Home / Gear Reviews / 5 Star Reviews / Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

manufactured by :
Philip Werner

Reviewed by:
On March 14, 2016
Last modified:April 10, 2017


Pads like the XLite are easy to roll up and disappear inside your pack instead of having to be lashed to the outside with compression straps. I like their small footprint and don't worry that much about puncturing one on a trip; they're plenty tough as long as you don't abuse them and remove rocks and sticks from your campsite before you put them on the ground.

NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad (Top) - NeoAir Original (Bottom)
NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad (Top) – NeoAir Original (Bottom)

The NeoAir XLite is Therm-a-Rest’s new ultralight inflatable sleeping pad, weighing 12 ounces in size regular and 8 ounces in a size small, with a R-value of  3.2. It replaces the “original” NeoAir inflatable sleeping pad which weighed 14 ounces and had a slightly lower R-Value of 3.1 and is being discontinued.

If you already own the original NeoAir, it’s not really worth upgrading to the new XLite. But if you are still sleeping on a much heavier sleeping pad for 3 season backpacking, switching to a lighter, more compressible pad can make a huge difference in packing for a trip. Sure, it’s lighter, but the big payoff is in the compressability of an inflatable pad over foam, self-inflating, or larger inflatable pads which can be difficult and cumbersome to carry on backpacking trips.

Pads like the XLite are easy to roll up and disappear inside your pack instead of having to be lashed to the outside with compression straps. I like their small footprint and don’t worry that much about puncturing one on a trip; they’re plenty tough as long as you don’t abuse them and remove rocks and sticks from your campsite before you put them on the ground.

NeoAir XLite Rolls up Small
NeoAir XLite Rolls up Small

For those of you who purchased the original NeoAir when it first came out, the weight savings in the new XLite come mainly from trimming the pad’s corners, resulting in a mummy shape instead of a rectangle. The exterior fabric has also changed and is now translucent so you can see through it into the interior baffles (see How does the NeoAir work?) inside the pad that trap warm air. The new fabric is even more crinkly and noisy than the original fabric, but you get used to the sound pretty quickly, especially if you are exhausted when you go to bed. I slept on an XLite for 10 nights recently and the sound never bothered me at all.

The thing that does kill me about the new XLite is how hard it is when it’s fully inflated. It’s like sleeping on a board. I remedy this by deflating it about 25% to get a softer feel, which works well. I sleep great on the XLite, just like I did on the original NeoAir.

A final note for you gram weanies: Therm-a-Rest pads often vary a bit in terms of weight from the manufacturers specs: sometime more and sometimes less based on the manufacturing batch. For example, my XLite weighs 12.6 oz and my original NeoAir weighs 13.8 ounces, not the 12 and 14 ounces cited by the manufacturer. If you want a pad that weighs less than the manufacturer spec, take your scale to your outfitter and weigh each pad in the store to find the lightest one. I realize this sounds crazy, but if you’re obsessed by weight, you should be aware of this variability. I’ve also seen the same weight variability on their foam pads including the RidgeRest Solar and RidgeRest SOLite.

Disclosure: Section Hiker (Philip Werner) received a NeoAir XLite from Therma-a-Rest to review for this article. 

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  1. Good choice of soda!

    Also, I’ve been lusting after the new XLite since I heard they’d come out, but my budget is going to make me wait a little while. In the meantime, two things I learned at Backpackinglight make me even more excited to try the new sleeping pads.

    First, BPL’s article on lightweight inflatable sleeping pads showed that NeoAirs actually have a higher R-value than specified when fully inflated, which is awesome. Apparently deflating it 25% won’t hurt that r-value too badly.

    Second, and this is part of what makes me want to wait a while to get a new one, the women’s XLite is 5’6″ long, has a higher R-value rating (3.9), and has a stated weight of 11 oz. That seems pretty great to me. I may have to wait for the women’s version to come out and get some reviews before I drop the money for a new sleeping pad :)

    • That’s good intel – thanks Ryan.
      Of course this is also an excellent time to pick up an original Neoair as retailers sell out their old supply. They’re running 30 to 50% off at the moment.

      • Love those closeout sales!

        I’ve actually been borrowing a friend’s neoair original to see just how much I would like to own a new one. This recent discovery that my friends all own a lot of the gear that I want, and they don’t use it very often, has really helped my budget! :)

      • Too very good strategies for cutting down on gear costs:

        1) borrow it
        2) buy last year’s color (model)

  2. My pad needed an upgrade so I found an Xlite and a Trekker to try. For me, the shoulder room on the new Xlite is pretty tight. I ended up going with the Trekker for the extra room and comfort and took the 7 oz. weight penalty. Smaller, sound sleepers will rejoice at the new Xlite. Restless kickers and turners in the night like me might be better off staying on the old rectangular Neoairs IMO.

    Think my girlfriend would fit perfect on this pad and keep her pack ultralight.

  3. Thanks for the review. I own the original neo air and was curious about the difference. I’m also glad I’m not the only one who thought that the pad feels like a board when fully inflated.
    I’m a very warm sleeper and find it almost too warm in the summer months, but I live in LA. where we don’t have winter anyway. Any suggestions on a cooler but still lighter weight sleeping pad?
    Again thanks for all the reviews

  4. I thought the original neo air had an R of 2.5?

    Where can I find them for 50% off?

  5. Pretty cool sleeping pad. Will check it out.

  6. I got a great price on a NeoAir XS I made the basis of a comfortable 10 Essentials waistpack.
    That new women’s model looks inviting, no corners. Ah, gear!

  7. Philip – Will you be doing a review on the new XTherm? I noticed it on your 2012 OR Round-up which sparked my interest. I am curious of its face fabric (toughness) and how well the extra R-Value really feels in all four season! Thanks!

    • I really don’t know. I have a huge review backlog at the moment and have to get through a lot of other gear in the next 8 weeks, but it’s a possibility.

  8. That sick yellow color always stopped me from even considering the neo-air. Has anyone dyed that to black or dark green?

  9. Hey Phil, I’m curious to hear if you’ve been using this sleeping pad all summer and have any further thoughts on it. In particular, I’ve seen several reviews of the pad that mention the mylar in the baffles flaking off after several uses, which you can see through the translucent outer skin of the pad. Last I heard about this was in the beginning of the summer, but I haven’t dug too deep to find reviews that I can trust.

    • No problems with durability. My only issue has been sleeping on it with a quilt. Must wear long underwear in hot weather. Otherwise the surface fabric is wet and clammy.

      • Sounds good to me! I have that problem with any summer sleeping pads… just a few weeks ago on the LT, I had to peel myself off of my ridgerest every morning. Yuck. :)

        Thanks for the info.

  10. I absolutely love mine! A little pricey and noisey but oh so awesome. Lightweight. Warm. Compact. It’s great.
    Happy trails people!


  11. Love the xlite – have been using it all summer and wonder why I never went to the original neoair sooner. I find it less noisy than the original but much more comfortable. I too have to deflate a little to get perfect comfort.

    Have noticed some flaming of the inner sheet but just along the edges. While its durable Monica found out you can’t close the back hatch on it. Ended up getting a poke through but the repair kit worked perfectly.

    I ended up changing my whole sleep system with this. Picked up a sheet and a down blanket and ditches the sleeping bag. I sleep in shorts (even when cold outside) and while the sheet might be a luxury my legs no longer stick to the pad. Need to get a lighter blanket for summer since the one I picked up is a bit much for warm temperatures.

    • I switched to a down quilt this year and sleep much better since I’m a side sleeper. A extra few ounces of an full length Xlite are totally worth it. Glad it’s working out for you. I wear long underwear, even in summer to avoid the sheet, but that’s just my preference.

  12. Loud and crinkly when you sleep on it. Selected Big Agnes product instead. They held up about a year and a half. Currently have some orange and gray pads that make you practice CPR every night for 30 seconds. VERY comfortable. Seem to be holding up as well as our old thermarests at much less weight, more compact size but they don’t self-inflate. Skip the crinkles. Try one out on the store floor.

  13. Pooh might just have to up grade Sherpas big Agnes withy regular neoair and get myself the small womens :) btw we also go the sleep sac route with our quilt :)

  14. I agree with your thoughts on the XLite vs the Original. I have the regular size Original (which also happens to weigh 13.8 oz) and I have got to say that it is one of my most favorite pieces of gear. It goes with me on all of my trips, even one of my recent “SUL” trips in which my TPW was just under 4 lbs, so basically, the Neo was 1/4 of my total BPW…

    Anyway, I am not too happy that they decided to cut corners to drop a little extra weight. The All-Season is a bit overkill for my needs and the Trekker is too heavy for what it offers (IMO). I wish that they would cut the Trekker back out and put the original Neo back in the line-up…

    Anyway, I like to have mine pretty much fully inflated, that’s just more comfy for me. It also seems to be a little less noisy when it is fully inflated too. But I gotta admit, I never really noticed it as being noisy until my last 2 trips… the temps at night were just so dang hot, I tossed and turned much of the night, and this was the first time that I really noticed the crinkling sounds…at least to be loud and potentially bothersome…

    • Ok, not too be a rebel, but I had some real problems with the new XLite neo air. I own the original and the new XLite. First, let me say that I am a huge fan of the original neo air and I think it’s a great product–I agree with Stick’s Blog that Cascade Designs/Thermarest should keep that product in their line and not discontinue it.

      I bought the new XLite and tried it in the Sierras on a trip. The first night I used my Marmot Hydrogen (15 degree bag) and was so hot all night that I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t believe how much warmer the XLite was than the original neo air. The same thing happened the next night–it got so bad that I let much of the air out of the XLite to reduce the heat. The next night I tried my Marmot Helium 30 degree bag (long story why I had two bags) and was more comfortable. Bottom line is that with the higher R value (3.2 XLite vs. 2.5 on original neo air) seems to me to make such a difference in the warmth that it seems like you could go with a much lighter bag, i.e., that a 30 degree bag + 2.5 R original neo air may be equivalent to a 40 degree bag + 3.2R XLite. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  15. Possible. Maybe your sleeping bag was to warm to begin with. How cold was it outside the two nights?

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