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Therm-a-rest Ridge Rest Solar Sleeping Pad

RidgeRest Solar Sleeping Pad

Ridge Rest closed cell sleeping pads have been around for a long time and are a favorite with many hikers. They’re also one of the least expensive, highest value pads you can buy.

The Solar replaced the Ridge Rest Deluxe (old stock is still available from some retailers) and is just a Deluxe with a new heat reflective coating painted on top. The reflective coating increases the R-value of the old Deluxe from 3.1 to 3.5, a fairly significant difference, given that there is no corresponding increase in the weight of the Solar pad.

Therm-a-rest manufactures a number of different models including the Ridge Rest Solar (Regular and Long) and the Ridge Rest (Small, Regular, and Long). The Ridge Rest Solar is slightly thicker than the regular Ridge Rest, so it is a bit more comfortable for side sleepers, but both pads are far less comfortable than inflatable air mattresses or self-inflating pads, unless you like sleeping on a very firm mat.

ModelR-ValueWeight (oz)ThicknessLengthWidthRegular USD
NeoAir2.59,13,14,192.5"47",56",72",77"20",20",20",25"149.95
Ridgerest2.69,14,190.625"48",72",77"20",20",25"24.95
RidgeRest Deluxe3.119,260.75"72",77"20",25"29.95
Ridge Rest Solar3.519,260.75"72",77"20",25"39.95

I tested the Solar recently and the effect of the new heat reflective coating is quite remarkable because you can feel your body heat radiating back toward you. It’s also a fairly comfortable, 3/4″ thick pad, with two layers of bonded insulation, but can be a bit hard if you’re a side sleeper.

Weight and Size Variability

In testing the Ridge Rest Solar, I was surprised to find that my regular-sized pad weighed only 15.9 oz instead of the 19 oz quoted by Therm-a-rest. Further investigation also showed that the pad was shorter by a few inches and narrower than cited by the manufacturing specs.

RidgeRest Solar Product Review

This surprised me, but it has also been noticed by others with other models of Ridge Rests, and I can only surmise that it is due to manufacturing variability. Still, the weight difference is rather significant for hikers who want to go lightweight and I think Therm-a-rest is doing themselves a disservice by listing the weight of these pads as heavier than they are.

If weight is important to you, take your digital scale to the store and find the lightest pad in the bin!

Winter Camping with a Ridge Rest Solar

The only problem with the Solar in my mind is that it only comes in a size regular and long, and is simply too bulky to carry: Therm-a-rest uses this pad to target car campers who can afford to carry a bulky pad and want a sinfully comfortable camping experience.

Personally, I’d like to see this pad in a size small, or segmented accordian style like a Therm-a-rest z-lite so that it can be used for winter camping. Seriously, with an R-Value of 3.5, a shorter model of the Solar becomes an attractive component for a 2 pad winter sleep system.

Winter Camping with the RidgeRest Solar

Taking matters into my own hands, I took a regular sized Ridge Rest Solar and cut it down to a torso length of 30″ for use in a 2 pad winter system with a Therm-a-rest NeoAir. The combined system only weighs 23 oz and has an R-value of 6, weighing 4 oz less than my existing Exped DownMat 7, with a 0.1 increase in R-value.

I think this new system will work nicely, but I’ll be testing it soon enough, and will report back on it’s performance then. Snow is just around the corner.

The following online retailers sell this product:


Disclosure: Therm-a-rest provided sectionhiker.com with a free Ridge Rest Solar sleeping pad for this review.

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12 comments

  1. I presume the R Value of 6 will only be for the 30" of your torso covered by your modded solar ridgerest…any plans for boosting the r-value for your legs?

  2. As soon as the Solar lands here in Norway I will be picking one up for myself and setting about it with a pair of scissors too Phil. In a cut down format it will make a great component of a two mat system.

  3. I need less padding for my legs for the same reason that people can get by with regular torso pads during the rest of the year. If needed, I can stuff my down coat and insulated pants below my legs in the sleeping bag if the NeoAir is not enough. Good question.

  4. I just lean against a tree in my down jacket and my arm is quickly cooled, compressed down isn't worth much, but anything goes when you're too cold to sleep.

    I thought R value was for conductivity and I question if it can be honestly increased with silver paint, which is for radiant heat.

  5. Wikipedia knows all: "Radiation is also minimized by low emissivity (highly reflective) surfaces." See bottom of the article.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_%28insulatio

  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_%28insulatio

    Too much info, but:

    "claims for radiant barrier insulation are justifiable at high temperatures such as minimizing summer heat transfer, but are not in traditional winter keeping warm conditions."

    and

    "The limitations of R-values in evaluating radiant barriers"…

    "The tests and procedures to evaluate bulk insulators are not applicable to radiant barriers."

    Still doesn't make sense to put a reflective coating on a pad and boost it's R value

  7. I would think that the combined R-value for the two layers is actually a bit higher than 6 given the layer of air between. I wonder what the R-value would be for a Z-lite or a Ridge Rest with a layer of Reflectix thrown in. Hmmm…

  8. Did you get a chance to try out this system? I'm sorely tempted to chop up my solar in the manner you've done (I'd like to score a sit pad out of the deal). I'm also planning on picking up a neoair with my REI rebate this March.

    I'm somewhat concerned that the neoair will not "deaden" the air enough, thus leading the R value to not stack up in quite the nice way the math would suggest. Thoughts?

  9. My thinking on winter pads has gone full circle this year. I've decided to punt on inflatable pads altogether. They're simply not reliable enough in winter. I never did use the Neoair/solar combo, and I haven't yet completely decided which two pads I will be using in the future, but I'll probably combine a full length pad with a torso pad with a combined R value of 5 to 6. Pads under consideration include RR Solar, RR SOlite (new R-2.8), Z-lite, and Gossamer Gear Nightlite. The Neoair is fine for 3 season camping however, although I'll probably go for a foam pad again this year as well.

  10. What type of inflatable failures are you worried about?

    Snow covered ground make me more confident but the valve plastic on my exped-9 stiffens and I have to pull so hard I worry about the jerk when it finally opens tearing the joint to the fabric.

    But boy that baby is warm.

  11. Same as you – it's the valves, when they freeze up or open as the case may be. Do you know if the new exped with the built in pump has a valve, or is it valve-less?

  12. Not sure just what valveless is but it has inflate and deflate valves with that hinged plug type cap (which hardens with cold) and an internal check valve downstream of the pump that you can find and squeeze through the fabric to reinflate the pump area after you close the intake valve (which flattens the pump area).

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