- FYI, REI is currently on sale.
Thanks to its quality products, perhaps the first brand that comes to mind when you think of a sleeping pad is Thermarest. Thermarest offers a huge range of products, but in this article, I will compare the two top foam sleeping pads in its line, Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest.
If you’re in a hurry, the main differences between the two pads are: Thermarest Z Lite takes up less space due to its accordion design. While Thermarest Z Lite offers only small and regular sizes, Thermarest RidgeRest also offers a large size as well.
- #A sidenote here: I'd highly recommend you to check out REI's sleeping pad temperature rating chart before you read any further.
Specs of Thermarest Z Lite and RidgeRest
THERMAREST Z LITE /
THERMAREST RIDGEREST /
Coyote / Gray, Limon / Silver, Blue / Silver
14 oz / 0.41 kg
14 oz / 0.40 kg
72" / 183cm
72" / 183cm
0.75" / 2 cm
0.625" / 1.5 cm
20 in x 5 in x 5.5 in /
51 cm x 13 cm x 14 cm
20 in x Ø 8 in /
51 cm x Ø 20 cm
Molded closed cell
Molded closed cell
Detailed Comparison of Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest
When it comes to insulation, RidgeRest is slightly better, but the difference is small enough to say they are the same. R-Values of Therm-a-Rest Z Lite and RidgeRest are respectively 2.0 and 2.1, both can protect you from the cold up to 40 °F.
If you plan to camp in colder climates as well, take a look at my article on sleeping pads for cold weather camping.
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite offers only 2 sizes; small and regular, RidgeRest on the other hand, offers 3 sizes; small, regular, and large. Therefore the winner for the sizes is RidgeRest (at least for tall ones).
Both of them have the same weight in the same size, so one is not superior in weight. Regular sizes of both Thermarest Z Lite and RidgeRest weigh 14 oz.
Packed Size & Compactness
So here we’re, the biggest difference between two pads is: While RidgeRest packs down to a cylindrical form, Therm-a-Rest Z – Lite packs down to a rectangular form due to its accordion shape. And, thanks to its innovative design Z – Lite packs down smaller and takes up less room compared to Thermarest RidgeRest.
Both sleeping pads can be used for sitting, but due to its rectangular form, it’s much comfortable and easy to sit on Thermarest Z Lite.
You should know that, compared to other types of sleeping pads, foam sleeping pads are the least comfortable ones. If you have a bad back or if you’re a side-sleeper I wouldn’t recommend a foam sleeping pad.
But if you’re okay with sacrificing the comfort a little bit, for the Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest comparison, I can say that although the difference is very small and may depend on the person, people tend to find RidgeRest more comfortable.
Thermarest Z Lite Review
Thermarest Z Lite is the most popular closed-cell foam sleeping pad on the market for years, and the main reason for that is, it strikes a perfect balance between weight, durability, versatility, and of course the price.
It comes in two sizes small and regular, you can go with either of them, but if you’re okay with carrying an extra 4 oz of weight, I suggest the regular size, it will keep your legs off the ground too.
The specs for the small and regular size versions are:
Due to its material type and design, it really is a lifetime gear, you really need to try hard to make it unusable.
Although it’s not as small as air sleeping pads, it’s quite compact due to its accordion-style shape, and it’s also versatile, unlike any other sleeping pads, you can use this one for sitting as well (its height is 5″ when packed).
It features heat-trapping dimples, to maximize heat efficiency, and it has an R-Value of 2.0. But if you’re into cold weather camping, that wouldn’t be enough, if that’s the case take a look at my article where I gathered up the best cold weather sleeping pads.
Overall it’s a pocket-friendly, very durable, comfortable, and compact sleeping pad. One downside of the pad is, it’s only 0,75″ thick, therefore if you’re a side sleeper or if you have a bad back, it wouldn’t be a good choice for you.
Thermarest RidgeRest Review
Thermarest RidgeRest is the most basic type of sleeping pad that does the job at a really low price, and considering its price it’s much sturdy, light, and versatile.
Unlike Z Lite, it also offers a large size for tall fellows out there. Here’re the Specs for all 3 sizes:
9 oz / 0.26 kg
14 oz / 0.41 kg
1 lbs 3 oz / 0.54 kg
48″ x 20″ /
122 cm x 51 cm
72″ x 20″ /
183 cm x 51 cm
77″ x 25″ /
196 cm x 64 cm
20$20″ x Ø6.5″ / 51 cm x Ø17 cm
20″ x Ø8″ /
51 cm x Ø20 cm
25″ x Ø8.5″ /
63 cm x Ø22 cm
It weighs only 14 oz, therefore, it’s great for ultralight camping (it’s a bit bulky though). It has an R-Value of 2.1, it’s not enough for winter camping but it keeps you warm for 3-season.
It’s not as easy as Z – Lite, but you can use it for sitting on it if you need resting during a hike. For those who’re on a budget, you can go with the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest without any hesitation.
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