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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Overview
Ah, the ubiquitous sleeping pad. Remember when we had to walk to school ten miles, in the snow, uphill — both ways? Yeah, me neither. But I do remember a time when sleeping pads were little more than a flimsy strip of foam, or even a bed of pine needles. Those archaic days are long gone. We now have hoards of options to choose from when deciding what to sandwich between our tired bodies and the granite or dirt. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm (say that five times fast!) may just be the best pad for the job.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is a legendary sleeping pad that some consider the gold standard for backpackers looking for something light, rugged, and warm. At just 15 ounces, with an R Value of 5.7 and 30D nylon (that increases to 70D on the bottom), the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is our Premium Pick for the Ultralight Backpacker.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Star Rating
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm lives up to the phrase “go big or go home” — except that it packs up quite small for an ultralight backpacking sleeping pad. The “big” refers to the price, the comfort, the warmth, and the durability, all of which have made it the go-to high-end pad for many backpackers.
The NeoAir XTherm has horizontal baffles, a simple valve for inflation, and will keep you well off the ground, night after night.
The “uninsulated” version of this sleeping pad is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, which we have chosen as our Classic Pick for the Ultralight backpacker. It is lighter than the XTherm, but not as warm or durable.
To further inflate your knowledge make your way to our comprehensive sleeping pad guide. See the full gear review of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm below.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Specifications
|Feature Type||Feature Specs||What This Means|
|Weight||15 oz (430 in g)||The lightest insulated pad on the market. The XTherm is the standard against which other ultralight insulated pads are measured.|
|Type||Air Pad||The XTherm is filled with your breath! There’s no foam inside. More on sleeping pad types in our Guide.|
|R-Value/Temperature Rating||5.7||Any R-Value over 4 means the pad is good for use in all four seasons. The XTherm has a rockstar R-Value and traps in warmth like no other. More on R-Values and sleeping pad temperature rating in our Guide.|
|Shape||Mummy, Rectangle||The XTherm we tested is a tapered mummy shape, which cuts down on weight. A rectangular version is available as well, and is called the NeoAir XTherm MAX. More on sleeping pad shape in our Guide.|
|Sizes||Regular, Large||We tested the Regular-sized mummy shaped XTherm (which has no special name). The mummy pad is also offered in a Large size, which has a 25-inch width and 77-inch length.|
|Thickness||2.5 in. (6.3 cm)||This thickness is becoming industry standard for air pads. Enough cushion to keep you off the ground, not enough to make the pad bouncy.|
|Length||72 in. (182 cm)||Standard length for sleeping pads. Fits people up to 6 feet. Get the Large if you’re bigger than that.|
|Width||20 in. (51 cm)||Standard width for sleeping pads. This is also 20 inches at the widest point in the mummy shape, not near the feet. Works for most, but some like their elbows on the pad.|
|Packed Size||9 x 4.0 in. (23 x 10 cm)||A very small pack size. Larger than your standard 32 ounce water bottle, but not by much. More on sleeping pad packed size in our Guide.|
|Baffle Type||Horizontal||The XTherm uses horizontal baffles. This creates a more stable sleep surface. More on sleeping pad baffle type in our Guide.|
|Valve Type||Twist and Pull||This is the classic valve for sleeping pads, and was created by Therm-a-Rest. It works, but takes time and effort to blow up. More on sleeping pad valve types in our Guide.|
|Material Type/Thickness||Top: 30D rip HT nylon, Bottom: 70D nylon||Ultralight sleeping pads tend to use very thin materials. 30D is standard, and tough, but the 70D bottom is impressive. This pad is durable. More on sleeping pad Denier thickness in our Guide.|
|Breaths to Inflate||20-30||The XTherm is a classic air pad in that it takes a solid number of breaths for full inflation. You’ll be winded.|
|Manufacturer Warranty||Lifetime Warranty||Therm-a-Rest offers lifetime warranties on its sleeping pads for manufacturing defects and workmanship issues. Sleeping pads are notorious for “breaking” under user error, and hard to get fully replaced due to this. Therm-a-Rest has a stellar reputation, and if you send in a pad you think is faulty they will likely replace it, or offer to repair.|
|Retail Price||$199.95||This is a premium price for arguably the “best” sleeping pad on the market. You’ll get what you pay for.|
Gear Review of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
Origins: Easing You In
Therm-a-Rest has been in the sleep comfort game since 1971, when they invented the first self-inflating sleeping pad. This was ground-breaking technology at the time, and 46 years later they are still leading the way. It’s pretty cool that I used a Therm-a-Rest on my first backpacking trip in 1986, and I still use one today.
For years my pad of choice has been the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, the close cousin of the NeoAir XTherm. The only real differences are that the XTherm is slightly heavier (3 ounces), warmer, and more durable (thicker material). With that as context, let me tell you that I love my XLite and couldn’t wait to try out the XTherm.
First things first, the NeoAir XTherm packs down to almost negligible proportions. When I first started backpacking, deciding where to strap a sleeping pad was a major decision that usually ended in a shrug and some bungee cord. But the XTherm can be stowed practically anywhere.
On an overnighter up to Tahoe I put it near the top of my 32 L pack (yes, I’m that kind of ultralight backpacker), and it sat on top of my bear canister and tent. There was room to spare, and I didn’t even have to think about “fitting” it anywhere.
Revelation: The Moment I Knew
After a nice hike that left me breathless (from both exertion and Lake Tahoe’s splendor on display below me) I stopped under a copse of pine trees and began making camp. Already accustomed to the NeoAir XLite’s easy set up, I was not surprised when the NeoAir XTherm performed similarly.
It took me 18 breaths to blow it up (which beat the manufacturer’s 20-30 breath estimate, but left me lightheaded) and then it was ready to go. That’s it. Almost instant comfort.
But when I snuggled into my sleeping bag for the night, shut off the headlamp, and took that first deep breath that triggers “shutdown mode” — that’s when the NeoAir XTherm fully won me over. Exquisite comfort. Even better than the XLite. I couldn’t feel a stone or twig beneath me. I didn’t hang over the edges of the pad or slip off during the night. I was pleasantly warm. And there was little to no crackling noise that is common with so many other pads. I also moved from my stomach, to my side, and finally to my back, and was comfortable all three ways. Folks, this pad is made for sleeping.
After a sublime sleep, I quickly packed up my gear and was again impressed with the NeoAir XTherm. The air valve is small, but extremely effective and reliable. It took me almost no time at all to fold the pad in half, roll it up, and secure it in the small stuff sack.
Often times when rolling a sleeping pad (sadly even the XLite) it is difficult to keep the material from bunching out of alignment, but the XTherm rolled right up as if it were on rails. I’m not sure if this is a change in design (my XLite is a few years old), or the stiffer fabric plays a part, but it sure made things easy.
Also, the stuff sack is just big enough to fit the pad. Not too big, not too small. A Goldilocks level of design. These may seem like small things, but when you’re in the backcountry for days or weeks at a time, minor details add up!
I’m considering getting rid of my mattress and using the NeoAIr XTherm at home. Who knew a few inches of air could feel so good?
Therm-a-Rest makes bomber sleeping pads. As they’ve become lighter they may look flimsy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m not easy on my gear and I’ve put my XLite through the ringer — fastpacking, slot canyoning, thru-hikes, etc. Yet it hasn’t had one, single issue. And the XTherm is made out of even sturdier stuff!
Deflation and Inflation
About as easy as it gets for a pad you have to inflate on your own. 20-30 breaths. Pause halfway for a beer if you had the foresight to bring one. (Yeah, that’s ultralight if you want it to be!)
The XTherm deflates with a quick roll up when you’re ready to move on. Just press all the air out in folds, then roll it up. As Rufus says in the surprisingly awesome 2003 movie Love Actually, “Tis but the work of a moment…” You’d even have time to throw in a cinnamon stick if you wanted to.
As previously mentioned, this pad is so small and easy it’s barely a blip on the radar. You could pack it in the main compartment, top pocket, or even water bottle pockets of almost any pack. Or go old school and strap the pad on the outside of your pack, though it’s a little short for that.
The pad itself is stellar, but you’ll pay for it. Beyond price there is no real issue I have with the pad.
However, the NeoAir XTherm comes with a NeoAir Pump Sack, which is a duffel bag that can be fitted to the twist valve for inflation without your breath. At least that’s how it’s billed.
It didn’t really work for me. I couldn’t get a flush seal, the bag was hard to fill up with air, and it was bulky. Flat valves make this an easier process, but the XTherm has a twist and pull valve, which isn’t ideal for this kind of inflation. Good thing the pad still inflates with some lung power.
I love this pad. The combination of warmth, durability, packability, and weight is peerless. Therm-a-Rest is the Ferrari of the sleeping pad world, and the NeoAir XTherm is their show stopper.
Where to Buy Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
We tested the Regular-sized mummy shaped Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. It does not have a special denomination, and is the classic model. Therm-a-Rest also offers the mummy pad in a Large size, which has a 25-inch width and 77-inch length. This is great for larger people or those who want a wider surface. Finally, Therm-a-Rest offers the NeoAir XTherm MAX, which is a rectangular version of the pad. It offers this in both Regular and Large.
We find the classic version, which is a normal-sized mummy shape, to be what most people will want. It is light, warm, and packs up small. You can find links to purchase it below.
If you want the less insulated version of this pad, check out our review of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite.