Updated NeoAir XTherm
Therm-a-Rest revised this pad in a major way! The dimensions and weight remain the same, but there is an updated valve, some new fabric, and the R-value has been upped. In the photos below, compare the differences in valves; the first photo depicts the updated valve, and the second is the version we tested.
- New Valve System — The newly engineered WingLock valve has a larger opening, which Therm-a-Rest claims allows the pad to inflate three times as fast as its predecessor. There is a winged toggle system which allows for one-way inflation so you're not losing air or doing the awkward "tongue cover method" while inflating. Deflation is also supposed to move quicker with this new valve. We weren't the hugest fans of Therm-a-Rest's previous valves, so we're excited to test this new one out!
- Higher R-Value — The previous version had an R-value of 5.7, but with the update Therm-a-Rest increased it to 6.9, upping the insulating value of the pad.
- Fabric Update — Previously, this pad employed 70D nylon for the bottom material, but the updated pad sports 30D rip HT nylon as its allover fabric.
Though we're surely excited about these updates, we've yet to test this pad — we will definitely be giving it a whirl next test cycle! For now, the review to follow still pertains to the previous version.
Hands-On Review of the NeoAir XTherm
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm was a top scorer across the board, which is why it once again wins our Editors Choice award. Our years of sleeping pad testing experience has illuminated a hard truth that most pads have to sacrifice in one or two areas to shine in another. Ultimately the NeoAir XTherm has sacrificed the least and offers the most warmth for its weight, comfort, and packs into a nice tidy package.
The XTherm was one of the best sleeping pads we tested again! It is so light it allows 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 NeoAir XTherm is not incredibly comfortable; fortunately, it has found a near-perfect balance of sacrifice to attain a high score in all areas. The size of the pad's footprint is one of those sacrifices. It was one of the narrower pads we tested, and if you toss and turn like one of our testers, you might find it a bit difficult to stay on top of.
Another detraction from the NeoAir XTherm's overall comfort was how unbelievably crinkly the material was. This pad was by far and away the loudest sleeping pad we tested. Our testers typically pack along earplugs to protect against snoring partners, and they definitely came in handy while testing the NeoAir XTherm.
While the oval footprint can be just as comfortable as a rectangular pad, if you are around the same size as our tester, sizing up to the wider pad might add significant comfort.
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 under the pad 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.
The XTherm has ample cushion depth for side sleepers even when the pad isn't inflated to the point of popping.
Weight and Packed Size
The regular size NeoAir XTherm we tested rang in at 16.2 ounces. This weight was with the stuff sack and included a patch kit, so the actual weight of the pad is just a bit lighter. Therm-a-Rest gives a stated weight of 15 ounces, but there's always be a bit of variability in pad weights. Either way, the NeoAir XTherm is an incredibly lightweight considering its exceptional four-season warmth.
If compared to the packed size of other four-season pads, none come close. The trimmed footprint and incredibly compact insulation give the NeoAir XTherm a nice tidy packed size. Impressively, the NeoAir XTherm packs down to about the same size as some lighter pads, which is a testament to the efficient and compact insulation.
At 19.5 ounces on our scale the XTherm is significanly lighter than other inflatable sleeping pads with comperable R-Values. We're talking almost half the weight and this was with the easily forgotton pump sack Therm-a-Rest included.
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.
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
The NeoAir XTherm opts for a lightweight but retro twist valve for both inflation and deflation. The valve is simple to use and restricts inflow enough that we didn't get too dizzy filling it up. We could get the NeoAir XTherm unpacked and pumped up with lung power in about a minute forty-five, which isn't too bad.
Interestingly, with all the weight-saving measures employed by Therm-a-Rest, they included a bulky 3.5 ounce pump sack, which has a rubbery opening that is forced over the inflation twist valve of the NeoAir XTherm. When using the included pump sack, the packed to pumped time was more like two and a half minutes.
As a general rule, we like pump sacks. They keep moisture out of your sleeping pad and eliminate the chances of passing out and hitting your head on the way down. The Therm-a-Rest pump sack was the worst one we tested.
A fair amount of time (and frustration) was spent trying to attach the pump sack to the twist valve. The pump sack doubles as a seat if you put the NeoAir XTherm inside and inflate the pad. This felt a bit silly, and we never found ourselves using the pump sack to either inflate the pad or to use as a seat.
With cold hands or gloves maneuvering the plastic gusset over the inflation valve, it requires about as much concentration as getting the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely did. We opted to leave the pump sack being as it is quite heavy and difficult to use.
Therm-a-Rest wisely fitted the NeoAir XTherm with a 70 denier bottom and 30D top. While a 30/30 would have boosted the weight savings even further, the durability would have taken a hit. We threw down in the dirt with this pad all over the country without a ground tarp (for testing purposes) and haven't managed to pop it yet. The tried and true twist valve has also proven itself to be reliable and leak-free.
It's important to highly consider a pad's durability and be equipped with a patch kit when venturing into cold climates where a flat pad could be dangerously cold. Our positive track record and the NeoAir XTherm's 70D nylon bottom is a strong indicator that this pad will keep you off the ground.
The 70D fabric used on the bottom of the XTherm adds significant durability. Cold weather demands an extra level of reliability from gear as a popped pad could mean an extremely cold and potentially dangerous night.
The NeoAir XTherm is pretty expensive. It was one of the most expensive pads we tested, and depending on the size you choose, it might cost as much as your tent! The most important thing to know is that the performance justifies this price. While it is quite pricy, the value is strong. We haven't found an equal to this sleeping pad yet, and if we did, there's no doubt it would be quite expensive.
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.
The tapered shape of the XTherm shaves weight where you don't need it. This design isn't as comfortable as rectangular pad, but it ensures that you don't carry any unnecessary weight.