Born to sleep wild? Thermarest's NeoAir XLite is here to make camping adventures far from home that little bit more comfortable. One of the lightest, most compact and generally best camping mats on the market, the NeoAir is designed to take up as little space as possible in your backpack, then inflate to offer you a comfy night's sleep in the great outdoors. Pair it with one of the best lightweight sleeping bags for a perfect backpacker's bed. Here's our Thermarest's NeoAir XLite camping mat review.
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Thermarest NeoAir XLite camping mat review: design and features
Even dedicated ultralight campers will get on with the compact size of the NeoAir – this mat weighs 354g and packs down to the size of a water bottle, so it'll fit easily into any backpack or bike pannier (and also slots into the water bottle pocket of most rucksacks). Despite that barely-there weight, the NeoAir inflates into a comfy, sturdy mat that keeps campers well of the ground, holds its form at night and has a high R rating (the rating of how warm a camping mat will keep you) of 4.2, making it a good all-season choice.
The downside to choosing an inflatable mat over a foam-based mat for far-flung adventures is, of course, that they can puncture, but the Thermarest has stood the test of time so far on our tests, and does come with a repair kit for on-the-go fixes.
Thermarest NeoAir XLite camping mat review: performance and comfort
We've managed to test the NeoAir out in all seasons and on all kinds of camping adventures, and we're now paid-up members of its fan club. Unfurl the mat from its small pack and it's quick and easy to inflate – it doesn't take more than a minute using lung power, and a one-way nozzle helps further to save your breath. The NeoAir also deflates quickly and is easy to fold up and pop back in its stuff sack – this definitely can't be said for all the lightweight mats we tested, and really helps make breaking camp less of a hassle.
Once it's bedtime, the NeoAir is impressively comfortable, offering a firm but supportive surface to sleep on. Side sleepers often get short-changed by camping mats, but the NeoAir will hold you in place and well away from the ground, however you sleep. On test we found it kept us warm and insulated even in winter, and it's suitable for camping year-round as well as for cold mountain adventures. Light sleepers may not be fans, though. The NeoAir isn't totally silent, and you'll hear it creak and crinkle if you toss and turn in the night.
Camping mats usually measure around 185cm in height by about 50cm in width – a 'one size fits most' situation – but the Thermarest NeoAir goes further to cater to individual campers. Other sizes available besides the 'regular', which measures 183cm by 51cm, include 'small', 'regular wide' and 'large' as well as a women's version of the mat (which is both shorter and warmer, as women tend to sleep colder then men).
Thermarest NeoAir XLite sleeping pad review: verdict
As Thermarest claims, the NeoAir offers 'minimal pack size, maximum performance', and we were suitably convinced after many nights of using it in the great outdoors. Dedicated wild campers and multi-day hikers who need a light, portable and comfortable mat will love the NeoAir XLite, which we reckon is one of the best lightweight camping mats on the market. Casual campers can pick something simpler and cheaper.