Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest 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 foam pads you can buy. The RidgeRest SOLite is basically a classic RidgeRest sleeping pad, with a silver heat reflective coating painted on top. The reflective coating increases the R-value of the old RidgeRest from 3.1 to 3.5, a fairly significant difference, given that there is no corresponding increase in the weight of the SOLite 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.
I’ve tested the SOLite recently and the effect of the 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 SOLite, 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.
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. See Sleeping Pad R-Values.
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.
Disclosure: Therm-a-rest provided sectionhiker.com with a Ridge Rest Solar sleeping pad for this review.
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