This gear review is six years and 20,000 plus hiking miles in the making.
What can I tell you; I don’t like to rush these things. 😉
Since 2010, I’ve used a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir on all of my backcountry trips. Sometimes on it’s own, other times in combination with a closed cell foam mat.
Suffice to say, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know this sleeping pad pretty well. Nonetheless, I’ll keep it short. Which is sort of appropriate, because I’ve only ever owned the small sized model.
- 8 oz (sm) / 12 oz (regular) / 16 oz (lge).
- 227 g (sm), 340 g (regular), 554 g (lge).
- 47″ x 20″ x 2.5″ (sm) / 72″ x 20″ x 2.5″ (regular) / 77″ x 25″ x 2.5″ (lge).
- 119.4 cm x 51 cm x 6.4 cm (sm) / 182.9 cm x 50.8 cm x 6.4 cm (regular) / 195.6 cm x 63.5 cm x 6.4 cm (lge).
- Warm enough for most three season conditions. I double up with a closed cell foam mat when temps drop below 15° F (-9°C).
- Excellent. When rolled up, less bulk than a 1-litre water bottle.
- Tip: Frameless backpack users can employ the NeoAir as a makeshift frame sheet for their pack (i.e. Fold it twice and then put it flat against the back at the beginning of the loading process). If carrying a heavier load, leave in a tiny bit of air in order to increase the comfort factor. Only a smidgen, as you don’t want to run the risk of popping it.
- Click here for more tips on “How to Load a Backpack.“
- Very good. Indeed, it’s hard to believe a mat this comfortable only weighs 8 oz.
- What about the width? Personally, I don’t mind the small & regular models‘ width of 20 inches (50.8 cm). However, bigger folks, tossers & turners and/or people that just like to spread out in their sleep, may want to take a look at the large model which is 5 inches (12.7 cm) wider.
- This is the big question mark most hikers have in regards to the NeoAir (or any inflatable model for that matter). All I can tell you is that I have owned two of these mats since 2010 – the first one lasted 12,000 miles and the second one is still going strong after 9,000 miles.
- Note: When hiking & camping for extended periods in rugged terrain, I’ll usually combine the NeoAir with a featherweight foamie such as the Gossamer Gear ThinLite 1/8 (2.4 oz / 68 g). For a negligible weight penalty, this provides an extra bit of insurance against punctures, and also gives some extra padding against my back when employed in frame sheet mode (see above).
- Tip: For mat repairs I carry a small tube of super glue (crazy glue); which additionally comes in handy for small holes in shelters and at a pinch, even cuts and blisters.
- As of June, 2016, the NeoAir retails for between US$129 (sml) and $189 (lge).
- There’s no way around it, they aren’t cheap. No matter how hard you look, you’re never going to find one at the bottom of the REI bargain bin.
- However, value is a relative concept. Whether on-trail or off, it’s hard to put a price on a good night’s sleep.
Should I buy one?
Whether or not you splash out for a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir really comes down to one question……..how much comfort do you need in order to obtain a full night’s slumber?
If you are one of those people who can sleep on anything, anywhere at anytime, save your cash and stick with a closed cell foam mat.
If you happen to be at the other end of the “sleeping comfort” spectrum, then you will probably require an inflatable mat in order to obtain a good night’s rest. That being the case, the NeoAir represents an excellent choice.
No drum roll. No suspense. Obviously I’m a big fan of this mat.
I mean, really, I’d be a bit of a wally if I wasn’t after using it for so many miles.
In short, if you’re looking for a lightweight, comfortable sleeping mat, I highly recommend the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite.
Disclaimer: I purchased both NeoAir mats referenced above with my own funds.