Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT - Outdoors Magic

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Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT

Therm-a-rest’s popular backpacking mat has had a revamp with the Ireland-based brand making their NeoAir XLite model thicker, warmer and quieter

The Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite mat has been hugely popular amongst backpackers over the years, mainly thanks to its excellent warmth-to-weight ratio. A common complaint about it, however, has been that it’s a little rustly and noisy to sleep on. Well, the good news is that Therm-a-rest have not only fixed that but they’ve also made the mat thicker and warmer too. 

This new version, called the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite NXT, only weighs 350g (Regular Wide Model) – just about the same weight as the previous model. It’s R-rating is 4.5 while the previous model was 4.2. You also get an extra half inch in height compared to the last NeoAir Xlite. 


This sleeping mat has a tapered shape which is arguably most accommodating to back and front sleepers. I’m a bit of a wriggler and will tend to sleep on my side, back and front over the course of a night and I actually found this was fine for just about every contortion I pulled on it with the slightly generous width around the torso catering for me well. 

The new NeoAir XLite NXT during our tests in Pembrokeshire. Photos: Dave Macfarlane

The baffles are horizontal, which isn’t my preference as I find mats with longitudinal baffles to be a bit more stable, but I wouldn’t say I found this noticeably unstable. The baffles are triangular in shape and are stacked in two layers, forming what Therm-a-rest call their Triangular Core Matrix. This, they say, creates maximum loft, stability and thermal efficiency by compartmentalising the air and preventing it from moving around. There’s also a built-in lining which is designed to reflect your body heat back to you. 

The Winglock valve is quite large, but its profile is narrow enough that you don’t feel it at all when lying on the mat. The mat comes with a pump bag which attaches easily to the valve. From my experience using Winglock valves on Therm-a-rest mats, I’ve found them to be robust and really easy to operate. I particularly like the fact that they have a one-way control, so you can blow into it without having to worry about air escaping in-between breaths. 

The pump bag takes about 8 squeezes to inflate the mat but I’ve found it can be faster if there’s a bit of wind that you can catch. I find pump bags quite tricky to use when I’m inside a tent so I like mats that can also be inflated with breath alone. Fortunately, that’s a possibility with this. It takes less than 5 minutes and not too much blowing power.

Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite NXT Performance

The Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite NXT is made from Nylon and Polyurethane. Overall it has a soft feel that is comfortable against your skin. The durability is OK and should hold up well if used carefully. I wouldn’t want to use this on bare ground though. If a puncture does occur then the mat can be fixed with a repair kit that comes with it. If there are any other issues with that mat that shouldn’t occur then you should be covered by Therm-a-rest’s lifetime warranty. The brand has a good reputation for its returns process.

This has an r-value thermal rating of 4.5. That should make it suitable enough for conditions down to 0°F or -18°C. Given the lightweight feel of this mat, and the lack of any insulating fill, I think I’d look to use this with a foam mat underneath it in very cold conditions, just to guarantee a good night’s sleep.

I found my sleeping bag gripped reasonably well to the surface of the mat, thanks to its slightly brushed fabric. I also found that it was, as promised, quiet to sleep on. The rustling problem has definitely been fixed.

All packed up, it’s about the size of a litre and very easy to fit into a trekking backpack – even into a mesh side pocket. I found it was easy to pack away too and never felt I had to work hard to squeeze it into its sack.

The Competition

If you want a lighter sleeping mat, I’d recommend looking into the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Uberlite which weighs just 250g. If you want an even warmer and more comfortable sleep I highly recommend the Nemo Tensor.

What I liked: excellent warmth-to-weight ratio
What I didn’t like: quite expensive

Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite NXT

Selected for the Outdoor 100 Sping/Summer 2024 guide
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