Hands-on Gear Review

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker Review

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker
Price:  $130 List | $96.95 at Backcountry
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, durable, compact.
Cons:  Sides collapse under load, heavier than all other NeoAirs.
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest

Our Verdict

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker falls awkwardly between other NeoAir pads. Our testers prefer the NeoAir All Season, which keeps the Trekker's rectangular shape but adds more warmth, or the NeoAir Camper, which is more comfortable than the Trekker and cheaper.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

Last Updated:
Tuesday
March 24, 2015

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Likes


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.

Tressa Gibbard inflates the NeoAir Trekker at the base of the Incredible Hulk  High Sierra  CA.
Tressa Gibbard inflates the NeoAir Trekker at the base of the Incredible Hulk, High Sierra, CA.

Dislikes


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.

Best Application


Backpacking.

Value


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.

Accessories


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.

Feathered Friends Hummingbird on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker.
Feathered Friends Hummingbird on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker.
Chris McNamara and Max Neale

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Most recent review: March 24, 2015
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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 (4.0)

100% of 3 reviewers recommend it
 
Rating Distribution
4 Total Ratings
5 star: 0%  (0)
4 star: 75%  (3)
3 star: 25%  (1)
2 star: 0%  (0)
1 star: 0%  (0)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jul 15, 2014 - 06:49am
Brett · Backpacker · Cape Town, ZA
Hi, I spent 3 years guiding trips through Africa, and this was my goto mattress for trips into the Okovango Delta and when I felt like a bit of luxury (we had standard foldable foam mattresses for guides and clients)

I can also confirm there's no crinkle noises, making this the best for maintaining client/guide relationships (by not keeping them up all night, just to be clear, although works just as well for amorous couples)

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
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   Jun 27, 2012 - 01:00am
Ranger1 · Kayaker · Albuquerque, NM
I ended up buying this pad simply because of how compact it is in both backpacking and kayak travel. I needed something to get off the ground and be comfortable. Used it mostly three season and it excels in that. I liked especially the tubing not running lengthwise as most other do. The widthwise tubes were especially beneficial during times where sand and dirt are you tenting companions. The tube valleys allowed for the grit to run off the main sleeping surface and not bug you all night long. Take it long distance sea kayaking on Lake Powell or the Sea of Cortez..just bring some repair seal just in case you drop it in some cactus. Other than that I did not have any issue with noise as some claimed with this product version. They must have had the ultralight which I really did not like due to the noise as well.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
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   Jun 9, 2014 - 09:57pm
Mike H · San Francisco, CA
I'm reviewing the new one (2014). From what I can tell, this is the lightest non-crinkling neoair. If you go to the next lighter (neoair all-season), you end up with the loud crinkle that neoairs are famous for. As such, if you're backpacking with someone else, especially in the same tent, I think this is your best option.

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.


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