Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT Sleeping Pad Review: The New Ultralight King?

Article by Markus Zinkl

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT ($199.95-$239.95)


The NeoAir XLite is undoubtedly the most used and most known ultralight sleeping pad in the ultralight backpacking community. The warmth-to-weight ratio is still unrivaled, which makes it the most versatile sleeping pad from Therm-A-Rest.

The NeoAir XLite was introduced for the first time about a decade ago, only with a small update in 2020 when Therm-a-Rest added their new Winglock Valve to it. Overall it has been the same pad since then and that is for good reason. TAR also offers two other models in their XLite range of sleeping pads. Their lightest “Uberlite” (left below) and their warmest “XTherm” sleeping pad (right below). 

Here is a size comparison of all three models with the XLite NXT sitting in the middle. 

The original XLite came with some drawbacks. Commonly known as the “chips bag”, it was pretty loud when you moved around on it. TAR uses their Triangular Core Matrix with heat radiating ThermaCaputre technology. This is basically heat reflective foil in a triangular pattern between the baffles to allow it to reach its level of insulation, while keeping the weight down. In its original version this caused it to be very crinkly sounding. Also the comfort of the horizontal 2.5 inches baffles couldn’t keep up with more recent options from the likes of Nemo and Sea-To-Summit. TAR set out to improve on those critiques, but did they succeed with a new ultralight sleeping pad king?

Tech Specs

Color: Yellow

R-Value: 4.5 (ASTM F3340-18)

Size tested: regular wide (72” x 25” / 183 cm x 64 cm)

Packed dimensions: (9” x 4.1” / 23 cm x 10 cm)

Shape tested: mummy

Official weight (regular wide): 1 lb, 450 g

Sample weight (regular wide w/o stuff sack): 16,6 oz, 472 g

Stuff sack weight:  0,6 oz, 19 g

Inflation sack weight: 2 oz, 57 g

Fabric: 30d High Tenacity Nylon

What's included: Pump Sack, stuff sack and repair kit


TAR tackled the critiques made about the predecessor version. The NXT improves on the previous NeoAir X-Lite model.  Therm-A-Rest states the new NXT to be warmer, quieter and more comfortable. I received the regular wide version for testing.


The warmth of sleeping pads is most commonly stated with an R-value. R-value is a measure of thermal resistance used to evaluate the effectiveness of insulation materials. It indicates how well a material can resist heat transfer, specifically the flow of heat through conduction. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation's thermal resistance. 

For comparison the 2-season summer Uberlite pad has an R-value of 2.3 and the new XTherm NXT winter pad has an R-value of 7.3. The original XLite’s R-value of 4.2 has been increased to 4.5. 

I used the pad down to around freezing temperature and was still comfortably warm. I would go down further than that though. Of course this also requires an appropriately rated sleeping bag or quilt. 


The most notable change for me is the reduced noise of the new NXT pad. TAR claims a noise reduction of 83%. While I can’t measure the difference in percentages, the noise is substantially reduced compared to the predecessor. I already mentioned in the introduction the nickname of the pad "chips bag" and this perfectly fit its predecessor. It was very crinkly when you moved only the slightest on the pad. And this was even noticeable by others in camp. This improved a bit over use, but never subsided completely. The new NXT is a huge improvement and makes it a lot quieter. The distinct crinkle sound is definitely reduced to a minimum, to the extent you will not bother anyone in camp. This for me was never an issue, since it did not keep me up at night and as I mostly sleep alone in a one person tent. 


Most sleeping pads in this weight category are 3 or even 4 inches thick. So TAR had some catching up to do from their original 2.5 inch thick XLite pads.The new NXT is now increased in thickness to a total of 3 inches when inflated. 

This makes it more comfortable for side sleepers, because there is more cushion under the hip bone and prevents the pad from bottoming out. In order to increase the comfort of the pad I usually do not inflate it to its maximum. This would make it way too hard and you feel like rolling off the pad. The increased thickness now gives you a bit more buffer. 

So if you had the problem of bottoming out on the original XLite, the new NXT should mitigate that. The horizontal baffles are in my opinion still not the most comfortable, though. If you didn’t have the problem of bottoming out, the overall comfort didn’t change too much. For comfort I still prefer the Nemo Tensor Insulated pad, which is the most comfortable pad I ever slept on. It does come with a weight (540g vs. 472g here) and insulation (R 4.2 vs. 4.5) penalty though. 


When the pad originally was announced there were some rumors would get even lighter while improving all the other points. While I couldn’t find the official statement anymore, there is a different weight on the box itself compared to TAR’s website. For my regular wide pad the box states 440 g, the website states 450 g and my weight sample is 472 g. At a glance this might not be that much of a difference, but especially in the ultralight community, this is a lot and especially from the weight on the box to the real weight. 


TAR set out to improve on the original Xlite pad and really did in terms of comfort, noise and even warmth. I really liked the previous model already and didn’t have big issues with its comfort and noise. The new NXT improved in those areast. 

My biggest gripe is the official weights and conflicting information on the box and on the website. I would like to get an accurate weight from TAR without the need to measure it at home. 

That said, the NeoAir XLite NXT is still the pad with the best warmth to weight ratio. Does this make it the new ultralight sleeping pad King? Not, really. That depends more on what you are looking for. Do you want the lightest full length pad and accept drawbacks in comfort and durability? Go with the TAR XLite Uberlite. Do you need the most comfortable lightweight pad? Go with Nemo Tensor Insulated. Do you need the warmest pad for the coldest of nights? Go with the TAR XLite XTherm (NXT). The answer is, as so often it is is that.., it depends. 

Therm-a- Rest Sleeping Pads available our partners



Tester Profile

Markus Zinkl: I’m 33 years old and live in a small village in Bavaria, Germany. I started hiking and backpacking 5-6 years ago. Coming from trail running and with light and fast in mind, I started with ultralight gear. Over the years I tried and tested a lot of gear, always in search of weight savings. Although still trying to stay out of the ultralight rabbit hole. I spend most of my days off from work on the trail, with at least one 2-3 week thru-hike. Among the more well known trails I have hiked over the last two years are the GR221, WHR (Walker’s Haute Route), TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) and TC (Tour du Cervin-Matterhorn). As you probably notice by now, I’m at home in the mountains. So if I’m not running or thru-hiking a longer trail, I’m probably somewhere in the Alps checking out some shorter trails.

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The products that are the basis of this test were provided to us free of charge by Therm-A-Rest. The opinions presented are our own. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

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