In 2016, a group of industry leaders began working on creating a standard methodology to measure and rate the insulative properties of sleeping pads. Therm-a-Rest and other brands created what will become known as the ASTM standard. This standard allows campers to look at two or more sleeping pads and easily compare the R-value of each.

So, you’ve probably got more than a few questions about what the ASTM R-value standard means for your night’s in the backcountry.

What is the ASTM R-value standard?

Similar to EN/ISO ratings for sleeping bags, the ASTM R-value standard will ensure an “apples-to-apples” comparison of R-value for the sleeping pad market. R-value is a measure of a material or structure’s thermal resistance to heat loss. This number gives the most indicative rating for customers to choose a sleeping pad designed to provide the comfort and warmth they need while camping. The higher the R-value, the more thermally resistant the material or structure is. To learn more, check out our post that answers “What is R-value?”.

R-value testing

How was Therm-a-Rest involved?

We were one of the founding brands of the ASTM working group which involved a variety of camp gear brands and retailers. Therm-a-Rest has always been an advocate for using R-value as the most objective way to measure the insulation of your sleeping pad and we’ve used this metric for decades, despite other brands rating their pads with temperature ratings. For more info on why we’ve been using R-value, check out our post on R-value vs. Degree ratings.

What does this mean for Therm-a-Rest products?

The new standard uses a different test protocol and device, which means all of our pads will be receiving new R-value ratings. Our gear’s R-value ratings won’t change significantly, but there will be certain trends. For example, many of our NeoAir mattresses will receive higher R-values under the new testing standards.

NeoAir Xtherm sleeping pad and the ASTM R-value standard

Were the old Therm-a-Rest ratings “wrong”?

Not at all. They were merely the results of a different procedure for conducting the R-value test. Like we stated before, our rating will not change much since the ASTM still measures pad’s insulation using R-value. Other companies will see larger changes and some will be publishing R-values for the first time under the new ASTM R-value standard.

What does this mean for consumers?

When the ASTM working group was formed, the primary objective was to create a standard test procedure and rating system that would allow consumers to accurately compare the insulation properties of sleeping pads, regardless of manufacturer. We expect major outdoor retailers to require that all sleeping pads publish ratings that adhere to the new ASTM standard.

When will this take effect?

While the standard will be finalized and published later this year, Therm-a-Rest will be publishing ASTM R-values on all sleeping pad packaging by 2020. We have already brought the new, ASTM-approved testing device to our Seattle headquarters and are in the process of testing all of our mattresses and looking for innovative ways to provide you with warmer and more comfortable nights at camp.