When you’re outdoors a convenient sleeping pad is a necessity for a good night’s sleep. Since 1972 Thermarest is one of the biggest ultralight, convenient sleeping pad producers in the outdoor community. And the company’s Prolite design is still the lightest self-inflating sleeping pad on the market. To help you to pick the most suitable Prolite model, I compiled this comprehensive article of Thermarest Prolite vs Prolite Plus.
In summary, both are self-inflating sleeping pads, therefore they’re very easy to use. With an 18 oz of weight, Thermarest Prolite is the lightest self-inflating sleeping pad on the market, it also packs down very small, but the trade-off here is the comfort and warmth. Thermarest Prolite Plus, on the other hand, is 5 oz heavier and packs down %15 bigger than Prolite but it’s half an inch thicker, therefore, it’s more comfortable for everyone and more suitable for side sleepers, and it has better insulation, unlike Prolite you can use Prolite Plus in 3+ season.
Specs of Prolite vs Prolite Plus
|Thermarest Prolite||Thermarest Prolite Plus|
|Weight||18 oz / 510 gr||23 oz / 650 gr|
|Dimensions||72" (Length) x 20" (Width) / 183 x 51 cm||72" (Length) x 20" (Width) / 183 x 51 cm|
|Thickness||1" / 2.5 cm||1.5" / 3.8 cm|
|Packed Dimension ||Ø 5.8" x 11" / Ø 14.7 cm x 28 cm||Ø 6.8" x 11" /Ø 17.2 cm x 28 cm|
|Top Material||50D mini hex rip polyester||50D mini hex rip polyester|
|Bottom Material||50D mini hex rip polyester||50D mini hex rip polyester|
|Check Prices||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
Detailed Comparison of Thermarest Prolite and Prolite Plus
The best and main feature of Thermarest Prolite is its weight. If you’re familiar with sleeping pads, you might know that self-inflating sleeping pads are much heavier and bulkier than air sleeping pads, therefore, they’re not usually used at backpacking trips.
But Thermarest Prolite broke this cliche, with a 1 lb 2 oz of weight it weighs nearly the same as an air pad (1 lb 2 oz is roughly the half the weight of most of the self-inflating sleeping pads on the market).
Thermarest Prolite Plus on the other hand, with a weight of 1 lb 7 oz, weighs 5 oz heavier than Thermarest Prolite, and this sacrifice on weight provides a thicker cushion, resulting in more comfort and insulation (I will get into details after this section).
So in order to help you better understand how light this sleeping pad is here is a comparison table of this pad with the other alternatives:
|Weight||Packed Size||My Review|
|Thermarest Prolite||18 oz||Ø 5.8″ x 11″|
|Thermarest Prolite Plus||23 oz||Ø 6.8″ x 11″|
|Thermarest Basecamp||54 oz||Ø 7.5″ x 26″|
|Thermarest Trail Lite||26 oz|
Ø 7.8″ x 11″
|Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI||34 oz||Ø 6.7″ x 13″||Review|
|Themarest Mondoking||4 lbs 6 oz||Ø 10.3″ x 26″||Review|
|Exped Megamat||6 lbs 4 oz||Ø 9.8″ x 31.1″||Review|
Weight and packed dimensions generally are directly proportional, when one is small, generally, the other one tends to be small as well. And that is the case with Thermarest Prolite, not only it’s the lightest it’s also the most compact self-inflating sleeping pad.
Although Thermarest Prolite and Prolite Plus are very light and compact for a self-inflating sleeping pad, they’re still not as light as or as compact as air sleeping pads. If you want an even lighter, more compact, and more comfortable sleeping pad, I would recommend the Thermarest NeoAir series, such as Thermarest NeoAir XLite, it weighs only 12 oz and packs down to Ø 4.1″ x 9″ (which is lesser than the half of the Prolite). If you go with an air pad, your sacrifice is the ease of use (air sleeping pads are manually inflated) and some durability.
Thermarest Prolite is not the best option if you’re looking for the coziest sleeping pad. It’s only 1″ thick which is not enough for uneven, rough surfaces. Regardless of which sleeping pad you have, you are most likely to feel the stones and sticks on the ground with a 1″ of cushion depth.
This is where Thermarest Prolite Plus comes in to save the day, it consists more foam (%50 thicker than the Thermarest Prolite). With the 1.5″ of cushion depth, Thermarest Prolite Plus is the clear winner in the comfort department.
BUT, if you’re a side sleeper, 1.5″ thickness still wouldn’t be enough for you, since side sleepers lay on their side, more pressure is being made to the pad, and therefore they dive in deeper. In that case, if you need a sleeping pad for backpacking, go for an air sleeping pad, I would recommend Thermarest NeoAir XTherm, it offers 2.5″ of thickness. If you need a sleeping pad for car camping, I would strongly suggest Thermarest Mondoking or Exped Megamat, they’re much heavier but they offer a bed-like comfort.
If you’re a side-sleeper and if you insist on the Prolites you can:
- Buy also the Thermarest Z-lite foam pad with the Thermarest Prolite, and lay it under the Prolite for more cushion depth, it would also provide better insulation for cold weathers.
- Go with the Thermarest Prolite Apex (I will get into this below) it’s cushion is thicker than the Prolite Plus
Both sleeping pads come in 3 sizes: small, regular, and large. Small size is for children and thru-hikers (going for an air-pad is a better option if you’re a thru-hiker though). Regular is used for average size people and lastly, the large size is recommended for people taller than 6″.
|Thermarest Prolite||Thermarest Prolite Plus|
|Small||12 oz / 47″ x 20″||16 oz / 47″ x 20″|
|Regular||18 oz / 72″ x 20″||23 oz / 72″ x 20″|
|Large||24 oz / 77″ x 25″||31 oz / 77″ x 25″|
Thermarest Prolite offers an R-Value of 2.4 which is enough for 3 season camping (it can keep you warm down to roughly 35 °F), Thermarest Prolite Plus, on the other hand, has an R-value of 3.2 it’s not exactly a four-season sleeping pad but since it can keep you warm down to 23 °F it can be rated as 3+ season sleeping pad.
It’s definitely not a sleeping pad for extreme cold, in that case, I would recommend going for a sleeping pad that has an R-value higher than 6.0.
|Best Use||R-Value||Weight||Warmth to Weight||My Review|
|Thermarest Prolite||Backpacking||2.4||18 oz||0.13|
|Exped SynMAT||Backpacking||2.9||15.4 oz||0.22||Review|
|Thermarest Prolite Plus||Backpacking||3.2||23 oz||0.14|
|Sea to Summit Comfort Plus||Backpacking||4.0||29.8 oz||0.09||Review|
|Sea to Summit Comfort Plus SI||Backpacking||4.1||34 oz||0.12||Review|
|Thermarest Neoair XLite||Backpacking||4.2||12 oz||0.35||Review|
|Exped SynMAT Winter||Backpacking||5.2||17.8 oz||0.29||Review|
|Thermarest Neoair XTherm||Backpacking||6.9||15 oz||0.46||Review|
|Thermarest Mondoking||Car Camping||7.0||4 lbs 6 oz||0.10||Review|
|Exped Megamat||Car Camping||9.5||6 lbs 3.7 oz||0.09||Review|
So far, I have basically told you that going with an air pad is more efficient, however, there are a number of reasons people prefer self-inflating sleeping pads, and durability is one of those reasons.
Unlike air pads (which are useless when they’re damaged badly), self-inflating sleeping pads are harder to damage and compared to other self-inflating sleeping pads, Thermarest Prolite Series is even more durable.
Both Thermarest Prolite and Prolite Plus are made of 50D mini hex rip polyester (which is a very durable material compared to their alternatives).
Although there is not a clear winner for the Thermarest Prolite vs Prolite Plus durability comparison, I can fairly say that both sleeping pads offer great durability for years of use.
One advantage of self-inflating sleeping pads is, you can just lay them down to open ground without thinking about whether it would be ripped or not.
Ease of Use
Just like durability, ease of use is one of the main reasons why people go with self-inflating sleeping pads. There is no setup process, all you need to do is laying down the pad and opening the valve, and let the pad do the job for you.
As you can guess from their name, self-inflating sleeping pads inflate themselves up to %80 and depending on how firm you like your pad, you can blow 2 or 3 breaths to inflate it to its maximum level of firmness.
For the comparison of Thermarest Prolite vs Prolite Plus, there is no difference between the two models, both are very easy to use, it generally takes around 10 minutes for them to inflate themselves.
Bonus: Thermarest Prolite Apex vs Prolite Plus
The Thermarest Prolite series does not only consist of Prolite and Prolite Plus. There’s also another model, Prolite Apex. This sleeping pad packs down to the same size as Prolite Plus and it weighs 1 oz less while providing higher insulation and better comfort.
Thermarest Prolite Apex can keep you warm down to 15 °F whereas Prolite Plus can only keep you warm down to 23 °F. And Prolite Apex has 2″ of cushion depth which is 0.5″ thicker than Prolite Plus, therefore, it’s more suitable for side-sleepers and more comfortable than Prolite Plus.
Also, one other difference is, unlike Prolite and Prolite Plus, Prolite Apex offers the Regular Wide size (5″ wider than the Regular size) for those who need more space around the shoulder area. It doesn’t feature a small size though.
|Thermarest Prolite||Thermarest Prolite Plus||Thermarest Prolite Apex|
|Weight (Regular)||18 oz||23 oz||22 oz|
|Packed Dimensions (Regular)||Ø 5.8″ x 11″||Ø 6.8″ x 11″||Ø 6.8″ x 11″|
|Price on Amazon||Check||Check||Check|