NeoAir XLite - Aluminized Baffles Wearing Off ?!?
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Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: observed same condition after using 1 night on 05/14/2012 11:14:56 MDT Print View

For what it's worth, CD has already sent me a replacement. It's supposed to arrive tomorrow, which would make it right at 2 weeks from mailing the old mattress off to getting a new one. I'll post more when I get back into town and can check it out.

Matt-I'm curious. When did you purchase yours?

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
bought from cabelas april 14th on 05/14/2012 12:21:19 MDT Print View

bought it from cabelas april 14th..took a dang month to use!

I'm wonder a few things if you heard anything from CD..

1) Does it really impact performance at all? Around the edges I'm thinking, minimally if anything.

2) After say...50 uses, I wonder if the edges clearly lose their alu mojo but then it is done, or eventually will a majority of the pads aluminum film deteriorate?

3) Is it not suppose to happen? Was there a bad batch of the adhesive/bonding process? or some temperature level tweak that in the manufacturing process that was determined?

cheers. slept wonderfully.. i normally wake up due to limbs falling asleep under me..(stomach sleeper).. i barely woke up once.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: bought from cabelas april 14th on 05/14/2012 12:31:01 MDT Print View

I am wondering if how it is rolled could damage the edges?

There is another case over at Whiteblaze.

Matt Mioduszewski
(water-) - F

Locale: pacific nw
plausible... on 05/14/2012 12:35:34 MDT Print View

I will look into it more. Thing is when I looked at home brand new, didnt see that at all. Then rolled it the way it came to me and took it to camp. unrolled, blew up, slept. Next AM look at it in the sunlight and its very apparent. Seemed like it was related to where condensation was in the pad and like the water itself almost delaminated the alu film. but i guess it could be from that first time I rolled it (w/o any visible moisture inside)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: plausible... on 05/14/2012 12:38:52 MDT Print View

Perhaps the combination of moisture and rolling the pad before the baffles are 'dry.' The aluminum baffles may get wet and stick to each other when the pad is rolled up. Then when unrolled, they pull apart and / or delaminate.

?

Looking forward to what CD says. Thanks,

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Re: plausible... on 05/14/2012 13:02:57 MDT Print View

David, I think you are on the right track. I've destroyed the reflective coating on more than one space blanket that way (moisture on reflective surface and rolling the blanket for storage). Perhaps with these pads we are best off inflating them like we would a downmat (ie, with pump, etc.) to prevent moisture from entering the pad.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Re: plausible... on 05/14/2012 15:35:26 MDT Print View

That does sound plausible. I've been planning on ordering an instaflator for a while now, and I may go ahead and do it now.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 05/14/2012 15:36:31 MDT.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: Re: Re: plausible... on 05/14/2012 15:37:51 MDT Print View

Actually, that would be a great way to compare your experiences.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Replacement Mattress Arrived on 05/21/2012 21:03:55 MDT Print View

Well, I have received my replacement mattress from Cascade Designs (it actually came a week ago Tuesday, but I've been out of town). After looking it over briefly, everything seems to be good. I have a trip planned this weekend and an Instaflator on order, so I will try to report any findings when I get back.

Also, I weighed the new mattress, and it came out to 11.80 oz (334 g), that's 0.55 oz lighter than the damaged one I sent in.

Juston Taul
(Junction)

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Neoair on 05/21/2012 22:47:32 MDT Print View

I had the original Size Large NeoAir. I went through three models that would leak on me throughout the night. It was a slow leak, but I would have to blow it up in the middle of the night to obtain the firmness I find preferable.

I was at REI just browsing when I noticed that EXPED had finally made a SynMat UL LW model. I had been hoping for this for a long time. I immediately grabbed it and was going to trade it in for my leaking NeoAir... the third one, when I noticed that the NeoAir XLite had also been released.

I tested both on the floor at REI. The EXPED was more comfortable for me, but the weight savings with the XLite were very tempting. A sales associate walked up to me and started discussing the pads. She said to get the EXPED as the XLite pads were having a lot of issues and that they were seeing a lot of returns.

Just my personal experience I thought I would share.

Tim Drescher
(timdcy) - M

Locale: Gore Range
My experience with the Xlite in conjunction with the instaflator on 06/15/2012 12:55:54 MDT Print View

I brought my new Neo Air Xlite women’s pad along with an instaflator I ordered online on an overnight trip recently. I received my instaflator the same day as the trip so I didn’t get a chance to try it out until I was rolling out my pad at camp. It seemed as though the instaflator had some walls that melted together so when I went to blow it up, they popped open which put holes in the plastic. I remedied the situation with a few pieces of duct tape, but I still saw some light moisture inside the Xlite when I woke up the next morning anyway.

I asked for a replacement from Leslies (Instaflator Manufacturer) and they said no problem. A couple days later I receive an email from Leslies stating my order had been cancelled. After waiting on the phone forever and leaving several messages, I finally got in touch with someone on the phone who told me they discontinued internet sales of the Instaflator and only sell them in stores now (There are no stores in my state).

I asked for my money back, seeing as how the charge was still on my debit card which they said they would refund. I still have yet to see the charge removed and it has been about a week.

I threw away the huge plastic tube from the old duct-taped-instaflator when they told me they’d replace it, so now I’m left with nothing. I was thinking of starting an MYOG project involving some sort of desiccant in the clear tubing that I kept from Leslie’s, but I think I’m just going to say screw it and blow it up with my own two lungs.

I’m already starting to see some of the “aluminized” baffles around the ends flaking a bit. I bought the Xlite from REI on purpose so I could return it if I did indeed run into this issue. Besides the possibility of the aluminized baffles wearing and possibly degrading the 3.9 R-Value, I’ve been loving the pad so far.

Edited by timdcy on 06/15/2012 12:57:41 MDT.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Space Blankets on 06/15/2012 20:26:25 MDT Print View

I'm surprised by this forum, but I'm bored so I'm going to enter the ring anyway.

First about the pads. Has no one ever used a space blanket? The instant you unroll one the aluminum starts flaking off the mylar. After just a few crumpling and flattening sessions the entire sheet has see-through spots. The neoairs use the same thing (although probably cheaply sourced from china) so of course you'll have the same problem. The stuff is pretty dang fragile so it shouldn't have come as a surprise to most that the neo-air was going to have issues.

For single sheet performance degradation, it will be linked directly the amount of flaking. So if 50% of the aluminum flakes off, well then the sheet will only reflect 50% of the IR radiation. Now they use multiple sheets, each with +90% reflectivity. With the somewhat locally uniform distribution of flakes (ie they're small flakes even spread out over a thin spot) it will probably be a while before you notice that 0.7 difference in R-value. So you'll see thinning of the aluminum layers the highest wear regions. The edges, along any repeated fold lines, and the center where your torso and hips make contact will be first to go, but again the alum layer is so fragile that regardless that you'll get minor delamination virtually every time you hear the baffles crinkle.



David...stick with economics and not product development or engineering. Although given the current global economic climate I'm not sure so many trust the "dismal" science anymore. I can't believe you want examples where cost does not equal quality. Lets start with automobiles. Landrover, high priced SUVs (both their current luxury oriented brand and historically) with a reputation of not working. In specific their electrical systems are generally shoddy (as with most other English origin autos...ask the British hosts of Top Gear). How about computers? Sony Vaios were notorious for being overpriced and underpowered among the IT industry, or even MS Windows was extraordinarily crappy for decades and expensive. Intel Pentium 4s were expensive and underperformed compared to AMD at the time. Clothes? TNF after it sold out to the yuppies and grew fat for the general American populace (along with half of Patagonia's product line, Mountain Hardwear, Columbia, etc) or any other company that shipped production to China and skimped on QC and customer service in search of higher short term profits. How about Goretex vs eVent or even DriDucks and Tyvek. How about expensive, heavy, poorly performing backpacking gear sold to the general population as necessary vs any of the affordable and light gear made by cottage industry (or even GoLite, although it is in a weird transition right now).

I agree that CD should have been more thorough with their testing (especially the leak issues) but buying bleeding edge technology is ALWAYS risky and expensive to the consumer. It's new and doesn't have economies of scale yet (you should understand this, but don't for some reason). Early adopters tend to finance investment into scaling production so that new technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous. It's the same business model that brought us gasoline vehicles (and slowly various form of hybrids and electric vehicles ala Tesla), computers smaller than a house and embedded in EVERYTHING, air travel, soon to be space travel, plastics, metals, and pretty much everything. There are other methods of course, such as subsidizing new technology to promote adoption and consumption of higher margin consumables (console gaming systems), but that's only necessary when the product is just a gateway to a far more lucrative industry. This is all very basic stuff that you shouldn't need a masters in anything to understand.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
NeoAir XLite on 06/15/2012 20:44:32 MDT Print View

Hi Dustin, I am bored so I will answer your post... ;-)

What makes you think that what you have seen with a space blanket applies here? Did Cascade Designs say, "using decades-old space blanket technology we are coming out with the X-Lite"?

"David...stick with economics and not product development or engineering."

Dustin, do you have one? Maybe you should get one and then comment. Of course we don't plan on sleeping on automobiles or whatever you decided to wrench the thread off to. Are cars inflatable?

TNF, DriDucks,space, and console games. Yes! X-Box! Dude, I am in...

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: NeoAir XLite on 06/15/2012 21:17:53 MDT Print View

Raymond, reread the thread. I stuck with automobiles because those were the original examples given by other posters, David included. In particular I quote David:

"I also don't like your first year of a new model car analogy. I have never had a new car completely fail after driving it for a day. I have never been stranded. And I have never had a failure that meant I could not get it fixed the same or next day. A sleeping pad is a different animal."

Losing the radiant barrier isn't a complete failure of the pad. Also he's using personal anecdotal evidence to support his generalized complaint towards CD while also bemoaning others who are doing the same (by not supplying appropriate numbers).

As for space blankets and neoairs, they use a thin film aluminized radiant barrier. Yes they were developed decades ago, also there were few applications for them below orbit until recently so the technology has been stagnant. If it looks like a space blanket, it sounds like space blanket, it delaminates like a space blanket, it must be a duck. Or maybe I'll just quote from one of Cascade Designs patent applications "and/or integration of a thermally reflective film or coating into the matrix and/or enveloping panels of an inflatable body to provide enhanced thermal radiation mitigation mean." Dude, it's decades old space blanket technology, just in a novel application (and "space" is a registered trademarked regarding the technology so they can't use it for marketing without a contract and most likely paying royalties).

I attacked the use of a degree as supporting evidence for his argument. A lot of college graduates seem to think because they spent time jumping through hoops and drinking kool-aid it makes them more qualified in a debate, but a debate only cares about the strength of your evidence. Ol' G-Dub was a Yale graduate afterall.

Raymond, how does my possession or lack of possession alter the validity of my statements? Your claim is simply an adhominem attack against me and therefore irrelevant to the argument.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: NeoAir XLite on 06/15/2012 21:41:58 MDT Print View

I'm not going to wade into the personal attacks. (Seriously--haven't we been through enough with them already?) But I would like to address your comment about expecting the aluminization to wear off.

When I spoke to Cascade Designs, they were quite surprised by this and clearly did not expect it wear off. Maybe they should have, but I'll leave that up to their R&D department and which technology they used. Space blankets might be old, but adhesive or coatings to preserve their aluminization could be quite new. Honestly, I don't know and I don't care. I'm not an engineer. I prefer the Shakespeare that I teach my students. If it turns out that the pad loses its R-value and goes back to regular NeoAir values no matter what CD does to prevent it--then I'll reconsider my choice of pad. Maybe I'll just keep it, maybe I won't. I'll decide then.

I can say this: the aluminization on my wife's XLite Women's is substantially thicker. More baffles are coated, and the coating is more robust. Perhaps this accounts for the fact that it is 1.5 oz over the advertised weight. Maybe this is a preventative that CD is using after some feedback. Maybe not. I'll keep an eye out and report something when I know more from these two pads. So far, so good.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: NeoAir XLite on 06/15/2012 22:07:56 MDT Print View

Clayton, that's interesting about the Women's version using a thicker coating. I would like to trust their R&D department too but the company has a history of issues with quality control. Not sure if their R&D is weak or if there is some disconnect between the labs and the actual manufacturing plants. The latter would be my bet if they were manufactured in Asia but sadly this is a Made In America product (which opens up a whole 'nother set of discussion points about cost and quality of products based on location of manufacture that may temper some of the economist's rhetoric).


As for the technology, they use vapor deposition to aluminize materials. They basically "spray on" the aluminum. You're right though that materials and techniques could have improved but we're still dealing with a material that is very light, very thin and very flexible. This combined with attaching a metal to a plastic basically makes the entire manufacturing problem fairly difficult to improve. Most of the improvement from my understanding has been in speed, cost and consistency of aluminization (ie uniform and smaller thicknesses) not so much in strength of bond since until recently it hasn't been that much of a design constraint.

Personally I'm still not entirely sold that the aluminum even does that much. From what I've gathered they use more baffles in the Xlites than the original neoair (5 vs 3) and it seems to make more sense that the smaller baffles cause less convection and therefore provide more of the warmth gain in the new version. I'm not sure the aluminum alone can take credit for the ~20% performance gain. So for those worried, I think a worst case scenario is you'll lose maybe 10% warmth in laboratory conditions and probably less in real world since radiation losses are so minimal compared to conduction and convection. You are paying more though for the fancier materials. Of course though CD has been very good in supporting their products and that's rare in a company, design foibles aside,

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
attack? on 06/15/2012 22:22:40 MDT Print View

"Raymond, how does my possession or lack of possession alter the validity of my statements? Your claim is simply an adhominem attack against me and therefore irrelevant to the argument."

Hey Dustin,

I am not attacking you, I responded to you. The fact that you don't own the pad you are talking about (and therefor can't really opine on with any accuracy) is what I have a problem with.

This is a gear forum. The best posts on gear forums come from people that own the gear they are talking about.

I own the pad. I stayed away from the original NeoAir for over a year as I was pis... unhappy at the expense. Then I tried it and was blown away. I used it and was impressed. Maybe you need to use it. (And it is not just the film/radiant barrier.)

Degrees? I won't go there any more than I would religion or politics. And I only have one of those three. ;-)

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Space Blankets on 06/15/2012 22:38:25 MDT Print View

I don't consider anything Dustin has said as a personal attack. I mean, he used Land Rover and 'bleeding edge technology' in the same argument so that should tell you something. No one...I mean NO ONE buys a new Land Rover because of technology (despite what you say about the electrical issues on early models, Ford definitely cleaned up the marque before they sold it in 2008 and Top Gear continues to put Land Rover at the top of their recommended list so what does that tell you?).

I am not clear on the commentary about hybrids. People don't buy economy based hybrids as the next step the evolution of the car. They buy them because of gas prices. The price of gas has driven the technology but apparently even the early adopters wouldn't do it again:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamespoulos/2012/04/24/more-people-are-buying-hybrid-cars/

"I can't believe you want examples where cost does not equal quality."

Okay, now you are just being silly. Where did I say that?

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: attack? on 06/15/2012 22:51:50 MDT Print View

Raymond, you did attack me. Just saying you didn't doesn't make it so. If you had an issue with me not owning the gear why didn't you say that instead of asking about my education or where I came up with the space blanket deduction? Also again I'm not sure how ownership of a product makes you an expert on the product's technology. Researching the technology online and the company published patent details is actually far more accurate than just sleeping on a pad.

I also find that most consumers buy based off marketing and not an actual knowledge of the product. Everyone does this. Look at your first backpacking purchases compared to what you buy now. We all have those items of gear we bought off the hype and now think "what a waste of money, I should gear swap that!" So I disagree with you that the best knowledge comes from people that own the gear. That unreasonably skews the data towards those with the financial means to buy gear instead of those that understand the technology behind the gear being made.

If you read my last post I said in real world experience most people will not notice the difference because enough design changes had been implemented between the two products to add warmth, instead of just relying on a gimmicky white wash (in other words the aluminum is there to drive sales, but the extra baffles actually contribute to the improved performance). Both the original and the xlite use radiant barrier technology, the only real difference in design is smaller baffles/more layers. There are plenty of reports and posts on this site by people that have tested the Neo-Airs that have similar conclusions that the radiant barrier provides minimal benefit in a real world situation where your sleeping movements, even breathing, cause more heat loss through convection inside any inflatable pad, than IR radiation.

I don't think it's a bad product at all. I do give you credit on your WAG that I don't own one, you're right. The only reasons I don't have one however are cost, I have an inflatable already, I live in region where inflatables are dumb (the thorny desert), and I sleep fine on CCFs for now. I was just critical of the use of space blanket type material for the baffles as being more marketing hype than beneficial.

I'm not sure where you're drawing a lot of your conclusions from other than various prejudices, but that's your issue not mine.

Dave U
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Rockies
Re: Re: attack? on 06/15/2012 22:57:41 MDT Print View

Hey guys, lets relax a bit and simply discuss. With the MIA of much of BPL staff, it will be up to the collective membership to keep discussions as civil as possible. Too many smart people on these threads with good perspective and a lot of backcountry experience.

: )