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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad Review

My boring gray Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad "in action."
My boring gray Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad “in action.”

When cold weather arrives, I start carrying a sleeping pad with a higher R-value for better insulation against the frigid ground or snow. In the past, that often meant carrying a heavy sleeping pad filled with goose down or Primaloft or two closed cell foam sleeping pads. But those days are over since the introduction of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad, which only weighs 15 ounces and has an R-value of 5.7.

The NeoAir XTherm is quite similar to Therm-a-Rest’s other NeoAir inflatable sleeping pads (by far the most popular backpacking sleeping pads in use today), with a rectangular cut, rounded corners, and horizontal baffles. Only the XTherm is a bit more rugged, with a heavier weight 70 denier non-slip nylon base fabric, than the 30 denier nylon used on the 3 season NeoAir XLite pad which weighs 3 ounces less and has an R-value of 3.3. The XTherm’s extra thick base fabric helps reduce the risk of puncture and in my mind reduces the need to carry a second closed cell foam pad as a backup “oh-sh*t” sleeping pad for cold weather camping.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Insulation
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Insulation

In addition to being lightweight, the XTherm folds up extremely small  (about the size of a 1 liter Nalgene, but thicker) because it’s not filled with down, Primaloft, or matted insulation. This is a big deal in winter when your pack is likely to be stuffed and you want to use your pack volume as efficiently as possible.

The insulating interior of all NeoAir Pads is filled with a honeycomb structure of triangular baffles, coated with a reflective silvery coating, which trap the air warmed by your body heat and reflect it back at you. Gossamer thin, the baffles compress easily when the pad in rolled up making it possible to have a high R-value pad with minimum bulk and weight. Higher R-values are achieved by adding more rows of baffles and reflective coating.  A real design breakthrough, but very simple and elegant.

The NeoAir XTherm is about the same height as a Nalgene, but definitely thicker. Still that's pretty small for a winter sleeping pad.
The NeoAir XTherm is about the same height as a Nalgene, but definitely thicker. Still that’s pretty small for a winter sleeping pad.

There are two ways to inflate the XTherm: you can fill it up with the included pump sack or simply blow it up normally. The pump sack is an extra long stuff sack with a hole at the end that fits over the XTherm’s inflation valve. While the pump sack adds another 1.5 ounces to your pack weight, it does help limit the amount of moisture from your breath that you would otherwise blow into the pad. While the moisture won’t have a big impact on the thermal efficiency of the pad, it can result in mold and mildew breaking down the insulating baffles and shell fabrics over time. If you have an old first generation XLite that has a translucent top fabric, chances are you can see black mold and mildew spots showing through the fabric that have grown inside the insulation layers of the pad. It’s just a matter of time (although probably a few years) before they weaken the fabric and the pad fails.

What’s it like to sleep on a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm? It’s unreal how warm the pad feels and I think that it adds another 10 degrees to my sleeping bag so I can take it to a lower temperature, but that’s a subjective observation on my part without any quantitative proof to back it up. I also like the fact that the XTherm has a rectangular shape and not a tapered one like many mummy style pads, because I think my feet stay on the pad better at night.

At a miserly 15 ounces, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm might just be the only inflatable sleeping pad you need for year-round use.

Manufacturer Specs

  • Color: Reflex Gray
  • R-Value: 5.7
  • Size tested: Regular
  • Weight: 15 oz / 430 g
  • Width: 20 in / 51 cm
  • Length: 72 in / 183 cm
  • Thickness: 2.5 in / 6.3 cm
  • Packed dimension: 9 x 4.0 / 23 x 10
  • Top fabric type: 30d High Tenacity Nylon
  • Bottom fabric type: 70d Nylon Soft Grip

Disclosure: Therm-a-Rest provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a sample NeoAir XTherm sleeping pad for this review. This post contains affiliate links.

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  1. I have a NeoAir XLite, not the XTherm so I don’t have quite the R value punch that comes with the XTherm. I’ve used the XLite several times around 16º to 17ºF and have never been cold. At 2.5″ thickness, it’s also pretty cushy. With the light weight, high insulation value, and comfort, I think Therm-a-Rest hit one out of the park with the NeoAir product line.

  2. I do love my xtherm for cold weather camping, but have you actually tried to inflate the thing with the pump sack? I’ve found it to be completely useless, unless you want to spend half an hour inflating the pad.

    • I just blow mine up. Can’t be bothered with the extra weight of the pump sack which is 1.5 ounces. Plus I’ve talked to thermarest customer service about it who said that I won’t be able to see the mold and mildew anymore since they switched to the less translucent tops….which I thought was an odd comment to make. I guess they don’t think it’s that important.

      Keeping moisture out of the bag is less important with the NeoAir line because it doesn’t use insulation like down or Primaloft, like many Exped and Big Agnes pads.

      • Ditto. I’ve never managed to inflate it with the pump sack because I always give up after a minute and go the old fashioned route. I’m sure the moisture will cause problems eventually, but just think of it as a cost-benefit analysis of time spent inflating versus the cost of replacing the pad ;-)

      • I’m glad to hear other people can’t make that “pump” work. I end up just inflating mine.

      • I bought an Instaflator at Leslie’s Pool Supplies. It weighs about an ounce and works really well. They are normally three or four dollars but they had a special for a dollar each so I bought four of them. My grandson did explode one when he tried to inflate a pad without opening the valve first–the air had to go somewhere!

    • I made my own cuben stuff sack/inflater. It weighs 0.9 oz. and fills the pad more quickly than by mouth, plus I’m not filling my beloved neoair with spit and stuff.

    • I can do it in a couple minutes. Not a big deal once you get the hang of it.

  3. My resistance to this type pad in the past has been the potato chip bag sound it makes when you put any weight on it or shift even a little. (Well that, and I already have a good one and can’t justify dropping the $ on another.)

    I’ve been told that this issue solves itself after a few uses and the pad gets broken in a bit. Anybody with a NeoAir care to comment on this?

    • That’s certainly not an issue on the Xtherm, or the Xlite, which I also own. It was a bit of an issue on the original model when it was first introduced years ago, but that’s old news now.

  4. I have a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad for 3 season use and for winter I use the BA Qcore insulated pad. Both work great.

  5. This from the BA website….
    X-Static synthetic insulation with the natural performance of silver filament to enhance thermodynamic, anti-microbial and anti-odor properties.

    It has an R value of 5.

  6. At $119 this really isn’t all that expensive.

    I use an inflatable sleeping pad for 3 season (REI Stratus). For winter I’ve always gone with a closed cell foam pad and a Thermarest self inflating pad w/ an R-Value of 3. Both are so much more bulky and annoying than my 3 season set up.

    This could really solve a lot of problems for me.

  7. I bought a regular and small of the original NeoAir when they came out, one for me and one for my grandson. My grandson got a hole in mine one time but the repair kit fixed it.

    A little over a year ago, we were breaking camp on a warm day. I pulled his small one out of the tent, set it outside and later heard several several muffled booms. Since we were camped at Wichita Mountains adjacent to Fort Sill, I thought the noise was from distant artillery practice. When I stepped out of the tent, I found his pad inflated like a balloon–the welds between the horizontal rows had blown. Later, mine developed a very slow leak I couldn’t find.

    Therm-a-Rest replaced both pads at no charge with the newer models that have the curved corners. Their customer service is as good as their product. The new ones also came with repair kits so now I have plenty of those as well.

  8. On a different note, but still involving an xtherm.
    For any of the other larger folks out there that use bivy bags and a large pad, rest assured that a long/wide xtherm fits perfectly fine in an Outdoor Research advanced bivy with plenty of room for me and my 0* quilt. I agonized for weeks as I use a LW xtherm, and was looking to try bivy sacks for some colder weather outings. I snagged an Advanced bivy off ebay for a great price and was very pleasantly surprised at how well it fit. There’s not a lot of info out there it seems on which bivy bags will fit a LW pad that’s as thick as the xtherm. I bought it at the beginning of the year so haven’t really had a chance to test out its r-value yet, but I will say it’s like sleeping on an electric blanket in the 30’s-40’s. As the weather cools down I’ll be hiking out to some LT shelters and giving it a thorough test.

    Phil, sorry to go off topic.

  9. Holy moley! That’s 12 oz lighter than my very warm (R = 5) Big Agnes Q-Core insulated pad. Amazing. I still use the 3 oz pump rather than blow it up with my humid breath. BA pad is small, but not as small as the new Thermarest.

  10. I love my XTherm. I sleep cold, and Colorado nights at 12,000 feet are almost always chilly. Now I stay warm, even when lying directly on the XTherm (or perhaps “because of”).

    It does have a somewhat crinkly sound. I camp by myself, so it’s not an issue. Not as loud as the original XLite, as Philip noted. Try it in the store first if you have any concerns.

    RE: inflating. I got an “Instaflator” bag from http://www.themillair.com. $3.95. Weighs 1.6 oz. including a one-inch piece of hose I use to make it fit over the valve. The Instaflator unrolls to 8 feet long. It only takes 1½ bags of air, about 60 seconds, and I’m done. I know a little mold won’t ruin the mattress, but when you spend $180, who wants mold in it?! The 1.6 oz. is worth every fraction of its weight in my book!

    I switched from an Exped Downmat, partly to save weight, and partly because I really like the Thermarest valve. The early Exped valve was impossible to open and let just a little air out, and it was impossible while you were lying on it.

    I’ve used my SXTherm about 15 nights this year. No leaks. I have the XL because I wanted the 25 inch width: hate having my elbows fall off the edges. However, compared to the Exped, my elbows still slip off the sides a bit.

  11. The Neoair in whatever form has been right up there at the top of the tree for years and this one is no exception. I had one for the PCT and it managed the whole trail, and several trips on my return before eventually giving up. Not sure about the pump, seems to be just extra weight for no real benefit.
    I currently use a Multimat Superlight Air which is silly light but not too warm when it’s gets cold. I usually switch to a Neoair over the winter.
    ~ Fozzie

  12. I like mine a lot, but I still wish they came in a short-wide.

  13. I’m torn between a self-inflating pad and a purely inflatable pad. My concern is the inflatable pad may get a hole in it and if I don’t have a repair kit I’m SOL. I’m hoping a self inflating pad would retain some insulation ability if the same thing happened. Can anyone tell me if that is true?

  14. Best mattress I ever used. Super comfy. I slept noticeably better on it than on my old prolite +.
    I had no problems with R width, or any edge issues, and the crinkly noise is very mild. Not an issue at all, esp. once on it and under a bag.
    I never used mine afield (I gave it to a friend in need before I used it outside the house) but have to wonder if it could actually be too warm for summer use. Seriously. It is incredibly warm; as soon as you get on it, it is really warming you up.
    Bottom material is pretty robust; just take a little care, compared to relatively bulletproof prolites, etc.
    I may grab an xlite next as I rarely camp in serious cold.

  15. The one thing about the X-Therm that bothers me, is the width. I find it uncomfortable to have my elbows fall off the sides when I’m reading. Solved that by carrying two, 3″ thick, 4″ wide, 12″ long soft foam pieces tied together with shoelaces. The laces go under the pad, and my elbows rest on them.

    The inflation bag is a joke. I used two pieces of 1″ thick, semi-rigid foam cut to fit inside the bag, one at each end. The foam pieces have 1″ holes cut through them. Light plastic squares are glued, one one edge only, over the holes. The plastic acts as valves. I use the bag now like an accordion. Very quick and efficient.

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