If you want to save gear weight, but you’re not willing to give up the luxury and comfort of using an inflatable sleeping pad, try a torso-length one like the 47″ size “Short” Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite. Weighing 8 oz*, it weighs 4 oz less than the 12 oz, 72″ size “Regular” XLite. (Note: the weight of the short XLite can vary. I have one that weighs just 6.9 oz.) Both pads are otherwise identical with a 20″ width, they’re 2.5″ thick, and have an R-value of 3.2, making them suitable for three season use.
Specs at a Glance
- Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite
- Size: Short
- Dimensions: 20″ x 47″ x 2.5 (width x length x height)
- *Weight: 8 oz (6.9 oz actual) – weight varies, shop around and bring a scale
- Fabric: 30D High Tenacity ripstop nylon
- Number of breaths to inflate: 15
- Valve: Stick-valve
- Repair kit: included
A 47″ inch pad is almost 4 feet long, making it long enough to provide padding under your hips and torso. Your legs don’t need as much insulation as your core does and you’ll stay warm if you rest your feet and calves on top of your backpack and spare clothes. This is a common trick used by ultralight backpackers to reduce their gear weight. Hammockers do the same thing when they sleep with a half-length or three-quarters length underquilt in warmer weather because they don’t need extra insulation for their lower legs and feet, beyond the warmth provided by their top quilt or sleeping bag.
In addition to reduced weight, the 47″ torso-length XLite packs up significantly smaller that the 72″ long model, which is important if you’ve switched to a low volume 30L or 40L backpack for ultralight backpacking. When deflated, a short XLite packs virtually flat, making it easy to roll up and pack in a backpack.
Comparable Short Sleeping Pads
|Short Ultralight Sleeping Pads||Type||Dimensions||R-Value||Weight (oz)|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite S||Inflatable||47" x 20" x 2.5"||3.2||7-8 (varies)|
|Therm-a-Rest Prolite XS||Self-inflating||36" x 20" x 1"||2.4||8|
|Therm-a-Rest Prolite S||Self-inflating||47" x 20" x 1"||2.4||11|
|Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol S||Closed Cell Foam||51" x 20" x 0.75"||2.6||10|
|Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest Sol S||Closed Cell Foam||48" x 20" x 0.62"||2.8||9|
|Klymit Static V Junior||Inflatable||50.4" x 23" x 2.5||1.3||13|
|Klmit Inertia X Lite||Inflatable||48" x 18" x 1.5"||NA||6.1|
|Klymit Inertia X Wave||Inflatable||48" x 25" x 1.5"||NA||10.5|
|Gossamer Gear Nightlight||Foam||19" x 29" x 0.75"||NA||5 to 6 (varies)|
A torso-length Therm-a-Rest XLite is almost identical to the longer 72″ XLite, by far the most popular backpacking sleeping pad today. It has a durable stick valve and it’s covered with a 30 denier high-tenacity ripstop nylon, which is thicker than most mainstream tent floors today.
The inside of the XLite has a honey-comb structure that traps your body heat, with a reflective coating inside to prevent heat loss to the ground.It’s also treated with an anti-fungal agent to prevent mold growth, which can result if you inflate an air mattress by blowing into it.
This latest, current version of the XLite (all models) is not as noisy as earlier models, which made a crinkly sound when you shifted your weight or rolled on the pad in your sleep. This was caused by the reflective film used inside the interior. I’ve never been bothered by that sound in all the years I’ve been using an XLite sleeping pad (since 2009) but when my head hits the hay on a backpacking trip, nothing can wake me up except the morning sun.
Sleeping on a inflatable pad like the short Therm-Rest XLite is not for everyone, but if a lightweight gear list is a priority, it’s a popular sleeping pad among thru-hikers, section hikers, and ultralight backpackers for that purpose.
The author received a sleeping pad for this review.Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.