|Rating:||8.8 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.6 / 2|
|Weight||1.6 / 2|
|Comfort||1.9 / 2|
|Durability||1.8 / 2|
|Warmth||1.9 / 2|
For over six years I have used and owned a Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite sleeping mat and while it’s done thousands of hours of duty on my various camping adventures over the years, it was time for a new one. While the XLite range will suit the majority of outdoor enthusiasts and anecdotally is the most popular mat in the range, when it came time to replace my much-loved mat I spent a number of months agonising over which mat that I was going to go for. Eventually I opted for the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad (Regular size). As someone who continually tries to reduce pack volume and weight, at first glance this was a strange choice. So what’s my reasoning?
The XTherm range of mats is very much aimed at cold conditions having an R Value of 6.9 (that’s really warm). While other mats have higher R-ratings, the Therm-a-rest XTherm range has long been considered the pinnacle mainly because of the combined set of features. In fact it’s considered the warmest mat on the market ‘gram for gram’ as well as being one of the smallest packed mats around.
The Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad comes in two readily available sizes (regular and large) but for the average hiker the regular size will do the job well and in my case at 185cm in height, the regular size suits me well. I am able to comfortably lie on this mat without having my feet hanging over the end which is not a common thing for standard length mats. Width-wise this mat is 51cm wide with a depth of 6.4cm. When I compare this to my well-loved Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite, the dimensions are identical.
The differences between my much-loved Xlite and this mat are:
The additional weight that this mat has over the XLite is marginal but having said that it is still very much lighter than most other mats on the market including those with much lower R-values which is a bit of a surprise.
The XTherm comes with an inflation bag and while in theory I like the idea of these ‘bag pumps’ which are starting to come with a number of mats these days, I am happy to inflate my mat the old fashioned way and this is where the WingLock valve comes in handy. As a valve its larger than the one on the older Therm-a-rest models which makes it significantly easier to inflate and also allows you to take a breath without having to rapidly close off the valve. In addition, the wing-lock mechanism allows rapid deflation. Again a nice feature but typically I will just open the valve on my mat while I’m still in my tent and allow my body weight to do all the work. That said this valve is a nice upgrade and one that many Therm-a-rest lovers will appreciate. My old XLite with the older value system takes 35 breaths to inflate and if I do it quickly, I almost feel like passing out!
The other thing to note with this mat is that it doesn’t ‘crinkle’ when you move which has been a long standing criticism of Therm-a-rest mats. I didn’t notice this noise however my wife wasn’t a fan as it disturbed her sleep. This mat is as about as quiet as a sleeping mat can get.
Comfort-wise I didn’t expect there to be much difference between my standard XLite and this XTherm model but in addition to being noticeably warmer it just felt plusher and more comfortable. The plus with the additional warmth is that in all but the coldest conditions, this mat will improve your overall nighttime without having to buy a new sleeping bag. The comfort on this mat meant that my sleep quality has now jumped up a level and it’s for this fact alone I’m glad I opted for this mat.
Apart from the additional grams that come with this mat, it’s also marginally bulkier than the XLite version. Again not as bulky as most mats on the market and if you are changing over from another brand of mat you will still be amazed at the compact size.
Now for the negatives. There really is only one main negative and that’s the price coming in at an RRP of AUD $530.00 which places it at the top end of the sleeping mat segment. However if you look closely you can often find these mats on sale. Another negative of this mat is that they often sell out very quickly so keep this in mind if you have a time crunch with your purchase – if you’re waiting until you see a better deal, you’re best to jump on it!
So why did I opt for this model rather than replacing my pre existing Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite with the same model? When deciding which mat to go for I shifted my focus away from just considering weight and packed bulk and added sleeping comfort to the mix. I also wanted a mat that would cater for any temperature range I would throw at it and this was it.
If you’re into cold weather camping (think snow conditions and heavy frosts) and think that staying warm at nighttime is important, then the additional (minimal) weight and additional price are worth this great option. Given that price and your budget is likely to be the deciding factor, and if you can’t stretch your budget that far then opt for the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite. It may not be as warm but as mentioned it will suit most hikers’ needs.
Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad
You can purchase the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad online from Snowys
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AUD $530.00 RRP (often on sale)
Therm-a-rest makes a large range of sleeping pads however the following are in the same range and provide alternatives depending on your needs. In the Xtherm range you can also find:
Therm-a-rest XTherm Max in the box
Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm mat compared to a 1 litre water bottle and a Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping mat (the XTherm mat is in the middle of the image). The mat is in its storage sack and for an R-Value of 6.9 this is relatively compact
Inflation an Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Max Sleeping Mat with a pump sack. This mat is the larger rectangular version of the XTherm. This is just one option to inflate the mat however I tend to leave it at home and orally inflate my mat
Pump Sack Instructions
Manual inflation on my Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad. We own two other Therm-a-rest mats and this mat is by far the easiest to inflate with the new WingLock valve system
Therm-a-rest WingLock valve. A great improvement over older models
Therm-a-rest NeoAir XTherm Insulated Sleeping Pad showing the 6.4cm thickness. I tend to be a disturbed sleeper due to various injuries and even when I bounce on my side, I still don’t bottom out on this mat
This review was done with product provided by the Australian distributor of the Therm-a-rest range