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Hands-on Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper Review

Price:   $100 List | $74.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Rectangular shape has more area than mummy shaped pads, durable, inexpensive, very comfortable
Cons:  Heavy for backpacking
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest

Our Verdict

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper is one of the most comfortable compact inflatable sleeping pads we tested. Its rectangular shape combined with three inches of cushion make it a fantastic choice for those that value comfort over weight savings. Conveniently, the pad is also among the most durable of the inflatable variety and it's priced relatively affordably. The NeoAir Camper sits squarely between a lightweight inflatable pad well-suited to backpacking and an ultra-luxurious car camping pad. We recommend the NeoAir Camper if you want one pad to do both activities and don't mind carrying some extra weight.

If you'd like to save three ounces, we'd recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture, which is very comparable to the Camper. The Venture is $30 cheaper and nearly as warm. Our testers enjoyed sleeping on both of these pads. Also consider a size large Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, which is lighter, more compact, and nearly as comfortable as the Camper in size large.


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select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Type R Value Weight
75
$200
Editors' Choice Award
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 5.7 15 oz.
70
$200
Top Pick Award
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells/Synthetic Insulation 5 25.5 oz.
68
$160
Top Pick Award
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 3.2 12 oz.
67
$140
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3 16 oz.
65
$169
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3.3 12.3 oz.
65
$170
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells/Synthetic Insulation 4.2 20.5 oz.
65
$180
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 3.2 16 oz.
64
$109
Self-inflating/Foam Insulation 4.2 26 oz.
64
$160
Air Construction/Baffled Insulation 4.9 24 oz.
62
$120
Self-inflating/Air Construction/Foam Insulation 2.1 17 oz.
61
$100
Air Construction/AirSprung Cells 0.7 12.5 oz.
60
$130
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 4.9 30 oz.
59
$95
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 4.4 19.6 oz.
59
$100
Air Construction 2.2 24 oz.
59
$70
Best Buy Award
Air Construction/baffled insulation 1.8 21 oz.
58
$90
Self-inflating/Foam Insulation 2.4 18 oz.
55
$45
Best Buy Award
Closed Cell Foam 2.6 14 oz.
55
$110
Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation 3 24 oz.
55
$30
Closed Cell Foam 2.8 14 oz.
49
$70
Air Construction 1 9.1 oz.
47
$70
Air Constuction 1 22 oz.

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Jeremy Bauman
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
August 18, 2016

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This contender is a supremely comfortable pad, but weighs a bit more because of its extra comfort. It scored closer to the bottom of the pack because it is fairly heavy and isn't very warm.

Performance Comparison



The chart above displays the overall score received by the NeoAir Camper (highlighted in blue) throughout the testing process. Keep reading below to see how the score breaks down in each individual metric.

The rectangular shape of this pad makes it more comfortable than pads with tapered designs.
The rectangular shape of this pad makes it more comfortable than pads with tapered designs.

Comfort


One of the most comfortable products in our review, this pad's rectangular shape gives you more space for your pillow and feet, and the extra half inch of depth (compared to other NeoAir mattresses) provides extra cushion for hips and knees. Additionally, our testers have consistently reported that the NeoAir's smooth surface tends to be more comfortable than the competition. For example, the Big Agnes Q-Core SLX has a pothole-like surface and the Nemo Astro Insulated uses horizontal baffles that are a bit too deep. Thus, the Camper - with its large rectangular shape - is the way to go if comfort is your priority. With the said, many testers preferred spending the night on the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated that has a quilt like structure and allows for independent inflation of the top and bottom.

When compared with the NeoAir Venture, the Camper was ever so slightly more comfortable, but our testers did not feel that the difference was great enough to warrant giving the Camper a full one-point lead over the Venture. Both pads are similarly constructed, but the Camper has the advantage of being a tad thicker.

If you really want a comfortable sleeping pad for car camping, we urge you to consider one of the products compared in our Camping Mattress Review.

When compared side-by-side with the Big Agnes Q-Core SL (right)  our testers preferred sleeping on the Camper's smoother surface (left).
When compared side-by-side with the Big Agnes Q-Core SL (right), our testers preferred sleeping on the Camper's smoother surface (left).

Weight and Packed Size


The NeoAir Camper is available in three sizes:
  • Regular = 72" x 20" 24 oz.
  • Large = 77" x 25" 28 oz.
  • XL = 77" x 30" 36 oz.

We tested the regular size. While this size was adequate for backpacking, if you really want luxury, splurge for the large size, which is wider and longer. This will noticeably increase comfort for a only minor weight penalty. That said, we feel that any size of the NeoAir Camper is too heavy for longer backpacking trips. The pad weighs more than top-tier 15-degree down sleeping bags and it's heavier than most ultralight tents. If you want the most comfort for the lowest weight consider a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite.

Extra comfort and moderate price are the primary reasons to get the NeoAir Camper. However, remember that you can also opt for the NeoAir Venture (our Best Buy Award winner), which is a few ounces lighter and a bit less expensive.

Given its level of comfort, the Camper packs down pretty small. While it's much more bulky than lightweight pads like the Sea to Summit Ultralight, it will fit in your pack much easier than self-inflating pads like the REI AirRail 1.5. Given the high level of comfort, the Camper's packed size is pretty impressive.

As you can see  the Camper (right) is vastly more packable than a foam pad like the Ridge Rest (left).
As you can see, the Camper (right) is vastly more packable than a foam pad like the Ridge Rest (left).

Warmth


This a three-season pad, so it's plenty comfortable for spring, summer, and fall. Add a closed cell pad like the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite SOL beneath for winter, or bump up to a warmer pad like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.

Here the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper and Ridge Rest are combined for a comfortable winter set-up. Combining pads has the advantage of redundancy in case something happens to one of your pads.
Here the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper and Ridge Rest are combined for a comfortable winter set-up. Combining pads has the advantage of redundancy in case something happens to one of your pads.

Ease of Inflation


The Camper has a traditional Therm-a-Rest valve that hasn't received many upgrades since its inception on old school self-inflating pads. Though it isn't as nice to use as the innovate one way valves founds on pads like the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated, the simplicity of the twist valve is intuitive, effective, and easy to use. When deflating, just be sure to open the valve all the way and lay on the pad a few seconds while it deflates.

Durability


The Camper uses thick, tough fabrics that make it well-suited to the everyday thrashing of base camping and car camping. It resists dogs, kids, pillow fights, card games, and stormy tent-bound days better than ultralight inflatable pads. We also bivied directly on the ground without incident. We expect this pad to last much longer than lightweight models.

Best Applications


The Camper could be a good choice if you want one single pad for car camping and occasional backpacking. Most of our testers have one luxurious camping mattress for car camping and a lightweight pad (like the NeoAir XLite, which weighs half as much as the NeoAir Camper) for backpacking. We believe the Camper's best application is remote base camping, where you hike in for a day or two and spend several days to a week or more in one location before hiking out.

Value


While this pad is very comfortable for the relatively low price of $100, we can't wholeheartedly say that it is a great value. The Best Buy Award wining NeoAir Venture is very comparable to the Camper, but the Venture is 3 oz lighter, nearly as warm, is more packable, and retails for $30 less.

Conclusion


This contender is a good pad, especially if you find yourself camping next to the car more often than not. It is a very comfortable pad that will transform lumpy ground into a plush sleep surface. It isn't our favorite pad for lightweight backpacking, but if you don't mind carrying a couple extra ounces in the name of comfort, then it's a good pick. It is slightly warmer than the NeoAir Venture, but is more expensive and it's heavier. Overall, the Camper is a good pad to have if you want one pad for backpacking and car camping and if you value comfort over weight.

When it comes to comfort  this pad is tops. The smooth surface and horizontal baffling make it a dream to sleep on.
When it comes to comfort, this pad is tops. The smooth surface and horizontal baffling make it a dream to sleep on.

Other Versions & Accessories


Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map
Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map
  • Cost - $100.00
  • Weight - 3lbs 4oz
  • Thickness - 3 inches
  • Self -inflating
  • R-Value - 6.8

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
  • Cost - $160.00
  • Weight - 12oz
  • Thickness - 2.5 inches
  • R-Value- 3.2

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack is our favorite tool for inflating winter pads  which are susceptible to failing due to moisture vapor from your lungs.
  • Cost - $30
  • Weight - 3.8oz
  • 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.

Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair
Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair
  • Cost - $50
  • Weight - 6oz
  • Turns almost any pad into a comfortable camp chair with back support

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Jembe Seat
Therm-a-Rest Jembe Seat
  • Cost - $33.63
  • Weight - .8 oz
  • Lightweight option
  • Turns any NeoAir mattress into a comfortable camp stool.
Jeremy Bauman

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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews


Most recent review: August 18, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:     (0.0)
Rating Distribution
1 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 100%  (1)
3 star: 0%  (0)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)


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