First Look: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Air Mattress

First Look: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Air Mattress

Filed under: Camping  Sleeping Bags/Pads 

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The Therm-a-rest NeoAir UberLite is the lightest insulated air mattress ever made. We tested the NeoAir UberLite for this review.

Therm-a-Rest will release the NeoAir UberLite by end of this month, boldly claiming it will be the lightest insulated air mattress on the market. Gram-counters shy away from inflatable mattresses, sacrificing comfort for the lightness of their trusty closed-cell foam pads.

The UberLite may sway the ultralight legion with a verified weight of 8.4 ounces of full-length air-filled cushioning. We tested it on an overnight backpacking trip for this first look.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite

In short: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite lives up to its name. The 72 x 20 x 2.5-inch (regular size) air mattress is far lighter than Therm-a-Rest’s XLite, its former full-length lightweight champion that weighs 12 ounces.

The UberLite may finally convert the stodgiest of ultralight thru-hikers to leave their closed-cell pads at home on warmer outings. But doing so will require caution, as the durability of the UberLite is questionable. The regular-length UberLite will retail for $180, a small will be $140, and a large will be $210.

UberLite Air Mattress Weight-Ditching Tactics

Therm-a-Rest shaved weight through material selection and omission of the ThermaCapture radiant barrier found in its other air mattresses. The UberLite uses 15-denier ripstop nylon on the top surface and 15-denier nylon on the bottom.

The lack of the ThermaCapture reflective layer reduces the R-value to 2.0 compared to the 3.2 of the XLite, giving up warmth in exchange for less mass. Therm-a-Rest rates the UberLite as a summer mattress. The wispy fabric choices trade weight for durability.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Construction

The UberLite retains Therm-a-Rest’s Triangular Core Matrix, a structure that stacks two layers of triangular baffles to create a stable surface and dead air space for insulation. The familiar and simple twist-to-close air valve sits at the head of the mattress, and Therm-a-Rest includes a stuff sack and repair kit.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite construction diagram

Careful inspection of the UberLite revealed the same high-quality manufacturing by the U.S. facility that is present in all the other Therm-a-Rest air mattresses in my collection: no stray threads or glue, straight and clean cuts, and consistent bonds.

The UberLite in the Field

The original packed size of the UberLite was impressive. At 6.5 x 3.5 inches, it easily fit in several locations to save pack space. I put it inside the compression sack for my sleeping bag.

Because of the fragile feel of the outer fabrics, I chose the tent site carefully and swept away all hard and sharp debris. I also cleared potentially damaging objects from inside the tent. Inflation took 12 breaths, about a minute, to roughly reach my customary air pressure, which is two breaths shy of full inflation.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite

The UberLite’s comfort was familiar. Nothing stood out: It was just as comfortable as other air mattresses of the same thickness. I could sleep on my side at my preferred air pressure without shoulder or hip pain.

I flip sides while sleeping, and the UberLite was worlds quieter than the XLite, something tentmates and campsite neighbors will appreciate. (I’ve had neighboring campers get up and move in the middle of the night because of the crackling of my XLite.)

The outer fabrics of the UberLite are slippery. The leg section of my mummy bag slid off the tapered end of the pad, and the pad slid on the tent floor, which wasn’t quite level. Similar shifting occurs with my other mattresses, but it was noticeably easier to move the UberLite about the tent floor.

NeoAir UberLite Mattress Insulation

The nighttime low dipped into the upper 30s, and the ground was cold because it never received sunlight. By no means are these harsh conditions; I found the level of insulation to be adequate for mild winter conditions when combined with a synthetic mummy bag rated to 35 degrees.

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite

Packing down the UberLite was similar to my other air mattresses. I do a “pre-roll,” where I leave the valve open and roll the mattress up unfolded to push most of the air out. Then I close the valve, unroll it, fold it longitudinally into thirds, open the valve, and roll it for the final time. I had no trouble getting the UberLite back into its stuff sack. But the packed size grew about 1 inch in length compared to how I received it from the factory.

Although the UberLite suffered no damage on this quick outing, the thin fabrics raised concerns. I was careful to keep the mattress away from anything sharp and foresee this as the required procedure to keep this mattress alive. I feel this is an acceptable trade for such lightness.

The UberLite can be combined with Therm-a-Rest’s Vesper 32 Quilt to produce the brand’s lightest sleeping system ever: A regular-length setup weighs a verified 1 pound 7.4 ounces!

Conclusions

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite is flat out the lightest air mattress I have ever used. I especially appreciate this as I’m coming off of 8 months of inactivity due to a major knee injury.

The comfort was equal to other lightweight backpacking mattresses, and the insulating value is on the low side. But I predict many will use it as a three-season mattress with appropriate clothing and sleep systems.

Only time will tell if trading some durability for the featherweight status will be acceptable; look for a future long-term review.

tagged: first look review
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