort asleep and sitting. In winter there is a lot of dark time so either night walking, or many hours in pub, or in tent. If in tent then a chair to me is one of my essentials. The Prolite converts into an adequate chair, the thicker ones like All Seasons dont make good chairs because the baffles can pop if you focus the pressure in a chair shape plus the thickness rocks/side hard to hold a chair shape. So I'm thinking some the shape of the Neoair short plus Prolite short but both need to be warmer which I've not solved. One idea is to use CCF full-length under two short mats which I velcro to keep in place. The CCF then is used to help shape a frameless pack. Using two short airbeds  plus CCF will provide good resiliance in event of failure.

23/02/2012 at 10:21

Hi everyone, thank you all for your comments. I'm not sure what the best mat is to use for all year round use. A friend highly recommended the prolite plus for all year use, supplemented in winter with a roll mat. This agrees with some of the comments here. I don't know what the difference between the prolite 4 and the prolite plus is, sorry. I'm sure the sunmats are very comfortable, I would be tempted had I not already received a recommendation for the prolite plus which I bought online yesterday from Trekitt which has one more left in the sale

23/02/2012 at 21:03

So I ordered yesterday a Neoair Small, in a sale as its now "history". The replacement model the Xlite in small tapers aggressively to the point of being useless,

For cold, I'd put the Neoair Small either over or under a Prolite 4 and use other items to boost the lower half of the Prolite such as sit-mats, backpack foam, backpack, etc. 

That way if one of the mats gets a puncture, I'm not going down til nil insulation.

Next, I need to figure do I keep the Prolite 4 Regular I own or  get something shorter. 

Also figure out do I velcro or strap as multiple mats will slide all over.

 So for a Prolite 4 + Neoair Small these are the numbers

  • upper body R = 2.5 + 3.2 = 5.7 which is the same as say the Xtherm
  • lower body R = 3.2 + whatever I get from backpack / sit mat
  • Total weight is 260g for the Neoair and 680g for the Prolite 4, total is hence 940g which is heavy, compare to the Xtherm regular at 430g.

If I were to sell the Prolite and buy say a Prolite Plus short then total weight reduces a little but not enough to worth the swap, if I were to do say a Xlite Regular (so on the torso I have 5" of thickness) then total weight becomes 260+350g=610g with upper R=2.5+3.2=5.7 and lower R=3.2+backpack.

Either case, if you're worried about failing of a single mat, it ends up more weight or bulk to  use multiple. If you want warmth and lightness then an Xtherm Regular stands out as the best choice but obviously if it were to fail you'd have some issues.

24/02/2012 at 15:31

Are the self inflatable mattresses like the Prolite series more durable than the inflatable ones like Neoair ? I don't know, but I think you should consider that especially if you are camping alot.

More comfort  means more weight and it's just a case ofwhat one is prepared to carry. The imporatant thing is that you get a good nights sleep and in winter, that may be more to do with the cold than the comfort of ones mattress.

I read Chris Townsend's 'The Handbook', which describes alot of hilking kit and I'm pretty sure that he said that the inflatable mattresses have proved very durable, though I think his preference is for the self inflatable ones like the Prolite, because they are light, compact and feels more durable.

24/02/2012 at 15:37

I wouldn't worry too much about puncturing a mat, Alastair. I've used a few over the years, and never punctured one yet. A year round mat will be a compromise, as it will be overkill for summer.

Until i had an operation on my hip, i could sleep on a thin foam mat year round. Now i need cushioning under my hip. Everyone is different.

24/02/2012 at 15:52

durability, the All Seasons having owned one, feels about as durable as the Prolite type. The Neoair and its successor Xlite feel much less durable. There is a deliberately durable cheaper comfy but not as warm airbed which is the Trekker.

 Puncture - if you read reviews from owners, you are LUCKY to get a puncture you can detect and hence fix, some have mysterious slow deflation from a leak that cannot be found. All of these reports are of the Neoair not the Prolite.

I bought a Prolite 4 Regular, I think about 2007 it not had issues, and the last few days I bought  a Neoair Short which can be used on its own in warm weather or put over the Prolite in cold weather, affording a degree of double-protection both from cold and from possible deflation.

If there were an airbed puncture, the Prolite types have some foam which would afford probably more comfort than a deflated Neoair (original, or successors Xlite, All Seasons, Xther) which relies more on simply more air and more recently lots of reflective (and noisy) foil.

Also the chair options with Thermarest, I find to be a worthwhile luxury. 

 Mike in my case I seem to have developed shoulder injuries (too much hammering down steep hills on my bike?). Hips so far still good. I can't really hence prop myself up on my shoulders I have to sit and so why I'm sticking with the chair. The chair though doesn't work at all well with the thicker airbeds, so I have to keep a Prolite. So my current plan is to use BOTH Prolite and Neoair.

28/02/2012 at 10:00
Nigel, sounds like you're going to be be very comfy and warm (at least against any ground coldness) in winter and also light and comfy in milder weather. If you want to use your chair in the summer, you may decide to take the Thermarest instead of the Neoair. Good luck with getting the right setup for you.
26/03/2013 at 12:14

Only just picked up this thread when searching to see if any shops had a short Prolight Plus.

I have used a prolight and a neolight short I have found that a short neolight gives me real back ache due to the extra height if I sleep on my back ie I resemble a bannana ie bent the wrong way. Also in a small tent a neo reduces the internal space by more than you would think. I am guessing that you have solved your dilema by now. I think any one of the prolights would be fine if used with a foam mat which when not sleeping on it will give some extra 'warm  ground space' in your tent. Way back in 1975 during one of the coldest periods in recent history along with a mate we camped out in the Brecon Beacons in appalling  conditions I think it was about minus 17 or so, we had a very uncomfortable night on short 'Lilo' air mattresses. We were later joined that night by a hunting hound he scooped a hollow out next to the tent after we fed him some black pudding. Next moring much to our surprize he was still alive and followed us down to a track where a passing farmer picked him up perhaps a fur coat works best!    

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