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Review: Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad

Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping pad and tent

A lightweight, warm, packable and super comfortable sleeping pad for backpacking, fastpacking and bikepacking.

Redesigned for spring 2023, the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad is an exceptional sleeping pad that offers notable improvements on its predecessor. Reduced noise, improved comfort, increased insulation and more efficient inflation makes it one of the best options for those who want it all out of a lightweight sleeping pad.

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad: The stats

Best for:Lightweight backpacking, fastpacking + bikepacking
Size:51 x 18 x 7.6cm / 20 x 72 x 3in
Weight:370g / 13oz
Temperature rating:4.5 R-value
Pack size:23 x 10cm / 9 x 4in
Other info:USA Built of U.S. and global materials, Limited Lifetime Warranty
Overall rating:

Features of the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad

Valve

Sleeping mat valveThe single valve enables both inflation and deflation. Turn the WingLock Valve to deflation mode and the air will pour quickly out of the mat. Turn it back the other way and untwist the top valve to inflate and then twist the top valve down to secure the air in. This top valve also allows you to make small adjustments to the inflation level whilst you’re on the mat to get the perfect level of firmness. The valve can be inflated manually, but it also comes with a pump sack.

Construction and insulation

Sleeping mat bafflesWith an R-value of 4.5, the NeoAir XLite NXT provides warmth through four seasons. This is thanks to the ThermaCapture (a reflective coating) technology and Triangular Core Matrix construction that cleverly radiates body heat and reduces convective heat loss. This method of construction also creates a stable surface by using two stacked layers of triangular baffles.

Externally, Therm-A-Rest uses a 30D rip HT Nylon outer fabric.

Packability

Therm-a-rest next to water bottleA big bonus of air construction sleeping pads is their ability to pack down small. And despite offering excellent warmth, the NeoAir XLite NXT still manages to pack down to about the size of a 1 litre water bottle.

Also included

Sleeping pad pump sack and caseTo make inflation even easier, the mat comes with a pump sack that attaches to the valve. There’s also a repair kit included and all items fit inside a drawstring stuff sack.

 

Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad review

In 2013 I upgraded my self-inflating Therm-A-Rest sleeping pad for the cutting edge technology of the NeoAir XLite. It provided the very best in camping comfort and elevated my love for camping to a whole new level. Never had I slept so well under canvas!

As the years passed, lightweight insulated inflatable mattresses became more mainstream in the camping and backpacking world and the technology continued (and continues) to advance. The more of these miracle sleeping pads I tried, the more I started to dissect their every under- or over-performing feature. As standard, they generally all tick the warmth, comfort, low weight and packability boxes that they are designed for. However, ease of inflation / deflation and even the noise of the mats have become more important than ever.

Therm-a-rest sleeping mat in tent

Warmth

With an R-value of 4.5, this sleeping pad is well suited to year round use. If you plan on sleeping directly on snow then you’ll probably need to use a closed-cell mat underneath it to increase the thermal rating. However, this rating is designed to retain warmth below zero, which I can attest to on a winter camping trip in which sub-zero temperatures overnight left frost on the tent. I didn’t even notice the cold at all that night!

The old version of the NeoAir XLite had an R-rating of 3.2 making it better suited to three-season camping. That said, I have most certainly been comfortable in sub-zero temperatures on many occasions sleeping on it.

Comfort and noise

The comfort offered by the new NeoAir XLite NXT is a discrete but definitely present notch up from the original version, which I thought was super comfortable! So with some notable improvements, it’s a complete winner if comfort is your top priority.

Aside from the extra 3.7cm of thickness which side sleepers will very much appreciate, there are a couple of other features which impact overall comfort and sleep quality.

The first is the ability to adjust the level of firmness using the valve. This is much easier to do with the new valve design compared with the old one which tended to just dump out a load of air as soon as you twisted it.

The second is the level of noise that the mat creates when you turn over on it. Therm-A-rest claim that the internal construction of the XLite NXT reduces noise by 83% compared with the XLite. Whatever the percentage improvement may be, it certainly is MUCH quieter. I once leant the XLite to a friend who was sleeping nearby in another tent and I was woken up in the night by the mat rustling every time she turned over! Imagine sleeping in a tent next to that?! Now, I don’t even hear myself turn over on the XLite NXT.

Woman using pump sack to inflate camping mattress

Ease of inflation

Over the years, manually inflating my sleeping pad has become something of a dread for me. Yes, that’s overly dramatic, but it leaves me feeling so light-headed and woozy that I either have to do it stages or ask someone else to finish inflating it for me! So I LOVE that this tiny and packable pad comes with a pump sack. And I really don’t mind if it takes a bit longer to do. You can also manually inflate it if you need to.

Durability

Durability has always been one of the main, if not only, downsides to air construction sleeping pads. They tend to be much more susceptible to punctures than self-inflating and closed-cell mats. And, although repairable with puncture repair kits, certain designs never fully recover.

That said, my original Neo XLite has proved to be incredibly durable. It certainly hasn’t evaded the need for repairs. However, it has withstood repairs and continued to perform as normal. This is, in part, down to the lack of seams and joins on the top and bottom of the pad. In comparison, the Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Sleeping Pad has dimpled seams right across the pad which, once weakened or punctured, prove very hard to reseal.

I can’t yet comment on the long term durability of the new NeoAir XLite NXT. But if it’s anything like its predecessor then it’s destined to surprise me at every rough handling or abrasive surface that I put it on.

Tent with yellow sleeping pad

What I love the most about the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT

The pump sack is great! And it’s hard not to love the quietness of the new construction. But without comparing it to the previous version, the hands down best part of the NeoAir XLite NXT is how comfortable it is (especially for its size and weight).

What I don’t love so much about the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT

As mentioned, durability is an inherent concern with this type of mattress, though I have no reason to think that the NeoAir XLite NXT will be any less durable than its predecessor.

So, if I’m really going to nit-pick, the only downside for me is that the size regular is ever-so-slightly on the narrow side. When I’m lying on my back I feel like my arms spill over the sides slightly, especially when I’m under a quilt rather than in a sleeping bag. Thankfully, there is a wide version available which offers an extra 5 inches of width for the cost of 80g more weight.


Sleeping mat in tent

Verdict

The newly updated Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad is one exceptional pad. It’s a no-brainer for lightweight hikers, backpackers, fastpackers and bikepackers who value comfort, warmth, packability and low weight in equal measure. It does it all without compromising on any one aspect of what makes a great camping mat. It’s also much quieter than the original version, provides more warmth and comes with a pump sack for easy (and comfortable!) inflation.

Two thumbs up from me and an excellent development of an already superb sleeping mat.

Find the latest price at:
Therm-A-Rest | REI | Amazon

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

Joey Holmes

Joey Holmes
Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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