Affectionately known as a butt pad, the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is one product that is all positives with almost no downsides. The Z Seat is simply a section of closed cell foam padding that folds out as a quick seat. It’s is basically the same as Therm-a-Rest Z Lite sleeping pad just in seat form.
Originally, I was just going to cut up an older Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad to make myself a butt pad. But honestly, there is no reason when Therm-a-Rest offers the Z Seat for only $15! So I got one and then a second from my local REI. Both of ours are yellow/silver but there is also a blue/silver combination online.
Overview As mentioned earlier, the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is made of closed foam padding. The Z Seat folds up accordion style and has a built in bungee cable to keep the seat folded up. The Z Seat is 0.75 inches thick and unfolds to be 13 x 16 inches. Folded up and fully compressed it is 12 x 2.5 x 2.75 inches. Therm-a-Rest claims the Z Seat weighs 60 grams but on my home scale it actually came out to 57g. It is always nice to see a weight claim that is honest and not inflated.
The whole purpose of the Z Seat is to provide a minimalist seat for the outdoors. The biggest thing I can say about the Z Seat is that there is really not a way to explain how surprisingly comfy a little bit of foam padding can be. It doesn’t seem like it should make much of a difference but a mid-hike snack on the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is much comfier than just sitting on the ground or a rock. It can really help in cold or snowy conditions. I could pull the Z Seat out and just plop down on snowy ground without being cold or getting wet. I have also found other random uses for the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat like changing socks in the snow. I could take my shoes off and step onto the Z Seat so that I didn’t get my socks wet.
Honestly, I don’t get how this product isn’t more popular outside of the backpacking community. I can’t help but think of high school baseball or football bleachers getting way more comfortable on a Z Seat. Basically, any unpadded seat could benefit from a Therm-a-Rest Z Seat and they are so portable.
Bungee for compression
Takes up a little space
Summary Really I can’t say enough good things about Therm-a-Rest Z Seat. It is comfy, keeps my butt warm/dry, and weighs almost nothing. I stick it in one of my external water bottle pouches for almost every hike which also keeps it easily accessible so that every summit break I can quickly grab it and have a quick rest.
The only reason not to take the Z Seat is space. It does take up a little space but being closed foam it can ride on the outside of a pack no matter the condition, closed foam doesn’t absorb water. I bought one and went back for a second after one hike so the other half of this site could have one too. It seems like such a small product but it really makes a difference. And the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat is a cheap enough package with some nice features, the Z fold pattern and bungee strap, that getting a Z Seat is a better option than destroying an old sleeping pad.
The link below is to Therm-a-Rest’s page for the Z Seat. It is not an affiliate link: Therm-a-Rest Z Seat