The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite from Cascade Designs is a three-season 12 oz / 350 g inflatable sleeping pad with a 4.2 R-value (the measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material).
It's essentially become the default ultralight, three-season inflatable sleeping pad (it's used by the majority of Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail hikers), and it now has an updated one-way valve that has objectively improved the XLite.
This sleeping pad has been updated from the original and now has an improved valve (this is a huge improvement), increased R-value, and is yellow instead of gold (personally, I prefer the new look); it also deflates twice as fast.
- Color: Lemon Curry
- R-Value: 4.2
- Shape: Mummy
- Weight: 12 oz / 350 g
- Width: 20 in / 51 cm
- Length: 72 in / 183 cm
- Thickness: 2.5 in / 6.3 cm
- Packed dimension: 9 x 4.1 in / 23 x 10 cm
- Top fabric type: 30D rip HT Nylon
- Bottom fabric type: 30D rip HT Nylon
- Materials: Nylon, Polyurethane
- Country of Origin: USA *Built from US and Global Materials
- Available Sizes: Small, Regular, Long, Regular (Wide)
- MSRP: $144.95 – $224.95
- ThermaCapture technology traps radiant heat while Triangular Core Matrix cuts convective heat loss
- Baffled internal structure for stability and support
- 4.2 makes it ideal for colder weather
- WingLock valve maximizes airflow
- Valve wings toggle for one-way inflation
- Pump sack, stuff sack, and repair kit included
THE WEIGHT: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite weighs 12 oz / 350 g. It's not the lightest pad on the market (the NerAir UberLite weighs in at 8.8 oz / 250 g but sacrifices insulation and durability), but it's certainly one lightest-warmest pad you can get. If you want to cut down on weight, the small XLite weighs in at 8 oz / 227 g and is 25 in / 64 cm shorter than the regular.
THE WARMTH: The R-value of 4.2 is on the high side for a three-season pad – you could probably get away with the NeoAir XLite in quite low temperatures. That said, there's nothing wrong with having too-high an R-value; it's not going to bake you during the night if things warm up (that's what your sleeping bag is for). The NeoAir XTherm – the four-season version of the XLite – has an R-value of 6.9.
THE VALVE: For a long time, the valve was the worst time about the NeoAir XLite, but the new one-way WingLock valve is awesome. It's a bit tricky at first since there are two different things you can twist (one to open/close the one-way inflation valve and another to open/close the valve all the way to deflate it), but it's not terribly complicated to figure out. Inflation is easy and deflation is quick – what more could you ask for?
THE COMPACTNESS: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite packs down to about the size of a one-liter Nalgene. It's small, but certainly not the most compact sleeping pad out there (I have two that pack down smaller). However, it's still a lot more compact than a foam pad or a lot or larger, insulated sleeping pads. Folding it into thirds and rolling up tightly from the bottom will get you the best results as far as compactness goes.
THE WARRANTY: Cascade Designs (Therm-a-Rest) offers a 2-year Limited Warranty on their products – the XLite included. This covers manufacturer defects. It does no cover “[n]ormal wear, puncture, abrasion, misuse, alteration, abuse or taking apart of the product.” The warranty states “Mattresses older than two years from the date of manufacture may be replaced with a cosmetically irregular mattress” – so maybe you can still send in your pad if it's old? I've sent in pads to them before and have always received excellent customer service.
THE DURABILITY: The XLite is made from 30D rip HT Nylon – not a terribly robust material (but this is what you get for being cool and buying ultralight). It's not as delicate as the UberLite's 15D nylon, but you still need to be careful with it. Definitely check the ground and clear it of any large or sharp-looking rocks, twigs, needles, or debris before setting up camp for the night. I've yet to get a puncture in my XLite (I've gotten multiple in my UberLite).
THE NOISE: I spent some time rolling back and forth between the new, WingLock valve pad and the old Classic valve versions of the XLite, and I think this newer version may be slightly louder than the older model – it's certainly not quieter. You're (probably) not going to wake yourself up rolling over during the night, but you might wake up your neighbor. I definitely wouldn't describe it as a quiet sleeping pad.
THE PUMP SACK: Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads, the XLite included, now come with a “pump sack” to make for “easier inflation”. I'm not really sure I agree. I have not found these sacks to be anything but excess fabric included with the sleeping pad. Maybe if I was in a very cold or high-altitude environment where breathing didn't come very easy to me, having a different way to inflate my pad would be handy, but in normal conditions, I find blowing up the pad the old-fashioned way (with my mouth) to be the best course of action.
THE VALUE: With the update to the XLite's valve also comes an update to its price tag. The newer XLite will cost you $15 more than the original, which is definitely worth it since the new valve is a lot nicer than the old one. That said, the original price was $165 making this pad nearly $200 (before tax). That's a lot for a sleeping pad.
Who is it for?
BEGINNER BACKPACKERS | If you're just starting out, you might want to go with something a bit less complicated and a bit less pricey. The foam Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is a great alternative to the XLite. That said, if you have the budget, the XLite is an excellent sleeping pad.
WEEKEND WARRIORS | If you're a fan of inflatable sleeping pads, then the XLite is the way to go. Again, the only reason not to get one might be the price (or if you're hiking with a partner, perhaps the noise).
THRU-HIKERS | As noted above, the XLite is basically the pad used by hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. If you want a lightweight inflatable sleeping pad that's easy to inflate and will keep up everyone at your campsite, this is the pad for you.
|Sleeping Pad||Price||Weight||R-value||Type||Packed Size||Thickness|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite||$195||8.8 oz / 250 g||2.4||Air||6 x 3.6 in / 15 x 9 cm||2.5 in / 6.4 cm|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm||$215||15 oz / 425 g||6.9||Air||9 x 4 in / 23 x 10 cm||2.5 in / 6.4 cm|
|Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol||$45||14 oz / 397 g||2.6||Foam||20 x 5 x 5.5 in / 51 x 13 x 14 cm||0.75 in / 2 cm|
|NEMO Tensor Insulated||$160||15 oz / 425 g||3.5||Air||8 x 3 in / 20 x 8 cm||3 in / 7.6 cm|
|Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated||$130||16.9 oz / 479 g||3.3||Air||9 x 4 in / 23 x 10 cm||2 in / 5 cm|
If you're looking for the ultralight three-season sleeping pad (and have decided that you want something inflatable), then look no further than the XLite (unless you have concerns with the amount of noise you might make at night – this should definitely be considered).
That said, the XLite has a fantastic weight to warmth ratio and besides the price tag and the noise, I can't think of any complaints (unless you aren't willing – or able – to be careful when it comes to campsite selection).
Check out the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite.
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