If you’ve been coveting a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir sleeping pad, there’s no better time to indulge. This series of lightweight inflatable pads has long been a favorite of weight-conscious backpackers and other adventurers, and the recent NXT redesign just made a great thing even better.
Therm-a-Rest now offers three main NeoAir models: the UberLite, XLite, and XTherm. Each offers best-in-class weight for its warmth, but which one is right for you? If you’re on the fence about the XLite vs. XTherm, or perhaps the UberLite vs. XLite, this quick comparison will help you sort it out.
I’ve personally tested both the XLite and the UberLite. In fact I’ve been “testing” (by which I mean simply using) previous generations of the XLite on my backpacking and bikepacking trips for almost ten years! I recently picked up a short UberLite for ultralight bikepacking adventures, so I’ve been testing that too. I have not needed the XTherm for my 3-season adventures, but I’ve researched it thoroughly for this comparison.
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In a hurry? This section sums up my recommendations on choosing between the XLite vs. XTherm vs. UberLite. I’ll go into more detail on each down below.
NeoAir XLite: The best choice for most people. Excellent balance of weight and warmth, perfect for three-season adventuring and still suitable for occasional overnight lows into the 20’s F. Get the XLite if you adventure in spring, summer, and/or fall conditions but not often in snowy winter conditions.
NeoAir UberLite: Ultralight option for fast-and-light types who adventure mostly in summer and occasional shoulder season conditions. Get the UberLite if you rarely see temps below 40 degrees F and are willing to treat your pad very carefully (and probably patch some punctures) in exchange for the lightest and smallest inflatable pad on the market.
NeoAir XTherm: Warm all-season pad suitable for winter adventures with nights around 10 degrees F or below. Still impressively light with minimal weight penalty relative to the XLite. Get the XTherm if your adventures don’t stop when it’s snowing, or if you sleep cold and often adventure in chilly spring or fall conditions and want a little extra warmth.
Choosing between the XTherm versus XLite for chilly shoulder season weather? Choose the XTherm if you really value warmth and comfort more than weight. Choose the XLite otherwise.
Choosing between the XLite and UberLite for 3-season or mostly summer conditions? Choose the UberLite if you value light weight more than anything else, including warmth and reliability. Choose the XLite otherwise.
Th XLite, XTherm, and UberLite are three pads from the same Therm-a-Rest NeoAir line. As such, they have a lot in common:
- Best-in-class ratio of warmth to weight
- Inflatable with adjustable softness
- Standard mummy shape has 20″ width, which some people find too narrow
- Also available in wider and longer sizes
- Relatively expensive: these pads start at $210 and go up!
- WingLock one-way valve and pump sack for easy inflation and softness adjustment
- Horizontal baffle construction: some people think this feels unstable, but lowering the air volume inside the pad helps
Biggest Difference: Warmth
Warmth / season is the biggest functional difference between these three pads. Sleeping pad warmth is designated by the R-value, a measure of how well the pad prevents your body’s heat from transferring to the colder ground.
The XTherm, as its name suggests, is the warmest of the three NeoAir sleeping pads. Its R-value of 7.3 stands up to even extreme winter adventures with overnight lows below 0 degrees F, especially if you layer a closed-cell foam pad beneath it. It’s not strictly necessary for those chilly shoulder-season nights that hover around freezing, but it wouldn’t hurt.
The XLite’s R-value of 4.5 is a very solid 3-season+ rating. I’ve used XLite pads into the mid-to-high 20’s F and been fine, more or less, though this demands a warm sleeping bag and layers. For the most common trails and styles of backpacking in the United States (think PCT, AT, CTD, Arizona Trail, Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail) the XLite’s versatile R-value is perfect, even in spring or fall.
The UberLite’s R-value of 2.3 is certainly less warm when temps dip toward freezing, but it’s still a very respectable “summer plus” or “warm 3 season” pad that I would use with overnight lows in the 40’s. By comparison a true summer-only pad would have an R-value closer to 1.5 and be best for temps above 50 F. For folks looking to go ultralight on the same trails listed above (PCT, JMT, etc) the UberLite is a viable option, but you might have a few chilly nights and need to choose your campsites more carefully.
Weight: All these pads are really light for their warmth, but making a sleeping pad warmer makes it heavier, all else being equal. Thus the warm XTherm is the heaviest and bulkiest of the three. The ultralight UberLite is the smallest and lightest, but also the least warm. The XLite strikes an excellent balance between the other two.
Packed size: If you’re using a space-constrained setup (like bikepacking, fastpacking, or alpine climbing) you’ll want to lean toward the XLite or UberLite in all cases except extreme winter adventures. Interestingly, though the XLite packs down slightly smaller than the XTherm (just 0.4″ smaller in diameter), the biggest drop in size belongs to the UberLite, which packs down 0.5″ skinnier and a whole 3″ shorter than the XLite.
Thickness: With the recent NXT redesign, the XLite and XTherm both got a boost to cushy 3″ thickness (previous generations were 2.5″ thick). The minimalist-focused UberLite retains its 2.5″ thickness for a still-comfy but not quite as cushy feel.
Durability: All three pads are inflatable and thus can be punctured, leading to a sad night’s sleep (bring the patch kit!). The UberLite in particular makes sacrifices in durability to achieve its astoundingly light weight by putting 15D fabric on both top and bottom. Though I’ve punctured my XLite several times over the years, I managed to puncture my UberLite twice in several days!
Sizes: The XTherm, XLite, and UberLite all share the same mummy-shape with 20″ width and 72″ height in their standard size. All are also available in wide and large (wide + long) sizes for folks who need more space. The UberLite, being focused on the ultralight crowd, comes in a short torso-length size. The XLite comes in a regular short size more suitable to smaller hikers. Both XLite and XTherm also come in a fully rectangular MAX model for extra comfort, but the minimalist UberLite does not.
Price: There is a $30 price difference between the least and most expensive NeoAir pads (in standard size), but this is small compared to the total and you should not choose between the UberLite, XLite, and XTherm based on price. These are all expensive premium pads with different purposes. If you can afford the least expensive one, you can afford the most expensive! Get the pad that best meets your needs.
|UberLite||XLite NXT||XTherm NXT|
|Weight (standard size)||8.8 oz||13 oz||15.5 oz|
|Price (standard size)||$230||$210||$240|
|Dimensions (standard size)||20 x 72″||20 x 72″||20 x 72″|
|R-value / season||2.3 (summer+)||4.5 (3+ season)||7.3 (all season)|
|Packed dimensions (standard size)||6 x 3.6″||9 x 4.1″||9 x 4.5″|
|Sizes available||small 20×47″|
regular wide 25×72″
|regular short 20×66″|
regular wide 25×72″
regular wide 25×72″
|Rectangular MAX sizes available||none||regular wide 25×72″|
|regular wide 25×72″|
|Buy or learn more||Shop at:|
NeoAir UberLite Sleeping Pad
My recommendation: Buy the NeoAir UberLite if you prioritize ultralight and compact gear, don’t often see overnight temps below ~35 F, and don’t mind babying your gear.
Shop NeoAir UberLite at:
- Absolute lightest inflatable sleeping pad available
- Packs down very small
- Only model that comes in torso-length size for even more weight and space savings
- 15D fabric is easily punctured
- Sometimes loses air gradually with no apparent leak
- Not warm enough for near-freezing temps
- Thinner than redesigned NXT models
- More crinkly noise than redesigned NXT models
The UberLite is the newest addition to the NeoAir lineup, and the lightest. There isn’t another pad in existence that can match its blend of featherlight weight, tiny size, decent comfort, and 3-season-ish warmth. The only real downside, in my experience, is the UberLite’s difficulty with reliably holding air. Hopefully Therm-a-Rest improves this in future versions, because this pad is otherwise excellent.
If you’re looking for other sleeping pads in this weight range, well, there aren’t any. The UberLite is the lightest, especially if you go with the short length for an incredibly light 6 ounces. Your closest option would be a torso-length closed-cell foam pad like the Nemo Switchback, but that’s less comfortable, colder, and still heavier than the UberLite. On the bright side though, it can’t be punctured!
NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
My recommendation: Buy the NeoAir XLite if you adventure in a wide range of conditions including chilly alpine summer nights or shoulder season conditions, but not usually extreme cold (~10 F or below).
Shop NeoAir UberLite at:
- Excellent balance of weight savings, durability, and warmth
- Warmer R-value than most other “3 season” pads; can actually be a 4-season pad for moderate winters
- Redesigned NXT version has cushy 3″ thickness
- Only model that comes in small size perfect for shorter people
- Slightly less expensive (but don’t decide based on that)
- Not quite as light and small as the UberLite
- Not as warm as the XTherm
The NeoAir XLite is the original NeoAir favorite and continues to be the most popular lightweight inflatable pad on the trail. Its R-value of 4.5, higher than a typical 3-season backpacking pad, makes the NeoAir capable in chilly conditions even during alpine shoulder season. Yet its impressively light weight also makes it easy to carry in warmer conditions.
The NeoAir XLite recently got a big redesign with the NXT version, and the consensus is that this new version is the best yet. The thickness grew from 2.5″ to a cushy 3″, the R-value increased from 4.2 to 4.5, and changes in construction reduced the annoying crinkly noise this pad was famous for. Thanks to this update, now is really an excellent time to invest in a NeoAir XLite sleeping pad.
Note that with the NXT update, Therm-a-Rest got rid of the previous generation’s “women’s XLite,” which I personally was a fan of. It was shorter and a bit warmer, but weighed the same. The new NXT series keeps the small length option but pins the warmth at a constant R=4.5 across all sizes, which I suppose is a more consistent way of doing things.
If you mostly do 3-season adventures but think you might want to camp in the cold every now and then, how do you choose between the XTherm and XLite? If lightweight gear is important to you and most of your adventures are in moderate temps, choose the XLite — it’s already fairly warm and you can always layer it atop a foam pad now and then. If you sleep cold and do a lot of shoulder-season adventuring, the XTherm (see below) may be worth the small added weight.
NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad
My recommendation: Buy the NeoAir XTherm if you adventure in cold winter conditions (think snow camping, winter mountaineering), or possibly if you sleep very cold and do a lot of chilly high-alpine or shoulder season trips.
Shop NeoAir XTherm at:
- Warm enough for true winter camping in well-below-freezing temps
- Redesigned NXT version has cushy 3″ thickness
- 70D fabric on bottom gives extra puncture resistance
- Not as light and small as the UberLite or XLite
As if the NeoAir XLite weren’t already pretty darn warm, Therm-a-Rest also offers the NeoAir XTherm, a true all-season inflatable sleeping pad that blows all other pads out of the water in warmth-to-weight ratio. The R-value of 7.3 means this pad can handle truly extreme winter conditions, if that’s your thing. Its relatively light weight (still under one pound) means you won’t mind carrying this pad in warmer weather either.
As with the XLite, the recent NXT redesign makes the XTherm thicker and even warmer than the previous model, which was 2.5″ thick with an R-value of 6.9.
Can you still use the XTherm in the summer? Absolutely. Though it’s not the lightest summer sleeping pad, at under a pound it’s still lighter than many popular summer-focused options including, for example, the Big Agnes Divide. The XTherm is only 2.5 oz heavier than the NeoAir XLite and barely larger when packed. If you adventure year-round, the XTherm can work for everything.
More Backpacking Resources
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- Best Lightweight Solo Tents Ranked by Price vs. Weight
- How to Choose Your Ideal Backpack Size
- Thru Hiking the Colorado Trail: Essential Q&A
Or, visit the backpacking section for lots more!
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