Therm-a-Rest has some big news to share! And rather than announcing it at the annual Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City (where you can only talk, touch, and feel) they decided to unveil it in a true outdoor setting. Thus “Camp Therm-a-Rest” was born.
There is no better way to experience new outdoor products than in the environment they were designed to perform in. And what better environment than the San Juan Islands off the coast of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest?
After a quick tour of the Cascade Designs HQ (to see first hand how Therm-a-Rest manufactures and packs all that magic into their sleeping mats) we were flown by sea plane to Orcas Island. Myself and several other writers, Therm-a-Rest employees, and staff from Hayter PR, took over the awe-inspiring eastern point of Doe Bay Resort for three days of gear testing.
At Camp Therm-a-Rest we experienced real camp life outfitted with Therm-a-Rest furniture, sleeping bags, sleeping pads and their newly released Tranquility Tents. The Tranquility series of tents were the main focus of the event. However, it was the perfect integration of Therm-a-Rest products that made this camp so glamp!
Therm-a-Rest currently has over 29 mattress variations in their lineup, and this doesn’t include the various sizes and options available for each mattress. Therm-a-Rest (part of Cascade Designs) invented the sleeping pad in 1972. The brand has since become a touchstone when discussing the quality of any given sleeping pad. They continue to be truly innovative in their sleeping mat design. Their closed cell foam mattresses are a staple for any backpacker looking for value and support, while their self-inflating, open cell foam mats provide more insulation and a superior level of comfort.
Air mattress technology has recently evolved to equal the comfort level of open cell foam mats, making “R-value” or insulation level less of a determining factor when it comes to comfort. Therm-a-Rest has blurred the line between foam and air by developing the Trail King SV; a combination of a foam airframe inside an air mattress, offering the best of both worlds. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir line of air mats have R-values as high as 5.7, and weights as low as 340g. Carrying an air mattress in lieu of a foam one substantially reduces overall weight and pack size.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season SV mattress
While at Camp Therm-a-Rest I opted for the NeoAir All Season SV, one of the newly redesigned mats that incorporates their innovative ’SpeedValve’ design. The SpeedValve uses the Bernoulli Principle to significantly increase the amount of air volume your breath can force into the mat. With as few as seven breaths the mat will be completely inflated. After your sleep, simply open the SpeedValve and the NeoAir All Season instantly deflates. There’s also a smaller, secondary valve that allows you to micro-adjust the air pressure inside the mat to your specific needs. The NeoAir All Season SV comes in regular, regular wide, and long. Each offers a 4.9 R-value, so this mat is ideal for four season use. Since I am 6’1” I opted for the regular sized mat, which is 20×72” (51x183cm) and weighs in at just 1lb 7oz or 650g. Having spent a few nights on the NeoAir All Season SV I can attest to its incredible comfort. The horizontal baffle design makes this the most comfortable sleeping mat I have ever slept on.
Therm-a-Rest Questar HD Sleeping Bag
The perfect companion to the NeoAir All Season SV mattress is the new three season Questar HD Sleeping Bag. The Questar has removable ‘SynergyLink’ mattress straps which keeps it attached to your mattress, eliminating any chance that it will get twisted as you reposition throughout the night.
The 650 fill, Nikwax hydrophobic down provides a comfort rating of 0°C (32ºF), thanks in part to the ThermaCapture Seams being so great at retaining heat. More down is placed on the top of the bag where you need it most, and less on the bottom (where you don’t). This zoned construction keeps weight to a minimum without sacrificing warmth. Perhaps the best feature of the Questar is what Therm-a-Rest calls ‘Toe-asis’: an inner pocket for your feet that keeps toes warm on even the coldest of nights. The Questar also features an external zippered pocket, ideally sized for a headlamp and some earplugs.
While the Questar HD isn’t the lightest or most compact sleeping bag on the market, it is definitely one of the most comfortable. I found it to be the right blend of insulation, soft plush fabrics, and well thought out design. Having spent three nights in it at Camp Therm-a-Rest in milder coastal temperatures, I wanted to test its endurance for traditional mountain conditions as well. A three night, 60km hike along the Rock Wall trail in Kootenay National Park provided the close-to-freezing conditions that I was looking for. As expected, the Questar excelled.
The Therm-a-Rest Questar HD Sleeping Bag comes in three sizes: small – 2lb / 921g, regular – 2lb 5oz / 1038, and long – 2lb 7oz. I’m 6’1”, and tested the regular size which provided ample room for my average 175lb frame. The Questar comes complete with a stuff sack (not compression) and storage sack as well.
The Toe-asis feature alone is enough to make this bag a personal favorite. This, plus the SynergyLink straps to keep your bag secured to your mat, makes for sweet camping dreams indeed. This bag will be at the forefront of my sleeping bag quiver for years to come.
Therm-a-Rest Tranquility Tents
Until recently, the missing piece in the Camp Therm-a-Rest puzzle was tents. Rather than designing another run-of-the-mill tent with curb appeal, Therm-a Rest was determined to address several shortcomings of currently available tents. Both the Tranquility 4 and 6 Tents had to be easy to set up, free standing, and have plenty of interior living space and convenience. *Keep in mind these are not light and fast tents but rather more of a car camp/base camp tent ideal for families and glampers.
Based on a roomy A-frame design, the Tranquility Tents have built-in vestibules that are not dependant on the fly, with each side of the vestibule providing a dry place to store your footwear prior to entering the tent. There are several exterior pockets to store wet gear, as well as items you need access to frequently. Immediately inside the tent there are even more pockets for storage – as you can never really have enough. Both the Tranquility 4 and 6 person tents have two giant mesh entry doors. The Tranquility 6’s door even has the ability to transform into an awning (poles sold separately).
The fly on both Tranquility Tents is quick and easy to install and can be removed with just one hand, quickly revealing the mesh ceiling of the tent for nightly stargazing. A pass-through port allows for use of an external solar panel to charge your electronic devices, which can be securely stored inside the tent (perhaps in the included media centre).
The Tranquility 6 Tent retails for $599.95US and has a standing height of 6’2″, so there’s plenty of room to comfortably move around inside. Should you desire privacy from your tent mates, there is an integrated zippered room divider as well. The Tranquility 4 Tent costs $479.95US, is smaller and lighter at 11lb 7oz / 5.19kg (the Tranquility 6 is 17lb 15oz / 7.85kg) and has a lower ceiling height. Both the Tranquility 4 and 6 Tents come in their own backpack for easy transport and storage.
Several other innovative products are available to make Camp Therm-a-Rest complete. To compliment their new tents and existing line of mattresses and sleeping bags, the company also offers:
• The Slacker Hammock House – a complete hammock sleep system.
• The Uno Chair – which has the ability to convert into a table.
• The three-legged Treo Chair, and the more stable four-legged Quadra Chair.
With the introduction of the new Tranquility Tents, Therm-a-Rest offers a complete camping package so you’re able to streamline your camping experience and create your very own ‘Camp Therm-a-Rest’ no matter where you go.