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Kit review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite camping mattress

Written by Fiona

January 23 2015

therm a rest neoair xlite

When is a Therm-a-Rest mattress less than a Therm-a-Rest mattress? When it’s a Neo XLite Therm-a-Rest mattress. But, in this case, less actually means more.

I already own a traditional Therm-a-Rest mattress. I have used it a great deal and really like it. But this new style of Therm-a-Rest mattress packs down to be much, much smaller and lighter than my traditional Therm-a-Rest mattress. This makes it a great product for carrying in a rucksack when wild camping or backpacking.

photo 1 (82)

The Neo Xlite is packed into the black bag while my traditional Therm-a-Rest is in the pink bag.

The NeoAir XLite mattress is around 6.4cm thick and weighs about 350g (depends on the size you buy).

It also offers full-length comfort, as compared to my usual mattress, which is a little short of my full height. This is ideal for taller people or simply if you like a mattress to cover all the ground beneath your sleeping body.

The NeoAir XLite packs down into an impressively small bag and is super light to carry. This is because when all the air is taken out of the mattress only the shell of the fabric is left.

With a more traditional Therm-a-Rest mattress, even when all the air is extracted from the mattress, it still feels fairly bulky. I am not saying it’s really heavy and too bulky to carry but compared to the NeoAir it looks about twice the size.

Apparently, the NeoAir XLite mattress delivers more warmth and comfort per ounce than any other three-season air mattress available. Bold claims!

I have tested the women’s Neo XLite version which seems to be a bit narrower and “mummy” shaped when compared to the unisex/men’s version.

The technology behind the NeoAir XLite mattress

So how does the NeoAir manage to be so much lighter and more compact, yet still offer a good level of comfort and warmth when inflated?

It’s thanks to the patent pending “Triangular Core Matrix” construction. This takes the form of a welded-nylon grid of chambers that “increase the number of individual air cells by 10 times when compared to a traditional air mattress”. This is said to minimise air movement within the mattress to offer a warming layer between the ground and the sleeping camper.

Then there’s the “Therma Capture” Radiant Heat Technology, which offers a kind of reflective warmth from the body’s natural heat.

The mattress actually plumps up to a comfortable 6cm. This is fatter than my traditional Therm-a-Rest.

The yellow Neo Lite next to the purple traditional Therm-a-Rest.

The yellow Neo Lite next to the purple traditional Therm-a-Rest.

On test: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite camping mat

I am very impressed by how small and light the mattress is when packed in its bag.

It does take a lot more puff to inflate the mattress, compared to the traditional mattress I have, but it’s not too difficult to inflate. I would reckon it takes three times as long to inflate, and maybe a total of five minutes of blowing up.

The result is a lovely plumped up and comfortable mattress that is longer than I am.

The one thing I do not like about the mattress is that it makes a slightly crinkling noise when you lie on it. Rather like the sound of rustling greaseproof paper. My other Therm-a-Rest makes no noise at all.

Sleeping on the Therm-a-Rest is a good experience. I stayed warm and comfortable on a cold winter’s camping night in my Vango 400 Latitude sleeping bag. The length of the Neo XLite is also excellent.

The mattress comes with patches in case of puncture. I do wonder if the material of this mattress is thinner and therefore weaker than my traditional Therm-a-Rest but only time will tell. Note: After just three tests this mattress punctured. I patched it successfully and then on another outing it punctured again. I now prefer not to take this mattress with me because it is not comfortable when you have to lie on the cold ground.

There are four versions.

There are four versions.

My trusty old Therm-a-Rest has never been easy to deflate and roll up into its carry bag. It usually takes at least three goes at rolling it to get all the air out and for a tight enough roll up.

In comparison, the Neo XLite is very easy to deflate and roll up. It deflates to a lightweight shell that is easy to roll and place in its carry bag.

I am impressed with this latest invention from Therm-a-Rest although it isn’t the cheapest option for inflating mattresses. For more details see Cascade Designs.

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