THERM-A-REST NEOAIR MATTRESS
BY STEVEN M. KIDD
January 03, 2010
NAME: Steven M. Kidd
LOCATION: Franklin, TN
HEIGHT: 5' 9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)
Backpacking Background: I've been a backpacker on and off for over 25
years. I backpacked as a Boy Scout, and then again almost every month in my
20's while packing and average weight of 50+ lbs. In the last two years
I've gained a renewed enthusiasm for the back country. I generally go on
one or two night outings and now try to average a 30 lb pack.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "neoair" IMAGE CAPTION = "NeoAir in Stuff
Manufacturer: Therm-a-Rest (Cascade Designs)
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://thermarest.com" LINK
TEXT = "Therm-a-Rest Website">>
Listed Weight:14 oz (410 g)
Measured Weight: 14.3 oz (405 g)
Size Tested: 20 in x 72 in x 2.5 in (51 cm x 183 cm x 6 cm)
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir is marketed as an ultra lightweight air mattress.
It is part of the "Fast & Light" series produced by Cascade Designs. It has
a 2.5 R-Value and is marketed to be three times warmer than other
uninsulated pads. The NeoAir also stores at the size of a one liter bottle.
I read about the NeoAir in a magazine review that raved over the product.
I've used a Therm-a-Rest Ultralite 3/4 pad or a REI Corelite pad for nearly
a decade. The weight and packed size were what intrigued me about the
product. They were virtually impossible to be found and on back order
through most websites in the spring of 2009. On a stop at the local REI
one happened to have been returned unused. I purchased the pad with my 20%
member savings discount.
Upon testing it at in doors it felt extremely thin and I was concerned about
the durability. It took a great deal more effort than foam pads to inflate.
It was like blowing up an inflatable for the pool. The bulk of my
backpacking is done in the fall and winter, so I was concerned about R
rating. With some concerns stored the mattress with my gear.
My initial field use was on three day, two night trip in Cherokee National
Forest near Lake Watauga, Tennessee along the Appalachian Trail from 21 - 23
August 2009. The temperature during the day was in the between 75 F and 79
F (23 C - 26 C). We were hiking throughout the majority of each day we
didn't typically set camp until late afternoon. This alleviated the need to
under inflate the pad as the manufacturer suggest when there is potential
The first day of hiking consisted of an 1100 ft (335 m)climb and decent in
less than one mile (1.61 km). After making camp and eating I was exhausted
and made my way to bed. I was very careful to clear the area under my tent
from twigs, nuts etc. as I was still concerned about the NeoAir's
durability. I laid on the pad and immediately noticed how how comfortable
and stable I felt. The 2.5 in (6 cm) thickness and the horizontal baffles
worked wonders. It was the first time in a decade that I slept completely
through the night without stirring or rearranging in the woods. I had
purchased the NeoAir for weight and storage savings, but after the initial
night's test believed the comfort was without a doubt the key selling point
to this pad. When I did uninflate the pad and roll it, it took very little
time. I pushed the air out with and initial roll, unrolled it and rolled
the mattress once again. It disappeared in my older Therm-a-Rest Ultalite
The second night we set camp right on Lake Watauga at 1959 feet (597 m),
temperature conditions were similar to the first night. One of my
backpacking buddies had a Therm-a-Rest Trail pad that he placed into a camp
seat. I was and still would be concerned to do this with the NeoAir as the
materials are so thin, however due to the terrain I had to set the tent and
mattress up on numerous pebbles and small rocks. That evening a bear entered
our camp and had a torrential downpour not started we may have never
retreated to our tents. This evening adrenaline kept me from falling asleep
quickly, but while laying awake for over an hour I again found the NeoAir an
super comfortable rest pad. I had no noise issues with the pad.
Winter Field Test:
The NeoAir is not rated as a winter pad, but I wanted to test the limits of
the pad. In October 2009 I had tested the pad at 36 F (2 C) and found it to
be comfortable for me. I did notice that when I moved around during the
night there was a coolness to the pad for a few minutes. I attribute this
to the reflective nature of the mattress. At no time was I uncomfortable or
From 28 - 30 December 2009 I took the NeoAir on a true winter test on the
Fiery Gizzard Trail in the South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee. The
trail and campsites follow the rim of a gulf and are a fairly consistent
1720 ft (524 m). Daytime temperatures hovered around freezing and evening
temperatures on night one dropped to 21 F (-6 C) and 24 F (-4 C) on the
second night. My tent was my usual REI Quarter Dome T2, and my sleeping bag
was a Montbell UL SS #1. It is rated at 15 F (-9 C). I also used a silk bag
liner that is rated to give an additional 7 F (13 C) in warmth and a pair of
silk long underwear.
During the two night test I was never cold. In fact I was comfortable and
warm. My backpacking buddy who was also using a NeoAir for the first time
and using similar equipment stated he was also comfortable, but he would not
use the pad if it was expected to be any colder than the conditions we were
in. By this trip I had purchased the correct stuff sack and the correct
repair kit. It dissappears in my pack and the total weight with sack,
repair kit and pad is 15 oz (425 g).
Overall, I have been very impressed with the NeoAir. I purchased the
sleeping pad with weight savings and smaller storage in mind. However,
after using the pad in both warm and cold weather environments I have found
the comfort level is the best selling feature for me. Even at a 20%
discount I found the pad costly, yet of all the lightweight gear I've
acquired over the last year I consider this the best value. I would prefer
is Therm-a-Rest included the stuff sack and repair kit, as many competitors
do with their products. The pad does require the "Fast & Light" series
repair kit. I mentions this in the instructions, but not overtly. I could
not find the kit at any local outdoor retailers and had to order it online
where shipping was at a premium.
As with most new ultralight gear I would recommend taking extra gentle
precautions in handling and using. After a half dozen nights in varying
conditions I would certainly recommend this product.
THINGS I LIKE
THINGS I DON'T LIKE
Repair Kit & Stuff Sack not included
Steven M. Kidd
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.
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