It used to be that a sleeping pad was one of those items you had to either strap on the outside of your backpack, or really save space for inside your pack. No longer. The Thermarest NeoAir XLite (MSRP: $159.95, OPL Pro Price: $95.59) folds up to the size of a Nalgene water bottle and weighs only 12 ounces. It’s definitely revolutionary, and it even won an Editor’s Choice award from Backpacker Magazine. However, the problem with some fast and light gear is it skimps on comfort in favor of lightness and packability, and after a long day on the trail, sometimes your aching body hates you for it. We were curious to see how the ultralight NeoAir XLite would fair, so our tester took it on a five day backpacking trip see how it measured up against its heavier and bulkier counterparts.
The pad does not automatically inflate, and it took a minute or two of blowing to inflate it completely, but it did inflate rather quickly and easily all things considered. Our tester found that they were sliding off the pad at first, it was a little uncomfortable, and the covering was a bit slippery. However, as soon as they let out some air (more than they normally would on other pads), it was much better on their back and didn’t slide around at all. The pad did keep a good barrier between the tester the ground. The NeoAir XLite has a reflective barrier which retains the warmth from your body, and Thermarest claims it keeps you three times warmer than most pads. Our tester found this statement was pretty accurate – the pad did retain some warmth from the body.
One concern we had was that because the pad was so light, it would be easy to pop or snag on something. However, it proved to be more durable than it appeared. The bottom fabric is made of 30d High Tenacity Nylon, which took plenty of abuse without complaint. The NeoAir XLite took about the same amount of time to deflate as most Thermarests, but since the material is so thin and lightweight, it is much easier to pack it down to size. Overall, our tester was very impressed with both the comfort and pack-ability/ weight of this mattress.
Buy the Thermarest – NeoAir XLite on OPL HERE