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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Torso-Length Sleeping Pad Review

Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Short Sleeping Pad Review

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 PadsTypeLengthR-ValueWeight (oz)
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite SInflatable47"4.28.3
Therm-a-Rest Prolite XSSelf-inflating47"2.412
Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol SFoam51"2.010
Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest Sol SFoam48"2.19
NEMO SwitchbackFoam51"2.010.5
S2S Ultralight SISelf-inflating49"2.613.9

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.

Highly Recommended!

The author received a sleeping pad for this review.

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  1. Thanks for all your helpful reviews.

    I recently switched to the short and really appreciate the fewer breaths to fill.

  2. One thing worth pointing out is that the dimensions on the Xlite are deceiving. The 20 inch width is DEFLATED while a standard Neoair, like the Trekker, is 20 inches INFLATED. You lose around an inch and a half on the Xlite once you inflate it. It may not sound like much, but you can tell the difference.

  3. I recently shortened my full length pad with success. I’ve used it a few times and it worked out well for me. For anyone looking to reduce weight and space I can recommend and short pad.

  4. I’ve been using the short for 3 season backpacking for a number years, not luxurious in terms of width (if Thermarest came out with a 24″ wide short I’d buy one); one of the easiest ways to drop 8ozs from the pack.
    I’ve only had 1 puncture which was repaired in the middle of the night with cuben tape, it’s still on there after 2 years & 100% effective, a lot easier than using the repair kit.

    • Alpine Pedestrian

      I bought a Thermarest Neoair Trekker a few years ago that was 47″ x 25″, R = 3, weight 13.9 oz. that works great for me. It’s hard to find them short and wide. Not sure if it’s still available.

  5. Philip, I have heard that the NeoAir XLite short feels narrower than the regular, especially at the hips. Your impressions? Does the short taper sooner than the regular? Thanks.

    • I have both right here. Let me measure them inflated and deflated. Just give me a few hours. I have an urgent need to go fishing.

    • It’s actually hard to measure the two because they’re different lengths and the taper continuously. If I align the foot end of both pads, they have identical widths when deflated.

      • Since the foot end of the full length pad ends at your feet, and the foot end of the short pad ends at your knees, the short pad does sound narrower where it counts assuming the tapers are the same.

        Is it possible to overlay the pads starting at the head end to see if there’s a difference through the shoulder and torso?

  6. Thanks, Philip. With that information, I can measure the width of my regular at 47″ from the head (where the short would end) and compare that to the width at the foot of my regular (same as width at foot of short, per your comparison) to get the difference in width between regular and short at the 47″ point.

    I have tried to simulate a short by measuring 47″ up from the foot of my regular and sleeping from the foot up to that point. That felt really narrow and tippy.

    Anyone else have experience with the short?

  7. I slept on the short for 30 nights. I’d say that “narrow and tippy” is a great description. Mine was 17” at the widest when inflated. I fell off the side and would wake up sleeping on the ground 4 times a night. I wanted to love it, but finally bought the long and wide Neoair which weighs 1 lb. I’ve had it for about 4 years but haven’t been able to cut it! :)

  8. I’ve been using this pad for a while now, and I have a suggestion about handling the width issue. If you’re a side-sleeper, like me, I suggest turning the pad around so that the “head” end is under your butt. The narrow end, which is presumably meant for the bottom of your torso, is plenty wide for your head (esp. if you use a pillow), and using the wide end at the bottom gives you more room for your hips and thighs when sleeping on your side.

  9. I “eschew” Neo-Air mattresses and will do so until Thermarest solves the noise problem. I’m getting an REI Flash Insulated mattress (R 3.7, 15 oz.) for 3 season backpacking. My Prolite is not warm enough below 20 F. and my Trail Pro is just too heavy for anything other than car camping.
    ->I’m pretty sure I can take the Flash Insulated mattress to at least 0 F., especially if I put balsam boughs beneath my tent floor and/or lay my pants and shirt beneath it.

    My sleeping bags are:
    1. Western Mountaineering Megalite 900 fill goose down bag (factory overstuffed to 20 F.)
    2. LL Bean -20 F. 750 fill goose down winter bag
    Both these bags are excellent for their temperature ranges. Both can be taken at least 10F. below their minimum with light down jackets and pants. My “Bean bag” is the best designed winter bag I have ever owned or seen.

    The word on Big Agnes insulated mattresses is that they are not nearly warm enough. Dunno why but all those who have used them in winter complain of this. Sea to Summit insulated air mattresses are warm as are a few others like the REI Flash Insulated mats.

    • I have a BA Insulated Air Core and tried it at 17ºF and froze my tush off. Fortunately, I was in my back yard testing cold weather gear and switched to a Neo-Air and unfroze the tush. The noise problem isn’t a problem for me. Maybe it’s because the snoring drowns out the potato chips…

  10. I really like the old NeoAir “medium” length, about five feet. Though I’m 6′ 3″, I sleep a bit curled up so that is perfect.

    NeoAir doesn’t offer a medium length, oh wait, they do! It is the women’s model. That is exactly like the other NeoAir models, but 66 inches long.

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