Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Review 2016/05/12
In the coldest of seasons you really do need a proper camping
mattress. Sometimes when it's warmer you can get away with it. However
when the temperature drops well below freezing it's time to get
serious. In this full review and field test we will look at the
new Thermarest NeoAir XTherm.
The Thermarest NeoAir XTherm packs up small, is so warm and is
incredibly light! It seems very positive for the latest NeoAir but
let’s see how it worked in a frozen northern Sweden.
The Thermarest NeoAir XTherm is now the 5th NeoAir I have. Looking back
over the years the designs have improved and diversified somewhat but
the basic idea is still the same. The NeoAir contains nothing but air
held in place by internal baffles (called the Triangular Core Matrix)
and in some models reflective material that helps in heat retention
(ThermaCapture). I maintain that its one of the better solutions for
camping out as it offers such comfort and warmth in a very small pack
size. I have been using them exclusively for many years now, I am a side
sleeper and back sleeper but have found the NeoAir to be
comfortable in both positions.
There is of course the concern of popping one especially at first they
appear to be like a big expensive crisp packet but I can attest to their
durability as I have not had any issues with them popping over several
years of use. The popping danger is a risk associated with ANY air
mattress so before pitching a NeoAir or alternative always check the
ground for thorns and sharp objects etc. This will not only protect the
mattress but also your tent or groundsheet. The Thermarest NeoAir XTherm
offers (at time of writing) the greatest warmth to weight ratio of any
mat from Thermarest. It achieves this by using multiple layers of
reflective material (ThermaCapture) to reflect heat back towards the
user, see graphic below.
The Triangular Core Matrix minimises
air flow within the air mattress which in turn prevents convective heat
loss. In actual terms it stops the warm air close to you sinking to the
ground where it becomes cool. This process if left unchecked would
rapidly cool you overnight as your heat would be progressively lost to
At 430g for the regular size it’s a very lightweight offering but
has durability with its use of nylon all over the product, both top
and bottom. The new face fabric on the current season NeoAir line up
feels very robust indeed for a lightweight material. The way a material
feels is of course highly subjective however the feel of 30d rip nylon
on the top has a tough feel to it and this coupled with the 70d rip
nylon on the base give added reassurance. The NeoAir experience for
those new to it does require a slight adjustment to one’s own camping
routine. What I mean by this is that NeoAir’s are not so good for
sitting on as the air is displaced when just your bum is supporting your
whole body weight. So when you are sitting in your tent I let some of
the air out as it seems to increase the comfort somewhat but when it is
time to bed down I will re inflate the mat again.
In real world use the XTherm is very warm indeed, but of course staying
warm outdoors in cold conditions is both a factor of the sleeping bag
and indeed the roll mat, both play their part. Biviing and camping out
in -20° C Thermarest here in the UK are all made in Ireland, they
are all inflated and checked for defects before they leave the factory!
This is simply unheard of from other manufacturers and a sign of quality
and after sales care from the brand. The lifetime warranty is again
something that sets this brand apart, you can buy with confidence.