Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Very light, super compact, comfortable, versatile, warmer than normal XLite
Cons: Edges collapse when weighted, noisy, expensive, delicate materials
Best Uses: All ultralight activities,
In the categories of weight and packed-size Therm-A-Rest's NeoAir XLite Women's can not be beat. The XLite wins our Editors' Choice Award not only because it is light and small, but because it is also comfortable and warm, making it a well-rounded, top performing sleeping pad. This sleeping pad has been our lead tester's go-to for all of her backcountry adventures, and she stills loves it after years of use. As with all light-weight products, extra care should be taken when using this pad because it is less durable than other women's pads we tested, but when treated properly it can last a long time. This 2.5" thick sleeping pad is very comfortable and has a high R-Value of 3.9.
Check out our full Women's Sleeping Pad Review to see how the NeoAir XLite women's stacked up to the competition, or if you're looking for a wider variety of sleeping pads check out our unisex pad review or our Car Camping Mattress Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite, with its innovative technology, is the sleeping pad you're going to want to take along on all your backcountry adventures. It is light, comfortable, warm, and packs small.
Although it is not the warmest sleeping pad we tested, the NeoAir XLite has a surprisingly high R-Value for the fact that it has no foam insulation inside, just air and baffles. It utilizes Therm-A-Rest's "ThermaCapture™" technology that supposedly traps radiant heat while "Triangular Core Matrix™" construction minimizes convective heat loss. Basically, it has space-blanket-like material constructed into little triangles to trap and reflect your body heat back towards you while reflecting the cold ground air back to the ground. This technology allows Therm-A-Rest to do away with any insulating foam, significantly reducing the bulk and weight on this pad. We were also interested to see that the Women's specific version has a higher R-value than the men's (3.9 versus 3.2), while the weight (12 oz) stayed the same. To learn more about R-values check out our Buying Advice Article.
Pair the NeoAir XLite with a foam pad and it works great for cold weather, high altitude, and/or snow camping.
This is the thickest women's sleeping pad we tested, although not the most comfortable. It takes a while to get used to sleeping so far off the ground, and we found that we were more prone to rolling off this sleeping pad than some of the others. The mattress also has a significant crinkling sound associated with the space blanket material used to insulate. Our testers have found that the noise tends to reduce after a number of uses. This could be because the crinkly material inside has been broken in like a good piece of Tyvek.
Once you get used to the noise and sleeping on a bouncy rolling cloud, the NeoAir XLite is quite comfortable. We like to fill the mattress up fully (it is not self-inflating), and then lie on it and let a bit of air out until it feels comfortable for us.
As with all lightweight gear, you need to be delicate with this product and treat it with respect. Some of our testers have owned the same NeoAir XLite going on 4 years without it having a single hole. The same cannot be said for others. The simple truth is that the material is much less durable than a traditional sleeping pad with burly materials, such as the durable Therm-A-Rest Trail Lite - Women's. We are a bit concerned about the moisture that we can see accumulating on the inside, but if you store your mattress properly when not in use by opening up the valve and spreading it out a bit, hopefully the moisture should dissipate. This pad comes with a patch repair kit for those small holes you may encounter while in the field.
At 12 oz, this is the lightest sleeping pad by far in this review. Its closest competitor is the Therm-A-Rest Prolite - Women's, which weighs 16 oz and has an R-value of 2.8 (The NeoAir is 3.9). The women's XLite weighs the same as the men's version but has a higher R-value.
This is another area where the XLite exceeds. It packs down extremely small, only 9x4 inches, smaller than a Nalgene bottle. If you are trying to go light, you are probably trying to go small too, and this is the smallest of all the women's sleeping pads we've tested.
We took the NeoAir XLite on all of our long distance backpacking trips this summer. We are confident that this pad has had many journeys on the PCT, John Muir Trail, and AT. Our testers have also taken this pad on many cold weather adventures, including up to Denali State Park in Alaska and ski touring in the High Sierra, California. Because it is so light and small, this pad is a no-brainer to throw in your pack on those trips you want to be going fast, light, and you still want to be warm and comfortable.
The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite Women's is the most expensive sleeping pad in this review at $159.95. We think it is worth it. If you want to significantly lighten up your sleeping system while not sacrificing warmth or comfort we think that the XLite is a good investment. If you are hard on your gear and don't have the patience or attention to take good care of your gear, this model may not be a good value for you because you'll have to replace it often. In that case, go for something more durable like the ProLite. We think the Women's XLite is a better value than the men's because of its higher R value and smaller packed size.
If you are ready to invest in lightening up your sleeping system, the NeoAir is for you. We love how lightweight and versatile this sleeping pad is because we can take it anywhere from California to Alaska and not have to worry. It packs down smaller than any other women's pad we've tested and is an easy choice for all your fast and light or long-distance backpacking adventures.
Other Versions and Accessories
Therm-A-Rest has a whole series of NeoAir sleeping pads. The XLite comes in several versions including the Women's, as well as men's sized small, regular, and long.
There is also a 4 season version called the XTherm with an R value of 5.7 that comes in small, medium, (same size as women's XLite), regular, and long sizes.
Therm-A-Rest also makes NeoAirs in their Trekk and Travel categories that are a bit larger and heavier called the All Season, Trekker, and Venture WV.
There are a few accessories that may make your life easier when inflating these non-self-inflating air mattresses. The NeoAir Pump Sack is an inflation aid as well as a stuff sack and can convert your NeoAir mattress into a camp set.
There are also a variety of pumps available including the NeoAir Torrent Pump, Mini Pump, and Air Tap pump.
— Jessica Haist
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Most recent review: October 18, 2014
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