The new Neo Air XLite NXT addresses the biggest complaint of the previous version — the noise — and is restructured to make it 83% less noisy while maintaining that lightweight, warm, and durable design we’ve grown to cherish.
From Georgia to New Jersey, on the Appalachian Trail, my Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite held up great. I had also used it every day the summer before, so it had quite a number of nights on it. However, after a few nights of waking up at 3 a.m. on the ground in New Jersey due to a deflated pad and after doing the soapy bubbles test to find the leak with no success, I visited the REI in Soho, N.Y., and bought the Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite NXT. (This pad would finish the rest of the thru-hike with me, and it’s still in great condition for future adventures.)
One day in Vermont, I woke up to the sound of rain pouring down on my tent. Eventually, it let up and I packed up a soaking wet tent. The sun never came out, so I didn’t have a chance to dry anything. I hiked all day and arrived at Goddard Shelter as the rain started up again, and I could tell it was getting much darker.
The shelter was full, but the thought of setting up a wet tent in the cold rain pained me. Thankfully, I knew a few people in the shelter, and they said I could sleep on the floor. I still hesitated because I get self-conscious about the amount of noise I make tossing and turning in my sleep.
The Neo Air XLite was known for being an almost perfect sleeping pad, but people complained about the amount of noise it made. Then I remembered, I have the new Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite and it’s supposed to be 83% less noisy than the previous model. I happily set it up on the floor.
At 3 a.m., three guys got up and left to hike 30 miles, so I arose and moved my whole sleeping setup into their space. Later that morning, my friend was surprised to find me on the same level, as she heard the guys move out but didn’t hear me take their place. The sleeping pad proved itself. It was now shelter-approved.
I’ve used a Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite sleeping pad for the past 5½ years, and Therm-a-Rest continues to upgrade it to make it even more durable and streamlined. The most recent upgrades include adding half an inch — which increases the R-value by 0.3, making it even more comfortable — and reconstructing the inside to make it less noisy. While the noise never bothered me personally, I did notice the crinkly sound at times.
In short: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad series has continuously been the top sleeping pad for backpackers, and especially thru-hikers, for years. I would say the improvement from the TwinLock Valve to a WingLock valve was a much more valuable upgrade than this latest noise improvement. If you’re in the market for a new pad, this is definitely the one to get.
- Weight (Standard):
- Regular short 11.5 oz.
- Regular 13 oz.
- Regular wide 1 lb.
- Large 1 lb., 1 oz.
- Regular short 66 oz.
- Regular 72"
- Regular wide 72"
- Large 77"
- R-Value 4.5
- Thickness 3"
- Material 30D rip HT Nylon, polyurethane
- Warmth to weight
- 3" of cushion for maximum comfort
- 6 times quieter than previous model
- Pump sack works but isn’t easy
Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite NXT Sleeping Pad Review
From Mile 1,452 to Mile 2,198 on the Appalachian Trail, as I write this review while wrapping up my thru-hike, I have used the upgraded version of the Neo Air XLite sleeping pad. Personally, I don’t find a huge difference between my sleeping quality on the XLite and XLite NXT. But, as someone who has also used an REI inflatable sleeping pad in the past and tested a closed-cell foam pad, I know the Therm-a-Rest pad is much better.
Sometimes I’ve been forced to set my tent up on rocks and roots, and I don’t feel them at all when I sleep. It is a testament to how great the sleeping pad provides the comfort I want and need after a long day of hiking.
Therm-a-Rest uses data it’s collected on people lying down on a pressure-sensitive surface to create a sleeping pad that provides extra support where needed — like the hips and shoulders — and it shows. My body already aches from the hike, so having proper support throughout the night is necessary to keep going.
Specs & Features
I started this hike at the beginning of March when it was cold, and I’m ending this hike in Maine in late September. I’ve rarely been cold. I believe it’s a mix of having a great sleeping bag, the Feathered Friends Flicker UL quilt, and a fantastic sleeping pad. Therm-a-Rest’s specific technology is its ThermaCapture design that reflects your body’s heat back to you, paired with a Triangular Core Matrix construction that helps retain heat to keep you warm throughout the night.
One of my favorite features is how compact the pad is. Therm-a-Rest uses a combination of its Wave Core construction, Stratacore Foam, and vertically die-cut foam structure to keep the pad lightweight and packable to the size of a burrito. It fits perfectly between my sleeping bag and my rainfly at the bottom of my backpack.
The sleeping pad also comes with a pump sack, but I use the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Micro Pump ($43), which makes the inflating much easier. It only weighs 2.3 ounces and uses two AAA batteries, and it will blow the pad up in a few minutes.
Whether you use the pump sack or electronic pump, the WingLock valve technology is three times faster than traditional valves because air only enters one way. Deflating it is also super easy. This was a very noticeable upgrade within the last few years that I really appreciate.
As a woman, something I noticed is that they don’t have a woman’s version in this upgrade. I had the women’s version in the NeoAir XLite, which was 2.5 inches and 66 x 20 x 2.5 inches, weighing 12 ounces. If I had the time to order a new pad, I would have gotten the Regular Short, but the Soho REI only had the Regular size. This is worth noting.
Therm-a-Rest Neo Air XLite NXT Sleeping Pad: Conclusion
If the only thing stopping you from buying this pad is the noise complaints in the previous model, definitely try this out. The brand has worked hard to address that, and I believe it’s done a great job.
If you’re looking for a compact, lightweight, warm, and comfortable pad, this is the whole package. I prefer to use an electronic pump to inflate it, but the combination of the WingLock Valve and pump sack (which is included) makes it still very easy to use.
This pad is more expensive than others, but you really can’t beat the warmth-to-weight ratio. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pads have consistently been a top choice for weekend warriors and dedicated thru-hikers going the distance for years — and for good reason.
A good night’s rest is vital on a long journey, and it’s worth it to invest in a sleep system you look forward to sliding into at the end of the day. Sleep well so you can get after your next big adventure.