Why A Thermarest Is The Best Sleeping Pad For Bike Touring

Could The Thermarest NeoAir Be The Best Sleeping Pad For Bikepacking and Cycle Touring?

Is the Thermarest NeoAir the best sleeping pad for bike touring? In this article, I review a selection of camping mats from my years of bicycle touring around the world.

A Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad has accompanied me on my bike trips around the world for over a decade. From the eggshell comforts of the original Z Lite to the compact design of the Pro Lite, Therm-A-Rest Sleeping Pads have consistently helped me sleep well around the world.

In this blog post, we’ll explore what makes a good night’s sleep during a long-distance bike trip. I’ll also share the worst camping mats I’ve used to offer a comparison of the best sleeping pads for bike touring on the market.

Sleeping Pads I’ll Review:

  • Pro Lite
  • NeoAir
  • Z Lite
  • Alpkit Numo
  • Cardboard Salvaged From The Supermarket
  • Trekker Chair (How To Make Enemies and Alienate Cycle Tourers)
naughty boys camping in an albanian school
Naughty boys camping in an Albanian school. The best sleeping pad for bike touring is sometimes a classroom floor

What Is The Best Sleeping Pad For Bike Touring?

When it comes to bike touring, every ounce matters. That’s why having a lightweight and compact camping mat is essential for any adventure on two wheels.

A Thermarest camping mat excels in this department, making it the perfect choice for bike touring.

The Pro Lite has been my sleeping pad for bike touring for over a decade!

The Benefits of a Thermarest Camping Mat

When it comes to camping mats, Thermarest dominates the sleeping pad industry. The Pro Lite in particular is a remarkable piece of kit.

Any of the Therm-A-Rest camping pads offer an array of benefits that will elevate your bike touring bedtime experience.

A Thermarest doesn’t compromise on comfort or support. Its innovative design features advanced foam technology that conforms to your body shape. Thus ensuring you get a good night’s sleep after those long days on the saddle.

Another major advantage of the Thermarest camping mat is its insulation capabilities.

What Makes A Thermarest Worth The Money

Designed to withstand all weather conditions. The Pro Lite sleeping mat provides exceptional warmth during chilly nights and prevents heat loss from below – keeping you cosy no matter where you choose to pitch your tent.

Last but certainly not least, durability plays a crucial role in any camping gear investment. I’ve had mine for over a decade.

With its rugged construction and high-quality materials, the Thermarest camping mat can withstand years of use without losing its integrity or cushioning properties.

In essence, choosing a Thermarest camping mat for bike touring means investing in ultimate comfort. With superior insulation, lightweight portability, and long-lasting durability.

Thermarest scores top for long-term bike trips on all metrics

The NeoAir XLite NXT: An Ultralight Sleeping Pad For Bikepacking

  • Improved Comfort: With advanced construction, the NeoAir XLite NXT ensures enhanced warmth and comfort, making it the top choice for year-round backcountry adventures.
  • Quiet Rest: Experience tranquillity with an 83% reduction in noise compared to the previous model, thanks to innovative internal construction.
  • Boosted Comfort: A plush 7.6 cm (3-inch) thickness provides superior backcountry comfort, allowing for personalized firmness adjustments.
  • Year-Round Warmth: Equipped with ThermaCapture™ technology and Triangular Core Matrix™ construction, the XLite NXT retains body heat, offering a 4.5 R-value suitable for all seasons.
  • High-Performing & Ultra-Packable: Industry-leading design and premium materials make the XLite NXT incredibly packable, shrinking down to the size of a 1L water bottle.
  • WingLock™ Valve: Enjoy swift one-way inflation and deflation, plus easy air purging for micro-adjustments while lounging.
  • Inclusive Size Options: With 4 size choices, find the XLite NXT that perfectly complements your sleep system.
  • Complete Package: Your purchase includes a pump sack, stuff sack, and a field repair kit for added convenience.

Craft better nights under the stars with the NeoAir XLite NXT – your go-to ultralight sleeping pad for bikepacking. An unparalleled comfort and versatility.

As the lightest and most compact sleeping pad, the NeoAir lends itself most readily to bikepacking adventures where space and weight are key factors.

airing out the Neutrino 200 down sleeping bag in Greece
Combined with the Trekker Chair the best sleeping pad for bike touring is a Thermarest Pro Lite

Therm-a-Rest ProLite: The Original Self-Inflating Camping Mattress

  • Lightweight Wonder: Be amazed by the lightest self-inflating mattress ever, perfect for your cycle touring and bikepacking adventures.
  • Efficient Warmth: Experience cosy nights with diagonally-cut foam channels that reduce bulk and keep you warm – a 2.4 R-value for three-season explorations.
  • Highly Packable: Travel light with ultralight foam and a tapered shape, making the ProLite incredibly pack-friendly for your on-the-go lifestyle.
  • Self-Inflating Magic: Watch the foam core expand on its own; give it a few breaths for that personalized firmness touch.
  • WingLock™ Valve: High-performance valve ensures rapid inflation and deflation – three times faster than the classic valve. Toggle the wings for one-way inflation and save your breath.
  • Sustainable Quality: Crafted in-market, the ProLite is not just about performance; it’s about quality and a minimal environmental footprint.
  • Ready to Go: Every purchase includes a compact stuff sack for your convenience.

Experience the next level of comfort and convenience with the Therm-a-Rest ProLite. This sleeping pad has to be my top pick for bicycle touring.

After 10 years of bike travel, my Pro Lite is still a great nights sleep

The Original Z Lite: An Iconic Bicycle Touring Camping Pad

  • Ultra-Durable Wonder: Built to last, the Z Lite is virtually indestructible with its proprietary closed-cell foam, offering comfort that stands the test of time.
  • Compact Marvel: The folding design makes packing a breeze – light on weight, and heavy on convenience.
  • Layer Power: Boost your insulation (1.7 R-Value) and guard against punctures by layering the Z Lite under another sleeping pad.
  • Endless Possibilities: Unfold it for a cosy sleep, fold it into a handy seat, or wield it as a mosquito swatter – the Z Lite is your all-in-one adventure tool!
  • Trail Favorite: Spot the Z Lite on many bicycle touring set-ups; its legendary versatility makes it a trail essential.

Discover unparalleled durability and versatility with the Original Z Lite. It’s spacious, comfy and reliable. The holy grail of bike travel bedding systems.

A Z Lite is the perfect ruggedised sleeping mat for cycle touring escapades!

Camping in Holland on the first noght of our charity bike ride
The Alpkit Numo rests easy in the Hilleberg long before it fails spectacularly

Alpkit Numo Sleeping Mat Review

  • Comfort First: Seeking a lighter backpack without compromising comfort, I opted for the Alpkit Numo Sleeping Mat – their lightest full-sized mat.
  • Tested in Europe: Used it on a multi-month trip and found it comfortable, if perhaps the narrowest camping mat I’ve ever had.
  • Smart Design: The mat’s baffle material enhances insulation from the ground, though I tested it on frozen ground – it was freezing. I needed a yoga mat beneath it to provide extra insulation.
  • Lighter and Compact: Packs smaller than my old self-inflating mat, saving space and weighing only half as much. No stuff sack or repair kit is needed.
  • Weight Matters: A conscious decision not to carry extra weight; skipped the stuff sack and repair kit, relying on a patch kit in my camping pouch.
  • Perfect Fit: Fits well in my Hilleberg tent, but a little short for my height (187cm). Be careful not to overinflate for added comfort.

In a quest for a lighter bikepacking experience, the Alpkit Numo had its comforts but fell short in durability. Mine punctured multiple times and eventually, I reverted to cardboard.

I ran out of patches and patience

Not recommended. Check out a short review of the Numo.

Alpkit discontinued the Numo in 2015. Browse the improved and highly recommended Alpkit sleeping pads.

cardboard camping mat
A cardboard camping mat inspired by Andrew the Clown at Spa Cycles

Cardboard Camping Mat for Bike Touring

When I collected my new Dawes Galaxy Touring Bike from Spa Cycles, I learned one of the most insightful bicycle touring tips I’ve ever heard.

During a conversation about the bike and bicycle turning more generally, part-time clown, full-time bike mechanic Andrew, made a staggering suggestion. A budget-friendly camp mat solution if ever there were one—cardboard!

  • Scavenging for Cardboard: Salvage sturdy cardboard from a supermarket; it’s surprisingly comfortable and won’t break the bank.
  • Simple Setup: Unfold and arrange the cardboard under your sleeping bag for a makeshift sleeping pad.
  • Budget-Friendly Comfort: An economical alternative for bike touring, providing some insulation from the ground.
  • Andrew’s Tip: Just like Andrew, the part-time clown and long-time bike mechanic, embraces the joy of simple solutions. Give it a try on your next tour!

In the end, after the Alpkit Numo failed so early on in the charity bike ride, I was using cardboard most nights as a sleeping pad. It worked well enough although this wouldn’t really do for longer tours in more remote places.

sleeping outside requires no special equipment
The Trekker Chair by Thermarest is a luxury I choose every time

Trekker Chair: How To Make Enemies and Alienate Cycle Tourers

During my Hippie Trail by Bike solo bicycle tour, I made friends with a group of cyclists known as ‘Women on Wheels’. We travelled together briefly through Central Asia.

One evening, we made camp next to the Panj River, the natural border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Ade and I assembled our Trekker Chairs and all hell broke loose.

Daggers were stared in our direction from all corners of the camp. “You’ve done this before, haven’t you?”, came the accusing snarl. We had. Many times.

Things only got worse when we fired up our MSR WhisperLite to prepare our army ration packs while the others made do with biscuits and boiled rice.

The Thermarest Trekker Chair:

  • Light as a Feather: Weighing only 10 oz (290 g), our Trekker Chair adds comfort without the extra load.
  • Compact and Convenient: Packs small, easy to set up, and your perfect companion for outdoor relaxation.
  • Ultralight Luxury: Experience the joy of a comfy chair on your adventures; you might just make it a travel essential.
  • Versatile Fit: Elastic edges fit most NeoAir® and self-inflating pads, ensuring a snug and comfy seat every time.

The Trekker Chair works with most models of the Thermarest sleeping pads except the Z Lite series. It’s a luxury I wouldn’t be without on any camping trip or bicycle tour.

sleeping outside in a wild camp in Greece
Choose a Thermarest sleeping pad for comfort and durability

Choose a Thermarest: The Best Sleeping Pad For Bike Touring

When it comes to choosing a sleeping pad for bike touring adventures, a Thermarest Pro Lite stands out as the best option.

Its lightweight and compact design make it easy to carry on your bike without weighing you down. With superior comfort and support, you can rest assured that you’ll get a good night’s sleep after a long day of riding.

The insulation provided by a Thermarest ensures that you stay warm in all weather conditions. Making it suitable for year-round camping trips. And with its durability, you can rely on this camping mat for many tours to come.

Inflation and deflation are effortless with the Thermarest, allowing you to set up camp quickly and easily. Plus, its versatility makes it perfect not just for bike touring but also for other outdoor activities like hiking or backpacking.

Choose the NeoAir for bikepacking, since it’s so light and compact. The Pro Lite and Z Lite sleeping mats are well suited to old-school bicycle touring where the luggage rack offers space to stow the larger camping mat.

The Only Therm-A-Rest Sleeping Pad I Love To Sleep With

So if you’re planning a bike tour and looking for the ideal camping mat, look no further than the Thermarest. The Pro Lite offers unbeatable benefits for long-distance bicycle touring.

It’s lightweight and highly portable for carriage. Provides exceptional comfort and support while sleeping. It’s insulated for any weather condition. And has long-lasting durability which means it can survive even hard-wearing expeditions.

You can’t put a price on a good nights sleep

Investing in a high-quality sleeping pad for bike touring like the Thermarest will make your bike trips better.