Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Superior warmth, small packed size, light
Cons: Narrow, expensive
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Brian Martin