50th Anniversary: A Brief History of Therm-a-Rest

"We got started because I wanted a better mattress," - John Burroughs, co-founder of Therm-a-Rest.

Therm-a-Rest are celebrating 50 years in 2022, which is an awesome achievement and we thought it was worth a brief look back at the history of Therm-a-Rest, from where & when it started, to where they are now.

John Burroughs, an experienced mountaineer, was aware that the thin foam mats around in the early 70's were lacking in comfort that they left a giant opportunity for the creation of a mattress that offered more. So, when a friend and fellow Boeing employee Jim Lea discovered a way, the self-inflating mattress was born. Jim Lea's idea to enhance these uncomfortable mats with air-tight fabric and a regulated airway had worked. In 1972, the friends filed for a patent for the “Therm-a-Rest” mattress, and launched the company Cascade Designs Inc.

At the beginning, the first Therm-a-Rest mats were produced in Seattle in 1973. Called the Standard ¾, they proved to be very popular, and caught the attention of REI, the brands’ very first customer. Over the next decade, the manufacturing techniques became more advanced and Therm-a-Rest’s ability to create lighter, more efficient mattresses continued. In 1983, Therm-a-Rest launched the Ultra Lite and Camp Rest® mats, and in 1984, the RidgeRest® was introduced. The RidgeRest® was a mattress which reached its iconic status early on and has been a desired option for novices and experts in the outdoors ever since.

In 1985, Cascade Designs set up a second manufacturing facility in County Cork, Ireland, to supply the European market, and it remains the hub of the European business today. In this short video below, Therm-a-Rest Brand Ambassador Conor O’Keefe meets Therm-a-Rest’s Director of Engineering Sean Raleigh for a behind-the-scenes look at how they build their iconic mattresses in the brand’s European headquarters in Country Cork, Ireland.

Innovation has continued ever since with the launch into the sleep system market in 1994 with their range of Sleeping Bags. Then in 2009, Therm-a-Rest launched NeoAir®. This range of air-filled and super-compact mattresses raised the bar in the air-inflated market and continues to set the standard for innovative, lightweight design.

After 50 years of Therm-a-Rest innovations, in 2022 we see they continue their unwavering commitment, just as founder John Burroughs set out in 1972. Base Camp Food are pleased to be an official UK retailer for Therm-a-Rest products and with more people enjoying the outdoors than ever before, we join the Therm-a-Rest team across the world in looking forward to the next 50!

Therm-a-Rest at Base Camp Food:

50th anniversaryNeoairRidgerestSleeping mattressesSleeping padsTherm-a-rest

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