Expert Review: Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite Sleeping Pad

Published on 10/04/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2022.
Brett K, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Brett K

All photos courtesy of Brett K.

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2022.

My take

The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad is ideal for any backpacker, from weekend warriors to ultralight thru-hikers. It’s lightweight and provides extra comfort for side sleepers in particular.

About the gear I own

  • Model: 2022 Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite
  • Size: Regular

Test conditions

  • When I bought it: August 2022
  • Days tested: 30
  • Pack: 2022 Mountainsmith Zerk 40
  • Total pack weight: 12oz
  • Used for: Backpacking, Thru-hiking
  • Where I’ve used it: PCT in Oregon and Wonderland Trail and Olympic National Park in Washington.
  • Seasons I’ve used it in: Late summer, early fall

About me

  • Height: 5’7”
  • Weight: 130 lbs
  • Experience: 10 years of hiking/backpacking

How it performs

Packability
5/5
Weight
5/5
Comfort
4/5
Versatility
4/5
Durability
3/5

What I was looking for

I was looking for something that would be comfortable and packable. I also sometimes sleep on my side, so I needed something that wouldn’t cause me shoulder pain from a night’s sleep. I used a foam pad for backpacking previously and didn’t like how bulky and unpackable it was. I wanted to streamline my pack and maybe grab an extra bonus of shedding a few ounces and adding some comfort. The foam pad I used was fine on soft ground but could be quite uncomfortable on hard-packed, well-used campsites.

Why I chose this gear

The NeoAir XLite provides a great balance between comfort, weight, and warmth. It has an R-value of 4.2, which should extend its effectiveness well into the shoulder seasons. It’s also the lightest pad of its kind with a decent R-value.

I also considered the Nemo Tensor but landed on the XLite because it’s about twice as warm and almost 2oz lighter. I also see the XLite more than any other air pad out there on the trail, so I figured it must be a popular choice for a reason.

What I love about it

  • Weight: No complaints here about weight! At 12oz, this thing is amongst the lightest pads out there, especially in the 3-season category.
  • Packability: It packs very nicely inside my backpack, which is one of my favorite things about it. The pack size is about 4x9” if I use the storage sack, but I like to just fold it up as flat as possible and slide it along the back panel of my pack.
  • Insulation and R-Value: It’s pretty remarkable that Therm-A-Rest can squeeze a 4.2 R-value into a 12oz pad. They achieve this with their Reflective ThermaCapture™ technology (a thin piece of reflective foil) to trap radiant heat and their Triangular Core Matrix™ to cut down on convective heat loss through the ground. The NeoAir Xlite is a full 3-season pad.
  • Comfort: My first night was uncomfortable as I didn’t expect to be able to blow it up as hard as the ground. Once I got my preferred firmness dialed in, it was actually quite comfortable. The 2.5” thickness kept my body from ever making contact with the ground. My only complaint is that my limbs constantly spilled off the pad due to its small mummy shape.
  • Features: The inflation/deflation valves actually work great. The WingLock valve allows a lot of air in and can be toggled to a one-way setting which is a really nice feature. I can blow it up with my lungs or use the included pump sack. The pump sack works surprisingly well.
  • Ease of use: If someone is coming from a foam pad, the daily inflating and deflating of this pad will take some getting used to. It’s definitely my least favorite camp chore, especially if I get into camp late or want to take a mid-day nap. If one’s used to blowing up a pad or spending a lot of time at camp, it’s probably not a big deal. It’s really less about the pad being difficult to use and more about me being lazy.
  • Backpacking: This pad is absolutely ideal for backpacking (see notes on weight and packability). In fact, I don’t see any other real practical use for it.
  • Mountaineering: It really depends on the season. It'll probably work great if someone’s summiting snowy glaciated peaks in the summertime (like Rainier), but it’s not warm enough to take into expeditions with sustained winter conditions. It’s warm for what it is, but it’s not insulated.
  • Thru-Hiking: This pad is definitely designed with thru-hiking in mind. It’s ultra-lightweight, comfortable, doesn’t take up much pack space, and warm enough to take into multiple seasons.
  • Other: I’m not sure I’m a fan of the horizontal air chambers. I would like to see Therm-A-Rest make this pad with cells or vertical chambers and see how that would affect the comfort.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Durability: It’s hard to determine the pad’s durability with only a few trips on it so far. Air pads are inherently prone to punctures and leaks, but it does come with a patch kit, so that’s good. The material is also extremely thin and lightweight. So far, so good, but durability with this pad is something I’m concerned about.
  • Shape: The mummy shape of this pad cuts down on weight and improves packability, but I would probably recommend buying the wide version for anyone that’s of average or above average size. I’m a pretty small guy and keeping my whole body on the pad was difficult. The wide version let’s one spread out a good bit more for only three extra ounces.
  • Noise: Oh yeah, this pad makes quite the racket. I’m almost certain I’ve woken up by the sound of myself or my partner (she has the same pad) rolling around in the night. This sound is just the nature of the ultra-thin layer of reflective material on the inside of the pad (which is also what makes it so warm), but, supposedly, it gets better as one breaks it in.
  • Car Camping: I guess someone could use it for car camping, but they could get something a lot more comfortable and less expensive that will be fine for car camping. This pad is about using the most high-tech, lightweight materials that inherently aren’t the most comfortable or durable.

Favorite moment with this gear

Honestly, I still have yet to have a “game-changing” experience with this pad. I’m still getting used to the change after switching from a foam pad. It is definitely more comfortable than a foam pad in most circumstances, but I’m still waiting for the moment that it unlocks something unexpected for me.

Value for the money vs. other options

If one wants the best ultralight air pad out there and has the budget for it, then go for the Xlite. There aren’t any other air pads that I’m aware of that match the warmth-to-weight ratio. The Nemo Tensor Ultralight comes the closest, I believe. However, if someone’s solely camping in summer conditions, they can get away with cheaper pads that are just as light but not as warm, like the Sea to Summit Ultralight Air Mat.

Final verdict

The NeoAir XLite unlocks excellent sleep at a minimal weight cost for the ultralight backpacker. Sure, I have to blow the thing up every night, and it is prone to puncture, but I won’t find a better balance between comfort, warmth, and weight anywhere else.

  • We price match
  • Returnable

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Camping & Hiking on Curated

Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite Sleeping Pad
$179.95
Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated Sleeping Pad
$104.97$149.95
Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad
$130.00$189.95

Browse more Therm-A-Rest Camping & Hiking

Sea To Summit UltraLight Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
$99.00
Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated Sleeping Pad
$189.00
Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Sleeping Pad
$169.00
Therm-a-Rest Trail Scout Sleeping Pad
$94.95
Sea To Summit Comfort Plus Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
$159.00
Exped SynMat Lite 5 Sleeping Pad
$59.40
Exped FlexMat Plus Sleeping Pad
$26.00$45.00

Browse more Therm-A-Rest Camping & Hiking

Read next

New and Noteworthy