This is my first OR and will be working on the HTML version (no knowledge of that any mac users that can get me on the right trail?).
Name: Matt Mayfield
Height: 5'11" 1.8 meters
Weight: 168lbs/ 76.2 kilograms/ 12 stone
Kansas City, Missouri
I started backpacking in high school.". I backpack anywhere from deep woods, desert, winter lands, caves and river bluffs to urban sprawl - under bridges, abandoned buildings and hobo camps.
I've acquire gear over time as I can afford it.
I wouldn't say I am a minimalist, but I like to keep my pack efficient and I've learned through many experiences what gear I need for a light pack and a comfortable journey.
Thermarest Trail Lite
Manufacturer: Mountain Safety Research
listed weight - 2lbs 11oz / 1220 g
weight as delivered 2lbs 11 oz / 1220 g
width 25 in / 63 cm
length 77 in / 196 cm
thickness 1.5 in / 3.8 cm
My first encounter with this pad was at a store where they had a bed of river rocks I used to try out the product. I would not have known I had been lying on rock.
I purchased the product and saw that it's light green color matches color on manufacture's website. Upon close inspection I was impressed with the finish and detail. The whole pad looks seamless and has a texture to it that reminded me a a very fine corrugation. Perhaps as a design to stave off slippage. The valve is plastic and threaded and seems cheap and unstable when opened. The cap remains on the valve so there is no worry about misplacing it. When closed it seems very firm. So far, I have had no problems.
I was disappointed that the pad did not come with a stuff sack and had to pay $11 US more for it. I figured it was worth the investment to protect the pad. Also not included is a repair kit.
I had visited the manufacturer's website and found very helpful information on care, maintenance and such under their FAQ section
The first time I used the pad was at my grandmothers house, as I had been visiting her overnight, I wanted to forgo the bed to try out my new equipment in order to get acquainted. It was easy enough and I let it inflate on it's own with 8-10 of my own breaths. Most likely because of the product's time on the shipping and storage before it reached me when I purchased it.
My next test was a backyard camp. After unrolling it took it's sweet time to "self-inflate". I eventually had to blow in 5 to 6 breaths.
I had previously slept on a military foam type and I found the Thermarest to be far superior to the former. The temperature dropped to 60F / 15.5 C that night. I slept in a sleeping bag inside a tent. I slept undisturbed and woke up refreshed. The pad had retained all of its loft. I also found that the size was perfect even with my broad shoulders (i am primarily a back sleeper with some side actions through out the night)
I had slept a few more times in the same conditions with the same results.
It had convinced me enough to purchase another one so my girlfriend and I could both experience the comfort of this type of pad.
The next outing was in very rainy weather with temp drops of 40F / 4.5 C the ground was harder in a campsite in the Ozark Mountains. This time my girlfriend and I both had the pads. The results were the same as before.
Striking camp this time is where I finally learned to easily pack up the pad into the sack (I will provide pic at final edit.). and that is to fold almost in half, open valve ,slowly roll up, close valve, hold under arm and walk the stuff sack on.
The next test was on the bank of a river- a very rocky riverbank. Temperature was similar to previous test.
I used a footprint for the tent and the pad inside the tent. Once again- Didn't feel the rocks.
The rest of the camp had set up their tents in another spot away from the river because of this, while the Thermarest provided me with this prime real estate!
Once again, the same results- a good nights rest and same loft in the morning.
The next time out a car camping night. this time we had a 65 lb / 30 kilo dog with us in the two man tent.
The dog became a nuisance due to trying to get onto the pads- we gave Winston the boot and made him sleep with the other dog in the tarp tent I erected for them. That night we did engage in activities some couples might share. While they are designed for rest only and this may seem unnecessary information, I feel it is worth noting as the pads in the morning weren't as lofty as before and did disrupt some sleep.
The last time I used the pads, a buddy and mine camped in a bluff on hard ground. we slept in open air as we had the shelter of a cliff overhang. I did use the thin military foam pads just to protect the Thermarests. The temperature dropped to 48 F/ 8.8 C. Unfortunately my buddy had only brought a sheet (what?!!) I begrudgingly opened my sleeping bag open so that we could share the warmth. That meant the pads right next to each other and there were probably some rolling back and forth over both pads contending for coverage. However we did sleep fairly well and once again they maintained their loft.
I feel the Thermarest Trail Lite is a good buy. They do their job and that is important as it provides the necessary protection from the ground which pulls body heat away and the comfort that is needed for a good nights rest that will ensure a more enjoyable trip and a sharper mind.
I found it difficult to get the pad into the stuff sack the first couple times. I recommend a few practices before heading out.
In all of my field tests I had no problems slipping off the pad. I will in near future try on a more inclined surface.
Also I just got the pad in April of 2009 ad as of the writing of this field report I have had a total of 11 nights.
I do store my pads hanging in the closet as per the manufacturer's recommendation to help the pad to keep memory.