By Luke Jarmey
Coming in all shapes, sizes and consistencies, a key ingredient to a delightfully deep night’s sleep in the wild is a good mattress. Therm-a-Rest are arguably the most recognizable name in the inflatable market. So we were excited to put their NeoAir XLite on test and deduce its suitability for overnight running or fastpacking adventures.
- Patent-pending, reflective ThermaCapture technology traps radiant heat while Triangular Core Matrix construction minimizes convective heat loss–all without the bulk, weight or durability issues of down and synthetic fills.
- Comfortable: 2.5” (6 cm)-thickness, new, soft-touch fabrics and baffled internal structure provide unrivalled stability and support.
- Ultra-Packable: Low-bulk materials make the XLite mattress an incredibly compact NeoAir mattress – as packable as a water bottle.
- Weight Large – 460g, Regular – 340g, Small – 230g
- RRP: £185.00
Pros: What’s so good about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite?
Arguably the most important aspect of a sleeping mat, is simply how comfortable it is. Well the NeoAir XLite absolutely delivers on this front. It provides a nicely firm and supportive base with just the right amount of give. I’ve used a range of their heavier self-inflating mats in the past and found the NeoAir to be just as comfortable.
Warmth wise, the Thermacapture technology with the Triangular Core Matrix uses a reflective coating, which bounces your body heat back and then traps it in two layers of triangular baffles. Not just some fancy mumbo jumbo dreamt up by the marketing team, the design department has clearly done its homework, as it works well.
It is designed as a 3 season mat, so may not be the best option for, say, the Arctic 6633 Ultra. However, everyone has a different temperature sleeping range, so if you sleep hot, it may suffice for certain winter duties.
For multi day running and fastpacking, where space in the pack demands a serious premium, packability is very important. At 6ft/183cm, Therm-a-Rest advised me to go with the Large size which measures 196cm by 63cm. This extra length and width, definitely increases comfort, but obviously impacts how small it packs down. For the size, it packs down well and for me personally, a worthwhile trade-off. However, if you were really concerned about this aspect, I’d advise choosing a smaller size.
Another key consideration is the weight. Coming in at 460g for the size large, it’s a fair chunk heavier than the lightest closed cell foam mats. However, in my experience at least, comfort is on another level. Compared to similar blow up mattresses in its size range, it’s on the lighter end. Worth noting, Therm-a-Rest have recently come out with an even lighter version. The NeoAir UberLight, which shaves nearly 140g off. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a compromise they’ve made on comfort and durability though.
Blow up time is a fair bit longer than with their (almost) self-inflating options which contain a layer of foam within. But as runners, I expect we’d all be happy to give it a little extra huff n’ puff for the weight savings.
I’ve slept on some reasonably rough surfaces and haven’t had any issues with durability. The material feels pretty nice on your skin whilst being tough to the touch. Therm-a-Rest also provide a small patch kit with the mat in case of a puncture. That said, if you were going to be bivvying extensively on an abrasive rock surface, I probably would just take a closed cell foam mat.
Cons: What’s so good about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite?
The only thing that really bothered me with the mattress is how noisy is it. I’m guessing this is from the fabric they use, combined with a lack of any foam fill, as seen on their classic mats, which deadens noise. When you’re solo camping, it’s a complete non-issue. However, with a tent partner it can be a problem. I even had a friend in a neighbouring tent comment on the scratching sound whenever I wriggled around!
All in all the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is a cracking mattress. Personally I place a high priority on sleep comfort when on multi-day missions, as I think it really affects my performance the following day. Yes in a size large this mattress is 460g. However, I think the extra grams over a super minimalist option, are worth it. As I mentioned earlier, you can save a fair chunk of weight by sizing down as well.
What has stopped it from being a perfect product is that pesky noise issue. Going solo, don’t worry about it. But if you’re a wriggler in your sleep, it could be an issue for your tent mates.
Others you may want to consider:
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLight – £209.99
Nemo Tensor Insulated Long Wide – £189.99
Sea To Summit Ultra Light Sleeping Mat – £114.99
Mountain Equipment Aerostat Synthetic 7.0 Long – £149.99
About the author: Luke Jarmey – RunUltra Community Manager and Adventure Sports Photographer.
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