Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Overview
You know that family that is seemingly good at everything? Simultaneously good-looking, talented athletically and academically, and you’d basically hate them if they weren’t so nice? Well, that’s the Therm-a-Rest family of sleeping pads. And they just welcomed a new member into the fold.
Introducing the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite. At 8.8 ounces for a regular-sized pad it crushes the competition for the coveted title of “lightest pad on the market” by almost two ounces. With its introduction, Therm-a-Rest officially has a pad for anything you’re looking to do outdoors, with the NeoAir UberLite hitting that amazingly ultralight in high temps category.
But does the lack of weight add up to a comfortable experience? Only in high summer. It turns out that some things are indeed sacrificed when going ultra-ultra-light.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Star Rating
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite is the lightest weight inflatable pad on the market. A bold statement, to be sure. Ready for those ultralight, ultra-fast adventures you’ve spent all winter dreaming of, this pad excels in hot environments, and hot environments only.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite follows in the footsteps of two similar pads we have awarded for years — the NeoAir XTherm and NeoAir XLite. Both have helped to define the “ultralight backpacking pad” market, with the XLite being an industry standard for most consumers and brands to measure up against. While the NeoAir UberLite takes the weight reduction to new heights, it lacks insulation (and therefore has a lower R-Value), which compromises its comfort (as you’ll read below). Most people will want a pad that can perform for many months of the year, not just the extremely hot ones.
Read the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite review to how the featherweight pad stacks up against some of the big boys, and check out our guide to the Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking!
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||8.8 oz. (250 g)||Crazy ultralight for a full length sleeping pad. Lightest on the market at time of publication.|
|Type||Air Pad||Air is how you inflate this pad, usually with your breath. It’s lighter like this, but more prone to popping. More on sleeping pad inflation in our Guide.|
|R-Value||2||A very low R-Value, making this pad only ideal for summer time in high-temperature environments. More on sleeping pad R-Values in our Guide.|
|Shape||Mummy||A tapered mummy shape is classic for ultralight pads. These taper from the hips down and cut on weight. More on sleeping pad shapes in our Guide.|
|Sizes||Small, Regular, Large||Therm-a-Rest offers the UberLite in three sizes. We tested the Regular, and all these specs are for the Regular. The Small is half-size, and the Large has a 25-inch width and 77-inch length.|
|Thickness||2.5 in. (6.4 cm)||Standard thickness for air pads. Plenty of comfort but not crazy bouncy.|
|Length||72 in. (183 cm)||Standard length for most sleeping pads and people.|
|Width||20 in. (51 cm) tapers||Standard width for most sleeping pads. Not enough room to splay elbows, but weight is the key here. It also tapers due to the mummy shape.|
|Packed Size||6 x 3.5 in. (15 x 9 cm)||A crazy, crazy small packed size. More on sleeping pad packed size in our Guide.|
|Baffle Type||Horizontal||All of the NeoAir pads use horizontal baffles. We’ve found horizontal baffles are more comfortable than vertical. More on sleeping pad baffle types in our Guide.|
|Valve Type||Twist and Pull||An old-school twist and pull valve, which is one way, letting out air when you’re puffing it up. Not ideal, and Therm-a-Rest is changing their valves soon. More on sleeping pad valve types in our Guide.|
|Material Type/Thickness||15D rip nylon||Incredibly thin fabric. So far tests have not popped it, but it’s much thinner than other common fabric Deniers in ultralight pads. More on sleeping pad materials and Denier in our Guide.|
|Breaths to Inflate||10||This is an estimate. The pad inflates quickly.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Limited Lifetime||Therm-a-Rest has one of the best sleeping pad warranties in the business. If parts of this fail, get in touch.|
|Retail Price||$179.95||A high price for the “lightest pad on the market”. You’re paying for name brand and utterly ultralight design.|
Gear Review of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
When you unwrap the NeoAir Uberlite it feels a little bit like somebody is playing a joke on you. At half the size of a 1-liter SmartWater bottle it seems physically impossible that a sleeping pad could fit in such a small bundle. But fit it did — I double checked by inflating it, deflating it, and re-packing it before we left for our trip.
So, with somewhat less trepidation, I stowed the tiny package in my backpack and climbed into the car for a four day backpacking trip across the Goat Rocks Wilderness along the Pacific Crest Trail. I only hoped I wouldn’t be too cold. Or get eaten by a bear. But, honestly, being cold on a pad with an R-value of 2 was a much bigger personal concern than a bear coming through camp.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
One thing that the UberLite has going for it in spades is ease of set up. Less weight and fewer air chambers means fewer breaths to inflate, specifically when compared to most air pads with twist and pull valves.
Additionally that lighter weight material is quiet as a baby lamb when you’re sleeping on it. Which is to say that it’s mostly quiet, but there are a few crinkles throughout the night. This is in stark contrast to the almost-legendary crinkle of the XLite and XTherm — whose insulation is the reason its so loud.
Sufficient to say the first night I set up the NeoAir UberLite I was impressed.
However, by the next morning my impression had waned somewhat. The R-value of 2 meant that even on a night that was in the 40’s, I slept cold. And that lack of reflective warmth meant that when I got up to use the facili-trees I came back to a pad that had deflated somewhat and needed a few additional breaths to get it back to sleep-ability.
Finally, while the overall thickness of the UberLite (a solid 2.5 inches) is on par with many of its better-known cousins, the 15D fabric (half that of the XLite) made me nervous that I’d pop the pad in the middle of the night. Granted, I didn’t. But the cold and fear made me scooch into the middle of the tent and away from menacing pine needles every chance I got.
Comfort – 2.5 Stars
On a warm night I have no doubt this pad would be exceptionally comfortable, less crinkly, and comparably thick to pads like the XLite and XTherm. However, the night either has to be balmy, or you have to be a warm sleeper to take this thing out on anything but the hottest days of the year.
Mountains, by the very nature of being well, nature, are mercurial. It’s hard to be certain of the temperature, which means it’s hard to certain of your comfort, which is a no-go for me.
Durability – 4 Stars
I believe it was Teddy “Loves to Camp” Roosevelt who said, “Be careful and carry a pad repair kit.” Or was it, “Walk softly but carry a big stick?” Hard to recall now. Regardless, he was a wise man and his words still ring true today.
I had zero durability issues with this pad on the two trips I brought it on, but it’s so thin! For reference, it touts a 15-Denier fabric, which is half the thickness of the XLite, which is also an ultralight pad. You just know you’ve got to be smart with this pad or else you’re going to be dealing with puncture issues.
Inflation and Deflation – 4.5 Stars
Inflation is a breeze with a pad this light. Just blow! You won’t get quite as lightheaded as other pads cause it just doesn’t take that long.
Deflation was a bit more strange as the valve seemed to get jammed against itself and then stop deflating. But overall, both were totally fine.
Packability – 2 Stars
A major issue with this pad is the packability. You can totally get it into its carrying case and once it’s in there it fits in your pack so easily you forget it’s there.
But getting it packed down took as long as packing the rest of my entire bag. It takes so long because it folds in fourths (rather than thirds, like most ultralight pads), and I found it hard to get the air out of such light fabric. I found I’d have to keep creasing and re-creasing and folding it again and again. Then, when I’d start rolling it up again the remaining air would undo my creases and folds because the fabric was so light it didn’t push any air out on its own or have enough weight to stay folded.
In short, it’s a real pain in a real small package. This was a surprise, to be sure.
I’ve used a handful of ultralight pads, and tested the Therm-a-Rest XLite on a John Muir Trail thru-hike. It was outstanding. I understand Therm-a-Rest’s concept of making something similar but lighter and thinner, but for me, it falls flat on two key points.
It’s a cold pad on all but the hottest days, and it’s hard to pack. That’s really what it comes down to. I would wait until at least late July in Washington before busting this thing out again — meaning you need to be sure your nights are above 65 degrees, which is very limiting. And I sincerely doubt I’m the only one that would feel that way.
The fact that it takes a bit of finesse to pack down is something I can get over. It adds an extra five minutes to your day, who cares. But being cold at night, nobody likes that.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite is for those who want to be the fastest, the lightest, and don’t mind being the coldest to accomplish their goals.
Where to Buy Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
We tested the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite in a size Regular, which is the standard model most people will want.
Therm-a-Rest offers the NeoAir UberLite in a Small, which weighs six ounces, has a 20-inch width, and 47-inch legnth — basically half a pad for ultra-ultra-lighters (or children).
Therm-a-Rest also offers the NeoAir UberLite in a Large, which has a 25-inch width and 77-inch length, weighing in at 12 ounces. This is a larger, more comfy pad, but weighs significantly more.
Finally, as mentioned in this review, Therm-a-Rest offers the NeoAir XLite and NeoAir XTherm. Both of those products have won our awards, and are more well-rounded, time-tested pads. Consider the UberLite is weight is the utmost consideration.
Compare Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite prices below.