Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad

I recently returned from a two month hiking trip to Peru and Bolivia. Due to the subfreezing conditions I was going to encounter, before setting out I decided to leave behind my beloved Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, and opt instead for its thicker and warmer cousin, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. It turned out to be a good decision. The significantly higher R-Value (5.7 Vs 3.3) meant a lot more insulation from the frigid ground, and when combined with my clothing layers, quilt and bivy, I slept comfortably in temperatures that consistently hovered between -10°C (14°F) and -17°C (1.4°F).

Ausangate Circuit, Peru | August, 2017 (photo courtesy of Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva)

Specs

(Note: All details are for the Regular sized model)

Weight:  15 oz / 430 g

R-Value 5.7

Dimensions:

  • Width: 20 in / 51 cm
  • Length: 72 in / 183 cm
  • Thickness: 2.5 in / 6.3 cm
  • Packed dimension: 9 x 4.0 in / 23 x 10 cm

Material

  • Top fabric type: 30D rip HT (High Tenacity) Nylon
  • Bottom fabric type: 70D Nylon

Performance

Packability:

  • Excellent. Takes up significantly less space than other four season mats with equivalent R-Values. When rolled up, it packs down to slightly larger than a one litre Nalgene bottle (i.e. it’s a little thicker and wider). That said, in practice I never actually roll it up. Instead, I fold it a couple of times and place it flat against the back of my pack at the beginning of the loading process.
  • Click here for more tips on “How to Load a Backpack.

Warmth & Comfort:

  • Design: 2.5 inch (6.35 cm) thickness, mummy shaped, horizontal baffles (more stable than their vertical equivalents).
  • Warmth to Weight: This is where the XTherm really stands out. Basically it’s a four season sleeping mat (5.7 R-Value) in an ultralight package (under a pound). Technically speaking it does this via a combo of ThermaCapture technology, which traps radiant heat and reflects it back to the body, and Triangular Core Matrix construction, which minimizes convective heat loss by way of two stacked layers of internal baffles. All that said, after decades of sleeping on thin foamies and heavyweight inflatables, I still find it a hard to believe something so comfy weighs less than a pound. The Blues fan in me suspects that the Therm-a-Rest design team may have struck the sleeping mat equivalent of Robert Johnson’s deal with the devil.
  • What about the width?  As a side sleeper, I found the regular width of 20 inches (50.8 cm) to be fine. However, bigger folks, back sleepers, stomach sleepers and/or tossers & turners, may want to take a look at the large model which is 5 inches (12.7 cm) wider.
  • Inflation: The XTherm comes with a 1.5 oz pump sack which I haven’t used. Generally speaking it takes most folks about 15 to 20 breaths to fill. Any more than 30, and you may need to work on your fitness.
  • Noise: One of the complaints you sometimes hear about the NeoAir mats (both the XLite and the XTherm) is regarding the “crinkly” noise. I can’t say I’ve ever found this to be an issue, even with the original models, which were definitely noisier than the current incarnation of NeoAirs.

Rock Bivouac between Laguna Honda and Laguna Colorado | Day 11, Altiplano Route, Bolivia | September, 2017.

Durablitiy:

  • So far, so good. The XTherm has 70 Denier Nylon on the bottom, which is a big step up in toughness from the 30D used in the NeoAir XLite models (which I found to be plenty durable). The extra thickness reduces the need to bring along a foam mat for insurance purposes against punctures. However, while journeying for extended periods in well below freezing conditions and/or in areas where your chances of getting a replacement mat are Buckley’s and none, I still think bringing along a featherweight Gossamer Gear Thinlight 1/8 (2.4 oz / 68 g) pad is not such a bad idea.

Value:

  • There’s no way around it, at US$199 for the Regular sized model, the XTherm isn’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, and I’m not sure I’ve ever slept any better in the backcountry than what I have on the XTherm.

Cowboy camping on the flanks of Volcan Tunupa (5432m / 17,822ft) | Day 3, Altiplano Route, Bolivia | September, 2017.

Bottom Line

Toasty warm, packs small, lightweight and durable. Suffice to say I am a big fan of this mat. If you enjoy backpacking outside of the summer months and/or in areas where the temps are around or below freezing, I highly recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.

If on the other hand you are strictly a warm weather backpacker, but are nonetheless looking for a mat that is uber-comfortable, save a few bucks and ounces and go with the NeoAir XLite.

Disclaimer: I purchased the NeoAir XTherm with my own funds. This post contains affiliate links.

 

 


Comments

Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad — 10 Comments

  1. Good to know! It definitely looks cold, but beautiful, up there! The one problem I have with my X-Lite is not rolling off of it. Not overfilling helps, but maybe I just change positions too much?

  2. Thanks Cam for the informative post, as always, and the cool photos.
    I was wondering, by sleeping next to rocks / shelter, as you did on this trek, do you have any issues with rodents, etc. coming out at night, getting into your food & stuff?
    Thxs, Scott 2

    • No issues with rodents, because no one really hikes much down on Bolivia’s southwestern Altiplano (i.e. no food scraps left behind, etc). Indeed, I think I may have been the first person to put together a long distance route in the area. The places pictured in the two Bolivian photos were simply areas I deemed to be semi-sheltered from the winds.

      Cheers, Cam

      Note: I should amend the above statement by saying that some of the volcanoes do get a little bit of day hiking foot traffic.

  3. I really like my large version. It’s nice to be able to stretch out and not have your feet or elbows outside the edge in cold weather.

    Use a compactor bag to fill it with air. To big for me to fill with lungs unless I want to faint.

    What type of quilt did you use for these temperatures?

    Great blog!

    //Jesper

    • Thanks for the kind words! Seems like quite a few folks opt for the larger model. I was using a Katabatic Sawatch 15°F quilt (which is conservatively rated). I combined this with the Bristlecone Bivy and when it was really cold, most of my layers.

      Cheers,

      Cam

  4. Cam thanks for all your hiking information and tips. I have found them extremely useful and enjoyable. Keep up the great work!

  5. Buckleys and none, onya Cam! Good to hear some Ausie vernacular. Almost none left in Aus.
    I recently bought the STS red one with 2 layers for the same reason. Mainly because in Aus. this TR was going to cost app. AUD450+. I have another neo air and the comfort is unbeatable. I should have payed the extra. Oh well you live and learn don’t you. Fantastic site, I enjoy all the updates and your thoughtful musings and realistic reviews. Looking forward to reading about Bolivia. Cheers.

    • Hey Graham,

      Thanks for the message. Can’t resist including the occasional expression from back home!

      I hear you in regards to the prices in Australia for imported backpacking gear. Whether it be mats, bags, footwear, you name it, the markups have always been crazy. Some years ago, I remember seeing a Western Mountaineering Sleeping bag, that retailed in the US for just over $300, on sale in Brisbane for about AUD$900! They definitely don’t miss you.

      Cheers,

      Cam

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