Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad w/ WingLock Valve Review

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad Review

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad (2020 edition) is an insulated air mattress designed for cold weather camping with an R-value = 6.9, using the new Outdoor Industry sleeping pad R-value measurement standard. Weighing just 15 oz (see below), the XTherm is also lightweight, durable, and rolls 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 or more to help ensure that they get a decent night’s sleep. R-values are additive, so you can also stack multiple pads together for more insulation.

Therm-a-Rest XTherm Sleeping Pad w/ WingLock Valve

Comfort
Ease of Inflation
Warmth
Weight
Durability
Packed Size

High R-Value Sleeping Pad

The Therm-a-Rest XTherm Sleeping Pad is a reliable, durable, lightweight and high-R-value inflatable sleeping pad for cool weather camping.

Shop Now

Specs at a Glance

  • Color: Gray
  • R-Value: 6.9
  • Size tested: Regular
  • Weight: 15.0 oz (Therm-a-Rest claims 15 oz, but my test mattress weighs 16 oz)
  • Optional inflation sack: 2.0 oz
  • Optional stuff sack: 0.4 oz
  • 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 NeoAir Insulation System

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 very thin and lightweight air mattress that rolls up to the size of a Nalgene bottle, making it very easy to pack. The same honeycombed baffles are used in all of the NeoAir pads that Therm-a-Rest makes, although it gives NeoAir pads a crinkly sound that some people find disturbing at night.

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

The XTherm has horizontal baffles that are comfortable for back and side sleepers and a stick-style valve, which is common across the NeoAir product line, including the NeoAir XLite, and NeoAir UberLite sleeping pads. While you can inflate the NeoAir XTherm by blowing into its valve, Therm-a-Rest bundles a pump sack with the XTherm and the other NeoAir pads that you can use instead.

New WingLock Valve

Therm-a-Rest redesigned and replaced the stick valve used to inflate and deflate the NeoAir XTherm at the beginning of 2020 with a new valve called the WingLock, but has not made any other changes to the design or construction of the XTherm in this new version. Older models of the XTherm have been renamed “NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad – Classic Valve” to differentiate it from the current WingLock-enhanced XTherm and are still available for sale on the Therm-a-Rest website at a discount. Most other retailers have not adopted this new naming scheme as of yet.

The WingLock Valve has two parts: a twisty black one-way valve, so air can’t escape while you blow up the pad,  and a pair of colored side wings that you twist to bypass the one-way mechanism in order to rapidly deflate the pad. There’s a slight learning curve to using it if you’ve used the “classic valve” which opened and closed with a simpler screw action.

Therm-a-Rest claims that you can inflate the XTherm three times faster with the WingLock Valve, but I can’t blow mine up any faster by mouth than the classic-valve XTherm I own. While deflation is faster, you still have to roll up the XTherm to force the air out, although it takes a little less elbow grease than before. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about the WingLock Valve, but it’s not an earth-shattering improvement over the classic valve in terms of inflation or deflation speed.

Inflating the Therm-a-Rest XTherm with a PumpSack
Inflating the Therm-a-Rest XTherm with the Pump Sack

The NeoAir XTherm Pump Sack

The 1-way WingLock Valve does make the pump sack included with the XTherm more efficient to use, especially near the end of inflation, since the valve doesn’t permit air that you pump into the pad to escape. This was a problem with the old valve and old pump sack, where air would flow out of the pad when it got close to being fully inflated.

The pump sack (right) clicks onto a ring around the top of the valve
The pump sack (right) clicks onto a ring around the top of the valve

The new pump sack included with the XTherm clicks onto a ring surrounding the top of the WingLock Valve, which is easier to mate than the pump-sack-to-valve-connection on the previous model. The two remain connected until the pad starts to noticeably inflate and it twists itself out of the valve-pump sack connection. This never happens with the competitor’s pump sacks I own and I find the limited functionality of the XTherm pump sack disappointing as well.

Higher R-Value

The XTherm (2020) has also been tested using the new R-Value Sleeping Pad standard and is now rated at R-6.9, up from the R-value of 5.7 for the previous model. While it sounds like the new XTherm is more insulating than the previous model, it isn’t really. The only thing that changed was the test methodology, which results in a higher reported value. The underlying construction and materials of the old and new pads remain identical, with the exception of the new valve, which has no effect on the measured R-Value.

But the connection breaks apart when the pad is partially inflated and twists away
But the connection breaks apart when the pad is partially inflated and twists away

Recommendation

The Therm-a-Rest XTherm Sleeping Pad is still a reliable, durable, lightweight and high-R-value sleeping pad even though the WingLock Valve and Pump Sack included with the new model aren’t a huge improvement over the previous model’s. If you decided not to use the new pump sack, you can still blow up the XTherm by mouth and benefit from the reduced deflation effort provided by the WingLock valve.

What I find puzzling is why Therm-a-Rest went to all the trouble of developing a new valve when they could have used a pre-existing, 1-way, flush valve like those used by Sea-to-Summit or Exped without having to reinvent the wheel. I understand the desire to have a uniqueness factor in your products, but the honeycombed reflective insulation found in the NeoAir pads is still without parallel in terms of weight-to-performance and a key competitive differentiator. I would have prioritized other innovations rather than a new valve, which I suspect was motivated by internal reasons rather than satisfying consumer-driven needs.

Regardless, I still recommend using the NeoAir XTherm for winter camping and backpacking. It’s still the lightest weight, easy-to-pack, and highest R-value air mattress available for winter camping and backpacking.

Disclosure: Therm-a-Rest provided the author with an XTherm 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.

Most Popular Searches

  • thermarest xtherm max wide version
  • xtherm wode

26 comments

  1. If they wanted a change to benefit the consumer they would should have introduced a regular-wide size option. I own an Xtherm and I would buy a second if it came in that size configuration.

    • They changed the valves across all of their products and they make DOZENS of different models. This wasn’t a change for the benefit of this particular product or user but likely driven by internal cost factors or supplier issues. Unfortunately, they have to support two valves now from a warranty standpoint, which will prove to be a complete nightmare and double the work required. It’s not like the old valves are going to go away anytime in the next 5-10 years. The user community is flooded with them.

      I can think of some improvements to the NeoAir line that I think would have liked to see instead of a new valve, like more variety in lengths and widths, less crinkly sounding pads, a better pillow integration system (like sea-to-summits), a better quilt-to-pad integration scheme that would be compatible with 3rd party quilts for blocking drafts, more comfortable covering fabrics, a change to the structure of the sleeping surface for better sleeping pad comfort, etc.

    • They make a regular wide in the x therm max model, which is heavier than the mummy shaped one. They also make a regular wide in the neo air xlite. I found it on their web site, I did not see it on any retailer web site. I compared the neo air regular wide to the STS womens large which is a 72 x 25 wide pad. They are very close in measurement. The STS was ever so slightly wider at the head and the neo air slightly longer. Like Philip, I could not get the pump sack to work with the Neo air. I too wondered why they didn’t just make a flat valve. I decided to keep the STS pad and returned the neo air.

  2. 6.9 R value for 16 oz! The old model without the new valve is on sale now at REI.com. On the other hand, many of the customer reviews of the old model are sharply negative, saying that the pad leaks air, is too narrow to keep your elbows on, and blows out and develops a bulge. The reviewers don’t say whether the leaks were at the valve or seams, but several said they were careful to avoid punctures. I take it you did not experience such problems in testing, since you don’t mention them. Maybe the new valve holds air better than the old one?

    • I’ve been using XTherms for years, often. Never had a problem.

    • Are you sure you’re looking at the XTherm product listings? the covering fabric on this pad is so tough, I’d be really surprised if it ever developed budge or got torn. I think you’re looking at the NeoAir Uberlite.

  3. I bought a Nemo pad, which has a similar valve to Exped and Sea-to-Summit, and I would definitely not consider a regular stem valve after experiencing the ease of use with the newer valve.

  4. I think there is a regular length wide model. In spite of the complaints about the valves I’ve been using them for a long time and just don’t find them an impediment to inflation, deflation or good sleeping. Yes, the Classic Valves are are available on sale and I bought a few for spares and replacement if I EVER have one fail, which I have not.

  5. “While it sounds like the new XTherm is more insulating than the previous model, it isn’t really. The only thing that changed was the test methodology, which results in a higher reported value.”

    I got excited for a second that they made it warmer. 1.2 is a nice boost, but sounds like we’d be wasting our money on an upgrade.

    • Yep. Nothing has changed except the valve. I checked with Thermarest very carefully to verify this. The new R-value is just an artifact of the new test methodology and the way the insulation value is sampled and averaged to generate the new R-value.

      Incidentally, Thermarest underreported their R-values for years before the new standard was introduced. Now, you have to report the actual test results.

  6. There are also plenty of Neoairs available on REI’s Used Gear Site all the time. Xlites and Uberlites included.

    I got my Xtherm there for $106 and it works like it’s brand new. They have a 30 Day return policy if the item has a significant defect, but I’m pretty confident in Thermarest’s construction and REI’s inspection to get a lot of life out of a used pad.

  7. Love my Xtherm, I’m a quilter and your pad is the other half of a quilt sleep system. I have the X Therm Max, I know, few ounces heavier. But I more then make up the weight difference with the light sleeping clothes I carry in cold weather. With my Katabatic Sawatch, and my X Therm I sleep in a tank and shorts in temps in the 20’s and I’m a cold sleeper. Love the Max size with a quilt because I’m a cruiser when I sleep. I have had X Lites leak but never my X Therm. Hope they have kept the weight of he bottom fabrics the same on the new ones

  8. langleybackcountry

    That valve looks needlessly complicated, and it still doesn’t dump air or inflate as easily, just releases it a little faster. Not impressed. I have the regular stem valve one, but haven’t used it in years as I have favored the Sea to Summit pads, partly due to the valve. I carry a foam pad winter camping anyway in addition to my inflatable for sitting, standing, and sleeping. Pad failure in winter could be catastrophic, so the versatility, additive R-value, and backup is worth it.

  9. I thru hiked the AT in 2018 with the regular. It was bulletproof without ever a leak. I do dislike that to get the wider size I would had to go to the long but at 5 ‘ 6″ that was extra weight and length to get several more inches of width. The width of the standard size was the only demerit and it was never any fun to have your arms fall off the pad when it was freezing outside. The new rectangular model is available in the wider sizes and standard length but still not for the lighter weight tapered version. A pity. I guess I’l wait for the next generation and keep using the classic valve.

  10. I found after trying a NeoAir that horizontal baffles don’t work for me–instead they “buck me off” every time I shift position, which I do frequently in my sleep. I found that I need vertical baffles where the outside baffle on each side is slightly larger so that I don’t roll off! I found that the extra weight of an Exped is well compensated by a far better night’s sleep. No more spending the night climbing back onto my pad!

  11. Hi Philip,

    Thanks for the review, I had a few questions about using a 4-season pad like the Xtherm.

    What overnight low temperature do you start using this as opposed to a 3-season pad like the Xlite?

    What overnight low temperature do you consider bring the pump sack instead of blowing it up with your breath? Is moisture inside the pad typically a concern for you in winter or not usually?

    Thanks for the review and the advice in advance! Appreciate it!

    • Freezing. I used to never bother with a pumpsack, but I’ve gotten lazy and always use it now. Thermarest claims that blowing up a pad in freezing weather won’t make you sleep cooler or affect your pad and I believe them (because I know they’ve tested it).

      • Thanks! I’ll be bringing my Xtherm along next weekend with lows in the high teens. I’ll probably leave the pump sack at home. I don’t mind the extra effort and it’s the old Therm-a-Rest pump sack which I find a bit fiddly anyway. Sounds like the new one can be too.

  12. Yeah, the XTherm’s R 6.9 is a very good thermal value for a winter mattress.
    My REI FLASH All Season mattress has only R 5.3 so I may have to carry a 1/8″ closed cell underlayment sheet to lay under my mattress on sub-zero nights.

    OR, if the REI All Season mattress is not nearly enough I’ll sell it and get this XTherm.

    • Is that 5.3 using the old standard or the new? I’d be careful comparing R-values computed with the old values against the new ones.
      I think I will have a post tomorrow about this…it’s not pretty.

  13. BTW, I always bring my Sea-to-Summit pump sack. I use it for a drybag for my clothes.
    Blowing up an air mattress with lung power is not my idea of fun.

  14. While I am glad Therm-a-Rest made some improvements to their valve system it’s still not ready for prime time. If it were my company I’d have just licensed the Sea-To-Summit valve design. Also, while my Xtherm has been reliable and warm, it has to be really cold for me to choose it because I toss and turn too much put up with the racket. I’m starting the AT on February 17 and I’m taking the Etherlight Insulated with a R-value of 3.8 over my Xtherm because there’s a limited number of nights below 20 and I just can’t take sleeping on a bag of Doritos night after night.

  15. Thanks, Phillip, for an excellent review!! I SO appreciate your information on the revised R-Value; I was almost ready to trade my old valve XTherm Max for the new one, until I read further. I also own the Mountain Equipment AeroStat Down pad, and the valve and inflation bag is better, and R-Value is similar to the Therm-A-Rest, but in my opinion, it’s a more durable mat, styled by ExPed. Thanks!

  16. I’ve been anxiously awaiting a review of the updated version before buying, so it’s disappointing to find the R value hasn’t really changed. I also hoped that they would find a way to reduce the crinkly. BTW, didn’t they change the bottom fabric to 30d as well, so it’s the same allover? On the upside, guess I can save some money by getting the old model on sale

  17. Does anyone have a fix for the pump sack that comes with the 2020 xtherm? It keeps slipping off as you use the pump sack to inflate the xtherm pad.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *