Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest: A Head to Head Comparison

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Camping life is all about adapting to the situation. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to sleep with sticks and rocks digging into your back!

To enjoy a comfortable sleep, you need a camping mattress, which is portable, lightweight, and relatively more comfortable than sleeping bags.

When it comes to camping mattresses, Thermarest is easily one of the most successful brands on the market with multiple popular models, such as the Z Lite and the RidgeRest. So, which Thermarest model is ideal for a good night’s sleep?

In this guide, we’ll compare Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest in terms of all the essential features that you need to keep in mind while buying a camping mattress. This should help you figure out the ideal one for your needs.

Thermarest Z Lite vs RidgeRest Overview

The Thermarest Z Lite and Thermarest RidgeRest use similar materials in construction. However, the RidgeRest is more affordable and works better when camping in cold winter. Alternatively, the Z Lite is a lightweight and more compact option when folded, which makes it a better choice for milder climates.

ImageProductDetails  Price
Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Thermarest Z LiteBetter for Milder ClimatesCheck Price
Thermarest RidgeRest Thermarest RidgeRestMore Affordable & Better for Cold WeatherCheck Price

The Full Comparison

While buying a camping mattress, there are some key points that you need to keep in mind to make the most out of your investment.

In this section, we’ll have an in-depth look at these points in both the Z Lite and RidgeRest models, so you can choose the one that fits your needs:

Materials and Durability

The materials used in any camping mattress is extremely important because it has a direct impact on the sturdiness of the product as well as comfort and value for money.

When it comes to the materials in both the Thermarest Z Lite and the Thermarest RidgeRest, both of them are made from the same stuff.

The mattresses are made from a molded closed cell pad with cross linked polyethylene as well as an outer polyethylene cover that resists moisture and wicks off rainwater.

Overall Weight

While camping, you should always keep your gear at a minimum weight so that it’s light enough to fit your backpack or vehicle without taking up a large space. Luckily, both Thermarest camping mattresses are noticeably lightweight and can pull this one off.

However, the Thermarest RidgeRest is specifically designed so that it’s lighter than most options on the market, weighing as little as 0.85 lbs. The Thermarest Z Lite, however, weighs 1.1 lbs, so it’s still light enough for most packers.

Size and Compactness

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Original Ultralight Foam Camping Pad, Model Number: 040818023020

The RidgeRest and the Z Lite both come in similar sizes, and they both could’ve been much more suitable mattresses for everyone if they were a bit wider and longer.

The RidgeRest is available in 3 sizes, which are small (48 inches long and 20 inches wide), regular (72 inches long and 20 inches wide), and large (75 inches long and 25 inches wide).

This gives it a better size variety than the Z Lite, which is available in a single-size option (72 inches long and about 20 inches wide).

Additionally, when it’s time to store the mattress, the RidgeRest rolls up into a cylinder. On the other hand, the Thermarest Z Lite is folded up into a rectangular box, which is significantly more compact and space efficient than the RidgeRest.

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Insulation and R-Value

The R-value is a term that describes the ability of a mattress to retain warmth and resist the flow of heat through its layers.

Ideally, a camping mattress with a higher R-value means that it will be able to withstand a harsher winter and keep you warm at night.

If we look at both the Thermarest Z Lite and the RidgeRest, we’ll notice that they have different R-values, so they’re generally suitable for different situations.

The RidgeRest also uses advanced ThermaCapture technology to boost the mattresses’ heat retention without making it too uncomfortable or bumpy.

On one side, the Thermarest Z Lite has an R-value of 1.7. This makes it ideal for resisting the cold in temperatures that are as low as 40 °F or 4.4 °C.

On the flip side, the Thermarest Ridegrest has an R-value of 2.8. Such an R-value makes it more suitable for cold seasons and spots where temperatures fall dramatically during the night, as the mattress is capable of keeping you warm up to 25 °F or -3.8 °C.

Price and Warranty

Not only does the RidgeRest have a higher R-value, but it’s also less expensive than the Thermarest Z Lite.

This means that the RidgeRest is an overall excellent option for those who are on a budget and looking for a camping mattress that is slightly more affordable, especially if they like to camp in spots where it gets super cold at night.


How Long Do Camping Mattresses Last?

The answer to this question depends on a variety of aspects, such as the quality of the materials used, where you use them, and how frequently you sleep on the mattress.

Ideally, a quality single-cell padded mattress like the Thermarest Z Lite or the RidgeRest can last you anywhere between 10 to 15 years, especially when used with a camping cot because it decreases the contact between the mattress and the rough ground.

Are Camping Mattresses Reliable for Camping?

Camping mattresses offer more comfort and warmth than camping cots. Additionally, they’re lighter in weight and take much less time to assemble.

Yet, camping cots are more durable and can also be lightweight and easy to pack. So, while camping mattresses are reliable camping gear, the choice between them and cots is usually down to the user’s personal preferences.

Final Thoughts

With that said, you now have a complete guide that walks you through all the similarities and the difference between the Thermarest Z Lite and the Thermarest RidgeRest.

Based on the information in this article, we can safely assume that both camping mattresses are excellent choices. However, the RidgeRest is much more suitable for colder climates while the Z Lite is ideal for moderately cold spots.