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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm NXT Sleeping Pad Review

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PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT has one of the best warmth-to-weight ratios of any sleeping pad on the market, but is it worth the spendy price tag? We put the new XTherm NXT to the test to see how it holds up to real-world conditions.

Quick Specs

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT

Best sleeping pad for cold-sleepers & winter backpacking

Price: $240

Weight: 16 oz.

R-Value: 7.3

Thickness: 3 in.

Pros

  • Exceptional warmth-to-weight ratio
  • Very warm (suitable for winter use)
  • Lightweight
  • Above-average comfort
  • Compact for a 4-season pad
  • More durable than most air pads

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slower inflation/deflation
  • Slight crinkle sound
PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Pros

Very warm

Backpacking sleeping pads really don’t get much warmer than the Xtherm NXT – especially not in this weight class. To put it in perspective, the second warmest pad on our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads is the REI Helix Insulated. The Helix has an R-value that’s 2.4 points below that of the XTherm, and it weighs 5 oz. more. 

The Xtherm NXT will keep you insulated in temperatures well below what the vast majority of us are likely to ever encounter on trail. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to have some extra insulation on nights where temperatures dip below freezing – especially if you’re a cold sleeper.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Ultralight, especially for the warmth

Sixteen ounces is right on the edge of what we would normally consider ultralight for a sleeping pad (usually under one pound). But when you factor in how warm the XTherm NXT is, it would be silly to exclude it from the category.

Looking at other popular pads in the same weight class as the Xtherm, we have the NEMO Tensor Insulated with an R-value of 4.3 at 15 oz. and the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated with an R-value of 3.1 at 16.9 oz. Neither of these pads even come close to the warmth-to-weight ratio of the Xtherm, and nor does anything else from our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads for that matter.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Quiet

You’ve likely heard the infamous crinkle sound made by the past versions of Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir line of sleeping pads. If you’ve never used one yourself, you’ve almost certainly shared a campsite with someone who sounded like they were sleeping on a potato chip bag. This was the plight of the older NeoAir Xlite and XTherm.

While we were never bothered much by the far more tolerable crinkling of the XTherm (compared to the XLite), we’re happy to report that the XTherm NXT is nearly silent.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Comfortable

Another very noticeable improvement the XTherm NXT has over its predecessor is an extra half inch of thickness. At 3 in. thick, there’s plenty of room to make adjustments to the firmness of the pad (by letting some air out) without bottoming out on the ground.

This is especially good news for side-sleepers, as it can be tricky to keep your hips from hitting the ground if you don’t like an ultra-firm pad.

We’ve been getting comfortable and restful nights of sleep in the backcountry on NeoAir pads for years, and we think most hikers will find the XTherm plenty comfy.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Available in regular/wide size

As sleeping pads get lighter and lighter, more hikers are finding the additional comfort provided by a wide pad worth the small bump up in weight. But so many pads on the market only offer wide sizes for the long length. Most people are under 5’ 9”, and have no need for a long pad (regular pads are typically 72 in./6 ft.).

So why aren’t more pads offered in regular/wide? We have no idea. But the Xtherm NXT (along with the other NeoAir NXT pads) comes in this somewhat elusive configuration, so it’s possible we’re going to be seeing this size combo more regularly.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Compact

When packed, the XTherm is about the size of a 32 oz. Nalgene. It’s around the same packed size as most of the other ultralight pads on our list of the Best Sleeping Pads, which is really impressive considering how much more insulative the XTherm is. 

We also love that the stuff sack is slightly oversized so you don’t have to fight to get the pad packed up.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Durable

We’ve always been very impressed with the durability of the Xtherm, and this newest iteration doesn’t disappoint either. A key to its longevity is the ultra-thick bottom layer which is constructed with a 70D nylon fabric. We’ve taken the Xtherm over hundreds of miles through the Sonoran Desert where cacti abound, and we’ve slept directly on a bed of lava rocks with it in the Central Oregon Cascades. And we can say with confidence that this pad is built to last.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

But of course, all air pads have their limits, and – whether by bad luck or hard use – eventually you’ll likely need to repair your pad. Luckily, it’s easy and cheap to replace the WingLock Valve on the XTherm should it fail to work at some point down the line, and this pad also comes with a patch kit for repairing unexpected punctures in the field.

PHOTO CREDIT: CASEY HANDLEY (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Pump sack included

Most pads come with pump sacks nowadays, and – basic as its pump sack may be – the XTherm NXT is no exception.

We far prefer the pump sacks included with some of our other favorite pads, like the Vortex that comes with the NEMO Tensor, but this one still gets the job done quicker than inflating your pad by mouth.

Cons

EXPENSIVE

The XTherm NXT is the most expensive pad on our Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads list, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you backpack a lot and aren’t staying warm on less insulated pads. 

Most other pads on our list sit between $150 and $200, but it might help you justify the price of the XTherm NXT if you look at a few other numbers. Most notably, the XTherm NXT is 1.5-2+ times warmer than any of the pads in the sub-$200 category. The bottom fabric of the XTherm NXT is 1.5 times thicker than the thickest fabric (usually the bottom) of nearly all of the more affordable pads, so it’s likely to last you longer. And finally, it’s much lighter than the majority of the more affordable pads on our list.

A little slower to deflate than some other pads

We like the relatively new WingLock Valves that were added to Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir line of pads a few years ago, and we consider them a big improvement over their old valves. But the XTherm NXT still isn’t nearly as quick and easy to deflate as sleeping pads with dump valves.

While we find Therm-a-Rest’s valve designs to be a little less prone to failure than flat valves with dumps, we’re still holding out hope for the day they design one that combines the two styles in an effective and durable package.

Included pump sack isn’t the best

We briefly mentioned this earlier, but to give more context on why we don’t love the NeoAir pump sack – it’s heavier than others, the opening is too wide, and it doesn’t serve multiple purposes.

Our current favorite pump sack is the Vortex that comes with the NEMO Tensor. It has a narrow opening that’s easy to close off after you’ve blown air into it, and it makes pad inflation super quick and easy. We also really like pump sacks that serve multiple purposes, like the Airstream that comes with Sea to Summit pads. The Airstream acts as both a pump sack and waterproof stuff sack.

PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)

Bottom Line

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT is hands down the best choice for cold sleepers and adventurous hikers who don’t let snowfall signal the end of backpacking season. This sleeping pad has an impressive R-value of 7.3, which will even keep most users warm down into the negatives – colder than most backpackers will ever encounter in the backcountry.

This pad is spendy for sure, but it’s well-worth the cost for its warmth and weight. Plus it’s super durable, so it’ll last for many seasons of backpacking if treated with care. The XTherm earned the number two spot on our list of the Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads.

PHOTO CREDIT: HEATHER ELDRIDGE (CLEVERHIKER.COM)