Editor’s Note: At this time, GGG is unable to obtain inventory of the Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite ultralight backpacking sleeping pad. GGG does offer the NeoAir® XLite™ NXT Sleeping Pad by Thermarest, as well as the NeoAir® XTherm™ NXT Sleeping Pad by Thermarest.
After two years of sharing an Exped Synmat Hyperlite Duo with the love of my life, we decided to go back to single airpad sleeping because of constantly waking each other up with every toss and turn.
With a host of great UL options on the market these days, we decided to pick the most packable, lightweight, but still lightly insulated air pads that we could find.
For our compact 5'5" bodies, we landed on the regular sized Therm-a-rest NeoAir UberLite, a 72" long by 20" wide inflatable air pad which weighs in at an airy 8.8 oz and set us back $250 USD after taxes.
Perhaps the biggest selling feature was that these dark blue beauties pack into a wee little 6" x 3.6" bundle, yet boast a 2.3R value for cool nights in the high mountains.
The Testing Grounds
With two long hiking trips followed by a six month bikepacking trip on our adventure schedule, we knew the UberLite would get a good run for its money.
Four months into our journey, the airpads have been inflated, deflated and slept on at least 100 times, rolled, stuffed and crammed into pack pods, backpacks and handlebar bags and so far, they are no worse for the wear.
Like any new sleeping situation, it took me a few nights to get used to the shape of the air pad, which I initially found to be narrow near the hips, but now find to be the perfect width for my side sleeping tendencies.
We've seen a variety of sleeping surfaces, from flat tent pads and platforms to rocky crushed gravel, lumpy grass and one particular place where the only practical spot to pitch was covered with short, sharp, skinny stumps.
The airpads have done a great job of taking on terrain of all types, filling in the holes, flattening out the lumps and bumps and helping us get a comfortable night's sleep.
Pros of the Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite
- Quick drying
- Relatively quiet
- Easy to inflate/deflate
- Good warranty
- Made in the USA
The wing-like air valve through which you inflate and deflate the pad is well designed, allowing you to pump up to its full 2.5" thickness, and dial back to your preferred pressure by releasing small amounts of air until you're satisfied. So far, we wake up in the morning with the same amount of air we put in it the night before, no slow leaks, pinholes or punctures to speak of.
Each UberLite comes with a stuff sack, a pump bag and a field repair kit containing patches and glue.
The pump bag takes a little getting used to as you learn the best way to hold and maneuver it, trying to capture air within it that you will then push into the pad.
Also, connecting the air hole of the pump bag to the twist nozzle on the wing valve involves a bit of elbow grease, but once it's connected, it's super secure.
One thing I have noticed through the semi-translucent orion colored fabric is the build up of moisture inside the air pad.
This happens as a result of the moisture in the air that you are capturing in the pump bag and pushing into the pad, and likely happens in all airpads, I've just never been able to see through them.
This hasn't created any cold or damp spots that you can feel on the air pad surface itself, but I wonder what the long term implications might be?
Considering the space age feeling face fabric, which is a 15D nylon, the air pads are surprisingly quiet, but not totally silent when rolling around in the night.
I always wear sleep layers so I don't funkify my sleeping pad after a long day of sweating and trekking in the dirt, which I think also makes for a better night's sleep than butting up skin to surface on these kinds of textiles. (It's better for your sleeping quilt too.)
One benefit of the nylon face fabric is that it's easy to clean, (just wipe with a soft, damp cloth) and it dries quickly if you happen to get rain in your tent or have condensation drip from above.
Asides from the aforementioned internal moisture gathering comment, the only con I can attest to so far is the hefty price tag on this featherweight find.
While Therm-a-rest touts these pads as the lightest, insulated options on the market, there are certainly other pads out there that come in at a fraction of the price, albeit with a bit of a weight penalty.
Also, the narrowness of the regular sized pad could be an issue for big boned, or wider bodied individuals who might be more comfortable on a square shaped surface versus the tapered likes of the UberLite.
Of course, there is always the threat of needles, glass, sharps rocks, pin pricks and baffle blowouts to be wary of when it comes to air pads, so for some people, foam pads are their preference.
However, with all that our UberLite pads have been through — coming out unscathed — I'm feeling confident in their ability to hold strong, especially if we continue to treat them with the care that ultralight gear calls for and needs.
So, for an ultralight, uber packable, insulated, comfortable, fairly quiet and so far, damn durable air pad, I think the NeoAir Uberlite has been worth every precious penny we paid.
Ali Becker is a freelance adventure writer and narrative storyteller who shares compelling conversations about personal transformations, overcoming limitations, wellness education and adventurous situations. You can follow her rambling adventures on social at @thisisalibecker.