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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's Review

This super light and compact sleeping pad is a great choice for someone looking to go fast, light, and warm
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite - Women's
Photo: Therm-a-Rest
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $180 List | $179.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Very light, super compact, comfortable, versatile, warmer than normal XLite
Cons:  Noisy, expensive, delicate materials
Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest
By Jessica Haist ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 8, 2020
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85
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 10
  • Warmth - 25% 9
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Durability - 10% 6
  • Weight - 25% 10
  • Packed Size - 15% 9

Our Verdict

With new developments in R-value testing and an updated valve, the Therm-A-Rest's NeoAir XLite lands at the top of the pack. The NeoAir has asserted its dominance once again. In the categories of weight and packed size, the NeoAir XLite can't topped, and with new testing standards, it's also one of the warmest pads in our fleet. This sleeping pad has been our lead tester's go-to for all of her backcountry adventures. 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 2.5" thick sleeping pad is very comfortable, although a bit noisy.

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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Very light, super compact, comfortable, versatile, warmer than normal XLiteComfortable, quiet, lightweightLightweight, small packed size, included pump sackComfortable, lightweight, small packed sizeComfortable, light, small packed size
Cons Noisy, expensive, delicate materialsExpensive, heavier than the NeoAir XLiteNot as comfortable as Ether Light and same weight, thinNot very warm, not very durableNot very warm, can feel boaty, expensive
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 trailScored decently well in all our metrics, and has an excellent packed sizeVery comfortable but not very warm, we'd recommend it for summer backpacking tripsNot the warmest of pads, but it inflates to be a huge, cushy mattress
Rating Categories NeoAir XLite Ether Light XT Insulated Ultralight Insulated Exped SynMat UL Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite
Warmth (25%)
9
7
7
5
6
Comfort (25%)
7
9
7
9
7
Durability (10%)
6
7
7
6
7
Weight (25%)
10
8
8
8
7
Packed Size (15%)
9
8
9
9
10
Specs NeoAir XLite Ether Light XT... Ultralight Insulated Exped SynMat UL Big Agnes Q-Core...
Measured Weight 12oz 15 oz 14.6 14.6 oz 16.6 oz
ASTM R Value 5.4 3.5 3.5 2.9 3.2
Thickness 2.5 in 4 in 2 in 2.8 in 4.5 in
Width 20 in 21.5 in 21.5 in 25.6 in 20 in
Packed Size 9 in x 4.1 in 11 x 4.5 in 4 x 9 in 10.4 x 4.3 in 8.27 x 3.94 in
Tested Length 66 in 66 in 72 in 77.6 in 66 in
Bottom Material 30D rip HT Nylon 40D nylon 40D nylon 20 D Polyester Ripstop Nylon

Our Analysis and Test Results

For years, this high-performance sleeping pad has been our top choice when we want to go fast and light.

Performance Comparison


McKenzie took the NeoAir XLite with her on a climbing trip to the...
McKenzie took the NeoAir XLite with her on a climbing trip to the Alaska Range. Here she tests its warmth at basecamp with Mt. Frances and Denali looming in the background. Pair this pad with a foam pad and it works great for cold weather, high altitude, and/or snow camping.
Photo: Luke Lydiard

Warmth


In the last year, the outdoor industry in the US has adopted a standardized way to test the R-values of sleeping pads, called the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) Standard. With this new testing criteria, the NeoAir's R-value has jumped from 3.9 up to a whopping 5.4; this doesn't mean that anything has changed with this pad's technology, but it is a lot warmer than we originally thought. It's now rated as the warmest pad of the bunch and 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, 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 (5.4 versus 4.2), while the weight (12 ounces) stayed the same. Pair the NeoAir XLite with a foam pad, and it's exceptional for cold weather, high altitude, and/or snow camping.

The NeoAir XLite will keep you warm and cozy, especially when paired...
The NeoAir XLite will keep you warm and cozy, especially when paired with a warm sleeping bag.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Comfort


It takes a while to get used to sleeping on the NeoAir XLite, and we found that we were prone to rolling off this sleeping pad.


The mattress also has a significant crinkling sound associated with the space blanket material used to insulate. The noise tends to reduce after several uses. This could be because the crinkly material inside has been broken in like a good piece of Tyvek.

Taking a rest day in Alaska on the comfortable NeoAir pad. Once you...
Taking a rest day in Alaska on the comfortable NeoAir pad. Once you get used to the noise and sleeping on a bouncy rolling cloud, this pad 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.
Photo: McKenzie Long

Once you get used to the noise and sleeping on a bouncy rolling cloud, the NeoAir XLite is comfortable. We like to fill the pad up fully (it is not self-inflating), and then lie on it and let a bit of air out until it feels comfortable. An addition of a one-way valve system or the "WingLock" valve has a larger opening and one-way inflation. The NeoAir also comes with a pump sack, which makes inflation easier. The new one-way valve syste ism less intuitive than some, but it's relatively straightforward to figure out.

This pad is thick and comfortable for side sleeping.
This pad is thick and comfortable for side sleeping.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Durability


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, and it hasn't had a single hole. The same cannot be said for other models.


The simple truth is that the material is much less durable than a traditional sleeping pad with burly woven materials. The included pump sack can eliminate moisture from your breath, that historically we've seen accumulating on the inside, but if you store it properly when not in use (by opening up the valve and spreading it out a bit), the moisture should dissipate.

The new WingLock valve system allows air to travel one way while...
The new 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.
Photo: Ian McEleney

This pad comes with a patch repair kit for those small holes you may encounter while in the field. Hopefully, this new valve system has fixed complaints of the old valve being leaky as well!

The NeoAir XLite women's now comes with an included pump sack to...
The NeoAir XLite women's now comes with an included pump sack to save your breath while inflating!
Photo: Ian McEleney

Weight


At 11.8 ounces, this is the lightest 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 close to matching the NeoAir's weight.

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.
Photo: Jen Reynolds

Packed Size


This is another area where the XLite exceeds.


It packs down incredibly 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 tiniest of all the women's sleeping pads we've tested. Again, the included pump sack adds a little bit of bulk if you choose to carry it.

Still the smallest of packed sizes, the NeoAir XLite women's is as...
Still the smallest of packed sizes, the NeoAir XLite women's is as small as a Nalgene. You can also fit the pump sack in this stuff sack with it.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Value


The NeoAir XLite Women's is near the top of the price range for women's sleeping pads in this review — we think it is 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 replace it often. In that case, go for something more durable. As a bonus, we think the Women's XLite is a better value than the men's because of its higher R-value and smaller packed size.

The NeoAir XLite women's is our favorite lightweight backpacking...
The NeoAir XLite women's is our favorite lightweight backpacking option.
Photo: Ian McEleney

Conclusion


We're pleased with the NeoAir's upgraded valve system and increased R-Value, and have bumped it back up to win our Editors' Choice Award. 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 to California or Alaska and not have to worry. We took the NeoAir XLite on all of our long-distance backpacking trips, and this pad has had many journeys on the PCT, John Muir Trail, and AT. 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.

Maggie Smith on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad during a...
Maggie Smith on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad during a break from biking from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Photo: Max Neale

Jessica Haist