I recently had a conversation with Jennifer Walker at Cascade Designs about the wild camping and ultra light camping I have been doing; she very decently posted out a Thermarest Neoair Xlite to me to use and review.
I have been using a Thermarest 3/4 lite for the past 15 years now and have been very happy with it, so I was interested to see any progression from Thermarest.
I was gobsmacked.
When it arrived I thought I had been shipped an empty box – the Xlite was around 450 grams lighter than my existing mattress. The astonishment continued when I inflated it. My 3/4 is a very short mattress in order to conserve weight; if my head is on it, then almost all my legs are not on the mattress at all – the Xlite is full length. I have no idea how they made it around 750mm longer and still made it so much lighter.
Visual inspection complete, I then laid on them both, side by side. The Xlite is over twice the thickness, and so insulates from the ground so much better. I wanted to find out how it worked in the real world, so in my bag it went.
For size reference, here is a Coke can, The NeoAir Xlite and the Thermarest 3/4 lite. As you can see, the far longer and thicker Xlite is far smaller than the 3/4.
I cycled into the wilds and strung up my hammock and tarp, inflated the Xlite and settled in for the night. As I was in a hammock, there is a tendency for the night to be affected by a cold back, many hammock users carry an under-quilt to stop this.
There was zero need at all. I was warm, comfortable and very very happy all evening.
The ONLY negative I can give for the Neoair is that it is not self inflating. After over a decade of using a self inflating 3/4 it was odd to have to get blowing (there is an inflator available, but as an ultralight weight nerd I will continue to blow).
I have been loaned the Xlite for up to 6 weeks and then I have to return it. After my first night on it, I will miss it. I truly don’t want to go back to the 3/4. So once my penny jar fills up, I will be buying a Neoair.