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NeoAir & Winter Conditions
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Todd Forbes
(TF) - F
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 12:57:02 MDT Print View

I am going to the Weminuche Wilderness Are the first week of October and will be camping at the timberline in close to winter conditions. The temperatures will be getting down in the teens, I have a MontBell #1 UL 15 degree bag that will be fine but I don’t think the NeoAir will provide enough insulation and was thinking about supplementing it with some blue closed-cell foam. I have had a lot of spinal surgeries & fusions so I decided on the large NeoAir mattress so I can have extra spine support from my usual ¾ pad I used to use.

Do you think the 1/8” Thinlight pad from Gossamergear will be thick enough or should I go for the ¼” pad? Also I read a post where a person was putting the closed cell pad on TOP of the NeoAir – wouldn’t it work much better if the NeoAir was on top of the closed cell mattress?


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 13:19:23 MDT Print View

In short, I doubt that combo would be warm enough.

Richard Nisley's work has shown that "Survival-" rated pads for freezing have an R-value of around 3.5, Comfort around 6, Max Comfort around 9. See the following thread.

If I recall correctly, the 1/4" thinlight has an R-value of less than one; in conjunction with the 2.5 of the NeoAir, best-case scenario you'd have a pad with R 3.5, maybe.

I just got back from a trip using a NeoAir, most nights in the 40s, one or two nights into the 30s. I froze! Frankly, before I realized what was going on I found myself layered up with a baffled down jacket, two layers of wool, inside a warm 30* bag, and sweated profusely into my down gear... but still felt very cold the whole night. Hindsight being what it is, I realized that the pad was woefully inadequate for those temperatures (edit: for me). It was marginally comfortable for those nights in the high 40s. YMMV.

For trips where I expect the temps to drop to around freezing, I've historically used a pad or pad combo to achieve an R-value of around 6. When I bumped up to a Downmat with an R-value of 8, I was very pleasantly warm, even at zero.


Edited by 4quietwoods on 09/10/2009 13:20:35 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 15:23:54 MDT Print View

" I found myself layered up with a baffled down jacket, two layers of wool, inside a warm 30* bag, and sweated profusely into my down gear."
Maybe you would have been better off putting your jacket/wool layers and maybe your rain gear if you had any with you , under the mat (?)
However that "sweating on top and freezing at the bottom" is provably more common than most realise.See the threads about 32f rated bags not keeping one warm at that temperature.


Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 15:32:14 MDT Print View

Yeah, Franco, I probably should've put all that stuff under me, instead... I just didn't realize it until after a night or two! I regularly use the same temp (and loft) bag at temperatures below freezing and am plenty warm. In fairness, I'm also normally in a tent, but slept under a tarp this trip... more air flow and heat loss there, too I suspect. Back to a warmer pad!

Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
Kifaru Slick 0degree and NeoAir on 09/10/2009 15:54:50 MDT Print View

I just completed two weeks in the Yukon using the NeoAir and a synthetic bag from Kifaru
and on the 30 degree nights I was chilly. My wet clothes were dry by morning (I think all the moisture went to my partners Down Bag.
I think I should have had more insulation under me.

Todd Forbes
(TF) - F
Z-Lite on 09/10/2009 16:04:27 MDT Print View

I am thinking about adding a 3/4 length Z-Lite closed cell foam pad for added comfort; there goes my weight & space savings but I should be pretty comfortable. I can always use my pack for my feet as the back of my Granite Gear pack is closed cell foam.

Wouldn't it insulate better if it was placed underneath the NeoAir then on top? I hear of people puting closed cell on top of their NeoAir but I would think this would defeat the reflective properties of the NeoAir?

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Neo Air and CCF on 09/10/2009 16:40:05 MDT Print View


Traditionally, people put the CCF on top of the pad to avoid heat loss through the pad, but since the Neo-Air is all reflectivey, there is an argument that it radiates heat upwards, and thus you should put your CCF beneath it.

A much better reason why you should DEFINITELY put your CCF beneath it is that it's not very puncture resistant. The one night I didn't use a CCF under it, I punctured mine. Easily repaired, but I'll not make that mistake again.

Jack Newton
(figster) - F

Locale: Central Arkansas
Thirty Two and NeoAir on 09/10/2009 17:12:27 MDT Print View

I'm 6' and I spent a few nights below freezing and a couple just above freezing with no problems with my NeoAir short in regards to being too cold to sleep.

The only problem I do have to report is the sore toe I had from using my toes to prop my leg up in my sleep(?!?!). Needless to say my big toe is not designed for eight hour isometric exercises! We do strange things while down at night.


Donald Browning
(docdb) - M

Locale: SE USA
inflation on 09/10/2009 18:28:48 MDT Print View

Have any of you that have used the NeoAir experienced nightly deflation. Mine would lose about 3-4 lung-fulls of air each night. It never became uncomfortable during sleep, but I could not have gone two nights without a few puffs. It was not too much of a hassle, but I was wondering what others experienced.

Charles Jennings
(vigilguy) - F

Locale: Northern Utah
Neoair and 30 degree weather on 09/10/2009 18:37:37 MDT Print View

I was up in the Winds in Wyoming in the middle of August where the temps dipped into the high 20's on two nights then down into the 30's the remaining four nights. Never at any time did I get cold. I was on a Neoair and had that on top of a Luxurylite cot. My sleeping bag was a Valandre' Mirage.

At least for me, the Neoair did just fine in these temps around 30 degrees.

Don, I also had to add a few puffs of air the next morning.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 19:04:51 MDT Print View

"Mine would lose about 3-4 lung-fulls of air each night."
Yes , two of us experienced that the first day out with the mats. We blew them up fairly early (4:30/5pm) and by the time we were ready to go to sleep (9PM) mine needed 3 full puffs to get to the same inflation. That is Boyle's law at work. After that we just knew to top it up before laying on it and remained about the same for the night.
I am convinced that more have noticed this effect with the Neo than with previous mats simply because there is more air in them so they appear to deflate to a greater extent.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 19:33:10 MDT Print View

In June I camped on snow at Horse Camp on Mt Shasta. I forgot to bring my 1/2" ccf pad, so I was left with my short Neor Air, my GG 1/8" thinlite, and my pack for ground insulation. Night temps were predicted in the mid-30s

In a tent, in a 30 degree bag, the only part of me that got chilled were my feet, as they were only on the pack and the thinlite. And the only times I woke up was when I moved in my sleep and my feet came off them and got cold. My torso, on a thinlite + NeoAir combo, was fine. But I also sleep warm. If I had to do it again, I'd definitely bring a 1/2" pad as well, as I'd guess I was right at the limit of comfort.

All this personal warmth stuff is so subjective though.

Actualy, if I was going to be be doing a lot of winter conditions camping, I'd get a winter pad like an BA Insulated Air Core or an Exped Down mat. By themselves I don't think they weigh too much more than a NeoAir + adequately thick foam pad combo

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 19:54:24 MDT Print View

Is there a consensus on the recommended lowest temperature for the NeoAir used alone (no CCF)?

I was under the impression that people were OK at freezing (32F).

The reason I ask is I'm shortly going on a trip in Europe, will be hiking in October. Min expected lows around freezing. Don't want my GF to get cold or she will kill me.

Should we also take thinlites? I'd rather not, because it is another thing to pack away in our bags. Maybe just a torso length version...?

ps. expecting to be plenty warm on top, we both have WM ultralites

Edited by ashleyb on 09/10/2009 19:55:51 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 20:41:54 MDT Print View

At a starting temperature of 7-10 c (bed time) and minimum of 4c ( 5-6AM) I was comfortable on the Neo but a bit too warm on top to start off having the Ultralite on top as a quilt. I expect the 32f rating to be pretty much it for me.
Again closer to 0 c (32f) I would suggest stuffing under it all of the available clothing/rain gear/trash-bag liner to get better insulation.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/10/2009 21:55:56 MDT Print View

I have had my Neo down to 30 F and was fine sleeping right on it as I was using a quilt that did not keep me warm. I was warm on the pad.

I use a BA IAC a lot and notice it getting cold under me around the low 20s F. I am going to take the NeoAir at the end of this month to northern CA and will be using it with a quilt. (Nunatak this time!) I think I will bring a 3/8” GG Thinlight pad just in case I need protection from the volcanic rock I expect to be sleeping on and the possibility of being cold.

Rather than get an IAC and another pad for winter use look at their DualCore pads. They work quite well.

Dewey Riesterer
(Kutenay) - F
Pads on 09/10/2009 23:39:11 MDT Print View

I have been waiting since April for a large NeoAir and leave Sunday next for northern BC and the Kootenays to hunt RM Goats and Elk/Moose. So, I am taking my BAIAC plus a 1/2 " CCF underpad as I have found that the insulated pads themselves do not work in BC autumn cold.

I have an Exped Deluxe 9, but, it is too slow to inflate and I will make do with the BAIAC plus CCF. Together with my Valandre Shocking Blue, this should give me a good night's sleep as we will be out for two weeks and moving all the time.

I STILL want a NeoAir and will combine it with GG "Nitelite" torso pads for a light, comfy summer bed.

Todd Forbes
(TF) - F
Re: Neo Air and CCF on 09/11/2009 00:55:32 MDT Print View

That's exactly what I was thinking - I would think CCF on top would cancel out the reflective properties of the Neo, plus the additional protection for a fragil pad by placing it underneath.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: Neo Air and CCF on 09/11/2009 01:03:17 MDT Print View

The "reflective" barrier in the NeoAir is there for the purposes of marketing spin. Radiative heat loss through the pad is a very small component of the overall heat transported through the pad. Convection and conduction are far, far bigger factors compared to the small amount of radiated heat energy. You can test it by turning your pad upside down... I'm willing to bet it works just as well.

The reason the NeoAir works much better than other air pads is because it stops convection very effectively (in comparison). The air cells within the pad are much smaller than in pads with large tubes.

The reflective barrier sounds plausible but the truth is it contributes very little to the warmth of the pad. Good for marketing though.

Edited by ashleyb on 09/11/2009 01:05:15 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/11/2009 02:43:31 MDT Print View

I asked about "bottom or top" on another forum and got a response from an REI employee who had attended a session with the Cascade Designs sales rep. The sales rep told him that the CCF pad should go on top of the NeoAir.

Gossamer Gear recommends the 1/4" Thinlight with the NeoAir for winter conditions, which are quite likely at that altitude in October!

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/11/2009 02:45:23 MDT.

Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
NeoAir & Winter Conditions on 09/11/2009 04:37:41 MDT Print View

It depends what you mean by winter conditions. I think I worked out that to boost a neoair to an exped downmat would take 3/4" of closed cell foam.
I think The reflective layer in the Neoair is sandwiched in the middle so which ever way up it will have the same small effect. The silver outer layer has little air space beside it in use either way up. Theoretically ( for warmth) the foam should be on top, practically it will be better (more comfortable and protective) on the bottom.