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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Review

A true jack of all trades sleeping pad with a highly effective updated valve system
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $215 List | $214.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Superior warmth, small packed size, light
Cons:  Narrow, expensive
Manufacturer:   Therm-a-Rest
By Brian Martin ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  May 4, 2020
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 8
  • Warmth - 20% 9
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 8
  • Durability - 10% 6

Our Verdict

If there's one thing to be thankful for in 2020, it's the updated valve system on one of our favorite sleeping pads of all time. Despite the previously dated and frustrating valve system, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm was still our Editors' Choice winner, year after year. The newest update has retained the lightweight, packable design, and excellent warmth — all while integrating a newly designed and highly functional inflation/deflation valve. This new valve is lightyears beyond the functionality of the old valve, which was our only gripe with most Therm-a-Rest pads. In short, the overall performance of the XTherm is exceptional.

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Our Analysis and Test Results

Therm-a-Rest revised this pad in a significant way! The dimensions and weight remain the same, but there is an updated valve, new fabric, and the R-value has been upped. Too often in our fast-paced consumer-oriented outdoor market, quality products are discontinued in favor of something else simply to have a "new" item on the market. We're thankful that Therm-a-Rest went against the grain and kept the XTherm largely intact, with the most notable difference being the impressive winglock valve.

Performance Comparison


The XTherm kicked butt and took names for our 2020 sleeping pad review. As an Editors' Choice Award Winner, we had high hopes for the update, and we were delighted with the results.

The XTherm was one of the best sleeping pads we tested again! It is light enough to allow for the addition of the Z Lite without too much struggle. Not only does the Z Lite create a pop-free barrier between inflatables and the ground  it adds a significant insulation layer between your body and warmth sucking granite.
The XTherm was one of the best sleeping pads we tested again! It is light enough to allow for the addition of the Z Lite without too much struggle. Not only does the Z Lite create a pop-free barrier between inflatables and the ground, it adds a significant insulation layer between your body and warmth sucking granite.

Comfort


To tackle some of the negative attributes first, the XTherm is not the most comfortable pad available on the market. That being said, everything in life is about compromise, right? The compromise for having a slightly narrow bottom half and the somewhat slippery fabric is that the XTherm provides excellent warmth to weight in a tiny package. The cool part about the 2020 XTherm is the pad being available in a rectangle cut out, offering more legroom. If you don't mind the extra weight, we imagine the rectangular version is worthy as well, though we didn't test that version.


While it doesn't affect the physical comfort we feel when using the pad, it's worth noting just how crinkly this pad is. We generally fell asleep quickly while using the XTherm; however, it's undeniable that those sensitive to rustling/crinkling sounds might be frustrated with the noise generated by movement on the XTherm. Think bacon sizzling in the pan, and you'll have a general idea of the sound and volume level of the crackling sound.

Thick  mostly bounce-free  warm... The XTherm is quite comfortable especially considering the low weight. Larger individuals might want to consider the wider (25in) version as this one is pretty narrow at 20 inches.
Thick, mostly bounce-free, warm... The XTherm is quite comfortable especially considering the low weight. Larger individuals might want to consider the wider (25in) version as this one is pretty narrow at 20 inches.

Now for the positive comfort attributes. The two and a half-inch thick pad utilized horizontal baffles, which proved to be plenty thick and not excessively bouncy. We never felt debris underneath and couldn't push through to the ground unless we were kneeling on the pad. Side sleepers will have absolutely no trouble with hips digging into the earth even if you deflate the pad just a tad for optimal comfort.

Cold desert night on hard ground? Not a problem for the XTherm. The 2.5inch horizontal baffles were more than enough to keep us comfortable even on rocky  uneven ground.
Cold desert night on hard ground? Not a problem for the XTherm. The 2.5inch horizontal baffles were more than enough to keep us comfortable even on rocky, uneven ground.

Weight and Packed Size


To further praise the improvements of the newest XTherm, our previous version, which was the same size, weighed in at 19.5 ounces on our scale, with pump sack included. The new version, with an improved valve system plus pump sack, weighed in at 18.2 ounces.


Comparisons are kinda our thing. When comparing weight and packed size of the XTherm to other four-season pads, none even come close. This thing even beats out most three-season pads in the weight/packed size department.

Pad  pumpsack  repair patches  and stuff sack all-together weighed in at 18.2oz which is actually lighter than the past version of this pad. The thinner under fabric definitely slimmed this bad boy down.
Pad, pumpsack, repair patches, and stuff sack all-together weighed in at 18.2oz which is actually lighter than the past version of this pad. The thinner under fabric definitely slimmed this bad boy down.

The XTherm packs down into a pleasantly small roll with an amply sized stuff sack, able to accommodate both pump sack and pad easily even when wearing gloves, which is a huge plus. There's nothing more frustrating than having outdoor equipment designed for four seasons that require you to take off your gloves just to pack it up.

Warmth


After testing the NeoAir XTherm in a wide range of conditions, we feel comfortable saying that it's one of the warmest sleeping pads we tested. The Thermacapture reflective heat technology does, in fact, reflect heat efficiently.


The NeoAir XTherm stands alone in its insulation technology. Most insulated pads, even the really warm ones, utilize synthetic fiber insulation on the inside of the pad, which is effective but results in a bulky and often heavy pad. The reflective metalized coating inside the pad is effective at reflecting heat, but more importantly, is incredibly light and able to collapse when the pad is deflated.

The 2011 version of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm below northern Maine's Mt. Katahdin. Tom is 6'3" and slept on snow with the XTherm at -10 degrees F.
The 2011 version of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm below northern Maine's Mt. Katahdin. Tom is 6'3" and slept on snow with the XTherm at -10 degrees F.

Our testers have crashed on this pad all over the lower 48 and up on Denali in Alaska. The warmth of this pad, coupled with its unique packability and light weight, has made it our measuring stick for all other pads.

Ease of Inflation


As long as we can remember, Therm-a-Rest pads were equipped with the same valve system, and like the annoying drunk uncle at Thanksgiving, we all just learned to accept that it was always going to be there. Not only has the XTherm valve been updated, but the new valve is excellent, and a departure from the multitude of incredibly similar valves now found on the market. This new system employs a satisfying to turn set of wings that flip the main valve from and inflate to deflate mode. When set to inflate, the valve doesn't allow air to escape, which is one of the biggest differences from the past system.


In addition to the new air capturing valve, the included pump sack locks onto the system effortlessly, whereas the previous version required the user to maneuver a rubber ring around the valve with considerable effort. While the new version has much higher airflow and is much easier to use, it is prone to popping off the valve if too much pressure is applied. While this can be frustrating, it's likely in place to avoid popping and damaging the pad by overinflation.

Yes the pump sack would occasionally pop off the valve until we developed a sense of how quickly we could pump it up. That little frustration aside  the overall airflow and no-backflow have been improved so much it's mind-blowing.
Yes the pump sack would occasionally pop off the valve until we developed a sense of how quickly we could pump it up. That little frustration aside, the overall airflow and no-backflow have been improved so much it's mind-blowing.

The culprit causing all of this improved airflow speeding up inflation and deflation is the new winglock valve. It looks remarkably similar to the past valve. Honestly, it's refreshing to see a new system that isn't a carbon copy of what most other brands are doing.

The winglock is a chunkier and more substantial valve than previous valves used by Therm-a-rest. Additionally  it allows for significantly faster inflation and deflation as well as an automatically sealing valve that doesn't require oral jiujitsu to keep sealed
The winglock is a chunkier and more substantial valve than previous valves used by Therm-a-rest. Additionally, it allows for significantly faster inflation and deflation as well as an automatically sealing valve that doesn't require oral jiujitsu to keep sealed

Durability


We've spent a significant amount of time using the 2020 XTherm as well as multiple previous generations of this pad. We have yet to have any issues with durability unless we deliberately threw down on the cactus infested desert sand. It's worth noting that the new winglock valve feels significantly more substantial and durable in hand than the previous valve system. However, we didn't experience any durability issues with either type.


The biggest change in durability is the shift to a thinner 30D fabric on the underside of the XTherm. Unquestionably, this thinner fabric will be a bit less durable over time; however, with an included patch kit and a proven track record of durability (with other pads utilizing a 30D under), we wouldn't hesitate to take this pad deep into the backcountry.

To shave some of the weight gained by the added insulation and winglock in 2020 the Xtherm has been fitted with 30D under fabric instead of the past 70D. This likely detracts from overall durability but even after thrashing our 2020 version  we have yet to damage it...
To shave some of the weight gained by the added insulation and winglock in 2020 the Xtherm has been fitted with 30D under fabric instead of the past 70D. This likely detracts from overall durability but even after thrashing our 2020 version, we have yet to damage it...

Value


The XTherm is pretty dang expensive. In all actuality, it retails for almost double many of the other pads in this review. It's also the highest performing and most versatile pad in this review. If you're in the market for a pad that dishes out warmth, comfort, lightweight packability, and excellent ease of inflation/deflation at an unparalleled rate, the XTherm is 100% a great value.

Conclusion


Year after year, the NeoAir XTherm takes our Editors' Choice Award. This year was no different. The lightweight, small packed size, superior warmth, and decent comfort combine to make a sleeping pad that has yet to be bested. We have absolutely no hesitation in suggesting this pad to our friends, and it is typically our go-to suggestion for nearly any application.

It was harder than ever (thats what she said) to pick our Editors Choice winner this year. The XTherm and XLite were both absolutely fantastic. Ultimately  the XTherm offers all the same rock-solid qualities  with a tad more weight and waaay more warmth.
It was harder than ever (thats what she said) to pick our Editors Choice winner this year. The XTherm and XLite were both absolutely fantastic. Ultimately, the XTherm offers all the same rock-solid qualities, with a tad more weight and waaay more warmth.

Brian Martin