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Reader Reviews

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Therm-a-Rest Neoair

in Sleeping Pads - Inflatable

Average Rating
3.67 / 5 (6 reviews)

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Greg Mihalik
( greg23 - M )

Therm-a-Rest Neoair on 04/18/2009 10:35:11 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

This rating reflects use below 40° F. For summer use it could go much higher.

I have wanted to try the Therm-A-Rest Neoair (72"), hoping it would be both light and warm.

I've been thrashing between sleeping pad comfort, warmth, and weight. I also wanted to find a lower limit to a lightweight quilt. My wife is travelling so I can test sleeping gear on the back porch, getting up multiple times to swap gear or clothes with impunity.

When ground temperatures are above 45°F it's easy. A piece of generic ¼" blue closed-cell-foam (CCF) on a Big Anges Clearview, and a Montbell #5 Long, converted to a quilt, works for me. For ground temperatures between 45° and 30° I have used a ¾ Thermarest LE (2.5" thick, 25 ounces) and, this year, a Golite Ultra 20 for the top. I use the CCF for pack padding, for sitting around camp, and as part of my sleep system.

The back porch is brick under a 9' high roof. The brick sees little sunlight and is now about 38°. The roof affords relief from radiant loss, but does nothing for wind. On the first night, even though I was 12' from the west edge and 6' from the north edge, I got snowed on.

On both nights I started out warm, rested, well fed, and hydrated. I tend to sleep on my right side, but go to the left on occasion, which makes me a tosser and turner. Being rested is not an advantage. Being exhausted from a long trail day makes my nights go faster, and if well fed, warmer. I am a cool sleeper with an erratic thermostat.

For the initial setup for the first night I placed the #5 quilt over the Neoair in a Titanium Goat Ptarmigan bivy, all on top of the generic ¼" CCF. I started in tall trail socks, Montbell UL down pants, a REI lightweight long sleeved zip top, a Cocoon Hoody, and a fleece hat.

The night went like this -

As recorded on a Brunton WindPro, air temperatures were 38° to 35°. On several occasions I cross-checked temperatures with our cheap outdoor digital thermometer and they were within a degree of each other. It was breezy at times.

10:00 – 10:30
The Ptarmigan was to constricting with the Rectangular 2.5" thick Neoair, so I went to a MYOG bivy.

10:00 – 10:30
I was too hot in the Montbell UL Down Pants, so I went to old Capilene1 long johns.

10:30 – 12:30
Slept soundly. Warm on top. OK on bottom, but aware of the cool bottom.

12:30 – 04:00
Cold from the bottom woke me. Changed to the LE and the RidgeRest at 4am.

04:00 – 07:00
Slept OK. I had a cool spot at small of my back, regardless of which side I was sleeping on. Plenty warm on the bottom. So I slept on my back.

Throughout the night, until 4am, I paid attention to what felt warm and what felt cool. And the Neoair definitely felt cool. And the "down hip" felt the coolest. I inflate my pads only enough to avoid contact, so the down hip was only ¼" and maybe 3 layers of fabric away from the CCF and cold brick. "Radiation Barrier" and "Small Cells" aside, the Neoair didn't provide much insulation. When I went to the LE/RidgeRest there was a noticeable sensation of warmth on the bottom.

From four to seven my thoughts shifted to how well the #5 quilt was doing. And it did OK. If not for the cool spot in the small of my bag (mystery) I would say it did great.

The second night, expected to be colder, went like this –

Temperatures ranged from 35° to 25°, averaging 28° from 2am to 7am, including a dip to 25°. It remained calm all night.

For the initial setup I placed the #5 quilt in the MYOG bivy over the Neoair, all on top of generic ¼" CCF. A change from the first night was to firmly inflate the Neoair, to "use it as designed". Prior posts by Mr. Nisley suggest that an "overinflated" pad is a warmer pad.

I started in tall trail socks, Capilene 1 long johns, Montbell UL down pants, a REI lightweight long sleeved zip top, a Cocoon Hoody, and a fleece hat, and wore everything throughout the night.

10:30 – 03:00
Slept soundly. Became aware of the cool bottom.

03:00 – 04:00
Restless sleep.

04:00 – 05:00
Very aware of the cool bottom. Slept little. Changed to the LE and RidgeRest at 5am.

05:00 – 07:00
Bottom felt warm. Attention shifted to the #5 quilt on top. Slept OK, with some cool spots on top.

The Neoair definitely got cooler as the night progressed. Again, the "down hip" felt the coolest, over a larger area due to the firm inflation. I bailed when my thighs also began to feel cool. Given that it was about 10° colder than the preceding night, I would say that over inflation does make a difference. When I went to the LE/RidgeRest there was a noticeable sensation of warmth on the bottom.

From five to seven my thoughts shifted to how well the #5 quilt was doing. Temps during this period were recorded as 27° and 25°. Sleeping on my side my butt was the cool spot, but not enough of an issue to keep me awake. I slept well, which is amazing given that I had gotten up, turned on lights, reassembled gear, and rearranged on the porch pile. The #5 quilt worked well for me, though with considerable help from supplemental clothing.

Neoair noise was not an issue for me, the sleeper. It will be if my wife is trying to sleep beside me. The Neoair Is crinkly. But wearing a Hoody, in a bivy , under a rustling quilt, the Neoair blends right in. Even on the first night wearing just a fleece hat it was a non-issue. (But that owl continuously whistling 3 times a second ALL night long got a little old.)

The Neoair was comfortable. The magic is in the latitudinal versus lengthwise arrangement of the smaller tubes. I was surprised that I preferred the firm inflation. If I approached an edge I could feel things tipping, but I typically stay centered. I found it more comfortable than a Clearview or POE Ether minimally inflated.

Conclusion: Comfort and weight don't trump warmth. I'm still looking for that perfect air mattress.

Edited by greg23 on 04/18/2009 14:18:58 MDT.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Montbell Down Pant - Men's priced at: $150.00 - $159.95
Montbell UL Down Pants - Women's priced at: $160.00
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir priced at: $90.95 - $112.45
Shop Brunton, Cocoon, Comfort, Given, GoLite, Rei products at GearBuyer
Mark Mendell
( mmendell - M )

Worth the money on 04/18/2009 14:55:26 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I tested a size regular NeoAir for a week in Canyonlands NP, April 6-10, 2009. Nightime lows in the 30's two nights, mid-20's one night, and 40's another. I was in an WM Alpinlite and slept under on tarp. Ground temps were pretty warm...certainly warmer than one would find in spring or fall alpine environments with similar air temps. I'm a 46 year old male and typically a side or stomach sleeper.

My quick review is a bit tainted by the fact that mine came with a pinhole. CD has it and is replacing it now. I'll be able to edit the review once I get my replacement.

My comparative experience is with the Prolite Series, which I found uncomfortable, and most recently the Big Agnes Insulated Aircore.

Overall, I found the NeoAir very comfortable. Support is very good, even in the lumbar regions of my back. It feels much more stable then any "blow-up" mattress I've tried. Because of the somewhat tacky surface of the mattress, it stayed put on my Tyvek ground cloth, and I was able to stay put on top of the mattress. Some folks have complaints about the noise if sounds a bit "crinkly" when it isn't inflated, but absolutely wasn't an issue once inflated.

I have serious reservations about the R-value claims of the BAAC, although I've always blown it up with my mouth, which will reduce r-value some.

I consider myself a cold sleeper, and found the NeoAir comfortable on the nights into the 30's. I felt the need to add a GG thinlite pad beneath it on the night in the 20's, but then was fine. Thermarest recommends using the pad below the NeoAir rather than above. I've had many cold nights in my BAAC with temps in the 30's.

It's expensive, but to me it outperforms the BAAC in weight savings, warmth, and comfort. Mine weighs in at 14.6, and my BAAC at 25.3. I was so unhappy with the performance of my BAAC that I was seriously considering adding another 6 oz to my pack and moving to an Exped DAM.

It's worth the extra coin to me.

As stated above, my only complaint with the NeoAir was that I had to add a couple of puffs of air once or twice during the night.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir priced at: $90.95 - $112.45
Therm-a-Rest ProLite - Women's priced at: $57.34 - $119.95
Western Mountaineering AlpinLite priced at: $409.95 - $479.95
Shop Big Agnes, Exped, Tyvek products at GearBuyer
Richard Gless
( rgless )

San Francisco Bay Area
ThermaRest NeoAir Size Small on 05/01/2009 21:55:21 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I recently bought size small ThermaRest NeoAir Pads for both my wife and I. We were particularly interested in reducing pack weight while retaining or improving comfort. My wife went from a ThermaRest 5/8 inch thick foam pad to an InsulMat 2.5 inch thick air mattress about 5 years ago because as she got older she just couldn’t sleep on the foam pad without having very sore hips in the morning. About three years ago I began having the same problem, and, in spite of trying several pads, just can’t survive a foam pad for more than a couple of nights. I moved to a ThermaRest GuideLite ¾ length pad that is 1 inch thick and find it very comfortable. Both my wife (5’4”) and I (5’ 11”) are side sleepers and pull our knees up so the size small 20 x 47 inch pads are very adequate and comfortable. We share a JRB quilt in a cozy two-man tent when we camp.

After a couple of nights of sleeping on the new pads, we have the following initial impressions:

Crinkly sound: my wife was afraid the noise she made when moving around would keep me awake. I never heard a sound and didn’t find the slight bit of noise to be a problem. My wife thought it was a minor irritant.

Sticky pad: the pad stuck tight to the tent floor and didn’t slide around. The tent we used was made of regular ripstop nylon. We haven’t tried this pad in a silnylon tent yet. My wife felt the stickiness was a bit uncomfortable on bare skin. I always sleep in pants and long sleeve shirt so didn’t notice anything.

Temperature issues: We haven’t used the pads below about 45’F yet and have had no problems with the pads being plenty warm.

Design: My wife finds the horizontal tubes much more comfortable than the vertical tubes of the InsulMat Pad.

Weight: My wife’s InsulMat weighed 17.5 oz. The NeoAir small weighs 9.3 oz (mine was 9.4 oz), so she has an 8 oz (47%) weight reduction. My GuideLite weighs 13oz so I have a 4 oz (28%) weight reduction. Given we’re both have sub 8 lb base weights, this is a pretty substantial reduction.

Durability: This is still a question for us. We both make a cylinder with our pads inside our packs and stuff the rest of our gear inside the pad cylinder. After we’re packed up, we inflate the pad to give some rigidity to the pack and form a “frame”. Given the apparent “fragileness” of this pad, I will carry a repair kit on longer trips.

It will be interesting to see how durable these pads are. I think they are certainly worth the cost (especially with discounts and free shipping sometimes available) for the improvement in weight and comfort. Pending an assessment of durability we give this pad a 4 out of 5.

Price comparison from GearBuyer:
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir priced at: $90.95 - $112.45
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Small priced at: $79.98 - $129.95
Shop Given products at GearBuyer
Pedro Arvy
( PedroArvy )

5 for temps down to 40F on 09/05/2009 19:49:36 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I am a side sleeper and have used the Prolite 3 and normally a 3/4 length Prolite 4 but find the NeoAir to be far more comfortable.

If you blow up the NeoAir on a warm sunny day you will find that it seems to loose air as the night cools. After a warmish day, I typically find the NeoAir to be somewhat under inflated by the time I go to bed around sunset. This is not a manufacturing flaw, it is simply the effect of the air in the NeoAir cooling and thus decreasing its pressure. Three quick breathes usually fixes the problem. I have not found that you need to get up during the night to further increase the air pressure but have only used the NeoAir with temperatures down to 40F (5 degrees Celsius).

Use of this pad in snow conditions seems pretty stupid to me. This is NOT a snow pad.

I did not find the pad noisy and neither did either of my 2 fellow hikers who also purchased the pad for 10 days of hiking in Washington.

Also, I find the width spot on and can’t understand BPLs narrow width assessments. My fellow hikers agree on this point, there was not one complaint about a lack of width.

I am pretty critical with my gear ratings but have to rate this a very rare 5 for temperatures down to 40. Below that I can’t comment.

Shop USE products at GearBuyer
Nate Meinzer
( Rezniem )

San Francisco
Performs well when it performs at all on 03/30/2010 01:51:11 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I've used this pad in 3-season conditions and it will get you down to freezing easily. It's very comfortable, light, and compact. About as comfortable as a Big Agnes Air Core, but a little less so, I've found.

My main beef is that they pop leaks EXTREMELY easily. A pine needle, pebble, or something in your pack can create a small hole that will ruin your trip.

I've seen this happen both to my and my partners pad, and they weren't "well used" at the time it happened. We easily repaired them using duct tape, but man, what a bummer to sleep on the ground for a night and wake up stiff and tired. Compared to my Big Agnes pad, which took years and years of abuse and is *still* going, I'm not very impressed and thinking about switching to a more robust pad.

Shop Big Agnes products at GearBuyer
James D Buch
( rocketman )

Great summer backpack mattress on 04/28/2010 19:41:05 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 5 / 5

I used this for a 30 day hike on the Appalachian Trail June thru July 2009 in WV and VA.

I quickly found that best comfort comes from slightly less than full inflation. The nights were about equally split between tent and shelter.

There was some noise from the fabric rubbing on skin and shelter floors. I did find that a ground cloth cut down the floor noise a bit. It never woke me up or disturbed others.

The weight savings were good, as well as the size savings of the smaller packed size.

I didn't find that the amount of huffing and puffing to blow up the 48" short mattress was a big drain of time or effort. Deflating the mattress went pretty much along the same lines as my normal deflation of the older regular Thermarest.

I carried the repair kit but never came close to needing it. I did spend a little more time in cleaning the sleeping site than normal, because of the lightness of the new item.

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