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All Season Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad

NeoAir All Season Sleeping Pad
NeoAir All Season Sleeping Pad

Winter backpackers and campers rejoice! The new all season version of the NeoAir Sleeping pad is now available. With an R value of 4.9, this lightweight 19 ounce inflatable sleeping pad is suitable for sleeping on snow in winter.

I got myself the 20 x 72 inch model and have slept on it two nights so far. It’s quite warm as you’d expect. If you’re familiar with the original NeoAir (Classic), the All Season version is a good deal quieter than the original and has a much softer “hand.”

Therm-a-Rest packages the All Season with a combination external pump/stuff sack that has a nozzle you fit over the single valve. It’s worthless and kept popping off the valve when I’ve tried using it. If you want a stuff sack style pump that works better get the Big Agnes Pump Sack, I reviewed last year. It has a cord lock that you secure over the pad’s air valve and can’t pop off.

Quieter Fabric that the original NeoAir Sleeping Pad
Quieter Fabric than the original NeoAir Sleeping Pad

The point of using the stuff sack pump is to avoid filling your sleeping pad up with moist air from your lungs. No worries though, you can blow it up directly if you want without seriously compromising the internal insulation because it is synthetic and not insulated with goose down like the Exped DownMat or Kookabay sleeping pads. I suspected this but called Therm-a-Rest customer service to confirm it, and they said I wouldn’t experience any insulation degradation unless I planned to be out for more than 5 nights in freezing weather.

Therm-a-Rest customer service did emphasize that one should not try to dry the inside of the NeoAir All Season (or any other NeoAir model) by putting it in a dryer. That is bad, because the heat will make the seams fail. Instead, open up the valve and hang it upside down so that any accumulated moisture can drip out. Then place it in a dry room with the valve open or next to a dehumidifier to let the inside dry out.

Disclosure: SectionHiker.com owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.

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29 comments

  1. After thinking of getting a down-filled sleeping pad for something like three years, it's incredible to me that Thermarest was able to make something just as good without the down, or even bulky synthetic insulation. Isn't technology great? Well, I won't be getting one just yet, but the fact that it's there is pretty great.

    As for inflating with lungs rather than a pump… I wonder what happens after that fifth night. Do you think it's worth bringing the big agnes bag for longer trips?

  2. I've recently bit the (painfully $$$$) bullet for a KookaBay GoosePad (R9 insulation, 24oz in 25×72 mummy shape) so might not ever be interested in the new neoair (I'm a fan of the original neoairs for temps above 32F).

    However, in the interest of knowledge I encourage and I await reports of longer term testing.

    Like Guthook, I'd wonder about inflating by mouth for multiple night trips … won't you be accumulating ice inside the pad?

    I'd also be be worth weighing the pad after each trip to confirm that moisture does not accumulate and each day for a couple days after each trip to quantify the rate of drying.

    I wonder how well the instaflator would work with this pad.

  3. Forgot to include another thought. I imagine that folks in eastern locales would be interested in reports how well the insulation value works when on raised decks like found in 3 sided shelters.

  4. Good initial impressions. I would definitly worry about moisture inside in winter temps. Even hung up, I don't see how you could get it to dry out 6' from the valve hole at 1/2" opening. That could easily take a couple weeks or much longer in the NE…not exactly dry.

  5. Good idea for the testing, Jim. That probably would settle a few questions. I wonder if anyone has done that already… Seems like something the BPL forum members would be all over. I'm pretty sure I've heard of people pairing an old neoair with a ccf pad in winter to get sufficient insulation. I'll do a little search when I'm not at work…

  6. You won't be getting 5 day tests from me. 2 or 3 days is my limit in the White Mountains, the weather is just to fickle to stay out longer and I can't carry that much food (2-3 pounds per day) at once plus all my gear. Of course, I've never had any insulation problems with my classic NeoAir and I've taken it out on multi-week trips in very cool weather, and blown into it the entire time.

    I'm going on a trip shortly and will be spending one night on a platform – I'll let you know how it goes.

    I like the idea of weighing the pad before and after – I'll do that when I get back.

    The place to dry the pad would be the inside of my car in winter – dry as a bone, plus nice and warm when the sun hits my black car.

    Of course, all this could be moot. Carrying the Big Agnes Pumphouse is not a burden because it's actually a functional stuff sack. I just thought I'd mention the part about blowing it up because I've carried an Exped Downmat 7 for years and always just blew it up instead of using the (also) crazy stuff sack pump they provided – and lived to tell the tale after years of use. The newer Exped Downmat 7's get around this issue by including the pump in the pad itself, but then again, they weigh 31 ounces and not 19 like the NeoAir All Season.

    One nice thing about a down insulated pad is when you pad fails, you still get some insulation benefit by sleeping on the feathers. It's happened to me – I know.

    As for testing, there is a big, but largely out of view debate among manufacturers, about how to test R value in sleeping pads in a repeatable standard way. I would be interesting to see BPLs take on that, but, well I'll leave it at that since they tend to use user impressions based on sample sizes which are not statistically significant.

    When all is said and down – I think the NeoAir All Season is going to be a hit – stuff sack pump or not, and I really like the weight of the thing. That's the clincher for me.

  7. Therm-a-Rest makes some really great products. I recently picked up a Prolite Plus – a huge upgrade in comfort from my CCF foam mat. I know Therm-a-Rest says that moisture will not compromise the synthetic insulation, but I am still concerned about the risk of mold and/or bacteria. For this reason, I'm thinking about picking up a BA Pumphouse. Do you know if the Pumphouse is designed to store a specific BA sleepiing pad or is it more of a general purpose stuff sack (i.e. could it be used as a stuff sack for my Prolite vs buying the Prolite specific sack)?

  8. Although the temperature was very mild for my first night out on this pad last weekend, it did seem warm, and I look forward to some colder testing. I did have good luck with the pump fitting, but I can see how it would not be durable. A better section of tubing would fix this.

    Coming from a Big Agnes Insulated pad, this one saves me a handful of ounces and a bit of bulk. It's also seems quicker to inflate, deflate and roll-up, which probably has to do with the lack of Primaloft.

    Out of the box the pad seemed noisy due to the reflective material inside, but after a few inflate/deflates it really is pretty quiet and no louder than the BA. It also has a tacky (silicone?) coating on the bottom which keeps it from sliding around.

  9. The prolite plus is self inflating. No need to blow it up and therma-a-rest does NOT recommend that you do. We also talked about this when we spoke on the phone.

    The pumphouse is a general purpose stuff sack, but you should check the dimensions to see whether it will fit. The Neoair pads fold up pretty small, so they work well with it.

  10. Well I've winter camped without one for all these years, and at that price, it will be a few more years as well…

  11. An alternative to the pumps is the Instaflator (http://www.themillair.com/). It weighs 1.5 oz and fills a NeoAir quickly. It is a long plastic film tube that opens up with a puff of air, then you roll it up to force the air into the pad. The NeoAir takes about 1 and half cycles to fill. I've used it for about a year now and it is well worth the $4 cost.

    • I have a pro-lite plus and mine doesn’t always self-inflate like it should. I sleep in a hammock and don’t usually camp at temps under 20 degrees, but I’m still worried about blowing it up by mouth. I was wondering how the instaflator attaches to the nozzle.

      • It has a 3″ adapter tube that slides on to the nozzle. It’s like an aquarium air hose, but large enough to fit snugly on the Thermarest nozzle.

  12. I just used the new neoair on a winter outing in -13 temps on snow and it was very warm. Don't slide off of it in the middle of the night though!

  13. You would use this as your only pad under your bag, right? How would that compare to the classic NeoAir inflatable pad and a NeoAir Z-Lite on top? I'm hoping to get into some winter backpacking/camping soon, and have been told that that system would work (though heavier than you guys are shooting for, I'm sure).

  14. Ben – I'd just reverse the order. Put the (Therm-a-Rest) Z-lite on the bottom. You'll be fine with this. The combined r value will be 4.7 – see this table for sleeping pad r values. http://sectionhiker.com/sleeping-pad-r-values/

  15. Ah, I was told that the air pad would not insulate that well so to put it under the Z-lite, but I suppose I can try both. Someone also recommended putting down a space blanket first if you're going to be in the same spot for a couple of days to avoid melting the snow beneath your tent.

  16. The Therm-a-Rest FAQ states that it is OK to top off self-inflating mattresses once they have self-inflated. Is this contradictory to what they told you?

  17. Gose – I got the impression that you were trying to inflate it by blowing it up. They said that that'd be undesirable, but we didn't discuss top offs. I suggest you give them a call if it's aconcern.There's usually no delay in speaking with someone.

  18. Ben, I think the NeoAir, which uses a reflective coating, will insulate you a lot better if your back is touching it. I also assume that your zlite is wider than your Neoair. Regarding a space blanket – can't say. The nice thing about snow is that it doesn't get any colder than freezing, and it is an excellent insulator.

  19. Great review, thanks. I purchased the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Peak Elite AC pad earlier this year for my summer trips, and I have been extremely happy with it. It was a little hard to find in stock but I finally got one. It weighs 13oz., has an R-value of 2.5-4.4, and rolls up into a a nice little 10×4" tube. It was $80 plus shipping. I can fill it with about 15-18 big breaths. But it it so much more comfortable than the 1.5" self inflating pad that I had before, which weighed about 2 lbs! I was concerned about the mummy shape, and thought that I would roll off of it quite a bit. I woke up with my feet off the pad a couple times but my core always stayed on easily. I haven't taken it out in the cold yet to test its warmth, but if it doesn't do the job I might just bring a cheap foam pad to put underneath. What is the retail price on this one, and how much did you find it for?

  20. Just when I thought it was safe to put away the credit card… Thank goodness for your Gear Discounts link-box above!!

  21. Well Earlylite, it looks like I got a few to come out of the closet, if you remember a post I made a few weeks ago…Lol's

  22. BrewGuy – You are a more patient man than me. I gave up trying to find any POE products in stock in the US over a year ago. I figured they were out of business to be honest. A total shame, because the product manager in charge of sleeping pads there was one of the most innovative thinkers I'd come across in the pad business.

  23. eddie – be humble. enjoy the holiday. -Philip

  24. Since I have taken college level heat transfer classes, I feel qualified to make the following two statements:

    1. A space blanket is not useful to put under your pad, since heat loss in that case is dominated by conduction. A space blanket is only useful for blocking radiant heat transfer, such as when you place it between your body and the night sky.

    2. If you are going to double up the neo-air and a z-lite, I don't think it matters which one goes on top from an insulation standpoint, but I suspect neo-air on top might be more comfortable.

    Regarding drying out the neo-air, what I do is inflate and deflate it a couple of times with an electric air-mattress inflator when I get home from a trip. Hopefully the air exchange pulls out most of the moisture.

  25. To the question of inflatable pad or closed cell form pad on top….

    My very unscientific testing led me to believe that the ccf form on top was the way to go. Now I remember from my Mech Eng heat transfer classes that insulation is cumulative so it should not matter which one was on top but that didn't match want I experienced.

    The theory is that having the inflatable on top closest to your body set up a warming/cooling cycle between the heat source [your body] and the heat sink [the ground]

    One of the innovation of the Neo Air over the old style inflatables is the reduction in internal air circulation from bottom to top.

    I am buying this guy but will still double it up with the z-rest in winter. The z-rest is used in winter as a kitchen seat and any time I am sitting down so throwing it into the sleep system at the end of the day is obvious.

  26. Keith "Popeye" Rayeski

    Great review as always with great information about drying….at this rate, I’ll be down to a sleeping pad and wool blanket!!!!

  27. I’ve been supplementally blowing up the old thermarest prolite for years, but admittedly did little sub-freezing camping.

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