After much debate, I finally pulled the trigger on the famed Therm-A-Rest NeoAir (regular). I had been wanting one of course since they came out, but I really didn’t want to spend the money. Besides, as a fairly new backpacker still, I am still getting lots of things. I am finally in a position where I can start focusing on the bigger things now (since I didn’t do so to begin with…)
My feelings are pretty much the same as everyone else that has purchased this pad. Pumped about the light weight as well as the small packed size, however a little concerned about the durability and upset that this high-priced pad didn’t even come with a repair kit. I can deal with not having a stuff sack (actually I will make my own stuff sack from some scrap silnylon I have) but just as many others have already stated, it is a bummer that this thin-walled, air-filled pad, did not come with a repair kit. I understand that some praise the pads durability, stating that they treat the NeoAir exactly as they would their older more durable ProLites (I have even read that one person slept on the air pad with a pine cone underneath it and it did not puncture the pad), however I have also read that people have received them with tiny holes already in them. So, from what I gather, this pad is pretty much a hit or miss. (Gotta love that REI membership…)
I should receive the pad in a few days so I will definitely try it out at home a few times, and then I have plans to be in the Smokies again in a few weekends and I will get 2 outdoor nights on it then. So, I will be sure to report back with an initial review as well as on how this pad performs in the field.
UPDATE: I have uploaded a complete review of the NeoAir on the Backpackgeartest site. The review can be read by clicking here.
UPDATE: April 5, 2011
One thing I can say about the NeoAir is that it usually stirs up conversations. Many seem to hate them while others seem to love them, then of course there are those few that simply like them. After owning mine for the last year, I have fallen into the love them crowd! To the point that it will be replaced if ever need be by another one (especially since I bought mine from REI… 🙂 ).
One of the common questions I get after I get back from a hike and do some quick general reviews on my gear used, is how did my NeoAir do? So, tonight as I was sitting here and going through some forum threads I came across one concerning the NeoAir. Now there wasn’t necessarily any heavy, heated debates about the pad, but I decided to leave my input. After typing it all out, I thought it would be a great summary for me to post here on my blog to sum up that common question I get about my NeoAir. So, here is my final thoughts on this pad…
“I gotta give my love for the NeoAir, cause I do, a lot! It was one of the very best purchases I made last year, and I will do it again if need be.
The horizontal baffles are much more comfortable than the vertical baffles. When I lay on my NeoAir I don’t feel like I am laying on a pool toy, like I do when I lay on my Exped SynMat 7. (But hey, that’s me and not everyone will feel the same…)
I have had no issues with crinkly noise, nor has anybody else that has been hiking with me, or any of the other hikers that I bunked with in the shelters.
My thoughts on durability: It’s an air pad. I take that into consideration when I use it. I try to clear the area of sharp pointy things, same as I do with ANY air pad. However, they do make a repair kit for it if something were to happen, just like they do for the rest of them (and it is in my kit)…If I need to carelessly throw my pad on the ground and plop down on it, I will use a ccf pad. Otherwise, I have no reason to cry about how the air pad wasn’t durable enough since I didn’t treat it the way it is supposed to be treated, same as with any other air pad.
R-Value. It is listed at 2.5. What does that mean to me? Well, I don’t know. What I do know is that I can use my NeoAir with a 1/8″ Thinlight pad and be fine to right around single digits. If I want to go out in colder temps, I will use a 1/4″ pad, maybe even with the 1/8″ pad if needed.
Weight. My regular size NeoAir weighs 13.8 oz. It measures 20″x72″x2.5″. I splurged rather than using a small (short) pad and trying to make my empty pack work under my legs. And it still weighs less than most other pads out there, especially this size. Plus it packs down to the size of a 1L Nalgene, so I have plenty of room for my other tiny stuff to fit in my pack…
As well, I appreciate that the bottom of the NeoAir is tacky feeling. That means it slides around less in my tents (especially those with sil floors) than my other pads.
It takes me approximately 18 breaths to inflate, so no big deal (for me). Deflating it is even easier, just unscrew the valve while I am laying on it in the morning, just before I get up. About 15 – 20 seconds later it is almost flat.
Also, the insulation is really only a mylar sheet. So, I don’t have to worry about long-term deterioration of a synthetic or down insulation inside the pad. As well, I don’t have to worry about the moisture from my breath damaging that insulation.
I can say some bad things about the pad though. It didn’t come with a stuff sack (which means I can save half an oz by using a rubber band, if I choose).
It also didn’t come with a repair kit. That one was the real bummer. A repair kit is essential to have with ANY air pad. So, I had to look around to get the appropriate repair kit. It cost me $10 (I think).
During the summer, I have to take more care with it as far as leaving it inflated. In the heat, the air will expand and if the NeoAir is left inflated it will ruin the internal baffles by blowing them apart. So, if I am base camping, I have to remember not to leave the pad inflated during the day. However, during the day I am usually hiking to my next destination anyway.
So, as may be seen, the regular NeoAir is a winner for me. I really don’t think I could have a better sleeping pad while on the trail. Even the newer versions coming out…
As for the Trekker, the only advantage I see is that it is thicker skinned. However, since I try to clear my area of pointy objects first, that doesn’t really seem to be an improvement over the regular NeoAir (to me). And like I said, I do have the repair kit just in case I miss something. I try to remember that even the thick-skinned Trekker can pop out there too. So, the thick skin manages to add a few extra ozs, but somehow lower the “R-Value”… honestly, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me… so it only seems right that it is a few $$$ cheaper than the regular NeoAir. Doesn’t the rule go something like this: The lighter things get, usually, the more $$$ they cost…
Now, the NeoAir All-Season pad may be a nice addition though. It is a few ozs heavier, but it promises twice the “R-Value” of the regular version, plus has a thicker skin. And to top it off, it does come with a repair kit, and for good measure they even throw in a stuff sack that doubles as a pump. For me, I could see this working as a nice 4th season pad (remember, I am in the Southeast). However, about 80 – 90% of the time, it would still be overkill, both in weight as well as in “R-Value.”
So, I hope that this helps to answer anyone’s (potential) questions. I would like to make one thing clear though. I am not trying to push the NeoAir as being the “best” air pad out there. However, I do feel like it is the “best” for me. Everyone has different issues, concerns and needs and we are all built different so we experience life (and everything within it) a little different than the next.
So, thanks for reading…