Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker Review
Cons: Sides collapse under load, heavier than all other NeoAirs.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Trekker is the base model in the NeoAir series. The pad utilizes the same internal baffle construction as other pads; it's comfortable and lightweight. The Trekker is designed for summer backpacking and general camping use. Unlike the All Season, XLite, and XTherm, its internal baffles are made of nylon, not reflective foil material. This makes it slightly less warm, cheaper, and less noisy.
Comparing the comfort of the Trekker to other pads is a lengthy discussion. Briefly, our testers found the pad to be as comfortable as the NeoAir All Season, more comfortable than all other weight saving contoured NeoAirs, slightly less comfortable than the Nemo Astro Insulated (which is slightly wider), more comfortable than Exped's Syn Mat 7 (which has vertical air chambers that make it feel like a pool mattress), but not as comfortable as the Exped DownMat 9 (which is a full inch thicker than all NeoAirs).
The Trekker is available in three sizes: Regular 20 x 72 in., Large 25 x 77 in., and Large Torso 25 x 47 in.
There are two drawbacks to the construction of all NeoAir sleeping pads: they're narrow and noisy. Although 20" is the standard width for portable sleeping pads the NeoAir is narrower than most others (not all manufacturers measure pads the same way). For example, a 20" NeoAir is just over an inch slimmer than a 20" Nemo Astro insulated (see photo below). Furthermore, the NeoAir's internal baffle construction provides little support along the edges; they collapse slightly when loaded. Specifically, the edges are supportive when lying on your back, but not when you're lying on your side close to the edge. The combination of a slimmer pad and the edge collapsing effect make the NeoAir series feel about 18" wide. None of our testers found this to be particularly problematic. The pads are still very comfortable. If you're on the wider side consider a Large size.
Warning: everything you do on the NeoAir can and will be heard by others. The crinkle-crackle of its internal baffles and foil-like reflective layers make the NeoAir the loudest pad we've tested. Turning over is loud, sitting up is louder, and kneeling on the pad even louder. Romantic adventures sound like a symphony orchestra. A noisy pad is fine when you're camping alone in a remote locale. When in a campground or at a base camp, however, everyone within 100 feet can hear you roll over. Does this impact the pad's performance? Absolutely not. The noise is only a drawback when other people are nearby.
The Trekker is slightly less warm than the average sleeping pad we've reviewed. (Therm-a-Rest reports an R-Value of 3). Consider the NeoAir All Season if you want something warmer.
The Trekker is a good value. It's best for people who want a good all-purpose summer pad. Retailing for the same price, the Nemo Astro Insulated is its nearest competitor. We suggest the Trekker if you do more backpacking than basecamping, and the Astro Insulated if the opposite is true.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Pump Sack (3.8 oz.) fills pads with dry air and doubles as a camp stool, stuff sack, or backpack liner. We highly recommend this for winter use. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Jembe Seat (3.8 oz.) turns any NeoAir mattress into a comfortable camp stool. The Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair (6 oz.) turns almost any pad (from any manufacturer) into a comfortable camp chair with back support.
— Chris McNamara and Max Neale
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