Expert Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm MAX Sleeping PadPublished on 01/08/2023 · 6 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
All photos courtesy of Bob Rogers
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in November of 2022.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm MAX Sleeping Pad is an ultralight (UL), insulated sleeping pad geared towards the winter UL backpacker.
About the pad I own
- Model: 2022 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm MAX Sleeping Pad
- Size: Regular, mummy
- When I bought it: November 2022
- Days tested: 1
- Total pack weight: 1lb, 2.85oz
- Used for: Backpacking, mountaineering, thru-hiking
- Where I’ve used it: Woods, at 16°F with 15–20mph winds
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Winter
- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 195lbs
- Experience: 15+ of backpacking
How it performs
What I was looking for
I already own a Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLite sleeping pad, so I am familiar with their product line. It weighs 8.80oz with an R-2.3 value. I will be thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) starting in Georgia on March 3, 2023. This will put me in the Smokies (+5,000 elevation) in late March. I wanted something with a higher R-value than the UberLite.
Why I chose this gear
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm MAX Sleeping Pad weighs 18.80oz but boosts an R-6.9 value. From what I’ve seen from other online reviews, it is the lightest winter-rated sleeping pad currently available. My previous winter pad (reviewed) was an Exped Ultra 7R Sleeping Pad which was 22.00oz and an R-7.1 value.
What I love about it
- Durability: To be perfectly honest, I’ve not owned this pad long enough to truly rate its durability. But as mentioned above, I also own the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLite for more than six months now. It is of similar construction and I’ve had no issues with it.
- Weight: The weight was the deciding factor when purchasing this pad. It is the lightest pad I could find with an R-6.0+ value. Though I’ve found that the listed weights are inconsistent. REI claims the weight is 15oz and Therm-A-Rest claims 17oz. Using my own kitchen scale: Minimum trail weight (no stuff sack or pump sack): 16.32oz. With pump sack: 18.24oz. With pump sack and stuff sack: 18.85oz
- Packability: This pad packs down to a 9” x 4”. For comparison, a 32oz Nalgene bottle is 8.25” x 3.5”.
- Insulation and R-Value: R-6.9 value. I was more than comfortable at 16°F. I had hoped it would get colder that night. Lying directly on the tent floor without the pad, there was a very noticeable difference. I don’t think I would have been warm without it.
- Comfort: The pad is 2.5” thick when fully inflated, which is adequate for my comfort—even when sleeping on my side.
- Ease of use: The pump sack is fairly typical of air sleeping pads. It is straightforward, easy to use, and requires about five sack fulls to fill (using a hair dryer for max inflation).
- Backpacking, Mountaineering, & Thru-Hiking: The compact size and low weight make it ideal for backpacking, mountaineering, and thru-hiking.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Shape: The regular is 72” long, 20” wide (at the head), and 16” wide (at the feet). Mummy shapes reduce weight by trimming the corners off rectangles, more so at the feet than the head. As such, it can be hard to stay on the pad if tossing and turning during the night.
- Noise: All synthetic insulated air pads make noise, as they are typically insulated using Mylar (the same material as the silver birthday balloons), and so they make a “crinkle” sound like a cat toy. I didn’t find the noise of this pad to be excessive, but if sensitive, keep this in mind. Down-insulated pads do not have this feature.
- Car Camping: For car camping, weight is the last consideration. Given that, a standard full-size or queen mattress would be better suited and give even higher R-values.
- Features: The inflation/deflation valve and the mating piece on the pump sack are a rather tight fit. Much tighter than any of my previous sleeping pads. This may lessen with more use (I hope).
- Other: The stuff sack is about an inch longer than it needs to be. A UL hiker doesn’t like excess. A hyperlighter wouldn’t bring the stuff sack on a thru-hike. A purist would use a three-quarter length fan-fold foam pad. I fit best into UL but am willing to overlook the extra material.
Favorite moment with this gear
The night I decided to test the sleeping pad, the forecast was for 13°F with 15-20mph winds. Using my hiking thermometer, it was 16℉, and the winds were much calmer at ground level (heavily wooded area). I wish it had been colder that night, but the pad worked very well at this temperature.
- Tent: Zpack Duplex tent
- Sleep system: Cedar Ridge Outdoors Helium 20°F Top Quilt, Sea 2 Summit 50°F Sparks, sleeping bag, Sea 2 Summit Reactor Compact+ liner
- Clothing: REI heavy thermal pants, Columbia Heavyweight Epais thermal top, and SealSkinz Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Hat
I’ve not had this for long and have only had weather cold enough to properly test it once so far this winter. When weather permits, I plan on testing it further with different combinations of the sleeping system (quilt, sleeping bag, liner, and thermals). Ideally, I would like to test it at 0°F. Though that is colder than I’m likely to ever see on the A.T. during a spring to fall thru-hike.
Value for the money vs. other options
There are other pads (see chart below) that are similar in price and R-value. While those attributes are similar, weight is where NeoAir Xtherm shines. As an ultralight hiker, weight is my biggest concern. For those willing to carry more weight, the Exped Ultra 7R would be slightly warmer for an extra 4oz of weight. But for me, it was plenty warm into the teens and is half the weight of the Exped Dura 8R.
|Exped Ultra 7R Sleeping Pad||Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme Sleeping Pad||Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Sleeping Pad||Exped Dura 8R Sleeping Pad|
|Best Use||Backpacking||Backpacking||Mountaineering Backpacking||Backpacking|
|Repair Kit Included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Stuff Sack Included||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Packed Size||5.5 x 11 inches||7 x 9.5 inches||9 x 4 inches||6.3 x 13 inches|
|Pad Thickness||3.5 inches||4 inches||2.5 inches||3.5 inches|
|Dimensions||70 x 20.5 x 3.5||72 x 21.5 x 4||72 x 20 x 2.5||72 x 20.5 x 3.5|
|Weight||1 lb 6 oz||1 lb 9.6 oz||15 oz||2 lb 1 oz|
I would definitely recommend this pad for anyone trying to reduce their pack weight. It is lighter than all of the self-inflating pads I’ve had experience with, has a high R-value, and is fairly quiet for an insulated air pad.