Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad Review
Therm-a-Rest has made some of the most popular sleeping pads for almost as long as anyone can remember. Their lineup covers the gamut, from super cushy car camping mattresses to the classic accordion foam pad.
In recent years, their NeoAir XLite has become what many refer to as the standard sleeping pad for ultralight backpacking. And new for this year, they’ve made some adjustments to one of the most beloved sleeping pads of the past decade. Introducing the NeoAir XLite NXT, the latest and greatest version of an all-time great.
NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad At-a-Glance
- MSRP: $199.95-239.95
- Weight: 11.5-17 ounces
- R-Value: 4.5
- Thickness: 3 inches
- 83% Quieter than previous model
Circumstance of Review
I was able to get my hands on the large version of this pad (I’m 6’) to test out this spring. I did a 5-day section hike of the AT in Northern Virginia in late March, as well as the entire Sheltowee Trace Trail over the last 2 weeks of April.
In total, I have spent about 3 weeks sleeping using this pad. Most of my nights were in my tent, but I did spend a couple in AT shelters, as well as one sleeping in a stone pavilion in a park. My nighttime temperatures were between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 and 10 Celsius).
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NeoAir XLite NXT Features
- Winglock Valve: This valve system allows for 1-way air flow during inflation while still keeping the pad simple and efficient to deflate.
- Four Size Options: Regular Small (20 x 66 inches | 11.5 ounces | $199.95), Regular (20 x 72 inches | 13 ounces | $209.95), Regular Wide (25 x 72 inches | 16 ounces | $219.95), and Large (25 x 77 inches | 17 ounces | $239.95)
- Two Color Options: Solar Flair or Lemon Curry (Regular Short version not available in Lemon Curry)
- Goodies Included: Pump sack, stuff sack, and field repair kit.
- Three Inches Thick: The NXT is half an inch thicker than the previous model, which allows for more flexibility in adjusting firmness.
- Warmer: The R-Value has increased from 4.2 to 4.5. While this may seem like a minor increase, it is a step in the direction of making this a true all-season sleeping pad. Paired with a decent sleeping bag or quilt, the NXT is ready for most trips not in winter.
- Unisex: Previous versions of the NeoAir XLite were available in both men’s and women’s models, with the latter being both shorter and warmer. The NXT is for everyone and is available in more sizes as a result.
Arguably the biggest upgrade to this pad is that it is significantly quieter than its predecessor. For years, the NeoAir XLite has been dinged for its noisiness, which some liken to sleeping on a crinkly bag of chips. I’ve encountered many hikers who opted for other pads simply because they couldn’t stand the noise, and this one issue has kept many hikers away from what is otherwise regarded as one of, if not the best pad on the market. No wonder Therm-a-Rest decided to address it.
How did they do it? A lot of the NeoAir XLite’s R-value is derived from what the company calls “thermacapture.” This featherweight reflective film does a great job of preventing heat loss through radiation, but in the past has been the main source of unwanted crinkliness. A newer version is drastically quieter and combines with the triangular core matrix to keep this one of the warmest and lightest pads on the market (Therm-a-Rest has a great video explaining all of this).
What Do You Mean “83% Quieter?”
This was definitely one of my biggest questions after seeing this claim, and fortunately, there’s a great answer. Therm-a-Rest tested different versions of the NeoAir XLite in an anechoic chamber, which is a noise-reduction room that eliminates echoes. Using microphones, they measured pressure waves produced when dropping kettlebells on the pads. Therm-a-Rest then arrived at the 83% figure by comparing the wave peaks between pad models (again, there’s a great video on this). In short, science.
The noise difference between the previous model and the NXT is nothing short of extreme. I would even go as far as saying that 83% noise reduction feels like a modest number — this pad is virtually silent. I was never bothered by the sound of the old model in the first place and got so used to it that I barely noticed it anyway. Still, the silence of the NXT is deafening.
Additionally, everything else that was great about the former model carried over: the inflation valve is streamlined and simple, the pad is comfortable, and I even think the new material is softer.
Nothing Is Perfect
I did have one small issue: my pad developed a leak within the first week of use. While this may seem like a huge red flag, I think that context is important. After reading through a lot of reviews of the NXT, this doesn’t seem to be an issue for other folks. Every once in a while a pad is just faulty, and I think that this was the case with mine.
And for what it’s worth, patching a pinhole leak with the included kit can produce a permanent and effective repair for those who don’t mind getting rowdy in a bathtub or lake. Or if you want to leave it to the pros, Therm-a-Rest operates a repair program that will breathe new life into your punctured pad for a very reasonable cost.
In my case, I had to wake up 1-2 times over the course of a night to plump up my pad, but after 2+ weeks, the issue never got any worse. Obviously, this is something you never want to see in a sleeping pad, but I hope and expect my experience to be the exception. In six months of sleeping on my older model, I never dealt with any leaks.
NeoAir XLite NXT Pros
- Quiet: The updated XLite NXT’s main selling point easily tops this list. Now that the crinkly noise issue has been addressed, there’s no holding it back.
- Comfortable: Three inches is a lot of cushion for such a lightweight pad. It helps to keep the user far enough from the ground no matter how soft or firm they like it. It’s no sleep number bed, but it does the trick.
- Lightweight: This pad maximizes the weight-to-comfort ratio. You won’t find a cushier, warmer pad at this weight.
- Warm: An R-Value of 4.5 squeezes this pad into the 4-season category. Paired with the right sleeping bag or quilt, the NXT might be adequate for year-round applications.
NeoAir XLite NXT Cons
- Expensive: Starting at $200 is a tough look. It’s a great pad, but that’s a major chunk out of a gear budget that could be used on other big-ticket items. The price point definitely makes this a premium product and might be out of reach for some.
- Heavier: Unfortunately, improvements often come with a cost. In this case, Therm-a-Rest added roughly one ounce to each of the pad sizes.
- Inconsistent Quality(?): I hate to let my lone experience be the final word on the durability of this pad, but also, that’s kinda what gear reviews are for, right? I suspect my pad picked up its tiny puncture in an AT shelter (while on a ground sheet). Is this material/construction less durable than its predecessor? Am I just horribly unlucky? Let’s hope for the latter because everything else about this pad really is awesome.
Therm-a-Rest is the top dog when it comes to sleeping pads, and with the latest improvements to an already extremely popular pad, they just made themselves even more competitive. I hate that mine leaked, but that risk is always a reality when it comes to an inflatable pad, no matter how perfect it seems, or how much one babies it.
Hopefully, this is rare with the NXT because otherwise, it checks all the boxes. I thought that the comfort was top-notch for an inflatable this light, and the quieter thermacapture technology is worth the hype. For these reasons, I fully expect this to be the most popular pad on the trail among those who can afford the best.
Similar Sleeping Pads
Nemo Tensor Series
Weight: 14-18 ounces
Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Deluxe
Weight: 25 ounces
Big Agnes Rapide SL Insulated Sleeping Pad
Weight: 18-26 ounces
Disclaimer: This Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT was donated for the purpose of review.
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