The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4: You'll Want to Carry It
Posted on: August 27, 2007
Weight: 1 pound, 8 ounces or 680 grams (regular length)
I used the cushy Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4 this summer in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, where I was guiding Gannett Peak for Jackson Hole Mountain Guides. I cannot say that this was my first Therm-a-Rest experience; I have owned many over the years. But the Prolite 4, the four-season model in Therm-a-Rest's Fast and Light Series, is truly a step above. It elegantly blends weight savings with packability and, most importantly, comfort.
It is so irresistible that most of my guiding colleagues are using them on trips, from Denali to the unseasonably warm Wind Rivers this June.
I did not need the extra half-inch of padding for warmth, but I slept as soundly as if I had fallen asleep on the clouds, a mile above my tent. Those great nights of sleep helped ease me into a busy guiding season.
The best part was that when my partner's crampon punched a hole in his Prolite 4. I was able to "come to the rescue" with my patch kit. I repaired his in five minutes, successfully evading the grumpy, sleepless partner program where I wake up to light the stove every morning. Therm-a-Rests have that inherent problem: they pop. The repair kit works well, and you can patch the problem in mere minutes once you discover the hole, but finding the breach is the hard part. My trick is to blow it up, soak it, fold it, kneel on it, then listen for the whistling hole. And the best idea is to avoid packing it next to newly sharpened crampons!
The Prolite 4 is perfect for anyone trying to save weight and space without sacrificing comfort. It will be ideal for my next Alaskan adventure. This might not be the pad for you if you sleep in your truck every night—just get a four-inch-thick piece of foam—but if you have to carry it, this is the one you'll want.
Pros: Extra comfortable; weight saving; very packable
Cons: Expensive; it will eventually require patching like any inflatable pad