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The Best Camping Sleeping Pad: The Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm

I’ve set up camp. The tent’s up. The fire ring is built. Maybe it took me a full day’s hike to get here, maybe I just drove up to the site because car camping is what I’m feeling this weekend. Doesn’t matter, what matters is when I’m ready to get in the tent and pass out, I want to be comfortable. I’m not asking to be as comfortable as in my own bed at home, but I want to be close.

So feeling rocks under my shoulder blades? The cold ground seeping into my back? This just isn’t stuff I’m willing to put up with when I camp.

I’ve got to be ready for whatever day 2 of this particular adventure brings. And that means I’ve got to sleep and sleep well. Sure the sounds of nature is a great lullaby but you can bet that a good sleeping pad is at the top of my non-negotiable gear.

So I looked around at what’s out there. The best camping sleeping pad I’ve found? The Thermarest NeoAir XTherm.

Warmth

I’m no delicate flower, but I don’t want to be cold when I sleep. Nobody does. Comfortable, cool, sure. But not cold. I could have the warmest sub-zero sleeping bag ever made but if the freezing ground is just a millimeter away, I’m gonna feel it.

The NeoAir XTherm makes sure that doesn’t happen. It actually has these thin reflective layers inside that radiate your own body heat back at you.

That and the 2.5 inch thickness make sure I stay warm and can actually get some sleep. The great thing is you get all that warmth without making the pad super heavy, which brings me to my next point:

Weight

Sometimes I’ll car camp when I just want to get away and that’s the easiest way to do it. But whenever I can, I do the real thing. Pack everything I’m going to need on my own back and head out on a trail.

That means everything packed on my back needs to be absolutely necessary (I already told you a good pad is not open to discussion) and it needs to be light.

That’s where the NeoAir XTherm kills it. Just 15 ounces. That’s a whole ounce less than a pound. And it comes with a stuff sack that packs down to about 9 by 4 inches so you’ve got room for other important stuff. Like food.  

Stability

You know how some pads make you feel like you’re trying to sleep on a balance beam made out of balloons? Not this one. It’s got a soft fabric that’s textured so I don’t slip off in the night and wake up wondering where I am (I hate that) and the baffled internal structure makes it solid and stable.

Thermarest also offers an extra large version that’s wider at the shoulders and about 5 inches longer. For the big and tall camper or for those of us who just like a little more sprawling out room.

Features and Specifications

  • Weight: 15 ounces
  • R-Value: 5.7
  • Width 20″
  • Length 72″
  • Packed size: 9″x4″
  • Materials: Nylon
  • Included: Repair kit and stuff sack
  • Made in the US

What people say about it

I’m not the only fan of the NeoAir XTherm, all the hiking, backpacking, and gear sites are picking it as their top or at least in their top five camping sleeping pads.

There’s a good reason. It’s light. It’s warm. It’s comfortable. It’s going to give me a good night’s sleep and that’s exactly what I want.

So what’s the catch? The price tag. The XTherm retails at around $200. So, yeah, I could save myself some dollars and go with something cheaper, but I know when I’m falling asleep on some subpar pad with sticks in my back and my teeth chattering, I’m not going to feel like I did myself any favors.

I’m just going to say it: buy this pad. Save yourself the worry and make sure you’re comfortable out there. Get the NeoAir XTherm, get good sleep and be ready for whatever comes at you tomorrow.  

Who I think should buy this pad

Hikers, backpackers, car campers, survivalists, cross country skiers, National Geographic photographers, basically anyone who plans on sleeping outdoors and has enough self-respect to make sure they actually fall asleep. This is the pad for people who take camping seriously.

It’s for people who know that the way you perform in the morning is directly related to how well you sleep the night before.

Who shouldn’t buy it?

Fine. 200 bucks is a little steep, so the tourist camper who is going to try camping once and then go for a motel from then on probably shouldn’t bother forking over the cash for this guy.

Conclusion

When I’m out in the wilderness, I want to push myself, go just a little farther. I want to find the spot that no one else has found before. I want to see stuff that only certain squirrels and elk have seen. I want to sleep under more stars than city people could ever imagine.

But I don’t want to wake up with a sore neck and an aching back. There are a lot of different pads out there. I’ve looked into a lot of them and none of them stack up to this one. When I get out to the woods, the desert, the river, wherever, I’m taking the NeoAir XTherm with me.

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