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    Thermarest NeoAir XLite on the trail in Glacier National Park

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite Review

    By Lukas SavilleGear Reviews

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    We were excited to try the new NeoAir XLite sleeping pad, as it would cut 150g (5 oz) from our backpacking kit.  We came away delighted with the NeoAir XLite sleeping pad, and it’s now our go-to sleeping pad when backpacking in the Rocky Mountains.


    • The Thermarest NeoAir XLite is a lightweight sleeping pad that offers maximum comfort.
    • Cost: $160.
    • Lightweight design that comes in three sizes, weighing in between 8oz (226g) and 16oz (454g).
    • Compact, easy to pack and quick and easy to inflate.
    • Made with durable materials designed to withstand the rigors of the trail, although it can be noisy.
    • Provides 3-season warmth with unique Core Matrix design, trapping air to keep you warm throughout the night.
    • Tapered design to reduce weight.
    • Worth the cost? Absolutely.

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    Thermarest NeoAir XLite - The Verdict

    If you’re looking for a new sleeping pad, you need to consider the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad. If you’re looking for the ultimate combination of lightweight, compact size, and 3-season warmth and comfort in your next sleeping pad, then Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir XLite should be at the top of your list. It’s one of the comfiest and lightest sleeping pads we’ve ever used and has already earned a permanent spot in our pack (time of year permitting). It is pricey, but 100% worth the investment.

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite size comparison with Nalgene BottleThermarest NeoAir XLite size comparison with Nalgene Bottle

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite ultralight air padThermarest NeoAir XLite ultralight air pad

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite Overview

    The NeoAir XLite is the lighter, warmer, second-generation of Therm-a-Rest’s original NeoAir sleeping pad. Packing an R-rating of 3.2 and more warmth-per-ounce than any of its similar-priced competitors, it’s become a popular and trusty choice for ultralight backpackers, climbers and thru-hikers alike over the years.

    When to use the NeoAir XLite

    Use the NeoAir XLite for backpacking where you want to drop the weight of your pack.  We suggest using it for 3-season weather, whether far off the beaten path or just around the car campsite.


    The NeoAir XLites comes in 3 sizes:

    • 226g/8 oz - Short
    • 340g/12 oz - Regular
    • 454g/16 ounces - Long

    Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Pros

    Light and Packable. Weighing 8 ounces for the shortest size and 16 ounces for the longest, the NeoAir XLite is definitely one of the lighter sleeping pads you can throw into your pack without sacrificing either comfort or warmth. It has a tapered design, which helps cut down the overall weight and packed size.

    3-Season Warmth and Versatility. Technically, it’s not insulated and has an R-value of 3.2. Thus, it’s not your first choice for winter camping but is warm enough for the rest of the year (even summer nights in the mountains).

    It’s Comfortable. Really Comfortable. with 2.5” of thick padding when fully inflated it can turn any night on the hard ground into a peaceful, relaxing experience.

    Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Cons

    Can Be Noisy. They say it’s “soft-touch fabric,” but it still crinkles as you move around. Personally, I didn’t notice the extra noise, but I was more focused on the snorer in my tent, so maybe I didn't notice the sounds. I suppose if you toss and turn a lot during the night, the sound could be noticeable.

    Narrow, Tapered Design. This “mummy bag” style cuts down on overall size and weight, but means the pad is quite narrow. Not an issue for us, but if you’re used to a massive sleeping pad, this will be a change.

    Fragile? We have heard anecdotes from other backpackers that the design of the NeoAir XLite means that it’s more fragile than other Thermarest sleeping pads.  So far, our NeoAir XLite has weathered a hard summer in the Rockies.

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite ultralight sleeping air pad reviewThermarest NeoAir XLite ultralight sleeping air pad review

    Comfort and Packability

    Backpackers who gravitate toward the NeoAir X-Lite mainly do so for its weight and packable size. The small size weighs a mere 8 ounces deflated, while the medium and large are 12 and 16 ounces respectively. Compared to most sleeping pad choices out there, that’s good. There are lighter choices, like the Klymit Inertia, but none really offer the same comfort and warmth as the X-Lite. I find that 8 to 16 ounces is a perfect weight for ultralight backpacking and trips of all lengths.

    When deflated and packed, the X-Lite is about the size of your typical Nalgene or similar water bottle and will stow easily into the bottom of virtually any pack. You’ll barely even notice it under all your other gear.

    To achieve this lightweight and compact size, Therm-A-Rest used a combination of “advanced fabrics” in addition to a tapered mummy bag design; it’s almost a foot wider at the head than at the feet, and pairs well with any mummy-style sleeping bag.

    We like this mummy bag design, but it’s polarizing. We know that some people have trouble with the tapered width, finding it too narrow to rest comfortably; your arms may not even have room to rest on the pad if you sleep on your back. If you toss and turn during the night, you may even fall off. (The Regular and Short are 20” wide, while the Long size gives you 25” of horizontal sleeping space).

    If you’re having trouble staying on the pad, we’ve found that deflating it just a bit it can allow a little more room to move around without sliding off the side. Some people do find the X-Lite too stiff just as a matter of preference, and prefer to let the air out.

    When it comes to “vertical” comfort and padding, however, the X-Lite shines. It’s 2.5” thick when inflated, with tons of baffling, creating an overall cushy surface to spend a night on. If you’re used to sleeping on any old cheap, thin foam pad, spending a night on the X-Lite kind of like going from your regular old mattress to a brand-new memory foam one, almost like going from a cot to a hotel room. You just might find yourself waking up better-rested than you have after any night outdoors in a while.

    Glacier National Park is a great place to try out Thermarest NeoAir XLite

    Glacier National Park is a great place to try out Thermarest NeoAir XLite

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite in tent

    Thermarest NeoAir XLite in tent

    Setup and Operation

    There really isn’t much “operation” involved with any sleeping pad; if you can take some deep breaths and blow into the nozzle, you can get it set up. Inflating the X-Lite takes a minute or two to inflate by mouth. (This can seem like an eternity when you’re out of shape huffing and puffing, but really isn’t.) It uses a typical twist-locking nozzle. To deflate, just twist it open and let the air out; you can roll it up to get remaining air out faster, or just lay on it and get an extra minute of rest. Roll it up tightly and pack it into the included stuff sack.

    Weather Resistance

    Technically “un-insulated,” the X-Lite has an R-Value of 3.2.  This makes it a solid pad for 3-season trips, where temperatures might dip at night but won’t necessarily get to freezing. We’ve used it in a variety of conditions, elevations and seasons, and always found it perfectly comfortable when paired with a good sleeping bag.

    To trap in extra warmth and prevent heat loss due to convection (when the air inside the pad turns around, moving heat away from you), Therm-A-Rest used their Triangular Core Matrix build; essentially, advanced baffling that traps air in pockets throughout the pad, instead of in one large pocket. The less the air can move, the less heat can dissipate – and the warmer you’ll be.

    They also gave the pad a reflective inner lining, dubbed ThermaCapture, which reflects radiant heat right back at you. This reflective lining is a nice touch for warmth but also contributes to the X-Lite’s noisy crinkliness.

    We’re not the only ones to complain of a lot of crinkling when rolling around the pad (and some noisy nights in the tent), but we do know that this depends on exactly which model of the X-Lite you have; Therm-A-Rest has switched to softer fabric (a 30D nylon ripstop) on newer models to cut down on this (although we’ve seen other reviewers remark that the newer model is still rather loud).

    Should you buy the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping Mat?

    We really like the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite sleeping pad. It is lighter without requiring any compromise on comfort. If you’re looking to lighten the weight on your back, this is a great option. If having a light-weight sleeping pad isn’t very important, we’d recommend a cheaper sleeping mat that will save you some money as well as potentially being a bit more durable.




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