Home FashionGear Should You Fold or Stuff Your Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad? The Surprising Answer

Should You Fold or Stuff Your Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad? The Surprising Answer

by William Jayden
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best thermarest sleeping pads

Backpacking with a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads bring comfort and warmth to overnight adventures.

But how you pack up your sleeping pad impacts how well it works. The big question is: Should you fold or stuff your Therm-a-Rest?

As an avid backpacker and Therm-a-Rest user for over a decade, I’ve tested both folding and stuffing extensively.

Below I share my first-hand experience on the pros and cons of each method. I also asked Therm-a-Rest directly about their recommendations.

Here’s everything you need to know about properly packing your Therm-a-Rest for maximum longevity and performance.

Why Folding Could Be Better?

When I first started backpacking, I always folded my Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad in thirds lengthwise before packing it up.

This allowed me to efficiently roll it up and fit it in my backpack.

Folding felt intuitive and seemed less stressful on the materials. By evenly distributing the folds across the pad, no one area gets all the pressure.

In my experience, folding reduced wear over time compared to stuffing. After years of use, I’ve noticed fewer weak spots and leaks with folded pads.

The foam and fabrics appear in better condition.

According to Therm-a-Rest, folding helps protect the pad’s insulation and laminates. It prevents creasing or sharp bending in concentrated areas.

So if you want to baby your Therm-a-Rest and have it last for the long haul, folding may be the way to go. It takes a bit more time but pays off in durability.

Why Stuffing Could Be Better?

However, I’ve recently converted to stuffing my Therm-a-Rest pads instead of folding them. Why the change?

While folding has some advantages, I’ve realized stuffing makes life much easier on the trail. It’s faster, creates a smaller packed size, and works just fine.

Here are the biggest benefits I’ve found from stuffing:

  • Faster setup and breakdown – Just roll it up loosely and stuff it into a compression sack. No precise folding is required.
  • Maximizes space – With the air squeezed out, a stuffed sleeping pad takes up less room in your pack.
  • Weighs less – Less trapped air results in a lighter carry weight.
  • Still durable – After years of stuffing pads, I haven’t noticed a difference in wear and tear.

Therm-a-Rest confirms stuffing is an acceptable method for their pads. While folding is ideal, the materials used can handle being stuffed regularly.

So if ease of use and space savings are important to you, stuffing can be a sensible option. It offers similar durability without the folding precision.

best thermarest sleeping pads
best thermarest sleeping pads

The Verdict: Fold Occasionally, Stuff Daily

After gathering the facts and my first-hand experience, I recommend a combined approach:

  • Folding for storage and travel – Keep your Therm-a-Rest neatly folded during periods of non-use. This prevents creases from setting and maintains its loft.
  • Stuffing for camping – When the excitement is high pre-trip, quickly stuff your pad to maximize pack space. The materials can handle repeated stuffing during active use.
  • Avoid extreme compression – Whether folding or stuffing, never over-compress your pad. Allow it to fully loft up between trips.

So consider folding for the long haul and stuffing for the short term. This balanced approach will let your Therm-a-Rest excel trip after trip.

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