The Thermarest ProLite Plus mat is designed to be compact and lightweight, while still providing a decent amount of comfort for the user.
Weighing in at just 670g in the regular size, this is a lightweight mat – that is suitable for many uses – when space and more importantly, weight, are at a premium.
My personal reason for buying this is for backpacking and canoe/kayaking trips.
Time will tell how this performs, but first impressions are very good.
How it looks and feels
On opening the packaging, this does indeed feel like a quality product – and so it should at the price of around £80.
The materials feel good quality and durable, considering the mat’s lightweight properties.
When packed up, inside its stuff sack, the size is certainly compact for this type of mat, which helps when space is at a premium.
Where is it made?
The mat that I purchased, is made at Therm-A-rest’s EU factory, which is located in County Cork, Ireland.
This is good to see, with so many products being produced in China these days, it’s nice to see something made in Europe like this.
My only slight disappointment was that the stuff sack is made in China.
This is not the end of the world, but I do think you should keep it consistent, especially when one of the main selling points is the mat’s EU origin.
I would like to see all the components made in the EU.
Therm-A-Rest also produce their mats in their US factory – to serve the North American market.
This is their original and main factory, and where your mat will be made if you are buying over the pond.
However, as I purchased this in the UK, we get the European made version, which should be equally as good. If not better 🙂
What’s inside the bag?
Asides from the mat itself, there are also a set of instructions included.
How to use a Thermarest mat
Inflating the mat
Upon taking the mat out of the stuff sack for the first time, you will find it wrapped in a clear plastic sleeve.
Remove this and you will be able to unfold the mat.
As the mat has been in storage in this compressed position, you will probably find that it is a bit reluctant to actually ‘self inflate’ at the beginning.
I actually thought that something was wrong with mine the first time I used it.
Unfold the mat and lay it out on a flat surface.
Open the valve and you should see it at least inflate partially, but the first time you may not see any movement at all.
The reason the mat will start (hopefully) to self inflate, is that the memory foam has been compressed and will try to return to its original shape when unrolled – and with the valve open.
In doing so it expands and in turn pulls in air from outside, which inflates the mat.
This self-inflating process will only inflate the mat to a certain point.
To get the mat to a usable point, you will need to put in some extra air by blowing it up yourself.
Place your mouth over the valve and put in some good puffs. You will need to do this a few times until it is full.
There isn’t a non-return valve on this type of mat, so you have to be quick with your last breath.
At the last moment, turn the cap in one motion, in order to seal the air in.
Once this is done, you are good to go. It’s very simple!
Packing the sleeping mat away
Deflating and packing away the mat is almost the reverse of the inflation process.
The main difference is that Therm-A-Rest recommends that you squeeze the air out of the mat first, by opening the valve and folding the mat up in half and then in half again, towards the valve end.
Once this stage is complete:
- close the valve again and unfold the mat – most of the air will now be out.
- fold the mat in half, length-ways, and tightly roll up from the bottom.
- once you get near to the top, open the valve to expel any further air that has been pushed up.
- roll all the way up and then close the valve again.
- the mat will hold its folded shape and you can now place the mat back in the cloth bag.
A video of the inflation/deflation/storage process is below.
However, note that the ProLite Plus will require folding lengthways first before rolling up, as the stuff sack is smaller than the one in the video.
I’m 6ft 2”, with fairly wide shoulders and this does feel quite slim underneath, compared to other full-size mats I have used.
However, I went for the regular size, as I wanted to try and strike a balance between comfort and trying to keep the weight down.
I tend to sleep on my side, and this feels comfortable for that, with a good layer of padding under my body, providing a good level of support.
Even when lying on my back, it still feels good – although a little slim.
I also haven’t noticed too much of a sweaty back when sleeping on this mat, which is a good thing. Some mats can be bad for this.
It’s just my arms that are not on the mat and lay to the side of it, which is not too much of a problem – I can sleep like this.
If you go for the larger version, it is another 12cm wide (5”), so it would be more suited to bigger persons, but does come in at an additional 210g, at 880g.
Not too much of a problem if you’re not concerned with weight, but it all matters if you are trying to minimize what you have to carry.
If you are buying this mat, then you are probably doing so based on weight, over outright comfort.
As ever, it is about trying to balance this comfort with what you plan to do.
I would say the regular size is a good compromise for most larger adults, but go with what you feel is best for you.
However, it must be remembered that this is designed to be a lightweight mat and if ultimate comfort is your goal, I would look at a different mat.
Something like the Thermarest Basecamp would be the one to go for, but they are a lot bulkier.
Where you can use it
You can use this mat in a variety of applications.
In a tent, inside a bivvy bag, a hammock or just straight up on the floor.
It’s suitable for inside or outside use.
Place your sleeping bag on top and away you go – it’s as simple as that!
Long-term storage of your mat
Therm-A-Rest recommends that you store the mat in its inflated state when not in use.
If you do this, you will need to find a suitable place to do so, down the side of the wardrobe or similar.
This is presuming your other half will let you.
Storing the mat in this way will keep it in optimum condition, as the memory foam will be fully expanded, ready for your next trip.
ProLite Plus Specification
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This is a great mat, that’s lightweight, while still providing enough cushioning for you to sleep comfortably.
The fact that this is so packable means you can take in on almost any trip and still enjoy a good night’s sleep – without lugging around a hefty and bulky mat to do so.
I wish they did it in a green option, but I do actually quite like the red all the same.
If you are after a lightweight mat, that you can easily carry, then I think this is a great addition to your kit and would definitely recommend it.
Thanks for reading.
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