Last updated May 9, 2007
Name: Jason Boyle
Height: 5' 6"/ 1.68 m
Weight: 170 lb/ 77 kg
Email address: c4jc "at" hotmail "dot" com
City, State, Country: Snoqualmie, Washington, U. S.
I have been camping and backpacking for about 18 years. My introduction to the outdoors started with the Boy Scouts of America and has continued as an adult. I have hiked mostly in the Southeastern and Northeastern United States. I am generally a lightweight hiker, but will carry extras to keep me comfortable. I have recently relocated to the Pacific Northwest and spend most of my time hiking and backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but I can be found exploring the other wild areas of Washington!
Size: Regular, also available in Small
Color: Top – Olive Green, Bottom – Black
Year of Manufacture: 2006
Listed weight: 2 lbs 8 oz/1140 g
Measured weight: 2lbs 9.3 oz/1170 g
Dimensions: 20” x 72”/51 cm x 183 cm
MSRP: $119 US
Country of Manufacture: Made in the USA
At first glance, the Therm-A-Rest ToughSkin pad looks like any other typical Therm-A-Rest pad, but the guts of the pad are what makes it different. The inside of the pad contains two different types of foam. The bottom layer consists of closed cell foam and the top layer consists of open cell foam and there is an “air holding seal” in between them. The air holding seal should allow the bottom closed cell foam to be pricked and punctured without causing the open cell foam to loose its inflation. Additionally, Therm-A-Rest claims that even if the “air holding seal” is punctured the pad will retain some loft and insulation properties due to the closed cell foam.
Initial Report - December 27, 2006:
The pad is well constructed. All seams appear tight and there are no blemishes on the fabric. The pad is tapered with the wider end at the user's head and the smaller end at the user’s feet. The wider end is 20" (51 cm)and the smaller end is 16" (41 cm)
I followed Therm-A-Rest’s instructions and let the pad self inflate and sit overnight. I assume this is to help achieve the max inflation since the pad was rolled and prepared for shipping. While I did this I also checked the pad for leaks and found none. It is recommended that the pad is stored inflated and flat so I took the pad out to the garage and stored it with my other sleeping pads.
Should the pad get dirty, clean up is simple. Inflate the pad, place in a tub, and use a soft bristled brush and a mild household degreasing detergent to clean. Once done washing leave it inflated until fully dry.
The ToughSkin pad has a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. This of course does not cover normal wear and tear or abuse by the user.
This ends my initial report.
Field Report – March 3, 2007
I have been pleased with the performance of the pad over the last two months. It has held up well to the rough conditions found in the high desert and Steppe of Central Washington and has kept me warm and toasty while sleeping on the snow. No complaints to speak of!
I have used the ToughSkin on 3 trips over the past two months: 2 overnight backpacking trips, and a 2 night car camping trip. The first overnight took place in the Potholes Wildlife Reservoir in the Steppe of Central Washington, the second overnight was in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie forest in the Cascades, and the car camping trip took place at the LT Murray Wildlife Area in the high desert of Central Washington. Ground conditions varied, in the Potholes, it was scrubby grass and crumbly rock, in the Cascades, I was on snow in an igloo, and at LT Murray, I was on pea sized gravel on a tent pad. Temperatures ranged from 20 F to 40 F, and precipitation on these trips was mostly clear with some light rain and ice fog at LT Murray. Elevation ranged from sea level to 3200’ (975 m).
I have been happy with the Therm-A-Rest ToughSkin pad thus far! There were several areas that I wanted to explore with the pad. The first was the durability of the pad. I have heard horror stories of self inflating pads getting punctured or losing air during the night, and the ToughSkin was supposed to prevent this from happening. So far the ToughSkin has proven to be just that – Tough! On my trip to the Potholes, I used it in my Therm-A-Rest Trekker chair with no problem. I also stood on it inflated outside of my tent to change clothes on. I could have probably changed in my tent but what fun would that be? I set it down on the scrubby grass and crumbly rock and changed pants while standing – No problem! Of course I also slept on it and did great on all environments.
A second area that I was concerned with was warmth, was this really a 4-season pad? I am happy to report that it is. During my trip to Lake Kelcema in the Cascades, my partner and I choose to build and igloo as our shelter. That night inside the igloo, I laid out my silnylon tarp in the floor and then placed the ToughSkin on top of it. Then I crawled into my sleeping bag and slept cozy all night. It was a balmy 28 F (-2 C) inside the igloo, compared to 8 F (-13 C) outside and I never felt any cold coming through the pad. I did not experience any cold though the pad on my other trips either.
Finally the most important area of concern to me – Comfort. I am a side sleeper and I was concerned that I would be able to feel the ground through the pad when I slept on my side. I am happy to report that this is not a problem for me. While camping at LT Murray, my tent was pitched on parking lot gravel that they used for the parking/RV spot at each campsite. It was the only flat and mostly dry spot around, as everything else was a mixture of snow and mud. I unrolled the pad and let it self inflate and then before bed, I gave it a few breaths to achieve maximum inflation and then slept soundly through the night. I could not feel the gravel underneath the pad either while sleeping or standing on the pad to change clothes. I don’t think this pad is as slippery as other pads I have used and have noticed any problems with me sliding off during the night, but I will keep a closer eye on this over the rest of the test period.
Long Term Report – May 9, 2007
I have a new winter pad to add to my kit! I have slept warmly on the pad all winter with no problems. The pad thickness was sufficient all winter except for when I got lazy stomping out a tent platform and left the platform lumpy and I had no problems with the durability of the pad.
Since my Field Report I have used the ToughSkin on three overnight trips, and a 3 day mountaineering trip. Two of the overnight trips took place in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Mt. Baker – Snoqualmie National Forest, the third overnight took place in the Mt. St. Helens National Monument and the mountaineering trip took place in Sequoia National Park during an attempt to summit Mt. Whitney. Elevation varied from about 3000’ to 11,700’ (914 m – 3566 m) on the flanks of Whitney. Temperatures ranged from 60 F to 10 F (15 C to -12 C) and precipitation included windy snow squalls and a bit of mixed precipitation at Mt. St. Helens. The ToughSkin was used on snow on all of my trips except for the Mt. St. Helens trip where it was used inside my tent pitched on grass and small lava rocks at the edge of the Sno Park parking lot.
The Therm-a-rest ToughSkin continued to perform well over the last two months. I focused my Field Report on three main characteristics of the pad and will do the same with my Long Term Report. I continued to challenge the durability of the pad. My campsite at Mt. St. Helens was far from ideal; having arrived late in the evening and set up my tent under the streaming headlights of my truck I wasn’t sure I had completely moved all the little rocks out from under my tent. I slept well that night on the pad and when I broke down the tent in the morning I was surprised to find I had been lying on top of several small lava rocks. Neither my tent floor nor pad had been punctured or marked from the rocks.
The pad has continued to inflate pretty well on its own. I would unroll it as soon as I arrived in camp and allow it to self inflate as much as possible. Then I would give the pad several breaths to achieved maximum inflation. I have not noticed any degradation in the foam either from sleeping on it, rolling it up, or from breathing in it. The upper and bottom fabric continues to look like new and I have not had any problems with snow soaking into the pad leaving me a wet sleeping pad.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well the pad continued to perform on snow. I never felt any cold radiating up through the pad or experienced any coldness in my sleeping bag from the pad. I will definitely continue to use the pad as my winter/mountaineering pad after the test is over.
The pad has also continued to be very comfortable. Like I mentioned earlier I slept on some small rocks at Mt. St. Helens and didn’t know it until the next morning. It has also been comfortable on the snow as long as I stomped out good platforms. I got lazy my second night on Whitney and didn’t work on getting a good flat platform and I could feel the bumps all night, but I don’t think any pad would have smoothed them out. As a side sleeper, I thought that the pad might be a little thin for me to be comfortable, but I slept well on my side and back. I was also concerned with the potential slipperiness of the pad, but I did not have any issues with sliding off of the pad during the night.
Thanks to Backpackgeartest.org and Therm-A-Rest for allowing me to participate in this test.
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