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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad Review

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

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping pad

Comfort
Ease of Inflation
Warmth
Weight
Durability
Packed Size

Ultralight and Comfortable

The NeoAir XLite is the most popular inflatable sleeping pad sold today and for good reason. It packs up small and flat, taking up little room in a backpack. The XLite is 2.5 inches thick providing plenty of comfort for side sleepers and back sleepers, with an R-value of 3.2 that will keep you cozy down to 10-20 degrees F.

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The NeoAir XLite is Therm-a-Rest’s 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 is being discontinued. See Sleeping Pad R-values. 

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 compressibility 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.

Comparable Lightweight Sleeping Pads

Sleeping PadTypeSizeWeightR-Value/Temp RatingPrice
Big Agnes AXL AirAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.75"9.6 ozNA$139.95
Big Agnes Insulated AXL AirAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.75"11.6 ozNA$179.95
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XliteAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"12 ozR=3.2$169.95
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XThermAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"15 ozR=5.7$199.95
Big Agnes Q-Core SLXAir Pad20" x 72" x 4.25"16 oz15 Degrees +$159.95
NEMO Astro Air LiteAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.5"14 ozNA$109.95
NEMO Tensor Aid PadAir Pad20" x 72" x 3.0"13.5 ozNA$119.95
Sea-to-Summit UltralightAir Pad21.5" x 72" x 2"13.9 ozR=0.7$99.95
Exped AirMat HyperliteAir Pad20.5" x 72" x 2.813.4 ozR=1.9/35 Degrees+$100.00
Klymit V Ultralite SLAir Pad20" x 72" x 2.5"11.9 ozR=1.3$99.95

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.

2018 Update: I’m still using the same NeoAir XLite 6 years later after hundred of nights of use.

Written 2012. Updated 2018.

Disclosure: The author received a NeoAir XLite from Therma-a-Rest for this article. 

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2 comments

  1. I realize that this discussion is old, but since Philip updated the article, I thought others may have read through it as I had earlier today. I originally bought a NeoAir XLite in 2015, and I returned it after a week long backpacking trip in Washington State. The CRINKLE noise made me very unpopular among my camping mates, and I’ve been using a NeoAir Trekker ever since. While the NeoAir Trekker is comfy and provide more elbow room, I found it to be noisy in its own right. Today, I was washing my NeoAir Trekker and saw some strange wavy formations just under the surface of the pad. Could be a precursor to bursting? Could be nothing. Google came up zip. So, I came here and started researching pads…again…and again I found myself purchasing the NeoAir XLite.

    When I got it home, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crinkle noise in the latest model has been greatly reduced. It still makes the noise, but it is much, much quieter than I remember. I took a nap on it, trying different positions and found a few comfortable ones that will allow me to fall asleep. I toss and turn a lot. But, even so, the narrow shoulder width provide very little elbow room. As a side sleeper, my arms are flopping off to the side. I wish they could make it a little wider without making it heavier. BTW, my postal scale says mine weighs 11.3 oz!

    Thanks for the review, Philip, it was very helpful.

    • Update: Turns out that while I think it is quieter, my wife still believes it is much too loud! I decided to buy a Thermarest Pro (small) until the new non-space foil xlite models come out.

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