Balancing weight and comfort is a never ending struggle when it comes to backpacking. All too often we have to sacrifice one or the other to make things manageable. The Neoair Xtherm aims to solve that problem by providing plush warmth, at low weights. Can it really happen? We put the pad to the test, and here is what we think.
About the sleeping pad
The Xtherm has an exceptionally high r-value (resistance to heat loss), but weighs only 15 oz for the regular size. It’s built from 30d, non-slip textured Rip-stop nylon on the top, with a beefier 50d polyester on the bottom. It’s built with numerous horizontal baffles to provide loft and cushion. The pad is insulated with a reflected material dubbed ThermaCapture to help retain heat. There is a single inflation/deflation valve located at the upper left hand corner of the pad. The pad retails for $199 for the regular, and also comes in a long variation at 1 lb 4 oz.
What I liked
The Xtherm is exceptionally warm and comfortable. I’ve slept on a lot of sleeping pads, and I am very much impressed with how well it performs. The horizontal baffles evenly distribute weight without feeling overly firm or bouncy, producing no pressure points. Laying on my side, stomach, or back all felt generously supported and surprisingly gentle on the spine. Plenty of thickness and loft kept my body off the ground, even when under-inflating for a slightly more cushy feel. Even the regular model is long, and wide enough to hold my entire body, arms included, comfortably on the pad without slipping off onto the cold ground. I never felt even a single cold spot while laying against the pad, even on the coldest of nights. The insulating properties held strong even when user error resulted in a leaking, puddle filled tent.
Inflation and deflation was quicker than anticipated, thanks to a very usable valve and not overly thick baffles. The fairly standard valve type also fits a wide range of inflation devices, which is always a plus.
Rolled or folded the pad fit easily inside my pack taking up tiny amounts of space (image a Nalgene bottle). The included stuff sack does a good job of keeping the pack size down, without adding bulk or weight to your pack. Also included in the sack is a light weight patch kit, just in case of failure.
The pad slept quiet enough with recently improved materials reducing the crispy crunch sound of earlier Thermarest mattresses, and it fit well inside every shelter I tested it with. It stayed in place on mild includes thanks to the somewhat textured materials, rougher on the top to keep you from slipping off inside your sleeping bag, but also grippy enough at the bottom to keep me from sliding against the foot or walls of my tent.
Durability felt great, with fairly beefy materials and a quality inflation/deflation valve. I never once felt like I need to baby the pad to keep it holding air, hiding away from pants zippers or boots.
What I didn’t like
Performance comes with a price, and the tag here is pretty high. Just shy of 200 bucks, the cost is a bit out of the range for a lot of backpackers.
The textured materials, while do a great job of keeping a sleeping bag in place, feel a little abrasive against the skin if you’re going at it with a quilt. It seems to be improving with time, but it’s still not ideal. A silk liner or sheet might be recommended for more sensitive users.
While the pad is quieter than previous versions, it is still a little bit crunchier sounding than most pads when rolling around a night. Companions; however, never complained and it seems to quieten with time.
While I found the texture uncomfortable against the skin, other testers didn’t mind it at all and even preferred it. This will come down to personal preference mostly.
The Xtherm from Thermarest is an impressive combination of exceptional warmth, cushy comfort, and a minuscule pack weight. Thanks to the generous width, wonderfully supportive horizontal baffles I was able to find comfort in even the harshest of conditions. Sticks, rocks, and lumps never found their way through, while the coldest of ground was held completely at bay. If you’re able to afford the luxury, the Xtherm is an incredible piece of equipment that should be inside your pack.
Highest of recommendations
A big thanks to Thermarest for providing this pad for review.