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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT - Short Review

This super light and compact sleeping pad is a great choice for someone looking to go fast, light, and warm
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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT - Short Review (The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT getting ready for some cold weather camping.)
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT getting ready for some cold weather camping.
Credit: Jessica Haist
Price:  $200 List
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Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 13, 2023
85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 11
  • Comfort - 30% 8.0
  • Weight - 30% 9.7
  • Warmth - 20% 7.5
  • Packed Size - 10% 9.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 7.5

Our Verdict

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT scored highly in every one of our metrics and is an overall champ. It's the lightest inflatable pad in our lineup and also one of the warmest. We tested the “short” size, as there is no longer a women's-specific version. Therm-a-Rest removed the extra insulation of the women's version, downgrading the R-value by almost a point, but this is still our favorite pad for women and shorter people. It has been our lead tester's go-to for all of her backcountry adventures through many years and iterations. As with all lightweight products, extra care should be taken when using this pad because it is less durable than others; however, when treated properly, it will last a long time. This 3" thick sleeping pad is very comfortable, and Therm-a-Rest has made successful efforts to quiet the crinkly materials. Compare it to other top competitors in our full review of the best women's sleeping pad.
REASONS TO BUY
Very light
Super compact
Comfortable
Versatile
REASONS TO AVOID
Expensive
Delicate materials
Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 13, 2023, after a full retest of the newer unisex NXT version of this pad.

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Bottom Line A great choice for your long backpacking trips, this pad is light, compact and warmComfortable and warm, this model will have you sleeping like a baby out on the trailThis is a good choice for winter camping, as it's incredibly warm and comfortableThis warm and comfortable model should be noted for its price and performanceIf you want a light and durable pad that you can use as a seat and won't deflate, this could be the pad for you
Rating Categories Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Sea to Summit Ether... Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest Trail... Nemo Switchback - S...
Comfort (30%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
3.0
Weight (30%)
9.7
8.8
6.0
5.6
10.0
Warmth (20%)
7.5
6.1
10.0
7.5
4.0
Packed Size (10%)
9.0
7.5
6.0
6.0
3.5
Construction Quality (10%)
7.5
7.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Sea to Summit Ether... Sea to Summit Ether... Therm-a-Rest Trail... Nemo Switchback - S...
Measured Weight 11.8 oz 15.0 oz 24.2 oz 25.6 oz 10.8oz
ASTM R-Value 4.5 3.5 6.3 4.5 2.0
Insulation Air and baffles Thermolite insulation Thermolite insulation Foam Foam
Thickness 3.0 in 4.0 in 4.0 in 1.5 in 0.9 in
Tested Length 66 in 66 in 66 in 66 in 50 in
Tested Width 20.0 in 21.5 in 21.7 in 20.0 in 20.0 in
Packed Size 9.0 x 4.1 in 11.0 x 4.5 in 9.4 x 6.9 in 10.5 x 6.0 in 20.0 x 5.0 x 4.0 in
Bottom Material 30D rip HT nylon 40D nylon 30D / 40D nylon 50D polyester Closed cell foam
Pump Sack Included? Yes Yes Yes No N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

For years, this high-performance sleeping pad has been our top choice for going fast and light. There used to be a women's-specific model, but now there's simply a short size in the unisex lineup. This new version lost some of its warmth, but we still love it.

Performance Comparison


therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - the therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt in size short getting taken out...
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT in size short getting taken out for a spin.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Comfort


It takes a while to get used to sleeping on the NeoAir XLite, as it is slightly less stable than some of the other shapes and construction styles in this review, and we found that some of our testers were prone to rolling off this 3-inch sleeping pad.


The biggest complaint many users have had with the NeoAir line in the past is that the materials are loud and crinkly sounding. Therm-a-Rest has tried to reduce this noise, and we have noticed that the NXT is quieter than former versions. It's still not completely silent, and we still hear the crinkly chip bag noise, but it is fainter so you may not wake up your tent-mate as often with your tossing and turning.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - this pad is thick and comfortable for side sleeping.
This pad is thick and comfortable for side sleeping.
Credit: Ian McEleney

The NeoAir XLite NXT is really comfortable. We like to fill the pad up fully (it is not self-inflating) and then lie on it and let some air out until it feels just right. An addition of a one-way valve system — the “WingLock” valve — has a larger opening and one-way inflation. The NeoAir also comes with a pump sack, which makes inflation easier. The one-way valve system is less intuitive than some, but it's relatively straightforward.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - using the neoair pump sack helps you save your breath when camping...
Using the NeoAir pump sack helps you save your breath when camping at altitude.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Weight


At 11.8 ounces, this is the lightest inflatable sleeping pad by far in this review.


The included pump sack now adds two ounces to that tally if you choose to carry it with you. We have yet to see a competitor that comes notably close to matching the weight of the NeoAir.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - the neoair xlite is a great choice for long and strenuous...
The NeoAir XLite is a great choice for long and strenuous backpacking trips like the Sierra High Route. Jessica Haist blows up hers in the Bear Lakes Basin.
Credit: Jen Reynolds

Warmth


As we've mentioned, the R-value decreased a bit when this went from a women's-specific pad to unisex. However, it still has a higher R-value than most of the pads we've tested at 4.5. It has no foam or synthetic insulation, just air and baffles. The pad utilizes Therm-A-Rest's ThermaCapture technology, which is meant to trap radiant heat while the Triangular Core Matrix construction minimizes convective heat loss.


Basically, this pad 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 of this pad. If you want to bulk up your R-value, pair the NeoAir XLite NXT with a foam pad. This makes it a decent choice for cold weather, high altitude, and/or snow camping.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - the therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt has an r-value of 4.5 and can be...
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT has an R-Value of 4.5 and can be stretched to use through 3 seasons, but we recommend bringing some foam along too if you're sleeping on snow.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Packed Size


This is another area where the XLite NXT exceeds.


This pad packs down incredibly small, only 9 x 4.1 inches — smaller than a Nalgene bottle. If you are trying to go light, you are probably trying to go small too, and this is one of the tiniest of all the sleeping pads we've tested. Again, the included pump sack adds a little bit of bulk if you choose to carry it.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - one of the smallest of packed sizes, the neoair xlite nxt is as...
One of the smallest of packed sizes, the NeoAir XLite NXT is as small as a Nalgene. You can also fit the pump sack in this stuff sack with it.
Credit: Jessica Haist

Construction Quality


As with all lightweight gear, you need to be delicate with this product and treat it with respect. Some of our testers are going on year four of owning the same NeoAir XLite (prior to the NXT version), and it hasn't had a single hole. The same cannot be said for other contenders.


However, the simple truth is that the material of the NeoAir is much less durable than a traditional sleeping pad with burly woven materials. It does come with a patch repair kit for those small holes you may encounter while in the field.

The included pump sack can eliminate adding moisture from your breath to the inside of the pad, but if you also store it properly when not in use (by opening up the valve and spreading it out a bit), the moisture should dissipate.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - the winglock valve system allows air to travel one way while...
The WingLock valve system allows air to travel one way while filling, without letting air escape. Then you can open it up all the way to deflate.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Should You Buy the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT?


The NeoAir XLite NXT is near the top of the price range for sleeping pads in this review, but we think it's worth it. If you want to significantly lighten up your sleeping system while not sacrificing warmth or comfort, the XLite is a good investment. If you are hard on your gear and don't have the patience or attention to treat it with care, this model may not be a good value for you because you may have to fix or replace it often. In that case, go for something more durable. But overall, if you are ready to invest in lightening your sleeping system, the NeoAir is for you. We love how lightweight and versatile it is because we can take it on all kinds of journeys. We're a little bummed about the loss of warmth now that it's not women's specific, but we still stayed plenty warm in typical camping situations.

therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt - short - the neoair xlite women's is our favorite lightweight backpacking...
The NeoAir XLite women's is our favorite lightweight backpacking option.
Credit: Ian McEleney

What Other Sleeping Pads Should You Consider?


We love the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Insulated — it is slightly thicker, wider, and thus a little more comfortable than the NeoAir NXT. If weight is less of a concern and you're looking for a much warmer pad, the Sea To Summit Ether Light XT Extreme is a great choice. If you're over 5'5" or want more length, there is a variety of unisex pads in our review of the best backpacking sleeping pads to check out.

Jessica Haist