The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT from Cascade Designs is a three-season 13 oz / 369 g inflatable sleeping pad with a 4.5 R-value (the measure of resistance to heat flow through a given thickness of material).
It’s the next evolution in what’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). This latest iteration has addressed one of the XLite’s biggest issues – its noise.
The XLite NXT sleeping pad is an update to the WingLock XLite. Therm-a-Rest’s NXT has the same improved WingLock valve, an increased R-value (4.5 vs 4.3 previously), is slightly thicker (3 vs 2.5 in), and now has two color options (although both are yellow). It also weighs 0.5 oz / 15 g more than the previous version.
Pros and Cons
+ Lightweight, comfortable, full-length sleeping pad
+ Far quieter than all previous XLite versions
+ Short, wide, and long versions available
+ WingLock valve makes inflation/deflation easy
– Expensive (short starting at $200)
– Thinner material susceptible to punctures
– Shouldn’t be used without additional ground cover (ground sheet or tent at minimum)
Specifications & Features
- Color: Solar Flare, Lemon Curry
- R-Value: 4.5
- Shape: Mummy
- Weight: 13 oz / 369 g
- Width: 20 in / 51 cm
- Length: 72 in / 183 cm
- Thickness: 3 in / 7.6 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: $199.95 – $239.95
I was skeptical of the claim on the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT box “Now 6x Quieter!” This new version of the XLite lives up to the promise. It’s quite quiet. Impressively so. The Therm-a-Rest XLite has long suffered from criticism of how loud previous versions of the pad were. No longer will you have to worry about rolling over in the middle of the night and waking up all your friends. The XLite NXT lives up to the no-noise promise (even after two months of continuous use).
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT weighs 13 oz / 369 g. It’s not the lightest full-length inflatable pad available; the NeoAir UberLite weighs just 8.8 oz / 250 g but comes at the cost of insulation and durability. That said, the XLite NXT has one of the best warmth-to-weight ratios of any inflatable (or foam) sleeping pad on the market. To shave a bit of weight, you can opt for the short XLite instead which weighs 11.5 oz / 326 g and is 6 in / 15 cm shorter than the regular.
The R-value of 4.5 is high for a three-season pad and that’s not a bad thing. That makes the XLite NXT an excellent three-season sleeping pad and one you could easily get away with deep into the shoulder seasons as well. Remember, there’s no drawback to having a higher R-value; you’re not going to bake during the night on account of your sleeping pad. In contrast, the NeoAir XTherm NXT – the four-season version of the XLite – has an R-value of 7.3.
The NeoAir XLite NXT was upgraded in the previous version of the XLite and the NXT keeps the same WingLock valve. It’s remarkably better than the old valve (of which we shall not speak), and there’s no use in changing what’s not broken. Figuring out the valve at first can be a little tricky since there are two different parts to twist (one opens/closes the one-way inflation valve and another opens/closes the valve to deflate). Overall, inflation is easy and deflation is quick.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT can pack down to approximately the size of a one-liter Nalgene. Not the most compact sleeping pad, but still plenty compact for most applications. When compared to a foam pad or some of the larger/four-season sleeping pads it’s still awesomely small. I typically fold the pad into thirds and roll it up tightly from the bottom (i.e. the way it comes packed when you first get it). This has proven to be the most compact way to get the pad in your pack.
Cascade Designs (i.e. the parent company of Therm-a-Rest) has a two-year limited warranty including the XLite NXT. This covers manufacturer defects. It does not 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”. Doesn’t sound like too a bad deal? I’ve sent in two pads for warranty repairs in the past and have received excellent customer service.
The XLite NXT has a 30D rip HT Nylon top and bottom. It attempts to strike a balance between weight and durability, but it errs on the side of saving weight. It’s not super durable and you’ll need to be careful with campsite selection. No, it’s not as puncture-prone as the UberLite which uses 15D nylon – with which you need to be really selective with your campsite – but you will still need to pay attention to where you’re deploying the XLite NXT. It would behoove you to clear the ground of large and/or sharp rocks, twigs, pine needles, and/or debris before making camp.
The Pump Sack
Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads, including the XLite NXT, come with a pump sack to make for “easier inflation”. I guess? I find these sacks to be nothing more than excess fabric included with the sleeping pad. Perhaps in a frigid or high-altitude environment where breathing doesn’t come easily, an auxiliary inflation method would be handy. Under normal conditions, blowing up the pad the old-fashioned way (mouth/lung power) does an acceptable job.
It would seem that every update to the Therm-a-Rest XLite also brings an update to its price tag. The new XLite NXT costs $200 for the short, $210 for the regular, $220 for the wide, and $240 for the large. That’s bordering on the cost of some sleeping bags and shelters. It’s quite the ask when you could easily go with a foam pad for around 75% less than the XLite.
Who is it for?
If you’re new to sleeping on the ground outdoors, I suggest you go with something less complicated and less expensive. The foam Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is a great alternative to the XLite. That said, if you have the budget and/or sleeping on a foam pad is simply not an option for you (they take a bit to get used to, particularly if you’re a side sleeper), the XLite NXT is an excellent option.
Don’t want to sleep on a foam pad? Going to be camping in all sorts of conditions? The XLite NXT may be the way to go. But if you’re concerned about the price or want something you’re going to be able to throw down anywhere without worrying about getting a puncture, you may want to look elsewhere before investing in the XLite NXT.
The XLite NXT is far and away the most popular pad thru-hikers use on the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail. If you’re looking for a lightweight inflatable sleeping pad that’s easy to inflate and will keep up everyone at your campsite, this is the pad for you.
|Exped SynMat HL||$169||12.3 oz | 349 g||3.3||2.8 in / 7.1 cm||Air|
|NEMO Switchback||$55||14.5 oz | 415 g||2||0.9 in / 2.3 cm||Foam|
|NEMO Tensor (Insulated)||$190||14.5 oz | 411 g||4.2||3 in / 7.6 cm||Air|
|Sea to Summit UltraLight Insulated||$150||16.9 oz | 480g||3.1||2 in / 5 cm||Air|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite||$230||8.8 oz | 250 g||2.3||2.5 in / 6.4 cm||Air|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite||$210||13 oz | 369 g||4.5||3 in / 7.6 cm||Air|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm||$230||17 oz | 482 g||6.9||2.5 in / 6.4 cm||Air|
|Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol||$55||14 oz | 397 g||2||0.75 in / 1.9 cm||Foam|
The NeoAir XLite is an excellent sleeping pad. Therm-a-Rest has solved the problem of the pad’s noise while adding thickness, increasing R-value, and retaining the easy-to-use WingLock valve to make this a hugely more functional sleeping pad than the original XLite.
But all these improvements come at a (literal) cost.
If you’re looking for the ultralight three-season sleeping pad and aren’t ready/unwilling to go the foam pad route, then you’ll be doing yourself a favor by taking a close look at the XLite NXT.
The XLite NXT has a fantastic weight-to-warmth ratio and besides the price tag (and maybe the durability), I have no complaints (just remember to be selective during campsite selection).
Check out the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT.
Rating + Recommendation
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT is more than just a price bump with a rebranded version of the exact sleeping pad as the previous version. There are material – and beneficial – improvements to the NXT including a slight bump in R-value and the near-elimination of the pad’s previous problems with noise.
This page contains affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I may receive small commissions for purchases made via these links. This helps to pay the bills and keep the site up and running. Thank you for your support!