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Is a thermarest "Neo-Air" actually worth the price difference?
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Yeah exped!!! on 04/09/2013 13:56:34 MDT Print View

I have been a huge fan of the exped mats for a few years now. I have had 2 hip surgeries and I sleep just fine on the synmat UL 7. I bought a downmat to help with some colder temps and I think I'm actually going to like it even more (only had it out on one trip so far)

My dad is using my old exped and big Agnes bag and the first time I got him back out on the trail (after a 20 year hiatus) he wouldn't get out of his tent...just called to us as we were eating breakfast "wow...this is more comfortable than my bed at home...I'm just going to stay here a while..."

(JRinGeorgia) - F
hip pain on 04/09/2013 15:35:41 MDT Print View

> "it really sucks in terms of hip pain when sleeping on my side."

That would make it "worth it" to me to try the NeoAir, which I recently picked up and had a great night's sleep on this past weekend.

And a $1 Instaflator saves all the huffing and puffing.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Is a thermarest "Neo-Air" actually worth the price difference? on 04/09/2013 17:40:30 MDT Print View

Late chiming in. The NeoAir has been the most comfortable for me. I'm a side sleeper and toss and turn. I think it is the direction the tubes go, not so much the pad itself. I have the original small and just received a XTherm regular for winter use, saving me 1.5 lbs. on that one item alone over my old Xped DAM9. They are surprisingly warm in cold temps too. Squish down small and are light. I ordered a Instaflator for my XTherm, the cheapest inflator and looks like a great alternative to other means. No batteries and double use as a stuff sack.

Chad "Stick" Poindexter
(Stick) - F

Locale: Wet & Humid Southeast....
Yes on 04/09/2013 17:44:04 MDT Print View

For me, yes. I love my NeoAirs... although, I wish that they still made the older Original version...

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Yes on 04/09/2013 19:05:49 MDT Print View

Adam, you could just add a dedicated pad/frame to your pack and still save weight over a Prolite Plus.

But, no, I don't imagine a NeoAir would work well as a frame. I think the key is getting enough air pressure so the pack doesn't collapse under a marginal weight. I don't think that's really possible without some kind of self-sealing valve. Then again, I've never tried it.

Chad "Stick" Poindexter
(Stick) - F

Locale: Wet & Humid Southeast....
NeoAir as a pack frame on 04/09/2013 20:01:47 MDT Print View

I have been using my NeoAir as a "pack frame" for the last year and a half and it works just fine... However, I will admit, it is not so much the pad that is actually providing any real support as much as the way that I pack my pack. I feel like with a frameless pack, packing it properly is way more important than with a pack with a frame. For me, I make sure that they items inside fill the pack and are packed in a way that makes the pack rigid. When I do this, the pad is really more of a solid back panel.

Maybe it is the lower overall weight I have been carrying, or maybe it is the way it is packed, but my frameless packs have been more comfortable for me than the framed packs...

Anyway, here is a video I did a while back on how I pack. In this video I am using the Neoair as the "frame" however in this video, I also have a 1/8" ccf pad in with it. Although, it is not like the 1/8" pad really adds much support either...

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: NeoAir as a pack frame on 04/09/2013 20:32:29 MDT Print View

Interesting. So you don't blow your pad up at all?

I used a folded 1/8" CCF for a while, and I found that it worked okay frameless, but I usually prefer a burlier frame (dual aluminum stays). How much stiffness does the NeoAir add?

Kimberly Wersal
(kwersal) - MLife

Locale: Western Colorado
Re: Re: NeoAir as a pack frame on 04/09/2013 20:46:14 MDT Print View

Has anyone used a NeoAir as a pack frame for a ULA Conduit or Ohm? I'm thinking about getting one for my honey!

Justin Mckinney
(sierrajud) - M

Locale: California
Re: Is a thermarest "Neo-Air" actually worth the price difference? on 04/09/2013 20:59:46 MDT Print View

I've had my Neo-air for 2 years now. It's the most comfortable pad I've ever had. Because you blow it up yourself, you can really set the firmness that you like. I've had no issues with it.Big thumbs up for the Neo-air !!

Chad "Stick" Poindexter
(Stick) - F

Locale: Wet & Humid Southeast....
Re: Re: NeoAir as a pack frame on 04/09/2013 21:47:55 MDT Print View


No, I don't blow up my Neo when using it in my pack. I will actually push about 95% of the air out, then fold it in half, then thirds, and it is a good fit inside either my Blast 30 pack, or my small Zero pack. I also leave the valve open.

For me, the Neo isn't really creating any stiffness or rigidness, instead, it is more of a bit of padding so to say. The stiffness and rigidness actually comes from the way I pack my pack. I can remove the Neo from my pack and still get the same results. And for me, it carries great. I think the most weight I have carried like this was around 22 lbs, and it was fine. However, my pack weight is usually in the mid teens with the Blast pack, and around 12-14 lbs in my Zero pack.

Saying this, I have found that with a low enough weight and by simply packing my pack correctly, will actually create enough stiffness to keep the pack from sagging. I think that having a flat, solid object such as an air pad can help to line things up, and overall help somewhat, but not necessarily necessary. Also, I have found that by simply letting my pack fill up will also help create a bit of rigidness. This can be done by not packing everything as small as possible and then throwing them into a pack, but by letting things that can (such as quilts and clothes) expand as much as needed inside the pack.

At least this has been my experiences...

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: NeoAir as a pack frame on 04/09/2013 21:57:39 MDT Print View

Kimberly wrote, "Has anyone used a NeoAir as a pack frame for a ULA Conduit or Ohm? I'm thinking about getting one for my honey!"

Wow, what a lucky, lucky partner you have. I wish my wife would buy me nice backpacking gear.

Harald Hope

Locale: East Bay
heh on 04/09/2013 22:59:31 MDT Print View

jimmy benson, as you can see, views vary on neo air. I can tell you that I will happily sell you mine for $85, good condition, used I think a total of 10 days or less, that's the old style yellow one. Neoair is the first mattress that made me actually long for a 3/8" closed cell sleeping pad, first time in decades anything made me think any positive thoughts about those uncomfortable closed cell foam pads, but neoair did the trick, there I was, every night, longing for anything that wasn't a neoair. Tried all the inflation levels as people recommended, but finally realized the r stuff is just totally an illusion, if you have to let x percent of the air out so that you don't feel like you're bouncing off it, then it's not creating that much air space. I gave it a one nighter then a 5 day trip, when I got home, I bought myself a prolite regular to go with my prolite short, and decided that's just fine. Trick with prolites, and I think this only works if you are reasonably light, is to slightly inflate them with a few breaths after they self inflate, then I get no ground contact, but obviously once you go over x pounds of body weight, it's going to push down too hard and you'll hit the ground. I don't. I also put a 1/8 ensolite pad under it.

I believe you could learn something by watching how people who like neoair sleep, and how much they weigh, that's my guess to figuring out why some like it and some don't. Blowing it up, by the way, is not fun, but isn't that hard either, you just pause, take a deep breath, then exhale slowly, repeat until done with a breathing break between each inflation. I'll take the prolite any day of the week.

When I got home from the 5 day trip, I talked to a non backpacking friend, and he laughed, and said, yeah, air mattresses suck, don't they? As in only air that is, no foam or feathers or whatever. So it's not a secret, and neoair isn't much different from any other (non foam filled) air mattress, if you can sleep on them, you will probably like the neo air, personally I've never seen an air mattress I liked that wasn't foam filled like the thermarest prolites and their older models, green, orange, whatever, all far more comfortable than the neoair, and all of which were and are dreams to sleep on compared to anything else for me.

As a side sleeper, I can safely say that neoair is the worst mattress I've ever used, and the only air mattress that made me long for the old closed cell foam pad, which is saying a lot. Just as others here can safely say it's the best.

Edited by hhope on 04/09/2013 23:16:10 MDT.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: heh on 04/10/2013 10:58:04 MDT Print View

And I'm another side sleeper that likes the Neoair. :P I use the short original version and am 5'8" and 160. Ill admit I've only had one other inflatable though so not much to compare to. I just wanted the lightest that would let me sleep comfortably to avoid hip pain.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Is a thermarest "Neo-Air" actually worth the price difference? on 04/10/2013 11:25:40 MDT Print View

That's why there are so many brands, styles, something for everyone. Makes me also think that the NeoAir lineup seems to be the standard, weight and R-value wise. I can't suffer thru the hardness of a ZRest, Nightlight or the like, they are too hard for my shoulders. I'm 6', 160 lbs. or so. I think people who are too heavy or curvy may need something besides a air mattress, at least as thin as the regular NeoAir is.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Is a thermarest "Neo-Air" actually worth the price difference? on 04/10/2013 14:13:50 MDT Print View

Another vote for NeoAirs!!

Side sleeper- original Neo short
Eventually getting two Xlite longs for couples quilt (how many years will I say this w/out getting one?) for luxury bed.

"This is where the magic happens"

"Let me introduce you to my son, Scarp."

jimmy benson
(biggyshorty) - F
thank you. on 04/10/2013 17:07:52 MDT Print View

This is has been a fascinating thread, thank you! While I agree that all have their o (e?) pinions, between here and the rest of the web I feel like my OCD would be set off by two key pieces of the NeoAir, the noise and the lack of durablity. Whether the latter is simply perceived or accurate, has really thrown me off.

I tend to be pretty aggressive with my gear, even expensive stuff - in fact, probably more, since I expect it to be hardier! - and I don't want to worry about the Neoair, again, even if it is just a confirmation bias.

I'll stick with my Prolite or even move to a ProlitePlus which is slightly heavier but seems to be substantially thicker for side sleepers... Thanks all!

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: thank you. on 04/10/2013 17:32:41 MDT Print View

Fwiw they make non ul versions of the neoair. Camper series or something. Material is not plastic-ey so tougher and quieter

Philip Marshall
(philthy) - MLife
neoair noise on 04/10/2013 18:39:59 MDT Print View

I had heard so much moaning about the crinkly noise of neoairs that I was loathe to get one, as was my wife. I finally bit the bullet and got an xlite (my wife was NOT happy to see it - she was expecting the noise to disturb her), and was really pleasantly surprised with how little noise it makes. Sure it crinkles/rustles a little bit, but it doesnt have the chip packet feel/sound that people have reported. So I wouldnt let the threat of noise stop you.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: neoair noise on 04/10/2013 18:55:33 MDT Print View

I agree- not much noise from either the original or xtherm

comfort- short of home nothing comes close

reliability- my original (wife's as well) is going into it's fourth season w/ not even the slightest of leaks, the real testimony is the 100's (1000's????) that have survived the AT/CDT/PCT- can't use them much harder than a multi-month thru hike

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: neoair noise on 04/10/2013 19:14:52 MDT Print View

+1 for not noticing the noise (+2 counting my wife)

...but I know people think they hear it so I alluded to it.