The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad Reviews

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Sleeping Pad Reviews

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad is an updated version of the original stem-valve NeoAir UberLite pad, featuring Therm-a-Rest’s new Winglock Valve, which can be used as a one-way (non-leaking) valve during inflation and a two-way valve during deflation. 

The NeoAir UberLite is the lightest and most compact pad Therm-a-Rest makes (and, as of this writing, the lightest full-length inflatable pad on the market), and offers a great comfort-to-weight ratio. Its tradeoffs are low insulative value and delicate material.

Specs at a Glance

The NeoAir UberLite is available in three different lengths and widths: a 47 x 20″ small size weighing just 6 oz, a 72 x 20″ regular size weighing 8.8 oz, and a 77 x 25″ long and wide size that weighs 12 ounces. 

Depending on your preferences and goals, all three sizes are pretty attractive in terms of weight and comfort. Note: the size regular pad we tested was 0.2 oz over its spec weight.

SizeSmallMediumLarge
R-Value2.32.32.3
Weight (Standard)6 oz8.8 oz12 oz
Weight (Metric)0.17 kg0.25 kg0.34 kg
Width (Standard)20 in20 in25 in
Width (Metric)51 cm51 cm63 cm
Length (Standard)47 in72 in77 in
Length (Metric)119 cm183 cm196 cm
Thickness (Standard)2.5 in2.5 in2.5 in
Thickness (Metric)6.4 cm6.4 cm6.4 cm
Packed dimension (Metric)15 cm x 8 cm15 cm x 9 cm19 cm x 9 cm
Packed dimension (Standard)6 in x 3.3 in6 in x 3.5 in7.5 in x 3.7 in
Top fabric type15D ripstop nylon15D ripstop nylon15D ripstop nylon
Bottom fabric type15D Nylon15D Nylon15D Nylon

The UberLite comes with a few extras that Therm-a-Rest doesn’t count when it publishes the pad’s weight specs. These include an inflation sack (2.0 oz), a repair kit (o.4 oz), and a stuff sack (0.3 oz). You don’t have to carry any of them, but if you do, they add to the overall weight of the pad.

Comfort

When blowing the UberLite up, I found it crinkly, as some of the other pads in the NeoAir line are known for. However, it was not crinkly to sleep on; not at all, because the UberLite doesn’t have the metalized baffles of the other NeoAir pads. 

While I bottomed out sitting on the pad, once I lay down I found it supportive, cushy, and very comfortable for side, stomach, and back sleeping. 

The 2.5 inches of height is substantial for cushioning you from the ground.

I’m finding that I’m gravitating more towards wide (25”) pads these days, so it felt a little narrower than what I’ve gotten used to, but no more so than any other 20” pad. 

The Large version of the UberLite is both long and wide, coming in at 12 ounces. There’s not currently an option for an UberLite Regular-Wide like there is for the other pads in the NeoAir line, but I hope it’s something Therm-a-Rest considers adding, as such an offering would shave an ounce or two off the Large version for those who don’t need the extra length.

Winglock Valve

The Winglock valve is a two-part valve, with each part opening or closing via twisting. If you open the top part (black stem) only, you have a one-way valve that allows air to enter the pad but not leak out. 

This is an improvement to Therm-a-Rest’s old stem valves that would leak air as soon as you took your mouth or a pump sack off them, and it makes it easier to inflate the pad to exactly the firmness you want. The second part of the valve consists of red “arms” that open up the valve completely to dump the air. Therm-a-Rest describes the Winglock valve as having “three times the airflow rate” of their old valves.

I didn’t notice it to inflate any faster than with their older stem valves, and while deflation was faster, it’s not as quick as flat release valves that are a big hole. You still have to push the air out by rolling. But if you’re used to having to re-roll an air pad a couple of times to get all the air out, you’ll notice that it’s easier to do a single deflating roll with the Winglock valve.

Packed size

Besides weight and comfort, the other major benefit of the UberLite is compactness. In its stuff sack, the UberLite is only 6 inches by 3.6 inches.

For a summer kit, I could easily fit this pad, an ultralight quilt, and a tarp into a daypack. I’m using the new 12 oz Therm-a-Rest’s 45F Vesper Quilt which packs down to the size of a 32-oz bottle and pairs well with the UberLite.

Durability

To max out all these metrics–comfort, weight, compactness–there has to be some tradeoff, and in the case of the UberLite, that’s durability. The UberLite is constructed with ultralight 15 denier nylon fabrics on the top and bottom, compared to 30 denier nylon on the NeoAir XLite, and the NeoAir XTherm which uses 30 denier fabric on the top and 70 deniers on the bottom. 

This means it’s important to be conscious of where you set it down, preening the area of sticks and rocks first to protect it from punctures. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to use something under the pad for protection, whether it be a ground cloth, a bivy or tent floor, or a thin foam pad (which also allows the pad to be used in lower temperatures).

Repair Kit and Stuff Sack

The pad alone is 9.0 ounces (measured by us), which is an impressive weight. It’s also important to take into account the weight of the extras that come with the pad, which, all together, bring the weight up to 11.7 ounces. 

While I’ve gone on plenty of trips with my older Therm-a-Rest Prolite pads without taking a repair kit, I wouldn’t risk that with the UberLite; I’ll bring it every time. I also always keep the pad in its stuff sack.

Inflation bag included

With the new Winglock model, the UberLite comes with a 2.0 oz inflation bag. I like to use an inflation bag with inflatable mattresses to avoid transmitting moisture into the pad via my breath, to prevent the growth of mold which can hasten pad delamination. 

Therm-a-Rest states that their studies show that breath inflation is safe with their pads, and the inside of this pad is treated with a fungicide to prevent the growth of mold. The inflation bag delicately seals to the lip of the Winglock valve and is designed to break away when the pad is full, presumably so you don’t over-inflate it. I think this is a solution in search of a problem as I’ve never over-inflated a pad before.

Despite assurances from Therm-a-Rest that breath inflation is fine, I still prefer to avoid using my breath if possible. I tried to use the inflation bag ”pumping” it up and down while connected. But because of the break-away design, I found that the inflation bag disconnected from the valve at all stages of inflation when I tried to fill the bag with my normal pumping method. 

It’s just not designed to be moved around during inflation. After this, I left the pump sack at home and was happy to shave 2 ounces off the system, but that’s just me. If you use the inflation bag as intended, you may determine that it’s worth it.

R-Value

Under the new R-Value standard, the UberLite is rated 2.3, which is described as “good for temperatures above freezing.” Nothing has been changed in the construction of the pad except for the new WingLock valve, which doesn’t have any impact on the pad’s R-value.

While R-value is a good starting point for choosing the appropriateness of a pad for the conditions you’re expecting, it’s important to “know thyself.” Are you a cold sleeper? A warm sleeper?

Different users can experience a sizable variance in terms of comfort, and a common error among novices is to have an appropriately-rated sleeping bag or quilt paired with an insufficient pad. Newer backpackers will likely want to start with a pad rated for colder temperatures than they expect to experience.

Recommendation

Who is the UberLite for? With delicate fabrics and limited warmth, the UberLite is not a “one-and-done” pad nor is it for casual users. But in the hands of a backpacker who is willing to trade durability and warmth for comfort, a very small packed size and low weight, who knows their own needs with regards to insulation, knows how to select and prepare sites that will minimize damage to their pad, and who is prepared to patch their pad or use makeshift alternatives in the case of a puncture, it could be a great addition to the pad quiver. Hopefully, Therm-a-Rest will add a Regular/Wide version to their lineup.

If you are neutral on the benefits of the Winglock valve, but excited about the low weight, small pack size, and cushy comfort of the UberLite, now is a good time to pick up one of the older versions online, as they are being significantly discounted as they are phased out.

While the UberLite looks like Therm-a-Rest’s three-season NeoAir XLite and four-season NeoAir XTherm sleeping pads, it’s made with lighter weight fabric and less insulation to save weight. 

While this does reduce its durability, the UberLite is also the quietest and least crinkly sounding sleeping pad in the NeoAir product family. That fact alone may make it worth upgrading to for existing XLite and XTherm owners who want a lighter weight summer sleeping pad.

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