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For years, folks have beloved to complain in regards to the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite. The valve was rubbish. The pump sack was no good. And that noise—there was by no means a query of what crinkling pad was making all that ruckus on the neighboring campsite. However, together with the NeoAir Xtherm, the NeoAir Xlite is without doubt one of the bestselling sleeping pads on the market. It additionally occurs to be the sleeping pad I take advantage of on nearly all of my out of doors adventures. 

The Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite isn’t the lightest sleeping pad available on the market (that will be the NeoAir UberLite) or the warmest (that will be the Exped Dura 8R). Nonetheless, it’s is the perfect steadiness of heat and weight. At 12.5 ounces for a regular-sized pad, it’s as mild or lighter than its opponents’ ultralight pads. And with an R ranking of 4.2, it’s lots heat sufficient for each alpine and shoulder season adventuring. That versatility has made it a mainstay for all method of backpackers, from weekend warriors to thru-hikers. Lastly, Therm-a-Relaxation resolved the primary grievance of the Xlite within the allegedly 83 p.c quieter NXT mannequin.

Key Options

  • Accessible Lengths: 66 inches, 72 inches, and 77 inches
  • Huge Possibility: 72 inches x 25 inches
  • Peak: 3 inches
  • R Score: 4.5 (Upgraded from the unique Xlite’s 4.2)
  • Weight: 12.5 ounces
  • Exterior Cloth: 30D ripstop nylon
  • Contains: Pump sack, stuff sack, and restore package
  • Restricted lifetime guarantee

Materials

Perhaps, like me, you thought the explanation the NeoAir Xlite is a lot louder than the remainder of the best backpacking sleeping pads is its shell material—that 30D nylon that the web site describes as “lemon curry” hued. Not so, because it seems. The fabric making all that ruckus is the very skinny metalized movie contained in the pad that gives its insulating powers, what the corporate calls Thermacapture. Whereas Therm-a-Relaxation wouldn’t share what this materials truly is, they did inform me that there are solely so many supplies that present an appropriate degree of insulation whereas nonetheless welding collectively. These supplies occurred to be extraordinarily loud and crinkly. 

So that is the tradeoff on the coronary heart of Therm-a-Relaxation’s NeoAir pads: You don’t get that top insulation with out the crinkle. Now, the up to date NXT model of the pad claims to have considerably lowered the noise degree, by as a lot as six occasions. To realize this, they decreased the scale and elevated the variety of Thermacapture layers contained in the pad from one layer (as depicted above) to 3 thinner layers.

R Worth

Along with turning the quantity down, this transformation additionally elevated the R worth from 4.2 to 4.5 with out altering the load. An R ranking of 4.5 is nice for year-round use. Your sleeping bag‘s temperature ranking is designed to accommodate its max low with a 4.8 R worth pad, however at this weight, 4.5 can’t be beat.

For anybody who’s unfamiliar, “R worth” refers to how effectively a sleeping pad resists, or insulates you in opposition to, the chilly of the bottom. One is the bottom quantity on the R worth scale (actually the identical as sleeping on the bottom) whereas 10 is the very best, usually solely wanted in essentially the most excessive situations.

In years previous, R worth measurements had been the wild west with every model conducting their very own assessments utilizing totally different protocols, or typically simply guesstimating. However in 2020, R rankings had been standardized by the American Society for Testing and Supplies (ASTM): “Standard Test Method for Thermal Resistance of Camping Mattresses Using a Guarded Hot Plate Apparatus.” Whereas Therm-a-Relaxation assessments their sleeping pads in-house utilizing a chilly chamber on-site of their Seattle warehouse, different sleeping pad producers ship new merchandise to Kansas State University for testing. So whereas which R worth is best for you and your subsequent journey is subjective (totally different folks have totally different inner thermostats, in spite of everything), the comparative heat supplied by every pad is standardized. 

Weight

The NeoAir has the perfect R ranking for its weight by a mile—it’s not even shut. Let’s check out how the competitors stacks up: 

Sleeping Pad Weight R Score R Score / Weight
Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir XLite NXT 12.5 ounces 4.5 .36
NEMO Tensor (uninsulated) 12.9 ounces 2.5 .19
Exped Extremely 3R 12.9 ounces 2.9 .22
NEMO Tensor (insulated) 14.5 ounces 4.2 .29
Exped Extremely 5R 15.7 ounces 4.8 .31
Sea to Summit Ether Gentle XT 17.3 ounces 3.2 .18
Massive Agnes Rapide SL 18 ounces 4.2 .23
Weights above are for the “common” or “medium” dimension within the mummy form (the place out there)

Testing the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite within the Subject

I’ve used numerous Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlites for years, together with on the Pacific Crest Path and Colorado Path, and have been constantly impressed by their sturdiness and flexibility. Every pad I had simply lasted for 1000’s of miles earlier than it developed holes (simply repaired), had the interior insulation begin to break down (changed by Therm-a-Relaxation’s restricted lifetime guarantee), or turned moldy (my fault—don’t put your gear away moist, folks). I usually pair this pad with both a ten diploma or 20 diploma quilt, which is lots to maintain me heat in nighttime temperatures that dip right down to freezing. 

Along with being heat, light-weight, and sturdy, I’ve additionally discovered the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite to be snug. However whereas I’m not a lightweight sleeper (and that does go double after a protracted day of backpacking), I couldn’t assist however discover what’s undeniably its most well-known function: the noise. 

Learn on-line critiques of the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite and one thing that comes up many times is how a lot noise the pad makes on the slightest motion. Phrases like “cellophane” and “potato chip bag” are thrown round. Individuals describe it preserving them from attending to sleep, waking their companions up, and waking everybody at their campsite up. I even discovered a evaluation that somebody wrote simply to complain about how too many individuals are utilizing this pad and it’s preserving them from sleeping within the backcountry. 

The bright “lemon yellow” of a fresh-out-of-the-box NeoAir Xlite NXT next to the author’s older model of the same pad.
The intense “lemon curry” of a fresh-out-of-the-box NeoAir Xlite NXT subsequent to the creator’s older mannequin of the identical pad. Laura Lancaster

Therm-a-Relaxation’s latest NeoAir Xlite NXT is basically the identical precise pad as its predecessor, however with one essential distinction: It’s allegedly quieter. To confirm this declare, I employed the extremely scientific methodology of inflating each the NeoAir Xlite NXT and an older NeoAir Xlite that was in my gear closet, after which rolling round on them. I’ll be trustworthy: I couldn’t hear a distinction. However my older Xlite is upwards of 5 years previous with most likely 100 on-trail nights. It had been loads louder after I first obtained it. After the insulation in my pad softened and quieted over time, it was related in sound to the brand-new NXT.

Out-of-the-box, the NeoAir Xlite NXT continues to be noticeably louder than different best-in-class backpacking sleeping pads, just like the Sea to Summit Ether Gentle XT or the NEMO Tensor. Nonetheless, after utilizing it on numerous journeys for a number of months, I performed a second side-by-side comparability. This time I observed that the NXT model of the Xlite actually was quieter than my older mannequin, and was now akin to different high backpacking sleeping pads. So in case you’re not sure in regards to the noise degree whenever you first inflate this pad, relaxation assured: It should get quieter over time.

What the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir XLite NXT Does Finest

Pushing the limits of the NeoAir Xlite’s insulating powers on an overnight snowshoe trip with my husband.
Pushing the boundaries of the NeoAir Xlite’s insulating powers on an in a single day snowshoe journey with my husband. Laura Lancaster

On the finish of the day, the aim of your backpacking sleeping pad is to make your journey extra snug. By day, the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir XLite NXT takes up lower than a Nalgene’s value of area in your pack and places the least quantity of weight potential in your again. At evening, it protects you from the chilly of the bottom, so that you simply don’t get up shivering in your bag. And whereas lowland summer season adventuring doesn’t name for such a excessive R worth, do you actually wish to keep beneath treeline on all of your adventures? I didn’t suppose so. 

What the Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite Does Worst

I had hoped that Therm-a-Relaxation may take this chance to replace among the particulars of the NeoAir Xlite with the discharge of the NXT model, however no cube. It nonetheless has the identical winglock valve, which is considerably much less intuitive to make use of (I’ll sometime keep in mind to reorient the wings after I’m inflating the pad) than its opponents, with out offering any discernible profit.

From bottom to top, Therm-a-Rest’s newer winglock valve, the valve on older models of the NeoAir Xlite, and Sea to Summit’s tab-based valve system.
From backside to high, Therm-a-Relaxation’s newer winglock valve, the valve on older fashions of the NeoAir Xlite, and Sea to Summit’s tab-based valve system. Laura Lancaster

It additionally nonetheless has one in all my least favourite pump sacks. It took twelve breaths to inflate the pad utilizing Therm-a-Relaxation’s pump sack in comparison with 4 breaths utilizing the best-in-class pump sack included with Exped’s pads, whereas weighing mainly the identical quantity. The connection level between the pump sack and the winglock valve additionally requires far more elbow grease to get on than others I’ve examined. (Though any pump sack continues to be higher than doing issues the old style manner.) 

Last Ideas

So must you exit and buy a Therm-a-Relaxation NeoAir Xlite NXT? If you have already got a NeoAir Xlite in your closet, there isn’t a must exit and buy a brand new one to save lots of the ears (and Z’s) of your adventuring companions—a well-used NeoAir Xlite isn’t all that loud. Equally, summer season adventurers who stick beneath treeline may give this one a move: You may get the R worth you want from decrease price pads just like the Nemo Tensor or perhaps a closed-cell foam pad. 

However in case you’re usually trekking by the shoulder season or into the alpine, what are you ready for? You’ll sleep hotter, hike lighter—and now you received’t get up abruptly, dreaming of potato chips.





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