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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad Review

Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm sleeping pad review

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad

Comfort
Ease of Inflation
Warmth
Weight
Durability
Packed Size

Ultralight Ultra-Warm Winter Sleeping Pad

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is a insulated inflatable sleeping pad designed for lightweight backpacking in cold weather conditions. It's easy to inflate and the reinforced shell fabric provides extra durability in harsh conditions.

The Therm-a-Rest XTherm Sleeping Pad is an insulated air mattress designed for cold weather camping with an R-value of 5.7. Weighing just 15 oz, it’s also exceptionally lightweight, durable, and packs up small, which explains its popularity with winter campers and backpackers. Many people underestimate the importance of their sleeping pad in their overall sleep system. If you find you’re still cold with enough insulation topside, your pad is probably insufficient. For winter camping below freezing, I recommend that people use a sleeping pad with an R-value of 5 to 6, to help insure that they get a decent nights sleep. R-values are additive, so you can also stack multiple pads together for more warmth.

Specs at a Glance

  • Color: Gray
  • R-Value: 5.7
  • Size tested: Regular
  • Weight: 15 oz / 430 g
  • Optional inflation sack: 1.8 oz / 51 g
  • Optional stuff sack: 0.6 oz / 17g
  • 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

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm is designed to trap your body heat and reflect it back at you when you sleep at night. It achieves this using a honeycombed construction of air baffles that are covered with a reflective metallic coating. The result is a highly compressible and lightweight air mattress that rolls up to the size of a Nalgene bottle, making it very easy to pack. The baffle insulation system used in the NeoAir XTherm is the same across all of the pads in the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir product line, including the NeoAir XLite, which is by far the most popular sleeping pad made today.

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

The XTherm  has horizontal baffles which are comfortable for back and side sleepers and the very reliable stick valve used across Therm-a-Rest’s many sleeping pad products. While you can inflate the NeoAir XTherm by blowing into its stick valve, Therm-a-Rest bundles an inflation sack with the XTherm that you can use instead. It has an adapter at one end that fits over the XTherm’s valve. To inflate, you open the bag and let air flow into it, before bunching the top closed and pressing hard on the bag’s sides. This pushes air into the pad to inflate it. Using the inflation sack is preferable over blowing up the pad in winter because your breath contains moisture that can freeze and interfere with the XTherm’s ability to insulate. When fully inflated, the XTherm is firm to sleep on. I prefer a slightly softer pad, so I let a little air out when I use it.

The NeoAir XTherm is a few ounces heavier than the NeoAir XLite because it’s made with thicker and more durable fabrics, because you can’t afford a leak in cold winter weather. The top is made with a 30 denier high tenacity nylon, while the bottom is make with a 70 denier soft grip nylon. Fabrics with a high denier are thick, sturdy, and durable, while ones with low denier count tend to be sheer, soft, and silky. The current XTherm is less crinkly and quieter sounding than earlier versions, although the sound is also deadened by the thicker fabrics on the pad’s exterior.

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.

The XTherm is available in weight-saving mummy shape in two sizes: a regular (72″ x 2o” x 2.5″) or a long (77″ x 2o” x 2.5″). A wide 25″ rectangular version called the NeoAir XTherm Max is also available in a regular (72″ x 25″ x 2.5″) or long size (77″ x 25″ x 2.5″), which is good if your arms fall off the sides of a 20″ mattress.

Outdoor Industry R-Value Standards

If you find that you’re sleeping cold when temperatures fall below freezing, check the R-value of your sleeping pad. If it’s lower than 5 or 6, I’d recommend getting yourself an XTherm or adding an inexpensive foam pad like the Therm-a-Rest Zlite, which has an R-value of 2.6, underneath your existing sleeping pad. R-values are additive and the best way to measure the insulation value of sleeping pads. The downside of carrying a second foam pad is that it’s heavier and bulkier, but it is an inexpensive alternative to buying an XTherm.

If you own a sleeping pad that doesn’t have a manufacturer-documented R-value, it will soon. The outdoor industry passed a new R-value sleeping pad standard in late November of 2018, that is expected to roll out to consumers by 2020. REI and MEC, in Canada, have already purchased equipment so they can independently test the sleeping pads they sell, so you might see standardized R-values values even sooner. The new standard defines a common test methodology for determining sleeping pad R-values, so that consumers can compare the R-values of different pads from different manufacturers.

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

Companies like Big Agnes and NEMO that haven’t rated their sleeping pads with R-values, put consumers at a real disadvantage in terms of quantifying their insulation value for several reasons. First, they don’t explain whether the temperatures relate to air temperature or ground temperatures. They don’t explain how the temperature ranges were determined. There’s no way to combine two pads and know what the combined temperature rating will work out to since they’re not additive like R-values, and there’s no distinction between men and women, given that women sleep about 10 degrees colder than men. I’d go as far as to recommend staying away from winter pads that don’t have R-value ratings, until the new R-value standards kick in and all sleeping pad vendors are required to test and publish them.

Comparable Insulated Inflatable Sleeping Pads

Make / ModelR-ValueWeight (oz)Dimensions (in)
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm5.71572 x 20 x 2.5
REI Flash Insulated3.71572 x 20 x 2
REI Stratus Insulated2.92172 x 20 x 2.5
Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated3.316.972 x 21.5 x 2
Sea-to-Summit Comfort Light Insulated4.221.872 x 21.5 x 2
Big Agnes Q-Core SLXUnrated1672 x 20 x 4.25
Big Agnes Insulated Air Core UltraUnrated2172 x 20 x 3.5
Big Agnes Insulated AXLUnrated11.972 x 20 x 3.75
Exped Downmat 9 XP831.272 x 20.5 x 3.5
Exped Downmat UL Winter722.272 x 20 x 3.5
Exped Synmat HL515.272 x 20 x 3.5
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL4.415.272 x 20 x 2.5
Klymit Insulated V Ultralight SL4.419.572 x 23 x 2.5
Klymit Insulated Static V4.42472 x 20 x 2.5
NEMO Tensor InsulatedUnrated2172 x 20 x 3
NEMO Astro Insulated LiteUnrated1972 x 20 x 3.5
NEMO Vector InsulatedUnrated1972 x 20 x 3

Recommendation

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Air Mattress is an inflatable winter sleeping pad with an R-value of 5.7. I’ve been using one for 5 years and think its the best winter sleeping pad you can own in terms of insulation value, comfort and weight. At a miserly 15 ounces, the XTherm also takes up very little room in a winter backpack, since it doesn’t contain bulky down feathers or synthetic insulation. This is an important consideration for winter use where space is at a premium since you need to carry so much more insulation, equipment, food, and fuel.

Highly Recommended!

Disclosure: The author purchased this product.

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15 comments

  1. Now if only Thermarest would make a wide reg pad. I’m not really interested in voiding their good warranty cutting down a large.

    • Inflatable pads can’t be cut down. All the air cells are interconnected, which is why you can inflate from one valve. I agree, a wide regular would be worth an extra 2 oz. for many people.

      I have considered getting this XTherm pad as a year-round pad. My >5 year old BA Q-core insulated is warm and comfy (back then, BA gave it an R of 5), but weighs a full pound more than the XTherm. Admittedly, the old BA pad has thick top and bottom fabric and actual insulation to account for the weight.

  2. I have the XTherm and XTherm MAX and have used them as low as the mid-teens and been very warm. I also find them to be very comfortable (back and side sleeper) and very quiet – no squeaks, no crinkles.

    • Very interested in garbage bag substitute for inflation sleeping pads:-
      1)Couldn’t you just use a garbage bag without drawstrings instead of cutting them off? (eg for economy)
      2)does the rubber band have to be nitrile to secure the bag onto the valve without leakage?
      3) Why are only 2 gulps needed to inflate the bag sufficient to be flat, not garbage bin shaped?
      I agree re. moisture when inflating and look forward to trying out a garbage bag – when I googled it, I only found instructions to crochet pads for homeless people out of unwanted plastic bags.
      Thanks in advance.

  3. Hello Philip, great review!

    Let me point one mistake you have about width of Large size – it is 25″, not 20″ (and you have character ‘o’ instead of 0 in 20).

    Honestly speaking NeoAir width runs small… 20″ (or 25″) is for deflated mattress, subtract around 3 inches when you inflate… Considering this “regular” size is too narrow if you sleep on your back. And I do not mean for me myself – it is too narrow for my wife, she is 5’10” medium closing size. Her arms falling of “regular” size mattress, I had to buy large for her… If it is not good for “medium” size women, then it should not be called “regular” but “petite”.

    One more note about inflation bags. You can make lighter inflation bag out of 30 gallon PE drawstring garbage bag (just cut corner and drawstring and add nitrile rubber band to secure it on valve). It is both faster to inflate (2 “gulps” instead of ~6 for large size mattress) and less weight/bulk (31g for bag + rubber band versus 56g for Thermarest bag). And I suggest NEVER inflate XTherm with your mouth – you will have moisture inside, it will freeze during day time and damage mattress (not mentioning mold and extra weight issues)…

  4. Per your experience, the heat sealing with iron works with the nylon material used for the shell and presumably nylon for the chambers. I have no information on the identity of the silvery material in the chamber baffles or on the construction of the baffle-shell complex – I sure would be timid about trying this out on a functional $240.00 pad!

    Therm-a-rest, try marketing the 72″ x 25″ wide regular size (or even a wide short, if it turns out that many people are fine with having their feet rest on gear or on the CCF under-pad).

  5. As a 5’2″ person, I would love a short version of this mattress! As NancyP said above, though, I’d be very nervous about taking scissors to a $200 camping pad to try to shorten it myself. Might have to just bite the bullet and get the regular length.

  6. Last year I started out on the AT with the Xtherm Max Pad and I think it’s a great pad.

  7. Thanks for the detailed review. The X-Therm is well known as is the lightest and truly warm winter air mattress available.

    I have an REI FLASH Insulated mattress (R 3.7) but REI ALSO sells the FLASH Insulated FOUR SEASON air mattress (R 5.2) that’s about 3 oz. heavier at 18 oz. Like Thermarest REI uses a reflective coating inside the bottom of their mattress. But unlike Thermarest but like some other insulated air mattress brands REI bonds synthetic fibers to the inside of the top layer for insulation.

    I use the compatible Sea to Summit inflation bag/dry bag for my 3 season FLASH Insulated mattress. Works great. As the author says, I can add my R 2.6 Ridgerest CC foam mat under the air mattress for R 6.3 for deep sub zero camping.

    However I always place my fleece lined nylon cargo pants beneath the mattress in the torso area and have found that is good to -5 F. thus far camping in my Tarptent Moment DW on compacted snow.

  8. About five or six years ago, I bought two insulated Campmor backpacking air pads for $39 each before a canoe trip. (one for me, one for my son) They are about the size of that Nalgene bottle you show, they have a storage sack, came with repair kit, and are extremely comfortable. I saw they no longer carry their own name branded pads. my son has since bought a Big Agnes insulated Air Core, and to be honest, I think the Campmor is a better sleep. If its an ounce or two heavier, because it seems heavier gauge skin, its still worth it. Too bad they are discontinued,

  9. Re: cold weather camping: How many people use a torso length foam pad underneath a full length inflatable pad for increased R value? Or do people just take the full-length foam pad for insurance against blow-outs?

  10. Another nice review.

    A nits on the specifications. Only the long sizes are 25″ width. Both the Xtherm Max and regular Xtherm are 20″ width for the regular. I contacted Thermarest prior to my AT thru hike earlier this year hoping that they might have or be planning a 25″ regular but they said no. And since I’m 5′ 6″ I didn’t want the extra weight and bulk of the long.

    I used the Xtherm regular on my AT hike this year for several reasons. It had a higher r value for late winter hiking and I believed it to be more durable. Subjectively that seemed to be true as several fellow hikers with the NeoAir Xlite had failures that were unrepairable in the field. That’s a real pain if you are several days from resupply and downright dangerous in bad weather. I used the included Thermarest pump sack that was included. Another hiker purchased a different Thermarest pump sack which was much bigger and inflated the pad much quicker and doubled as a laundry bag in town – that’s a consideration if you’re thru hiking.

    The pad stood up for my entire thru hike (147 days) and in general I liked it. However… in cold weather you’re arms will come off the pad and they will be cold because it’s only 20″ wide. In warm weather it wasn’t an issue. Several of my fellow hikers used the long version even when they weren’t tall and claimed their arms stayed on the pad! I thought of buying the long and using the “iron routine” to shorten the pad, but I didn’t have confidence that it wouldn’t give way.

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