Ridge Rest ‘Solar’ Camp Pad

If you’re like me, you are a sucker for a great product that gets the job done without being expensive or complicated. That’s one reason why I had to test out the latest version of the tried and true Ridge Rest camping mattress from Cascade Designs. I have used the original Ridge Rest pad for camping and backpacking for years. The new mattress, called the Ridge Rest Solar, is like the original — constructed of tough, closed-cell foam and with “ridges” sculpted in to add comfort and warmth — but it adds a unique heat-reflecting touch.

Ridge Rest Solar camping mattress

Essentially, the new iteration of the pad takes the classic Ridge Rest blueprint and paints on a heat-reflecting aluminized surface. It is a smidge cushier, too, at about 0.75 inches thick. The theory is that the Solar pad has the molded ridges to capture heat while the aluminum film reflects that heat back to your body. The effect is similar to what you get from an emergency space blanket.

On a recent winter camping trip, the no-nonsense Ridge Rest design worked great. Paired with a warm sleeping bag, I slept outside soundly on a night that hovered around 10 degrees F. With the added thickness and its aluminized coating, the Solar slept noticeably warmer than my standard Ridge Rest pad.

At $39.95 msrp, the Solar is a bargain. It comes in two sizes, Regular and Large. I used the Regular, which is 72 inches long and 20 inches wide. It weighs 1 pound, 3 ounces.

So what’s not to love about the Solar? One word: Bulk. Simplicity is a two-edged sword here. Even a tightly rolled Solar is 20 inches wide and about 7.5 inches around. If space is at a premium in (or strapped to the outside of) your backpack, then an inflatable camp pad is a better choice than this roll of foam.

If bulk is not an issue, buy this pad! Given its performance and low price — it is online for sale at less than $30! — this simple, durable pad (which, btw, is made in Seattle, USA) might just be one of your best outdoor gear buys all year.

—T.C. Worley.