9.4 tech score On all camping trips, I sleep in a 3-season, two person tent and a semi-mummy style, down sleeping bag rated at 15 F (-9 C). I typically sleep in lightweight, long silk underwear and wool socks. If the weather is nice, I sometimes sleep outside and don't set up my tent. However, chances of that during this testing period seem remote.
The Therm-a-Rest Women’s ProLite is a lightweight, self-inflating mattress intended for 3-season backpacking or camping. It has extra insulation under the torso and feet areas to accommodate women’s colder body temperatures while sleeping. The pad is sized for women with a shorter length and slightly tapered design.
There is a valve on the upper left corner (if facing the mattress). There is also a small Therm-a-Rest logo, size, serial number, and web address printed on the top left corner. There is small diamond shaped holes in the foam that are visible through the outer material. These holes appear as slight indentations when the pad is deflated, and they bulge slightly when the pad is fully inflated.
There are fewer holes in the torso and foot areas of the pad than under the head and leg areas. I assume that fewer holes are indicative of the extra insulation in those areas.
Year of manufacture: 2005
Size: women’s regular
Color: Red on top and Black on the bottom
MSRP: $89.95 (US)
Filling: Urethane Foam
Weight: 1 lb 4 oz (567 g)
Length: 66 in (168 cm)
Width: 20 in (51 cm)
Thickness: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Rolled length: 11 in (28 cm)
Rolled width: 4 in (10 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 3.5 oz (553 g)
Length: 66 in (168 cm)
Shoulder width: 20 in (51 cm)
Foot width: 17.5 in (45 cm)
Thickness: 1 in (2.5 cm)
Rolled length:11 in (28 cm)
Rolled width: 6 in (15 cm)
The Women’s ProLite sleeping mattress arrived with minimal packaging inside a surprisingly small box. The mattress was rolled inside of a plastic sleeve that had product information printed on it.
The information on the sleeve explains that the Women’s ProLite is part of the Fast and Light Series of sleeping mattresses and is intended for 3-season use. It also lists the dimensions of the bed and the R-value, which equates to warmth.
The R-value for this pad is three on a scale of 8 (8 = warmest), although it is not clear what temperature ranges these values map to. The packaging also claims that this is the lightest, most compact women’s 3-season mattress and that it is 30% warmer than the regular (men’s) ProLite .
The mattress was folded in half lengthwise and rolled tightly. Upon unrolling it, I found a sheet of instructions and warranty information tucked inside the roll. The mattress has a lifetime warranty covering manufacturing defects in materials and artistry. Instructions are provided for initial inflation, first use, winter use, deflation, storage, repairs, and cleaning, as well as tips for protecting the mattress.
I followed the instructions for the initial inflation and let the mattress self-inflate (this took about 30 minutes). I then over inflated it by blowing a few breaths into the valve and then closed the valve and stored the pad overnight. The next day it was still fully inflated. I opened the lid and started to roll the mattress back up to see how small I could roll it after it had been inflated.
I rolled it the same way that it was when I received it and was not able to get the roll quite as narrow as it had been upon arrival. However, it is still quite compact and easy to roll up. I then unrolled the mattress and let it self-inflate again, and it was slightly faster this time (about 20 minutes).
Once it had self-inflated, I sealed the valve and laid on the mattress. I felt comfortable and could not feel the holes while laying on it. The mattress provided a decent amount of cushioning after self-inflation, but I would add a few more breaths to it if I were in the field. The mattress is long enough for me, and the width of the shoulders and feet is more than adequate.
The material on the top does not seem particularly slippery, but my sleeping bag is slippery, so I will be curious to see if I slide off the mattress much. The material on the bottom of the mattress seems to have tiny little grippy dots for traction. Hopefully, this will keep me from “traveling” around inside my tent.
I deflated and inflated the mattress a few more times over a couple of days, and everything seems to be in working order. I have now stored it according to the instructions by tucking it in my closet unrolled, with air in it, and the valve open. When I am ready to take the mattress backpacking for the first time, I will use one of my older stuff sacks, as this mattress did not come with one. However, if it does not fit in my stuff sacks well, I will likely purchase a sack for the mattress.
Central and Northern California Coasts:
During the beginning of the testing period, I will go on multiple trips to the coastal mountains to take advantage of the warmer winter temperatures in that area. Locations will include multiple state parks and national forests, such as Big Sur, Los Padres National Forest, and Henry Coe State Park, ranging in elevations from 0 to 6000 ft (1800 m).
I will go on at least two overnight backpacking trips. Temperatures will be between 30 and 60 F (-1 to 16 C), and conditions will be damp and rainy with occasional dry and warm days. The Bay area tends to get a warm spell in February between all the rain and cold in January and March. Thus, I will be able to get quite a bit of backpacking in during the winter months.
As the testing period progresses and the weather improves I will start backpacking in the Sierra Nevada range again. I will go on two overnight backpacking trips in Tahoe National Forest and another trip to Yosemite National Park at elevations between 7000 to 9000 feet (2100 to 2700 meters). Temperatures are typically between 30, and 70 F (-1 to 21 C) and conditions tend to alternate between dry, clear weather and occasional rain storms.
Some specific things I will evaluate include:
*Does the pad hold air all night or does it slowly leak?
*Is the outer fabric tear and puncture resistant?
*Is the bottom durable enough to use it outside if the weather is good?
*Is the valve durable without bending or breaking easily in case someone accidentally steps on it?
*Is the non-slip bottom grippy? Is it too grippy?
*Is the top layer slippery against my sleeping bag?
*Is it easy to inflate, deflate, and open and close the valve?
*Is the 1-inch (2.5 cm) thickness enough padding?
*Is the pad wide sufficient to accommodate rolling over or side sleeping?
*Do my feet stay a bit warmer?
*At what temperatures do I start to get too cold?
*Does the pad keep me warm enough to warrant the bit of extra weight from the extra insulation?
*Given that the insulation is strategically placed and the pad is not necessarily reversible is the valve in an excellent location? Is it by my face so that I roll onto it in the night?