The REI Co-op AirRail has been upgraded to the Plus model. It's still a great product, and it now has a higher R-Value, making it even warmer than the old version. The AirRail is super comfortable, right up there at the top of our scoring in this category because of its hugging bumpers that cradle you while you sleep. REI has also cut down the weight and bulk of this product, making it more competitive in these metrics. All that to say we think it is the best bang for your buck, and we've given it our Best Buy Award. You'll find a quality, comfortable, and warm sleeping mat in the AirRail Plus.
REI Co-op AirRail Plus - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy and bulky
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The new and improved Air Rail Plus is still the best bang for your buck. It has been redesigned with a new one-way valve to help with self-inflation and deflation and is in a more svelte package. The AirRail is lighter, smaller, and warmer for the same price as the old version.
The AirRail Plus Women's is the warmest of the bunch with a 5.2 R-value that will keep you warm into winter conditions.
One of the improvements REI has made to this classic product is upping its R-value a whole number grade (from 4.2 to 5.2), which brings this mat into the 4-season zone. Along with the Sea to Summit Comfort Plus, it has the highest R-value of all the products we tested. We were surprised that this was the case because it appears to have less bulk of insulation so we would have thought that the value went down; however, that's not the case. We have not had the opportunity to test the AirRail in sub-freezing temperatures, so it's hard to gauge the difference at this point. The rails themselves do not appear to be insulated so these may conduct more cold air than other mats that are fully insulated from the ground, but products like the Big Agnes Q Core SLX do not have any foam whatsoever in them for insulation.
REI claims that this model has more insulation than its unisex version, adding insulation to the torso and padding to the hip area because women sleep colder.
This product scores high in this metric. We love the cradling feeling of the "rails" and think it will add mental comfort as well as it could help people feel less worried about rolling off their mats in the night.
The AirRail's shape has changed slightly with the inception of the "Plus" model, but not significantly or noticeably. If anything the shape is wider, with more room in the foot area. This time around the main pad area seemed thinner, and if not fully inflated, we could feel ourselves "bottoming out", or touching the ground when sitting up or on our side. The rails are great for back sleepers as they will cradle your arms; we often feel like our arms are falling off our pad when sleeping on our back on most models in this review, but this is not the case with the AirRail Plus. Instead, our arms rest comfortably on the rails. The rails are also helpful as a guide to where the edges of your mat are so you don't shift or roll off it in the middle of the night.
The Sea to Summit Ether Light is also a very comfortable sleeping pad that is much lighter than the AirRail and a great choice for backpacking trips.
Along with the Trail Lite, the AirRail is one of the most durable products in our fleet.
With its 75 Denier fabric, it has the most robust bottom materials of the bunch. Its former iteration had some complaints about the valve leaking overnight. Now, REI has gone to a one-way valve system that is similar to Big Agnes and Sea to Summit's models, with the option to remove the full cap for easy deflation. This new valve seems to be more durable and easy to use than the former screw and lock down valve. We also think that this version's color is better as it doesn't show dirt as easily as the old teal color did.
On the heftier side, the AirRail loses points in this metric.
Weighing in at 25 ounces, the AirRail is one of the heavier products in this review, and we would hesitate to take this on long backpacking trips. The lightest model we tested was the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite weighing only 11.8 ounces, which is less than half the weight of the AirRail. All that being said, it's also not the heaviest pad in this review.
REI has made strides in this area with the AirRail Plus Women's; however, it's still not as small and packable as other models we tested.
We were pleasantly surprised that the AirRail seems to have a smaller packed size than the last version. It was not a struggle to get this mat into its stuff sack. This could be in part to the new valve that dumps air out, also possibly the mat's materials have had an upgrade to more compressible ones.
This model is a great option for car camping on cool and cold nights. Its high R-Value makes it very versatile in different temperatures, especially when paired with a warm sleeping bag. Since its packed size has been decreased, we would consider taking it on short overnight backpacks, but this is definitely not the best choice for long thru hikes. We would reach for the Ether Light or the NeoAir for anything more than a night or two, especially if you're trying to move quickly in the mountains. The AirRail is a great choice if you're a back sleeper and are looking for something comfy when you're base camping.
Retailing for $100, the AirRail is not the cheapest pad of the bunch; however, thanks to its great comfort and warmth, as well as its acceptable weight and bulk, it's the best value of the bunch, and thus the winner of our award for the best value. This pad seems to be on sale often, so keep an eye out for an even better deal! If you're looking for a more traditionally shaped sleeping pad (which in our opinion is not as comfortable), the Trail Lite is also warm, weighs the same and retails for $80.
When we once were dubious of this product's "rails", we've come to love them, as they're very comfortable. The REI Co-op Air Rail Plus has increased its value by upping its warmth and decreasing its packed size. Because of these factors, it holds on to our Best Buy Award. This sleeping pad is a great choice for car camping and basecamping in cold conditions, especially when paired with a warm sleeping bag; as a bonus, back sleepers will love it. If you're afraid of rolling off your pad at night, the AirRail will also give you peace of mind.
— Jessica Haist