Thermarest Military Trail Lite self-inflating sleeping pad

Discussion in 'Functional Gear & Equipment' started by hot diggity, Apr 11, 2019.

  1. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    This is sort of a long term test, since I've slept on this pad pretty much exclusively on a carpeted concrete floor for more than six months and have been using it as the second choice to my recliner for more than five years. I've used it on really rough outdoor concrete, and it shows zero signs of wear.
    My sleeping pad of choice is the Thermarest Military Trail Lite. I got it at the PX, and although it came along as issue gear long after I retired, I think it's pretty close to what is issued to the U.S. military. ( "Green side out, brown side out!") It's far superior to the bulky rolled up foam iso-mat, and the much hated inflatable "rubber bitch" that preceded it. I'd been issued both of those, as well as having several months experience in Northern Michigan and Southern Ontario as a bicycle bum with an old GI air mattress that seemed to know the precise second I would doze off, and at that moment, be completely flat, cold, and useless as anything but a ground sheet.

    Compared to military sleeping mats of the past, the Thermarest is a wonderful piece of gear. It will self inflate to a minimal level, but i usually give it a few good breaths to fully inflate it. After I'm settled I usually find full inflation to feel a bit tippy, like the first few seconds after getting into the canoe for the first time in the Spring. :eek: I release air from the valve to achieve maximum comfort. It's a lot like a sleep number bed; adjustable to your individual comfort level.

    Length is more than enough for me at a little over six feet. Width leaves a little to be desired. In the field, a couple piles of leaves or pine straw would keep my elbows off the deck, but on concrete I whip out some extra folded trousers or shirts to give me extended arm pads to the side of the 21" wide mat. I sleep with my pack under my knees to keep my back comfortable, and have been comfortable with this arrangement since October of last year. It's the first time I've been comfortable sleeping on a flat surface in more than 20 years, and probably one of the most comfortable ways I've ever slept.

    At almost two pounds, and requiring a little patience to get packed up small, it's a bug-out luxury if you're in a hurry and traveling light. In a car, or an extended travel bag, it's well worth the weight, tough, easily washed, it floats, and is likely adaptable to lots of other field expedient tasks.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2019
    oldman11, Brokor, Motomom34 and 4 others like this.
  2. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    nice review . I had a boy that used to work for me before he joined the Corps. When he got out a few years ago , he stayed in the reserves for a few months . He was gearing up for a 2 week summer trip , and he wanted to go to a camping store to pick up some stuff . He bought one of those mattresses , I had never seen one . I told him , " Boy , you been out of the Corps for just a few months and you've already wussed up ,, WTH . " Just kiddin' with him . When he got back from his trip , I asked him how he liked that mattress , he said he loved it . Thought about getting me one for the few times I hit the trail.
  3. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    I was issued the rubber lady mattress - worthless in the cold.

    I scrounged up some packing material - white closed cell foam stuff. Cut it about 27 in wide. Rolled up about the same as the rubber mat. I did pick up one of the old military folding Thermaest pads from the local surplus outlet. They don't leak and won't freeze up in the cold.
  4. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    @hot diggity what is the length of the pad. We are looking for something for car camping. Currently we have a memory foam piece that we cut but it is really bulky and take up so much space. This pad may work.
  5. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I looked on Amazon for one but couldn't find it. The closest I could find was the 'Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Regular' for $40. Actually, I have used these in the past also and can highly recommend them. I wouldn't even think of buying anything else. I wonder if they still make the military version because if Amazon doesn't have it then normally it doesn't exist...
  6. hot diggity

    hot diggity Monkey+++ Site Supporter+++

    Spec sheet says it's 72" long, but unless I've shrunk some it's a bit longer than that. My head and feet never fall over either end.

    How about this for a search?
    Motomom34 likes this.
  7. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    These are definitely one item you will be happy to have.
    I've got a British/Aussie military version. Awesome.
  8. SB21

    SB21 Monkey+++

    I stopped by a Gander Mountain store today and happened to look at one of those bed rolls . Man , that thing sure did feel cushy , I will be picking one of these things up .
  9. 3M-TA3

    3M-TA3 Cold Wet Monkey

    eBay has them for about $40. These are similar to the original Thermarest pads that cost about twice that. The foam does eventually break down so it won't self inflate, but that took several years. Make sure you get a repair kit. I accidentally dropped a broad head on mine once...

    To get them small quickly I would first roll mine up as tight as I could without a lot of effort, then suck the remaining air out. I made a simple sleeve out of some nylon fabric that I would put it in and then open the valve and let it expand. That way I didn't need straps to keep it rolled up.
    SB21 likes this.
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