Thermarest NeoAir XTherm vs XTherm Max

The right sleeping pad is highly important for a good night’s sleep outdoors and with its compact design and quality fabrics, Thermarest is the top sleeping pad provider of the outdoor market for years. Its XTherm series is the most suitable option for four-season backpacking, in this article of Thermarest NeoAir XTherm vs XTherm Max, I’ve compiled everything you should know about both pads to help you pick the suitable one for you.

The quick answer is, Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max has a rectangular form to provide you a bigger room and a warmer condition, NeoAir XTherm on the other hand has a tapered design to save weight. So if you’re willing to sacrifice 2 oz of weight for a bigger area especially around the feet side Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max is the better option for you, if you want the weight to be as low as possible but still want to enjoy 4 season camping then Thermarest NeoAir XTherm is the suitable option for you.


Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Review

thermarest neoair xtherm
  • WEIGHT: 15 oz / 425 gr
  • DIMENSIONS (REGULAR): 72″ (Length) x 20″ (Width) / 183 x 51 cm (TAPERED)
  • PACKED SIZE: Ø 4.0″ x 9″ / Ø 10 cm x 23 cm
  • R-VALUE: 6.9
  • FABRIC: 30D rip HT Nylon (Top) / 70D Nylon (Bottom)

Thermarest NeoAir XTherm is a mummy shaped four-season backpacking sleeping pad. It’s considered as a high-end, luxurious sleeping pad due to its price, but it gives you everything you should be looking for on an ultralight sleeping pad.

When it comes to air sleeping pads, there are several factors to take into consideration but the main things you should look for are; weight, packed size, dimensions, durability, R-Value, and sound.

The unique thing about the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm is its great balance between durability, weight, and warmth.

  • Weight: With a weight of 15 oz, it’s very light for a sleeping pad (not the lightest though check the 8.8 oz Uberlite)
  • Warmth: It offers an R-Value of 6.9 (very high for an air sleeping pad) which is more than enough for 4 season camping (down to -15 °F)
  • Durability: Top and bottom layer of the pad is respectively made of 30D and 70D Nylon, which is very denier fabric for an air sleeping pad

There are sleeping pads that offer the same durability and warmth but they’re twice the weight of XTherm, likewise, there are sleeping pads that have the same weight but they’re not as durable or as insulated as XTherm. This uniqueness makes it the best 4-season sleeping pad in the market (I will include a table of other alternatives below).

Thermarest-NeoAir-Xtherm-Packed

Also, Thermarest NeoAir packs down quite small with the dimensions of Ø 4.0″ x 9″ it packs down to the size of a 1-liter water bottle.

But just like everything else in the world, XTherm has some cons too, firstly, it’s not the most comfortable sleeping pad out there, it has a thickness of 2.5″ which is not the best option for overweight side-sleepers, if that is the case there’s a slight chance that you might sink in and feel the ground, in that case, I can recommend Nemo Tensor (read my review or view on Amazon) not only it’s thicker, it also sounds much lesser.

Another con of XTherm is, it makes crinkly sounds when you move on the pad, it’s not loud enough to wake you up in the middle of the night but still, it’s worth mentioning for light sleepers.

Last but not least, it has a tapered form, if you like a bigger room especially around the feet area XTherm wouldn’t be suitable for you, this is where XTherm Max comes to save the day.


Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max Review

Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max
  • WEIGHT: 17 oz / 490 gr
  • DIMENSIONS (REGULAR): 72″ (Length) x 20″ (Width) / 183 x 51 cm (RECTANGULAR)
  • PACKED SIZE: Ø 4.0″ x 9″ / Ø 10 cm x 23 cm
  • R-VALUE: 6.9
  • FABRIC: 30D rip HT Nylon (Top) / 70D Nylon (Bottom)

Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max is a rectangular shaped four-season sleeping pad, and the great thing about this pad is, it’s the only rectangular pad that offers less than 20 oz of weight and still offers an R-Value of 6.9.

Also, another thing I liked very much about the pad is although it’s rectangular, it still packs down to Ø 4.0″ x 9″ (same as XTherm).

The general opinion about rectangular sleeping bags is that the only advantage of rectangular sleeping bags is that they are more comfortable, but it’s not true, since they provide a full cover between you and the cold ground, they perform better in cold weathers too.

Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Max’s top and bottom fabric are respectively 30D and 70D nylon. Compared to its alternatives (for instance Nemo Tensor: 20D Polyester, Exped Synmat: 20D Polyester), it’s very durable for an air pad, nay it’s durable enough to directly put on the grass, I don’t recommend it though, the warranty doesn’t cover this kind of damages. If you want to lay it on the ground to tan or to watch the stars, I recommend putting a foam pad under it like Thermarest Z Lite (read my review or view on Amazon).


Detailed Comparison of XTherm vs XTherm Max

Shape

Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm vs XTherm Max Shapes

Starting with the most obvious difference, Thermarest NeoAir XTherm has a tapered design, wider around the shoulder area more narrow around the feet area, this cut is specifically made for saving weight to make the XTherm even lighter, the main trade-off here is the comfort, the indirect trade-off here is the warmth (which I’ll cover below).

Size

The second difference for the XTherm vs XTherm Max comparison is the size, Thermarest NeoAir XTherm offers only two sizes, Regular and Large, XTherm Max on the other hand offers one more size too Regular Wide.

Thermarest NeoAir XThermThermarest NeoAir XTherm Max
thermarest neoair xthermThermarest NeoAir XTherm Max
Regular15 oz / 72″ x 20″1 lb 1 oz / 72″ x 20″
Large1 lb 4 oz / 77″ x 25″1 lb 7 oz / 77″ x 25″
Regular Wide1 lb 6 oz / 72″ x 25″

Therefore, with XTherm you don’t have too many options, if you’re tall you go with the large model if you’re not you go with the regular model. But that is not the case with the XTherm Max.

If you have an average length but want a wider room around the shoulder area I recommend getting XTherm Max Regular Wide (Check the price on Amazon), it would be the perfect option for you.

Warmth

Nothing is worse than trying to sleep outdoors in cold weather, 3 years ago I went camping in Budapest with only summer camping gear (most of them was lent from a friend), and the temperature hit down to 5 °C (40 °F), it was a nightmare trying to sleep at that weather. After four cold nights, I realized that there are some gear you shouldn’t be stingy about money.

Thermarest NeoAir series are a bit expensive compared to other air pads on the market but they’re worth every penny.

And with an R-Value of 6.9, Thermarest NeoAir XTherm is the warmest air pad in the NeoAir line, and not only it’s the warmest one, but it’s also the most efficient one (it provides the maximum Warmth to Weight Ratio as you can see at the table below).

R-ValueWeightWarmth to WeightMy Review
Thermarest Neoair Uberlite2.38.8 oz0,26Review
Thermarest Neoair XLite4.212 oz0.35Review
Thermarest Neoair XTherm6.915 oz0.46
Exped SynMAT2.915.4 oz0.22Review
Thermarest Neoair XTherm Max6.917 oz0.40
Exped SynMAT Winter5.217.8 oz0.29Review
Thermarest Prolite (Self Inflating)2.418 oz0.13Review
Nemo Tensor3.518 oz0.19Review
Thermarest Prolite Plus3.223 oz0.14Review
Sea to Summit Comfort Plus4.029.8 oz0.09Review

For those who’re not familiar with the term, R-Value is a reference to understand how warm a sleeping pad is, the higher this number the more insulation you obtain, and an R-Value of 6.9 can keep you warm down to -15 °F.

But for the XTherm vs XTherm Max comparison, although they both offer the same R-Value, XTherm Max performs better in the cold weather. Compared to mummy-shaped (tapered) sleeping pads, rectangular pads are better since they cover a bigger area on the ground.

Durability

In the durability department, there is no difference at all, Top fabric of XTherm and XTherm Max is 30D Nylon and the bottom fabric of the pads is 70D Nylon (bottom fabric is more denier than the top fabric because the bottom side is often the side where pads get damaged).

It’s important to mention that 70D Nylon fabric is considered very durable for an air sleeping pad, but after all, it’s an air pad and air pads are the most fragile type of sleeping pads. If you want an even more durable sleeping pad I would recommend Thermarest Prolite Plus (read my review or view on Amazon) for backpacking, it’s more durable and easier to use but the trade-off here is the weight and packed size (also self sleeping pads are thinner, I wouldn’t recommend for side sleepers).

Sound

Too many people make the same mistake and don’t think of sound before purchasing a sleeping pad and end up being unsatisfied with the pad.

So, to help you not become one of those people I wanted to include this factor too. You must know Thermarest NeoAir series are loud, they make a crinkly sound when you move while laying on them, it’s not high enough to wake you up in the middle of the night, but it’s loud enough to disturb you if you want a perfect silence.

If you want a very quiet ultralight sleeping pad, I would recommend Nemo Tensor (read my review or view on Amazon) it’s also 0.5″ thicker which is better for side sleepers.

Ease of use

Over the years all Thermarest air sleeping pads including Thermarest NeoAir XTherm and XTherm Max are inflated by mouth (manually), but last year Thermarest featured a new and innovative valve called the Winglock.

And if you buy the Winglock version of a Thermarest pad (you can still find the classic valve options in the market) it comes with a compact pump sack (which can be packed in the sleeping pad stuff sack). So if you go with a Winglock model you don’t have to inflate the pad with your mouth.

BUT, here is the cool part, you might not want to carry the pump sack for going even lighter, Winglock Valve version of pads also can be inflated three times faster than classical valve versions, and with Winglock it’s much easier to deflate.

Pack Size and Weight

Both Thermarest NeoAir XTherm and XTherm Max packs down to Ø 4.0″ x 9″ / Ø 10 x 23 cm which is considerably small (not the smallest though check Uberlite and Exped Synmat). So there is not a winner in the pack size department.

Thermarest Neoair Series Packed Size Comparison

BUT, when it comes to weight, there is a significant difference, with a weight of 15 oz the XTherm is 2 oz lighter than XTherm Max (17 oz).

If you want to go even lighter (those who don’t camp in winter don’t necessarily need a sleeping pad that has an R-Value of 6.9), you can go with the Thermarest NeoAir XLite (read my review or view on Amazon), it weighs 12 oz and with an R-Value of 4.2, it can keep you warm down to 15 °F.


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