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Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad

Thermarest NeoAir Inflated

I finally got out backpacking this weekend and tried out the Thermarest NeoAir ($149.95) sleeping pad. This is an inflatable pad with an R-value of 2.5 weighing 14 oz in a size regular. The only other popular sleeping pad on the market with a comparable R-value is the Thermarest Ridgerest ($25) which also weighs 14 oz and has an R-value of 2.6.

Beside cost, the main difference between these two sleeping pads is thickness. The NeoAir is 2.5 inches thick and the Ridgerest is slightly over one half inch thick. This difference matters most of you are a side sleeper and you need more cushioning under your shoulders and hips.

In addition, inflatable pads like the NeoAir are also more comfortable on less than perfect tent sites where there may be roots underneath you. Since the Ridgerest is made out of foam, it has a lot less give if the surface you’re sleeping on is not perfectly flat.

Once inflated, the NeoAir is pretty hard compared to other inflatable pads that I own like the Exped Downmat 7, the Big Agnes Insulated Aircore, or the Big Agnes Clearview, but not uncomfortably so if you’re used to sleeping on a hard surface like a futon. Inflation takes about 20 breaths which is normal for an inflatable pad of this size, and there is a single twist valve at one end which is simpler than the valve on the Exped Downmat and less likely to leak if improperly sealed.

Deflating a Thermarest NeoAir Sleeping Pad

Deflating an inflatable pad takes a little practice, so I suggest you try it at home a few times before taking the NeoAir on a trip. I start by opening the valve and rolling the pad from bottom to the end with the valve 3 or 4 times to get most of the air out. Be gentle when you’re doing this. Next, roll the NeoAir in half length wise and roll it up once or twice until all of the air is out. One of the nice things about the NeoAir is that air can flow freely inside the chambers without regard to chamber geometry, which makes it a lot easier to pack up in the morning. This is not the case with the Big Agnes Clearview, which is a great pad for warmer weather, but can be a little tricky to deflate and pack up. Once the air is all out, roll up the NeoAir and pack it into a stuff sack to prevent punctures, leaving the valve open.

Thermarest NeoAir rolled up in a stuff sack

If you currently use a rigid sleeping pad, I’d recommend that you give the NeoAir a try for 3 season use because it will take up far less room in your pack and will provide you with a warmer, more comfortable sleeping surface.  If you’re like me and own a lot of different inflatable sleeping pads, in addition to rigid and foam sleeping pads, the NeoAir fills a useful temperature range, particularly for shoulder seasons when you want a full length inflatable pad that is lightweight enough to insulate you from cold ground but not as heavy as a full-on winter sleeping pad.

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  1. I've used the NeoAir for all of my ground dwelling, often with just a bivy, since April and have been very pleased with it. Lightweight, packs small, and it's warm enough for most of the year on it's own. The addition of a thin (around 1/4") CCF (closed cell foam) pad underneath will probably be needed in the dead of winter.

  2. I'm a wimp in this department and bring a downmat 7 but you're right that something like a Gossamer Gear 3/4 pad and a NeoAir would probably do the job just fine. Certainly for shoulder season.

  3. Having done many overnights with new newbies, I know that sleeping pads can often be overlooked. I made the switch years ago to the Big Agnes inflatable because I'm a shoulder sleeper and my 1" Thermarest 3/4 did not cut it. The extra weight trade off for great/warm sleeping is well worth it.

  4. I have a BA insulated air core that developed a slow leak. The pad was about 2/3 full in the morning. I was able to patch it at home but I wouldn't have wanted to try to find and fix the hole in the field.

    That experience helped me appreciate my son's Prolite self inflating pad which does retain some cushoining and R value even if it has a leak or tear.

  5. I tried the Neo Air for about 10 nights (including testing) and have given up on it.

    I got cold at 40*F so got a 1/8" Gossamer Gear Thinlight (CCF) pad to use under it. That was OK down to about 30*F, but once the temp got below that, I FROZE!!! While lying on my back, I was warm on top but my back muscles were shivering. I would not use the NeoAir below freezing with at least a 3/8" CCF pad, which negates the weight savings over an insulated air pad (POE or BA). The warmth improved slightly when I put the CCF pad on top and a little more when I blew the NeoAir up almost all the way. However, it then became very uncomfortable (too hard) and "bucked me off" every time I turned over.

    I never was quite able to hit the "sweet spot" with the NeoAir in which the pad was soft enough to be comfortable but keeping my hip and shoulder joints (both very pressure-sensitive) off the ground when on my side.

    After my last trip (the cold one–temps down to 18*F), I am returning the NeoAir. My POE insulated air pad is far more comfortable, keeps me nice and warm to 20*F without supplement and to 15*F (coldest I've had it) with a 1/8" CCF torso-length pad and is generally far more comfortable than the NeoAir. It is well worth the extra 8 ounces of weight!

  6. I have a NeoAir, and when hit by a snowstorm and 25F temps I was surprised to be comfortable without a foam pad under it. I'd read a lot of reviews from people saying it's cold below freezing… I tend to be cold sooner than others, but only figured out the low temp from a digital thermometer the next morning. I tend to inflate it about 3/4 of the way full because I like to be comfortable.

  7. Everybody's metabolism is different. I think it also depends what's underneath you: snow, earth, leaves, pine boughs (old-time), shelter floor, etc.

  8. I am a fair weather hiker but I have to say I LOVE my short neoair. I am a side sleeper and this is the only pad that allows me to sleep comfortably on my side through the night.

    I haven't bought a patch kit yet and I am wondering where other owners are getting theirs AND if they have had any experience with patches yet?

    The neoair is high price but definitely worth it for me.

  9. I think there are a couple of good points here to be emphasized.

    · The amount of insulation a person needs over them (bag) and below them (pad) is highly variable from person to person. How well fed and hydrated you are make a difference too.

    · In the winter, the ground is a huge heat sink and setting up your tent / pad on snow provides more insulation setting up your tent / pad on the bare ground.

    · Sleeping in a shelter can be colder than setting up your tent / pad on snow because the potential convection heat loss as cold air blows under the shelters (think of it as similar to sleeping in a hammock).

    · Any dry clothing that you are not wearing can be put to use as ground insulation between the bag and pad

    · In an emergency, tree boughs can be added under the pad to improve your ground insulation. Makes for a messy tent but you would be warmer.

    · I do not think I would add tree boughs on top of the bag because they would tend to reduce the bag’s loft. Loft is a measure of the trapped air that is then warmed by your body.

  10. I got one of the Silnet patch kits – essentially a tiny tube of silicone, a ripstop patch, and a brush. The fabric of the NeoAir is calendared ripstop nylon.

    I was sleeping on sand, actually. I have also used it in the hammock with good results, tho it does need to be half inflated for that to work well. My pack always has a trash bag in it to stuff with leaves/needles in a pinch, but I was car camping so the fallback was to climb in the car.

  11. <span style="font-size: 12px"><span style="color: #222222;font-family: 'arial','sans-serif'">It is a good pad and I like mine except it is not that wide.  I am tall and wide in the shoulders and have rolled of the pad on occasions.  But apart from that it is the best out there.</span></span><span style="font-size: 9pt;color: #222222;font-family: 'arial','sans-serif'"></span>

  12. I looked at one of these at an outfitter this weekend.  The floor model was not fully inflated, but seemed really "crinkly" loud.  I assumed this would not be the case fully inflated, but I wasn't about to put my mouth on that well handled demo to blow it up fully and test out that assumption.  I have a Big Agnes insulated air core that I often use a little less than fully inflated for extra softness when side sleeping and it's very quiet.  I wondered if this NeoAir would sound like a space blanket all night if I tried the same thing.

  13. When you inflate the NeoAir it becomes quite hard, you could say, but it's not that noisy. I have an insulated air core as well and the two pads are very different, with the air core being far more comfortable, but also heavier.

  14. The NeoAir is good pad for it's weight. With the medium pad, it works pretty well inside in colder weather, though it takes an extra minute to warm up(generally I don't camp much in winter conditions.)And it takes a somewhat larger bag to accomodate this, a lot like the BA's. If it is overinflated (stiff) it can develope a "hernia." IE some delamination of the cells, but no leakage. This is due to the large volume of air in it, temp changes, air pressure changes, etc. Soo, be carefull, it is UL gear. Like so much of light duty stuff, it can be damaged.

  15. great website – enjoyed reading your reviews. Stumbled here on a internet quest for a lighter backpack and tent.
    I own the neo air – have used it several times in the warm months last summer/fall – very comfortable (I have a long – b/c I’m 6’4 approx 180) and a side sleeper. I went hiking in the high peaks region this past weekend and ended up tenting it on a foot + of snow and temps in the mid 20s at night. My sleeping bag was a 0 degree down never summer.

    2 nights out, no cold spots, was warm and comfortable for the duration of the night. I will mention that the first night there were cold spots – but I was wearing a bunch of layers while sleeping. The next night – I was in boxers and T – much warmer no cold spots. My guess is my body heat was warming the air between my clothes and not the bag, as I moved around I landed on the colder parts of my sleeping bag – A lesson I learned winter camping a few years back, but forgot until that second night.

    Great pad – warm enough for perhaps 3.5 season camping.

  16. I have a regular Neo Air for me and a short one for my grandson. We’ve spent several nights at 17 degrees with a 20 degree bag and haven’t been cold yet. I think it’s a great lightweight pad.

  17. My man and I both got the long Neo Air. The only real issue we have with it is that it’s a bit of a pain to deflate and roll up. The comfort more than makes up for it, in my opinion.

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