A while back, when I first decided to start looking for ways to reduce my pack weight, one of the first places I figured I could cut weight was my sleeping pad. When I looked at my Big Agnes Air-core pad, I was sad to see that it weighed a staggering 27 ounces. It was like carrying a brick. A big, comfortable, intoxicatingly wonderful brick. So, I decided to seriously downsize to a closed cell foam pad.
The Ridgerest SOLite is one of the most popular foam sleeping pads in the history of the whole entire universe. Well, maybe. I hear it’s pretty popular, though.
Big S. Big O. Big L. I hope that SOL doesn’t mean what I think it does.
The Ridgerest SOLite weighs in at 14.4 ounces. That’s quite a weight reduction for me. Hard to believe I cut close to a pound off my pack weight just by changing out my sleeping pad.
One thing I noticed right away is how bulky it is. I don’t usually strap things to the outside of my pack, so I was concerned about durability. I’ve read that this pad is nearly indestructible. I don’t know about that, but it didn’t rip or tear when I walked through thick brush and briars. You can cut down the size a bit to save bulk and weight, which is what I may do.
I chose the Regular size, which is 20 inches wide by 72 inches long. Same size as my BA pad.
I’m about 5 ft 9, and I had a couple extra inches that I could trim off.
The thickness of this pad is 5/8 of an inch (0.625 inches). The Aircore was a hefty 3 1/4″ thick. Quite a difference. I was concerned that I would be miserable going from such thickness to such thin…ness.
Better make sure there aren’t any rocks or sticks underneath this pad when you lie on it, or you’re gonna feel every one of them. Because it’s so thin, side sleepers will probably have a bad time on this. Very little support for your hips. This pad is best for those that sleep on their backs, like me. That’s the only way I could get comfortable on it. I have back pain from time to time, so I have to be picky about what I sleep on. Strangely, I didn’t find myself waking up a lot through the night, trying to get comfortable, which was nice. I’d give this maybe a 5 out of 10 on comfort.
One side of the pad is aluminized. Somehow the sleeping pad scientists at Thermarest managed to add a thin sheet of reflective material to this pad without adding weight. This causes your body heat to be reflected back at you. Also, those little valleys are there to trap warm air, helping you to stay even warmer. The pad has an R-value of 2.8. Pretty decent.
You can just throw this pad down flat and it’s all set up and ready to use. One thing I won’t miss about my Big Agnes pad is all the work it takes to blow it up. A quick set up is nice when you’re tired and just want to sleep.
So here’s the Good, Bad and Ugly about the SOLite:
The Good: It’s very lightweight, durable and you can cut the size down to suit. It’s inexpensive and warm.
The Bad: it’s bulky. It’s not terribly uncomfortable, but if you have back problems, you may want to find yourself something softer.
The Ugly: The pad is thin, which makes it very uncomfortable to sleep on your side. If you’re a back sleeper, you’ll have better luck.
I’m gonna miss the thickness of my Big Agnes pad, but I’m saving nearly 13 ounces and I can still get a decent amount of sleep with the Ridgerest SOLite.
(Update: I originally did this review several months ago, for the TGG blog. Since that time, I’ve upgraded my sleeping pad from the RidgeRest SOLite to a Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite inflatable pad. A wise, wise move. Not only do I get a more comfortable night’s sleep (especially on my side), but I actually saved an ounce or so . I cut my Ridgerest down to a 3/4 length pad and used the smaller section as a seat cushion. I stuck it into the pad holder area in my G4 pack to help give it a little shape, too. I may end up using it again in warmer weather as a torso pad, just to see how it feels, but now that I’ve seen how great an Xlite can be, I don’t anticipate going back to a foam pad)