Expert Review: Therm-a-Rest Neoair Xlite Sleeping PadPublished on 12/11/2022 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.
Little dirty, but still going strong! All photos courtesy of Nicole O.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in October of 2021.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir® XLite™ Sleeping Pad is a wonderful, lightweight pad that will help ensure a quality night’s sleep. It has an R-value of 4.2 and is 2.5 inches thick, so it is great for three-season backpacking or thru-hiking.
About the gear
- Model: 2021 NeoAir® XLite™ Sleeping Pad from Therma-a-Rest
- Size: Small
- When I bought it: October 2021
- Days tested: 120+
- Pack: REI Flash 55
- Total pack weight: Weighs 12.5oz for the regular and 1lb 1oz for the large.
- Used for Backpacking trips, car camping, and sleeping in my car
- Where I’ve used it: Thru-hiked the CDT with it (MT, ID, WY, CO, and NM), UT, AZ, AK, and others.
- Seasons I’ve used it in: All four seasons.
- Height: 5’4”
- Weight: 135lbs
- Experience: I’ve been going on backpacking trips for over six years now. It’s my main hobby. I’ve backpacked all over the U.S. and recently thru-hiked the Contintental Divide Trail.
How it performs
What I was looking for
As someone who loves backpacking, often in cold areas, I was looking for an ultralight sleeping pad to keep me comfortable off the cold ground. I needed something that would pack well with a decent R-value.
Why I chose this gear
I chose this sleeping pad because it has tons of great reviews and everything I was searching for in a pad. The NeoAir® XLite™ is by far the most commonly recommended pad for backpacking trips. It packs down smaller than many other pads this size, which is a huge bonus for me, along with a pump sack. I am not hiking all day to spend five more minutes heavily breathing while camping. I considered other popular options like the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Insulated and the Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated pads but ultimately decided to get the Neoair since it weighed the least and still had a solid R-value.
What I love about it
- Durability: This pad is fairly durable for an ultralight sleeping pad. I used it well over a hundred times (often on rough terrain) before having to patch it. Some of that may have been luck, though, because I know some people who had to patch theirs on earlier, but it comes with an easy-to-use patch kit.
- Weight: It is a very lightweight pad, coming in at less than a pound, which is important to me. Other similar pads generally weigh a bit more than this one, making this the best choice.
- Packability: The NeoAir® XLite™ pad packs down extremely well. I just have to deflate it, fold it in half (or some prefer thirds), roll it up, and bam. It’s the size of a 32oz Nalgene. It comes with a stuff sack, but it fits just fine inside a pack without it if one wants to shave a tiny amount of weight off.
- Insulation and R-Value: It has an R-value of 4.2, which is solid for three-season backpacking. I’ve also used it in the winter, and it held up in the low teens a few nights. It’s not the warmest pad in the world but will get one through all but the most extreme backpacking trips.
- Comfort: At 2.5 inches thick, it is a solidly comfortable pad for backpacking. I get hip pain if I am out for more than 3 or 4 nights in a row, but I think that just comes with the territory of being a side sleeper on a pad. It takes a little tweaking, but if I deflate it correctly, it can boost comfort.
- Shape: The pad has rounded corners and is slightly wider at the top than at the bottom to save some weight, but doesn’t make it harder to pack and is still very roomy to sleep on. It also comes in a wide size if someone wants a little extra room.
- Noise: The material is a little crinkly and loud when one first buys it, but it seems to soften up over time (or maybe one just gets used to it).
- Features: This pad has a performance WingLock valve which helps it inflate up to three times faster thanks to having a one-way opening and a larger opening than other pads. This feature definitely works well and saves time at the end of the night when I’m setting up camp and just want to sleep.
- Ease of use: This pad has a super easy-to-use pump sack. It takes less than a minute to use, which is vital when I’m exhausted setting up camp. Deflating it is very speedy, too, which is nice when I’m trying to get up and get some miles done.
- Backpacking: The NeoAir® XLite™ pad works amazingly well for backpacking because it’s lightweight, comfortable, and packs down very small. I highly recommend it to backpackers.
- Car Camping: This sleeping pad works well for car camping. It fits well into pretty much any space I can sleep in. It’s easy to use and comfy. However, if one is only looking to use this pad for car camping, there are cheaper pads (that are heavier) that one can use instead.
- Mountaineering: The NeoAir® XLite™ pad might not have a high enough R-value for many mountaineering trips, but other than that, it would work great since it’s ultralight and doesn’t take up a lot of space.
- Thru-Hiking: This is by far the most common pad for thru-hiking. I thru-hiked the CDT this summer, and almost everyone I met had one and loved it. It is durable enough to last a whole thru-hike without needing anything outside its included patch kit.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Noise: This pad is lovely, but the crinkle is pretty annoying initially.
Favorite moment with this gear
It is hard to pick a favorite moment with this pad. I’ve been lucky enough to have used it too many times to pick a favorite. I will say it is a little extra comfortable any night after hiking over 20 miles.
Value for the money vs. other options
I personally think this pad is worth every penny if one goes backpacking often or wants to thru-hike. It is more expensive than other options like the Nemo-Quasar 3D Insulated Sleeping Pad or the Klymit Insulated Static V, but I think it is well worth its value. There’s a reason why it is one of the most popular backpacking pads despite costing a bit more.
This pad is an excellent choice for anyone venturing into the backcountry often and needs a lightweight, compact, but still comfortable pad.