Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad Review
Warmer, Thicker, Comfier, Quieter | Best Backpacking Sleeping Pad of 2023
New for 2023, the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT is currently the undisputed best performance sleeping pad for backpacking that money can buy, and it has no equal. It is statistically superior in almost every way and across all measurements when compared to all other sleeping pads.
- Price: $210 | Weight: 13.0 oz
- R-Value: 4.5 | R-Value/Weight: .35
- Thickness: 3” | Fabric: 30d
- Sizes: Regular Short, Regular, Regular Wide, Large
- Pros: Comfy. Thick. Ultralight. Very High R-Value-to-weight.
- Cons: Expensive.
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NeoAir XLite NXT Construction & Features
NXT’s R-Value of 4.5 is one of the highest among three season pads, and with a weight of only 13.0 oz, it’s also one of the very lightest. It’s so far ahead of the pack, that compared to the second best sleeping pad, its R-value-to-weight ratio is 24% higher.
XLite NXT is no slouch on comfort either. Now with an additional half inch of thickness compared to the original, XLite NXT is 3” thick, which means you can basically ignore small roots and divots in the ground, and side and back sleepers will be happier. And what’s more, compared to previous editions, it’s designed to be much quieter.
While it’s definitely still a bit crinkly, we’d describe the overall volume as average and acceptable. At time of publishing, Therm-a-Rest states it is six times quieter than the original XLite on their homepage. While it did get noticeably quieter, our experience did not indicate 6X.
Inflation with NXT can be a bit of a chore considering how thick the pad is. But the “winglock” valve is excellent, and you don’t have to constantly tighten it in between breaths or pumps. The 30D fabric is very durable, and you shouldn’t have any problems so long as you aren’t using it on scratchy surfaces.
This is the best overall sleeping pad for backpacking that has ever been manufactured, and we can’t wait for you to try it out! Enjoy!
Compare it to more options in our guide to the best sleeping pads.
Tested in Patagonia
Alan and Jaeger are collaborating to test and review the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT, and its first journey was on the Huemul Circuit in Patagonia in February 2023. It performed marvelously when paired with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Unbound 20 Degree Quilt.
Check out our full buyers guide to the best backpacking sleeping pads.
In-Depth Comparison: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite NXT vs Original
- Same Weight
- Same Size
- Same Valve
- Same Exterior
- $10 more expensive
- Strictly better performance
- Originals on clearance are better value while supplies last
Compared to NeoAir XLite Original
While it doesn’t seem like a lot, the extra half inch of thickness adds about 20% more loft to the sleeping pad. In practice, this allows the user to more comfortably sleep on small roots, rocks, and other bumps without discomfort.
True, the extra half inch of thickness doesn’t make a big difference on most parts of the pad, it’s definitely appreciated for pressure point areas like shoulders, hips, back, and butt.
The added thickness also allow the pad to be slightly deflated to reduce pressure points. While this is mostly upside, one small downside to the increased thickness is that it also takes 20% more work to inflate. Not a big ask and a good exchange for the user. But worth noting. Sit down and pause if you start to feel light headed.
If NeoAir pads have any downside, the loud crinkly noises they make when you roll around are certainly one of the biggest. The NeoAir Xlite NXT improves on this problem with a quieter material on the inside.
Therm-a-Rest claims it’s significantly quieter, which might be true in a sound lab, but in practice, in the backcountry, we find it is only marginally quieter. But to the practiced ear, it is noticeable, and it is definitely a legitimate improvement. Both the user and their tent mates will appreciate this upgrade.
Compared to the original, the NeoAir Xlite NXT has an additional 0.3 R value, increasing from 4.2 to 4.5. While this is only a 7% bump, it definitely matters to those of who prefer to sleep in backless camp quilts, and it’s a nice bonus considering that no weight was added to achieve this.
What’s more, that .3 number seems small because the NeoAir series already had such a high R-Value. If that same .3 increase was applied to another sleeping pad, say the Z-Lite Sol series, it would be a 15% increase. Pretty substantial!
Very Similar Weight
The new Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT weighs 13.0 oz, .5 oz heavier than the original. This is based on an update we got from Therm-a-Rest on 5/25/23 letting us know that they understated the weight of the NXT on launch at 12.5, but confirmed it is actually 13.0 oz.
Comparing the regular size versions for the original NeoAir XLite and NeoAir XLite NXT, they are both 72″x20″ with a mummy shape. Both come in regular, regular-wide, short, and large. They also have the same dimensions/volume while packed.
Both the original and the XLite NXT uses the same great WingLock valve system which allows you to inflate without losing air in between breaths. If you have an old NeoAir with the old valve system, this is a big upgrade.
Both sleeping pads utilize a 30D Ripstop HT Nylon fabric, which we find to be quite durable, easily repaired in the field, and very long lasting.
That said, you should still practice caution and we don’t recommend using it directly on natural surfaces to prevent punctures. Interestingly, the NXT comes in two very similar yellow colorways, lemon curry, and solar flare.
This is a bit of a mystery, because there doesn’t seem to be any notable differences in performance, and the colors are so similar that nobody would care or notice from a purely aesthetic perspective as to which they get.
Our best guess is that that the lemon curry colorway was produced to use up the last of their stock in the old fabric, thus making it a limited print run, and then they will switch to all solar flare going forward.
$10 more expensive
The original NeoAir XLite cost $200 in size regular and the new version costs $210. Inflation aside, we feel this is a very reasonable increase considering everything you get. And what’s more, when well cared-for, we expect our Therm-a-Rest NeoAir to last years and think it is a very good value, and a very good performance-to-price.
Considering that everything about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite NXT is either the same or better than the original NeoAir Xlite, we believe it is a strict upgrade with no performance downside, and an objective user experience improvement compared to the original.
Comparison: NeoAir XLite NXT vs NeoAir XLite Women’s Sleeping Pad
If you’ve followed our gear reviews over the past decade, you know that the NeoAir XLite Women’s version has been our preferred sleeping pad for years now. Its performance is so much better that we even recommend it for men, gender qualifiers be damned.
That’s because it is rated to an R-Value of 5.4, which is 28% higher than the original, and still 20% higher than the NXT, all for the same weight. It’s a substantial and noticeable increase in performance, especially for backless quilt users. Such a high R-value sleeping pad increases the overall warmth of your sleep system and means you can get away with a slightly less warm sleeping bag.
It achieves this by increasing internal insulation and compressing the design into a six inch shorter chassis, measuring 66″ instead of 72″ so taller-than-average campers’ feet might dangle off slightly. All of that said, if warmth-to-weight is your highest priority, then we acknowledge that the original W’s NeoAir Xlite is still the better performing sleeping pad than the NXT.
However, the increased thickness and quieter material of the NeoAir XLite NXT have helped close the net user-experience gap and we feel they are equally great choices depending on what you prioritize and if you’re able to pick up a NeoAir Women’s Xlite Original on sale, or at all. Shop REI Shop Original NeoAir XLite Women’s at REI.
NeoAir Pro Tips
To avoid puncturing, do not use NeoAir sleeping pads directly on natural surfaces unless your confidence in there not being anything pokey is absolute. If you want to hang out outside of the tent, you can repurpose your tent footprint or ground cover. Our preferred option is the Gossamer Gear Polycryo Ground Cloth.
Immediately add the repair kit consisting of glue dots, patches, and alcohol wipes to your repair/first aid kit so you don’t miss them in the backcountry. They are marvelously effective and if done well, the repair can even last through the natural life of the product.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT is our new go-to sleeping pad, the best sleeping pad currently in production, and we recommend to all. Due to the increased warmth, thickness, and quietness, it is strictly an improvement compared to the original NeoAir XLite. If you need a new sleeping pad, you should pick up an NXT ASAP. However, if you already have a relatively new original or women’s NeoAir Xlite in good condition, you can hold off on upgrading until you require a replacement.
Check out more great options in our guide to the best backpacking sleeping pads of year.