Hands-on Gear Review

Compare men's sleeping pad ratings side-by-side >

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Review

   
Editors' Choice Award

Men's Sleeping Pads

  • Currently 4.8/5
Overall avg rating 4.8 of 5 based on 7 reviews. Most recent review: July 31, 2014
Street Price:   Varies from $111 - $220 | Compare prices at 10 resellers
Pros:  Very warm, lightweight, comfortable, compact, highly versatile.
Cons:  Edges collapse when weighted, noisy when camped on hard surfaces, expensive.
Best Uses:  All-purpose four-season use.
User Rating:     
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.7 of 5) based on 6 reviews
Recommendations:  100% of reviewers (6/6) recommend this product
Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest
Review by: Chris McNamara ⋅ Founder and Editor-in-Chief, OutdoorGearLab ⋅ July 13, 2014  
Overview
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is the best winter sleeping pad on the planet. It weighs a mere 15 ounces, packs to 1.4 liters, and its internal air baffles and reflective barriers keep you nearly as warm as a propane heater. From Alaska to Greenland to Patagonia, and all across the Lower 48, our testers have used the XTherm side-by-side, over the past two years, with top competing pads. Our tests consistently show the XTherm is the warmest, most comfortable, lightest, and most compact sleeping pad available. If we were to have one single pad for all activities it would be this one. The author believes this pad is Therm-a-Rest's best product.

Besides its price tag, the XTherm's primary drawbacks are its edges, which collapse slightly when weighted, and the crinkly noise its internal baffles can make when you camp on hard surfaces (not on snow). On the whole, the XTherm is the ultimate sleeping pad for multi-day mobile trips in any condition. We highly recommend it.

If you are 5' 6" or under check out our Women's Sleeping Pad. If comfort is top priority get yourself a super luxurious Car Camping Mattress.

Compare top rated competitors side-by-side >

  • Photos
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge


OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review

Performance Comparison
Warmth
Warmth is the primary reason to get an Xtherm. If you don't need serious cold weather, camping on snow and ice warmth, we suggest considering the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite.

The XTherm uses a series of internal baffles and reflective layers that trap air and bounce heat back to the user. Halting air circulation is the crux of making an air core sleeping pad warm. The more you move about on the pad, the more air moves about within the pad. Moving air is bad because it mixes the warm air you've worked so hard to heat up with the cold air closer to the snow below. This, in turn, reduces the pad's ability to insulate. Therm-a-Rest addresses this problem with the XTherm's Triangular Core Matrix technology, which divides the pad's interior space into over a hundred different cells that combat airflow and keep you warmer. At the same time, the pad's aluminized reflective barriers reduce convective heat loss by bouncing heat back to you.

The pad is HOTTT. You can immediately feel its insulation when you lay on it. We tested it on Denali in Alaska, in Greenland, and all over the Lower 48, including cold places like northern Maine, Montana, and Wyoming. The pad's exceptional warmth to weight ratio has made it the new standard for winter pads. It has also pushed winter sports to a new level by allowing skiers and climbers to travel more comfortably while carrying less weight.

Click to enlarge
Brad Miller poses on the Therm-aRest NeoAir XTherm and ZLite Sol while wearing Patagonia's Super Pluma and R1 Hoody. Alaska.
Credit: Clayton Kimmi
In winter the temperature difference between your body and the snow or ice below can exceed 60 degrees. Besides helping you sleep better, a pad that insulates you from the ground can lead to weight saving in other areas. A warm sleeping pad, for example, can allow you to bring a sleeping bag that's rated significantly warmer than the temperatures you'll encounter. Instead of taking a zero-degree bag you could take a 15 or 20 degree bag… that could save you nearly 11 ounces!

Comfort
After two years of extensive testing we are confident that the NeoAir series is the most comfortable sub two-pound sleeping pad available anywhere. Dozens of people have helped OutdoorGearLab to compare top-tier pads side-by-side and they consistently find NeoAir pads to be the most comfortable. The reason is largely due to the thin horizontal baffles, which are as close to flat as baffles get. Other companies do various things to their baffles that reduce comfort. For example, Big Agnes's Q-Core series has "pot hole-like" dimples and "side rails" that provide a highly uneven surface. Exped pads have deep vertical baffles that lack structure and support; the pad can feel like a bouncy pool toy. Nemo's Astro and Cosmo pads have moderately comfortable horizontal baffles, but they are deeper than the NeoAir series and they are also plagued by a built-in pillow that adds directionality and forces tall people to slide down, and possibly off the end of the pad, in order to avoid the pillow. Thus, the NeoAir series is the most comfortable inflatable sleeping pad we've tested.

For basecamp style expeditions, where you fly in and spend a considerable amount of time camped in one location, our some of our testers reported back that they would prefer the extra 5" width of a size Large. If you do a lot of basecamping on snow or glaciers, or just want more space, consider a Large.

Weight and Packed Size
The NeoAir XTherm weighs 15 ounces in regular size (20 x 72 in.) and packs down to about 1.4 liters. Many uninsulated and less insulated pads weigh less and compress smaller, but none match the XTherm's incredible warmth.

Click to enlarge
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm packs down small even when wearing mittens.
Credit: Max Neale
Durability
The NeoAir XTherm has a 70-denier nylon bottom that allows for extended use and abuse. This material is more durable than the NeoAir XLite's ultralight 30-denier bottom. Over 2 years we've abused NeoAir pads extensively and have been shocked at how durable they are. We've never had a problem with either of our two XTherms. Our NeoAir All-Season (roughly as durable as the XTherm) has seen more than 200 nights of use, including a bike trip from Scottland to China, and has not had a single leak!! The two most significant NeoAir failures been with the XLite, the XTherm's lighter, less warm, and less durable sibling. The easy way to increase the durability of your sleeping pad is to put a sheet of Tyvek underneath it.

Warranty
Cascade Designs, which owns Therm-a-Rest, has a fantanstic warranty for their products.
"Your mattress is guaranteed without time limit against defects in materials and workmanship." NeoAir pads are super easy to patch, but if one happens to bust open or delaminate they will replace it.

Limitations
There are two drawbacks to the XTherm's construction: (1) the pad is relatively narrow and (2) it's noisy when sleeping on firm, compact ground.

(1) Although 20" is the standard width for portable sleeping pads, the NeoAir is narrower than most others (not all manufacturers measure pads the same way). For example, a 20" XTherm is just over an inch slimmer than the 20" Nemo Astro insulated (see photo below). Furthermore, the NeoAir's internal baffle construction provides little support along the pad's edges; they collapse slightly when loaded. The edges are supportive when lying on your back, but not when you're lying on your side close to the edge. The combination of a slimmer pad and the edge collapsing effect make the NeoAir series feel about 18" wide. The width is most apparent when lying on your back because your hands can fall down beside you or need to be placed on your stomach. BUT, our testers report that this is a very minor drawback and they all still reach for the Regular size XTherm and XLites. If you're on the wider side consider a Large size.

(2) The XTherm is the noisiest pad we've ever tested. It's reflective barriers can crinkle and crackly if you're sleeping on a hard surface, such as compacted soil in an established campsite. However, over two years of testing we've realized that this is but a minor nuisance for most people. It is often overplayed in reviews found elsewhere. Our testers have found that pad is not noisy when you're sleeping on snow. Sleeping in a warm down bag also muffles any slight noise the pad and, more significantly, the wind, makes. Consider the following report from these five gentlemen who used the Xtherm, NeoAir All-Season, and Big Agnes Q-Core on a month-long ski expedition in East Greenland: "One concern we had while packing for the trip was the crinkly sound of the Therm-a-Rest pads, and the Xtherm in particular. But once on snow with pads muffled by the thick down of our bags, our fears were mitigated entirely."

Click to enlarge
In Greenland chilling in the Hilleberg Saitaris with the Feathered Friends Peregrine, Sea to Summit Alp II, and Sierra Designs -25 BTU sleeping bags. Pads, left to right: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir AllSeason, Big Agnes Q-Core, and Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.
Credit: Eric Guth
Best Application
Four-season multi-day trips.

Value
The XTherm is the second most expensive sleeping pad we've tested (the Exped DownMat 9 is $10 more). If you travel fast and light in the winter, or just want the best sleeping pad ever, the XTherm is a great buy. Though expensive, it is a fantastic value.

Other Versions and Accessories
The Xtherm is available in four sizes that let you get the best pad for your intended use. Small (20 x 47 in., 11 oz.) is ideal for Alpine climbing, ski touring, mountaineering, and all other applications where saving weight is a top priority. Medium (20 x 66 in., 14 oz.) is great for people 5' 6" in height and under. Regular (20 x 72 in., 15 oz.) will be best for the greatest number of people. And, finally, Large (25 x 77 in., 22 oz.) is an option for wider people or those who want the most protection from the ground.

Therm-A-Rest Z Lite Sol, $45, is the most versatile lightweight closed-cell sleeping pad we've tested. The pad works in just about any camping situation, whether on a big wall in Yosemite, alpine climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, or car camping.
Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map - $100, is an ultra squishy, crazy comfy car and base camp sleeping pad. It uses innovative pressure mapping technology to put foam only where you need it. This saves weight and bulk without reducing comfort.
Therm-A-Rest ProLite Plus - Men's - $110 or Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Women's, $110, is 50% thicker than the ProLite and is a high quality all-purpose inflatable foam pad.


For inflation consider the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack (3.8 oz.), which doubles as a camp stool, stuff sack, or backpack liner. We recommend this for inflating the pad in the winter, when water vapor from your lungs condenses inside the pad and can freeze, thus damaging the pad. If you are car camping, consider bringing one of these inexpensive pumps: the Kwik Tek Airhead Hand Pump or the Kwik Tek Airhead 12V Air Pump.

Click to enlarge
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm pads. Nose Bivy, Mt. Huntington, AK.
Credit: Max Neale
Click to enlarge
Hanging out on the side of Denali (Alaska) in the Hilleberg Nammatj with Therm-a-Rest's NeoAir XTherm, ZLite Sol, and Compack Chair. Feathered Friends Peregrine and Mountain Hardwear Ghost sleeping bags.
Credit: Clayton Kimmi

Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Compare this product side-by-side to top competitors >

Where to Buy?


Thinking about buying some gear we've reviewed? Help OutdoorGearLab out if you do. Just click on any of the above seller links and if you make any purchase, the seller will contribute a portion of the sale to help support this site. It won't cost you anything extra, and it's a simple way to help us fund our gear reviews. Thanks!

*Most retailers free shipping offers apply only to lower 48 US states using ground/economy shipping. See retailer's website for details.


OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: July 31, 2014
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (5.0)
Average Customer Rating:   
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
 (4.7)

100% of 6 reviewers recommend it
Rating Distribution
7 Total Ratings
5 star: 71%  (5)
4 star: 29%  (2)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
Sort 6 member reviews by: Most Recent | Most Helpful
Write a Review on this Gear

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jan 25, 2013 - 11:19pm
johngenx · Climber
Used it all last winter, and LOVED it. It's almost magical. It packs super small, is very light, AND comfy and warm. Wow. Total game changer.
Click to enlarge
Our camp.
Credit: johngenx

Click to enlarge
We used both NeoAir X-Therm and All-Season models. Worked very well!
Credit: johngenx


Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Jul 31, 2014 - 06:30pm
Misha · Backpacker · Denver
It is a little noisier but not too bad. Really comfy and light for backpacking. The only reason I gave it 4 stars is that it takes way too long to inflate + needs a lot of air so when you get to 14,000 ft you do not want to spend all your oxygen on the pad :) It is also very slippery so you keep sliding if you are not on a perfectly leveled surface. However, compared to other pads this one is really good!

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Mar 1, 2014 - 10:28pm
C.Houston · Backpacker · Greenwich, CT
Light, packs small, and you can instantly feel the heat reflected back at you. I paired with a MLD 28 degree quilt, base layers and an Atom LT when it it was 12 degrees inside the tent, without too much discomfort. My buddy with similar layers and a sleeping bag with a similar rating, but a pad with a 3.0 R value, was miserably cold. The crinkling hasn't bothered me or any tent mates. I found it very difficult and time consuming to inflate using the stuff sack.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Dec 18, 2013 - 07:37am
jdchambaz · Backpacker · Switzerland
There is a feature I didn't see in the advertising: it is the "pump-bag", which I discovered when I received my mat.
The model I received has such an "integrated" item (a pump), which is mandatory, especially by cold temps. I use Therm-A-Rest mats since 30 years, and always knew it wasn't good at all to inflate air with the mouth, bec[photo[photo[photo
Click to enlarge
Credit: jdchambaz
id=237681]id=237680]id=237679]ause of the moisture one put in doing so.
As I examinated my brand new Xtherm, I saw a little tag on the bag, explaining how to inflate the mat with its bag. There is a little hole at the bag's bottom, which you put onto the valve, then you close the bag with your hands and simply crush the bag, which will empty itself into the mat. Easy and light, as one doesn't need to have a pump.
I hope you'll can see my pics…

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   Nov 15, 2013 - 03:46pm
Lynne · Other · Lee Vining
I have one and love it. I didn't think this particular pad is as noisy as it's cousin (the yellow one) which is way too crinkly loud. I don't know why it says at top men's pad (I am a female) I believe them come in a variety of sizes.

Anyway, great light pad and sleeps well. Cheers, lynne

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
   May 1, 2013 - 02:12pm
rexthegorman · Backpacker · Memphis, TN
This thing is excellent. Extremely light, extremely small, extremely insulating. What more could you want? Sure, it's expensive, but it's completely worth it.

On the noise issue:
It has bothered no one that I've camped with, and I have slept soundly on it. It's louder than others, but that shouldn't keep you from buying it.

Speaking of which, you should do that. Right now. Stop reading this review and buy it.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
Help other readers find the most helpful reviews
Was this review helpful to you? 
Yes
 
No


Have you used the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm?
Don't hold back. Share your viewpoint by posting a review with your thoughts...

Write a Review on this Gear
Click to enlarge
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
Credit: Therm-a-Rest
Where's the Best Price?
Seller Price
Oregon Mountain Community $110.54  -  42% off!
RockCreek $141.95  -  25% off!
CampSaver $149.95  -  21% off!
Compare prices at 10 sellers >

*Help support OutdoorGearLab. If you click on one of the seller links and make a purchase, a portion of the sale helps support this site
Related Best-in-Class Review
The Best Sleeping Pad Review

The Best Sleeping Pad Review

We enrolled 18 of the best sleeping pads in a rigorous testing regime to evaluate the following five categories: warmth, comfort, durability, weight, and packed size.
Video video review
Helpful Buying Tips
How to Choose the Best Sleeping Pad - Click for details
 How to Choose the Best Sleeping Pad

by Chris McNamara and Max Neale
Get More OutdoorGearLab
Follow us on Twitter, be a fan on Facebook!
Subscribe to our Newsletter