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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Review

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PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite has been one of our favorite backpacking sleeping pads for years, and the best just got better with the introduction of the new XLite NXT version. This pad is still made with the high-quality construction that Therm-a-Rest is known for, but it’s warmer and much quieter than its predecessor. And if that wasn’t enough, It’s also even more comfy with an extra half inch of thickness.

The XLite NXT is a tad spendy, but we say it’s worth every penny for its durability, excellent performance, and standout specs.

We ranked the Therm-a-Rest XLite NXT number one on our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads.

Quick Specs

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT

Best backpacking sleeping pad overall

Price: $210

Weight: 13 oz.

R-Value: 4.5

Thickness: 3 in.

Pros

  • Exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Above-average comfort
  • Significantly quieter than previous model
  • Durable for the weight
  • Highly packable

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slightly slower inflation/deflation

Pros

Great value

While the XLite NXT is one of the more expensive pads on our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads, we say it’s definitely worth the cost. This pad is unrivaled with its blend of weight, comfort, and warmth. You can find a more affordable pad, but you’re going to make a sacrifice in one of those key areas.

When looking at some of the other most popular pads on the market, you’ll find the NEMO Tensor costs a little less but is two ounces heavier and not as warm/durable. The Big Agnes Rapide SL costs less, but weighs six ounces more and is a bit less warm and packable. And finally, the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT costs a little less, but it’s 4.3 ounces heavier and significantly less warm.

The Big Agnes Zoom UL pad is the closest competition to the XLite on specs – it costs a bit less but weighs a bit more and isn’t quite as warm. It’s a close call, but in the end we think the XLite will hold up a little better to hard use and has a better valve.

Quiet

The biggest complaint we heard about the XLite in the past is how noisy it is. Though the previous iteration improved the crinkle sound nuisance, it didn’t entirely solve the problem. But the XLite NXT has finally gotten rid of the dreaded potato chip bag sound! 

Therm-a-Rest tested the noise reduction in a lab and found that the NXT version is 83% quieter. We tested it on a thru-hike with two people in a tent, and we can confirm that both hikers slept great and this pad is exceptionally quiet.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Ultralight

Compared to other pads on our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads list, the Xlite NXT is the second lightest – beaten out only by the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite. The XLite is far more versatile than the UberLite though, since it’s much more durable and has an R-value of 4.5 versus the UberLite’s R-Value of 2.3.

Comfortable

We’ve always found the XLite to be very comfortable, but the latest NXT version is half an inch thicker. This allows you more room to adjust the firmness to your liking, and it reduces the chances that side sleepers will bottom-out when the inflation isn’t maxed out.

The R-value of 4.5 is also plenty warm enough to keep most hikers comfortable on pretty much any three-season adventure.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Warm

The XLite NXT has an R-value of 4.5 which will be warm enough to keep most hikers comfortable down to freezing (or a little below for warm-sleepers). We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again – the XLite NXT is impressively light for how warm it is.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Durable

One of the most impressive things about the XLite NXT is that Therm-a-Rest achieved such a low weight without sacrificing durability. We’ve trusted Therm-a-Rest products for years and the XLite NXT is another standout in their long history of producing top-quality craftsmanship.

We’ve tested the durability of the Xlite NXT on some incredibly rugged trails, including the Arizona Trail and the CDT through Glacier National Park, and it’s held up wonderfully.

Compact

The XLite NXT packs down to about the size of a 1-liter Nalgene – smaller than many of the other top sleeping pads available today. We always opt for more compact gear when we can, because it allows us to have more room for fun stuff like a plush pillow, a lightweight backpacking chair, and/or – of course – more snacks.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Pump sack included

The XLite NXT comes with a pump sack, so it can be inflated quickly and easily without having to blow your moist tuna wrap/Mountain House meal breath into the pad. Not only does this save you energy, it also helps to preserve the inner workings of your sleeping pad.

Moisture from your breath can collect inside to form droplets. With no real way for that moisture to escape efficiently, mold and mildew can build up inside your pad over time and degrade the insulation film.

While the design of the included pump sack is a little lackluster compared to some others (we’ll talk more about that in the CONS section), it gets the job done.

Cons

A bit expensive

We hesitate to even call this pad expensive, since we think it’s worth every penny. But we have to concede that over $200 for a sleeping pad is a little spendy. Still, we think the longevity, field repairability, and awesome manufacturer warranty on the XLite NXT make this pad more affordable than replacing lower quality pads in the future.

A little slower to inflate/deflate than some pads

The previous redesign of the XLite introduced the WingLock Valve – a much needed modernization of Therm-a-Rest’s old valves. The WingLock is included on the NXT pad as well, and it features a little tab that you can turn to make the airflow one-way (in only, not out) or two-way (out and in, used for deflation).

While we think the WingLock engineering is solid and it functions well, we find that dump valves on pads like the NEMO Tensor are quicker and a bit easier to use.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Included pump sack isn’t our favorite

The included pump sack is designed with thick material and a wide opening that makes it a little tougher to keep air from escaping before you can roll it up. It still works, but it’s a little heavier and bulkier than thinner sacks, a bit less efficient than those with more narrow openings – like the Vortex pump sack included with the NEMO Tensor, and not as useful as pump sacks that can double as a stuff sack – like the Airstream included with Sea to Summit pads. 

Because of this, we sometimes opt to just leave the pump sack at home and inflate the XLite by mouth.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Bottom Line

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT has an unbeatable blend of weight, warmth, and comfort that has kept it at the top of our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads list for years. If the crinkle sound that NeoAir pads are infamous for has kept you away in the past, fear not – the XLite NXT is the quietest NeoAir pad to date and will not disturb camp neighbors or tent mates. We’ve put hundreds of miles on our XLite NXT, and we expect it to continue providing a comfy night’s rest for many hundreds more.