Name: Fuzzy Monkey (David)
Date of Review: January 15, 2012
Photo Album – Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM
BACKGROUND: I’ve successfully thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. I also have numerous other backpacking trips under my belt. The weather conditions I’ve dealt with range from the desert heat to the snow-packed mountains of the Sierra’s. I’ve dealt with thunderstorms, hail, extreme winds and most conditions in-between. A Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM is one piece of gear I consistently rely on and the reason for this review.
DISCLAIMER: Readers should know there has been some time between when I initial purchased this item and the time I’m actually performing this review. Whenever I talk about my AT or PCT hikes, people always end up asking me what type of gear I took with me. This review is to answer part of that question and to further expand how it worked for me. I still own and use this sleeping pad.
Manufacturer: Therm-a-Rest (Cascade Designs Inc.)
Product Information: Therm-a-Rest Prolite series 3 season inflatable sleeping pad.
REVIEW: The Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM is listed as a 3 season ¾ length sleeping pad. This particular sleeping pad is orange in color on the “top” side of the pad. The bottom is a sliver/grey color. The corners are a nice rounded shape with one corner containing the plastic inflatable valve.
I’ve used this sleeping pad for several hikes. The first time I used it was in 2007 on the Appalachian Trail. In addition, I also used this same pad for my 2010 Pacific Crest Trail hike and my 2011 West Coast Trail Hike. My Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM has served me well hundreds of nights backpacking. The weather conditions have also varied from hot summer nights to nights on snow packed mountains and the extreme wetness of the West Coast Trail. As I become a more mature backpacker, I place a higher value on my sleeping gear, than I have in the past.
When I utilized the shelters on the Appalachian Trail, I rolled out my Therm-a-Rest along with my sleeping bag on the floor of the shelter and this particular Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM worked well.
In 2010 when I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail I started off with a rolled up Ridge Rest foam sleeping pad. I almost immediately switched out to my Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM as it is much more comfortable.
Other times I’ve used this sleeping pad are in tent situations. I have several tents, but my Therm-a-Rest has been used most often with my MSR Hubba stand alone. A sleeping pad in addition with your shelter are all important factors when attempting to shield the cold ground from your body. I highly recommend using an inflatable sleeping pad.
Some things I’ve notice over the years of using mine is the bulkiness of the pad. Even though you try to deflate and roll it up, there still seems to be air inside, making it difficult to store in various size backpacks. Since I’ve used this pad for thru-hikes as well as multi-day hikes, the backpack I carry varies from smaller day packs to larger multi-day backpacks. When I’m using a smaller day pack this sleeping pad takes up much-needed space when placed inside the pack. Yes, I know strapping it on the exterior of the pack is an option, but I also like having all my gear inside the pack to shield it from the elements.
Another minor thing to consider is the hard plastic inflatable valve. It never seems to fail, but I end up rolling over with some part of my body laying on the value, forcing me adjust. Not a big deal but adjusting when you’re already in your mummy sleeping bag and sore from hiking all day. Well you get the picture. This one drawback should not deter any reader from the overall functionally of the pad. I just felt it needed to be mentioned.
One feature I’ve also noticed that I really like is the rounded corners of the pad. After using several different sleeping pads that have pointy corners, I’ve noticed how nice it is to have a pad with rounded corners. When looking at pads this may not be one feature you think about, but it is really nice. The reason is because if you slide your pad into your sleeping bag, it’s much easier to get in and out of the bag if the corners are rounded. As opposed to sleeping pads with pointy corners, these pads get caught on the sleeping bag when you side them in and out of the bag. Rounded corners are also noticeable when sleeping in the small confines of a single walled tent. Pads with rounded corners are less likely to poke the sides of your tent. Once again this is not a big deal but just something I noticed and wanted to mention.
CONCLUSION: Overall the Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 SM is an excellent piece of equipment and worked well for my thru-hikes and multi-day backpacking adventures. I recommend adding any type of inflatable sleeping pad to your sleep system for warmth and comfort.
Fuzzy Monkey Likes:
- Rounded Corners (Funny I know but its the small details I notice)
Fuzzy Monkey Dislikes:
- The hard plastic inflatable valve
- Bulky for smaller packs
Fuzzy Monkey Approved: YES