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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad Review
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Curt Peterson
(curtpeterson) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Large Not Available on 05/06/2009 06:30:08 MDT Print View

Despite rumors that the Large size has been discontinued entirely, it looks like it will be around in mid September. That takes it off the list for this summer season. Too bad - it does hit the sweet spot for size:weight.

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Review on 05/06/2009 06:41:00 MDT Print View

Thanks for the review, and great that you didn't bend in under the hype and gave it a more positive review rating. I think you hit the point with your review, and I am happy to know now that the NeoAir is not for me, moving a lot during the night and being a back-sleeper. I also find the price to high, for which one would expect the repair-kit to be included at least. Maybe if they bring out a wider NeoAir which is less noisy I might be tempted, but at the moment I am not.

Bernard Shaw
( - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Remember the Extreme Pro Tech Emergency Bag???? on 05/06/2009 08:31:29 MDT Print View

Do you tech weenies remember the Extreme Pro Tech Emergency Bag? Not a sleeping pad, but related to the NeoAir by virtue of using baffles to reflect heat back to the user.

I wonder if it suffered from the same real world constraints that the NeoAir does, i.e., that reflectivity is insignificant when compared with other factors.

I think I mostly agree with the review, that first and foremost a good night's sleep represents both significant safety and increased vigor in remote locations and that comfort is not a dirty word either.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
worth the read on 05/06/2009 08:38:12 MDT Print View

Now that I've used my NeoAir, I can't say the review is too overly harsh. I have some disagreements, such as I didn't find the noise bad at all. Yes, it's narrow, just like any other 2.5" thick inflatable, but I found it's width no different in use than my Big Agnes IAC. My shoulders are broad, and my arms don't stay on either mat if I lay on my back. Luckily I'm a side sleeper, and I slept very comfortably on this NeoAir, even flipping over several times a night (which I do at home too).

I was really considering the 25" width, and may get one this fall when they come out. We'll see if I feel the extra width would be worth the 5 ounces. It's not like I'll struggle selling my regular size here on BPL.

Overall, the review would not have changed my decision to buy it had the review came out nearly 2 months ago when I ordered my pad.

Edited by mn-backpacker on 05/06/2009 09:30:27 MDT.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Re: Cutting pads in half on 05/06/2009 11:03:56 MDT Print View

You know I have thought about this, too, as a solution to gettng the "ideal" pad. Take a 25" wide pad and chop off as much as one might decide is effective for length, say 66" or maybe 70". Then heat seal it. Question is how do you heat seal such a pad. I don't have the faintest idea how one would go about doing this without really damaging the fabric and making it air tight.And you only get one shot at getting it right.

Any suggestion how to do this.

Mitchell Keil
(mitchellkeil) - F

Locale: Deep in the OC
Temperture Rating on 05/06/2009 11:16:31 MDT Print View

I know that you guys figured the R values on the pad as being between 2.5 and 3.0, depending on inflation. Would you give us real world folks a hint as to how that translates in the real world. I think most of us using inflatables have found that we get the best compromise between restful sleep and insulation with the pad inflated about 65-70%. My downmat seems very warm down to about 10-15 and my BG insulated AC seems good to about 25 before I start to feel the cold. My Clearview seems useless at anything below 40. Where would you put this Neoair as far as temp ratings go.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Temperture Rating on 05/06/2009 11:45:39 MDT Print View

If I'm on snow, I like to have at least R-3.5, though I often use a RidgeRest Deluxe rated at R-3.1 with a bag rather than a quilt. (A bag provides a bit of insulation on the bottom side, even when compressed.)

Without doing the Clo calcs, I'd guess that R-2.5 would be comfortable down to the high 30's (F). I didn't have the chance to push the temperature rating with the NeoAir. Roger or Ryan may be able to comment first hand about its cold weather performance.


-Mike M

Ross Bleakney
(rossbleakney) - MLife

Locale: Cascades
Interesting Review of Interesting Product on 05/06/2009 11:56:39 MDT Print View

I think the review makes many interesting points, but I'm surprised a bit at the overall rating. From an ultralight standpoint, this is a niche product. It is lighter than self-inflaters, but not nearly as light as closed cell foam. It is warmer than many of the inflatables, but not as warm as some of the down insulated ones. In other words, it offers no clear advantage over any other product. Of course, neither does any other pad (or many other products). I think it is especially hard for an ultralight company to recommend a product that will likely increase the amount of weight the user will carry (it will be the first time I've increased my base weight in ten years). This may explain the overall rating.

The complaints about the price seems pretty silly for a company that makes $200 pullovers (one of which I'm happy I bought). I can understand the complaint, I guess; for that much money you expect a truly ground breaking product. But what are the alternatives? If this is too expensive, how about comparing it with another product. In the car review world, this happens all the time ("it seems a bit pricey, since for $2000 less you can buy a Hyundai..."). I wonder if the comparison wasn't made for the reasons explained in the first paragraph.

I do like the "room for improvement" section. Side tubes sound like a good idea. I also like the idea of a wider pad. I've talked to lots of people who would prefer wider (self inflating or non-self inflating) inflatables. That being said, the 20 inch wide mattress is a bit of a standard. My wife and I use a Feathered Friends groundsheet, where we insert the pads and have a wide bag over the top. A wider pad wouldn't fit.

For solo use, I like the idea of adding a couple inches of closed cell foam to the sides. If I add a thinlight to the bottom, this actually solves two problems at once. The thinlight adds protection from puncture and a little bit of warmth. The extra warmth that might slip out of the sides should be caught by the extra padding on the sides.

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
NeoAir temperature on 05/06/2009 12:03:48 MDT Print View

I've found the NeoAir adequately warm at 30F when camping on bare ground but slightly cool when camping on snow at the same temperature, which is much the same as the Prolite 3. That's lying on the mat without any pressure points. Lying on my side with weight on my elbow and I can feel the cold ground as the mat is compressed.

Eric Gray
(CrankyRat) - F
NeoAir Width on 05/06/2009 12:07:34 MDT Print View

Having bought the commercial regular NeoAir the width you mention is not correct. The true width is a conservative 19 and half inches fully inflated if not a dead on 20 inches when compressed with a sleeper. That's the problem with reviews done with pre-production products. They obviously upped the width before bringing it to market.

I also want to mention the nearly flat surface of the NeoAir is more comfortable and stable than the vertical tube pads I have used in the past.

Dan Cunningham

Locale: Land of 12,000 Loons
width on 05/06/2009 12:23:11 MDT Print View

My NeoAir regular is also 20" wide when fully inflated. In fact, it is almost identical in width to my BA IAC 72" rectangular.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Review on 05/06/2009 12:37:16 MDT Print View

Hey, thanks for another great review!

Roger, Mike:

"I don't think a 1/8" pad will weigh much less than 4oz. Not enough to justify parting with $120 anyway."

My 1/8 x 19 3/8 x 59 3/4 GG Thinlight weighs 1.75oz.

"The narrow width wouldn't bother me too much as i'm a side sleeper. I need a nice high pillow though, and i can see problems with getting one high enough given the 2.5" thickness of the pad. If i put a pillow on the pad, i'm losing usable pad space."

My GG Nightlight is only 28 3/4" long, so when I recently used the NeoAir short pad snow camping I placed the pillow directly on top and still had more of the pad length under me than what I had been accustomed to.

Much of the concern seems to center around the narrow width, which I inadvertantly circumvented while on this snow camping trip. Because I was using a MB Monoframe Diamond tent, which is narrow, I tend to place my unused gear on either side of the pad/bag (stuff sack of extra cloths, etc.). Voila, instant armrests! I wasn't even aware of this problem until I read it here, but now I see how it could be problematic for a back sleeper with no way to make armrests.

As I observed in another post, the NeoAir by itself would not have gotten me through the night on snow, but with the addition of the 1/8" Thinlight I was more than warm and comfortable (I placed it on top). And talk about a restful sleep! All in all, I have no regrets about spending the coin for this piece of gear even if it is 5oz more that the was worth it. Happy trails!

Pat Rabun
(prabun) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
It Works for Me! on 05/06/2009 12:40:13 MDT Print View

I found the review to be harsh in almost a contrived way- as if there was no way a pad that had been received with such excitement could possibly measure up. I require 2.5 inches of padding to sleep comfortably and have used almost every pad on the market fitting that requirement. The neoair regular provides the best compromise between weight ,size,and comfort of any 2.5 inch thick pad I've tried. It's brilliant in my view. I don't find it excessively noisy, and the 20 inch width is barely noticable ( I am a side / back sleeper). It rolls up as small as a Torsolite for goodness sakes!! Lightweight gear always involves choices and compromises. The developers of the neoair did an excellent job of decision making during the design process. Don' t be swayed by the review- the regular size neoair is the best lightweight (emphasis on lightweight) pad available. Buying the large defeats the purpose if lightest weight/ most comfort is the issue.

Maxine Weyant
(Maxine) - MLife
bubble wrap, tyvek, and whatnot on 05/06/2009 12:42:08 MDT Print View

I'm curious if anyone out there has ever tried using a layer of bubble wrap under or along the sides of their pad to add warmth, additional cushioning (in the case of closed cell foam pad) or to insulate the elbows or feet if the pad is a bit small?

Or, thin sheets of foam, often used to wrap small electronics, about 1-2mm thick, white, tears a bit easily--I'd imagine it could add some warmth under a pad on cold ground, better than tyvek perhaps, though less durable.

My 3/4 length Ridgerest weighs 9 oz, the same as a small NeoAir. I'm a 5'1" side-sleeper and have been wanting some extra cushioning under my hips. Have considered taking a small piece of bubble wrap to place under hips and shoulders, or even a section of an old ridgerest. I plan to check out the NeoAir but I can't imagine using it outside a tent or, say, on the Southern third of the PCT.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: bubble wrap, tyvek, and whatnot on 05/06/2009 12:59:10 MDT Print View

Hi Maxine,

Very strong bubble wrap will provide extra comfort but no significant additional warmth. Some folks use Reflectex, seeking the reflective insulation as discussed in the Neoair review but it's of little actual consequence in the field.

If you can add bits of foam you might have a better result. Either approach will probably enhance the comfort of a Ridgerest, which are not very cushy in my experience.

There's no reason not to experiment with it as a supplement to your main pad. It's got to be more comfortable than the hard ground when you find yourself off the sides.



Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Review on 05/06/2009 14:20:55 MDT Print View

Hmmmm, based on this review, I'd say I will be quite happy with the NeoAir. I can ignore Roger's dislikes as I am a back sleeper with resting shoulder width of 22" and elbow width of 26", so I have never owned a pad that is wide enough to keep my arms off the ground. I am used to it and expect it. Also, if it's that cold, I will be zipped up in a mummy bag, which restrains my arms from falling to the ground. I also sleep with earplugs, so the noise is a non-issue. There were no complaints about durability, which was one of my biggest concerns given the price. I AM glad the pad was reviewed by more than one person, as we really do all have different sleep styles and needs...

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
neoair on 05/06/2009 14:59:27 MDT Print View

we just ended today the Fort William _ Shielbridge part of cape wrath trail.
The weather was scottish at the very least :)
I never saw that much water as monday .
The good surprise ( the beauty of the landscape wasnt a surprise ) was my neoair i used for 5 nights.
I never slept that well hiking, it was perfect when i was side sleeping about 2/3 of time and good enough when i was on my back ( yes its true a few centimeters more width would help on my regular).
But i never slept even close to that good using a ridgerest and artiach light a gossamer thinlight and a BPL torsolite or even 2 or 3 of those on top of each other for winter condition.

Tim F
(kneebyter) - MLife

Locale: the depths of Hiking Hell (Iowa)
neoair width on 05/06/2009 15:05:10 MDT Print View

Those of you with a production model- are you finding the same problem with the width that the reviewers did?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Temperture Rating on 05/06/2009 15:50:35 MDT Print View

Hi Mitchell

With the pad inflated softly I think the R-value would be around 2.5. But that is for a uniform loading or compression. If you have a prominent hip bone then I am sure the insulation under it will be less. How this would affect your sleep - is anyone's guess!

The DAMs seem to survive because they are so thick and the down is not really displaced by a hip-bulge. So most of the insulation value under your hip is preserved.

This suggests that a thin foam mat over the NeoAir might be a good idea in cold weather. Trying to predict how cold any one person will enjoy - sorry, no way! Way too many external factors.

Mike's suggestion of 3.5 for snow is however a good one. Going up a little from that would not hurt either, but will cost weight.


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: NeoAir Width on 05/06/2009 15:57:07 MDT Print View

Hi Eric and Dan

Thanks for the feedback about the width. We will have to see what's going on here.