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Thread: Thermarest NeoAir Review

  1. #1

    Default Thermarest NeoAir Review

    I've long been a fan of larger and thicker sleeping mats and have been using an Exped Down Mat DLX 9 for a while now and I am really happy with as it is very very comfortable.
    http://www.exped.com/exped/web/exped_homepage_int.nsf

    So when the chance to try out a mat from Thermarest I jumped at it.

    I was heading down to the BushMoot meet up so decided that Id use it for the week that I was there.


    as it comes in the box I should point out that it comes with no stuff sack as standard.
    I just used a little dry bag and it fitted in fine.

    Description from Thermarest
    The NeoAir mattress represents the world’s most advanced engineering in ultralight comfort. Beyond being the lightest air mattress available, we’ve utilised two patent-pending internal technologies, making it up to three times warmer and far more stable than any other uninsulated air mattress available. And when it comes to space in your pack, you’ll appreciate that it’s no bigger than a one-liter water bottle. Revolutionary by design, the gossamer NeoAir mattress makes comfort one less thing you’ll need to compromise when travelling fast and light

    It was the large one that I had borrowed
    Link to the Specs
    http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-...neoair/product

    Here's some pictures, I borrowed Magikellys Daughters for a few of them (thanks)


















    You can see that they both look a little soft in the top pictures but I've found that If you only inflate them so that when you kneel on them you touch the ground through the mats, by the time you lie on them it allows you to sink in a little and you get more support from the mats and it makes a lot of difference to the comfort.
    You can also see that they are very similar in size and shape when up. I must admit I prefer the lenghtways baffles of the Exped mat myself.Mmight just be that I'm not used the the Thermarest one yet ?.

    First impression of the NeoAir mattress. Its tiny and weighs next to nothing when compared to the Exped mat.

    The NeoAir needs you to manually blow it up. I opted for good old lung power as I don't normally carry a pump which does leave you feeling rather faint if you're like me and do it in a oner. Once its up it is very comfortable I'm not sure how well it will perform when the temperature starts to drop as it relies on its clever use of internal baffles so no down filling. I would need to see if I could borrow it to test on a Scottish winter trip when its really cold to give it a proper test.

    When I used it for my weeks camping in Wales it served me very well , I slept very well and had no cold spots at all and I was only using my lightweight sleeping bag and sleeping in shorts. So wasn't overly wrapped up and it did get fairly cold at nights.

    So It seems like the Neo Airs getting a glowing review theres a few down sides but not many so here goes.
    It does seem very fragile I opted to put a piece of heavy nylon sheet under it to make a home made footprint for it.
    And it doesn't come with a stuff sack or a means to inflate it with the aid of a dry bag which would make life so much easier.

    Price wise it's on a par with the Exped down mat so nothing really to tell them apart.

    Honest opinion time now would I buy one to replace my Exped mat? No it doesn't seem as robustly made and I like the fact that I don't have to physically use my lung power to inflate the Exped mat and Ive never had a cold nights sleep on it even in the depths of winter. So I'm more than happy to carry the extra weight and bulk of the Exped mat.

    I think the NeoAir mattress will really appeal to the really light weight campers out there and it weights very little and packs up tiny I'd just be a little cautious about it seeming fragile (might not be without carrying out a long term test I wont know)

    Well Thanks for taking the time to read this.
    Cheers Russ
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 30th-August-2010 at 10:44 AM.

  2. #2

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    Nice review Russ. I was looking at them in a shop over the summer and am very interested in trying one out as we're at the stage of needing more (kids growing up and going camping with Scouts 12 month of the year). I too thought it was 'fragile' but then I suppose that Thermarest have a good reputation so would not put out a product that will not last.

    Group buy anyone?
    Chris


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    Ive tried this too and am really impressed with it. Like Russell I will be interested to see how it compares in a winter situation and how robust it turns out to be. I suspect it is more hard wearing than we are giving it credit for.

    The Exped is without a doubt a stronger and warmer mat but it is two and a half times as heavy so these benefits are not without cost. If I were to be sleeping in a tent or bivi then i would take the Exped as the weigh would be worth it. But if I were planning on Hammocking them the Neoair would go in as a safety net if i needed to sleep on the ground. Similarly if I were not canoeing and carrying my kit on my back then the Neoair would be my first choice for a lightweight kit.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  4. #4
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    Default Neoair mattress

    These proved to be great matresses this year. We needed some very light weight ones and bought two.

    They do come with their own stuff sacks and fold away to virtually nothing. I was concerned that they would not be as warm as our usual thermarests but we had no issues at all with them. Simple answer to getting them blown up, take your husband with you and get him to do them

    The great thing about them is that they can stay rolled up at home and take up no space at all unlike all other self inflating matresses which should be stored unrolled and with the valve open. (Otherwise they compress over time)

    I would always use them with a groundsheet of some sort underneath them but ours have had quite a bit of use this year.

    Do read the instructions that warn you not to leave them fully inflated in warm weather as just like air bags the air expands in the heat and may burst the seams or the valve.
    Wenonah Wilderness and Bell Yellowstone

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    The Neo Air seems interesting. But way overpriced.

    I see from your comparisons you have a Exped Downmat and compare the Neo Air to that. I cant see them having the same use at all. Its like having one apple and one orange.

    I have an Exped Synmat 7 for summer use and that seems to be more comparable to the Neo Air. Its half the price too.
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    Having used both the Exped and Neoair I think they are comparable on comfort and price. Where the differ is weight, pack size and warmth.

    Part of the problem is there is no real fair comparison to the Neoair. Nothing of the same pack size and weight is anywhere near as warm and comfortable. And nothing as warm and comfortable can come close to the weight and pack size,
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  7. #7
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    I'm in two minds now. I already have a Thermarest, bought around 8 years ago. I was going to use it at the Ullswater Meet. I looked for it before I left and couldn't find it. Must be in the Lakes I thought but when I got there, all I could find was the stuffsac. In the end, I made do with the hammock under-blanket, (I was sleeping in a tent). This turned out to be alright and meant that I could roll about and always have insulation under me. But if it fails to come to light soon, I'll have to get another mat. I'm not too bothered about the weight but I don't light bulky things.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    Having used both the Exped and Neoair I think they are comparable on comfort and price. Where the differ is weight, pack size and warmth.

    Part of the problem is there is no real fair comparison to the Neoair. Nothing of the same pack size and weight is anywhere near as warm and comfortable. And nothing as warm and comfortable can come close to the weight and pack size,

    Locally Neo air is $149.95

    Exped Synmat $80

    This side of the pond REI seems to have the widest selection of mats. Whoda thunk there would be five pages of them?

    http://www.rei.com/category/4500001_Sleeping+Pads

    Exped Downmat 7 $120-150
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    Cracking review, Warthog,
    I am in the market for a new sleep mat. I think I shall be going for the expedition down mat, as weight is not an issue, but warmth is.
    You don't stop playing because you are old, you get old because you stop playing.

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    Having never owned an inflatable mat, I opted for the Downmat DLX 9 after realising what I wanted (big size, thick and a good isolation qualities). That it's down had me choose the downmat over the foam ones they have because I figured it would give me less to worry about in the hypersensitivity department.

    After reading a bit about the Neoair I was worried I had made a less than optimal choice, to be honest.

    But your review puts me at ease, because after that I realised that baffles lengthwise might actually be the best option comfort wise. Not because you said so, but because it got me thinking about ergonomics.

    That you mention the neoair seeming more fragile than the Exped Downmat had me crossing it off on my "perhaps" list. As it is, I worry a lot about the Downmat, perhaps unnecessarily, but I'm thinking of sewing me a cover to protect it. At least when I'm not using a camp cot to put it on (which I won't very often after getting the isolation I want).

    Thank you so much for this review.
    ----------------
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    I'd like to see the innards of a Neoair. It apparently has no down or fiber insulation, so I'm guessing they've got some kind of space blanket running through the guts of it?

    As MagiKelly notes, the packed size/weight/comfort ratio is currently unmatched by anyone else. But it is prohibitively expensive, especially since Thermarest's self-inflating Prolite is at least $100AUD less to buy, basically as good in the weight and warmth stakes, not uncomfortable, and you don't have to blow the bloody thing up (well not very much, anyway).

    It all starts getting a bit Stuff White People Like to Do, doesn't it: "In theory camping should be a very inexpensive activity since you are literally sleeping on the ground. But as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is." The thought of the laughter from the old guard backpacking fraternity if they caught me pumping either said mats up means I'll stick with my old Guidelite mat for now (it still being considered a luxury item). I'm sure my aching body will prevail over my vanity sooner rather than later, however.

    Keep the Neo in the tent if durability concerns you? But I have a fair amount of faith in anything Cascade Designs put together.

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    Of course I keep my mat in my tent seeing that I'm worried about punctures (and I do have a ground sheet in the tent). My point was that, as it is, I'm worried about my downmat, and I would worry endlessly if I had to use something that seemed even more fragile. Irrationally or not.

    I'm still worried about grit, thorns and the like even if it's never on the ground without a protective sheet in between.
    I'm not saying any of the products aren't strong enough, I'm just a bit worried as my Downmat 9DLX is my first inflatable - self inflating or manually inflated - ever.

    I used to use my bouldering mat to sleep on, and when that wasn't brought, I used a foam pad.
    These days, after a decade of not camping, I have grown hypersensitive to foam, so I have tried a camp cot, but needed something to keep me from getting cold. I now try to do without the cot and "only" the downmat.
    ----------------
    “When one rows, it is not the rowing which moves the ship: rowing is only a magical ceremony by means of which one compels a demon to move the ship.” - Nietzsche

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    Of course I keep my mat in my tent seeing that I'm worried about punctures (and I do have a ground sheet in the tent). My point was that, as it is, I'm worried about my downmat, and I would worry endlessly if I had to use something that seemed even more fragile. Irrationally or not.
    My comments weren't directed at you specifically, Oarsnpaddle, but at concerns raised about the Neoair's durability more generally. Sorry if you read them that way.

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    Oh, I see. Sorry about that, then
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    No worries

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oarsnpaddle View Post
    ...

    I'm still worried about grit, thorns and the like even if it's never on the ground without a protective sheet in between.
    I'm not saying any of the products aren't strong enough, I'm just a bit worried as my Downmat 9DLX is my first inflatable - self inflating or manually inflated - ever.

    ...
    I've slept at the bottom of slated crags and in disused quarries, with nothing more than a bivvi bag, Thermarest and sleeping bag. I doubt grit is going to cause any problems.

    TGB
    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

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    Default Not my experience, try before you buy

    Nice review. But i have another experience with the neoair. I've got a medium neoair myself and selling it because i don't find it as comfy as the pacific outdoor equipment ether thermo.

    I'm mainly a side sleeper but when lying on my back, which is fairly straight, i had the feeling of the pad pushing my lower back up when i didn't inflate the neoair quite hard. Deflating the poe is also a bit easier. And to make things even nicer, you can find the poe at half the price of the neoair and for half the weight of the exped. It's a seriously under estimated sleeping pad.

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    I have heard that the Neoair is noisy in that the internal foil rustles when you move about. Is this the case?
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    Yep, i found it was, but it's not anything to loose your sleep over.

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    I've slept a half dozen nights on mine and cant say I noticed it being noisy. Perhaps I am just more noisy than it is
    John

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    Alpkit now do something similar for 40 quid, might be worth a look

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    The alpkit numo is your classic uninsulated inflatable. The neoair, exped dam and poe max thermo sleep warmer because of their insulation, be it down or synthetic.

    Almost same price but insulated :
    http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co....ed_airbed.html

    Not insulated (cheaper) :
    http://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co...._6_airbed.html

    They also stock the neoair.

    I live in Belgium and have absolutely no interest in this product or company, but i have to say that this is by far the best outdoor gear store in terms of service i've ever encoutered. I can recommend it holehartedly.

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    according to their website the numo has hollowfibre insulation, and an estimated r value of 2.5, which is comparable to a standard self inflator. Not sure how it compares to the neoair in that regard. Of course although alpkit customer service is good, thermarests is outstanding.

    http://www.alpkit.com/shop/cart.php?...ategory_id=253

    no connection etc

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    Ah sorry, missed the hollowfibre bit. Akpkit tends to pinch on their sizes, so on the numo, but i have bought from them in the past and they offer and excellent service.

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    Just my two cents: As a camper in the Canadian North, I know a thing or two about cold ! The NeoAir is just fine for sleeping on snow; I have had no issues with cold with this mat The NeoAir uses reflective technology; the repetitive triangular-shaped chambers reflect your body heat back upwards toward you. This offers two main advantages: it is lighter than down or poly-based insulation; and it is waterproof. Not only is the mat lighter by itself, you don't need an airpump either. I agree with others; the mat is somewhat fragile; but if you take care of it; there are no issues. I only upack mine inside the tent; and it gets rolled up and stored in it's stuff sack inside the tent. I guess this mat is of less importance on a Canoe forum; we are not nearly as concerned about weight as a backpacker would be ! But it is also the most compact mat there is; surely that is a attribute that we can all appreciate ! And as for quality; Cascade Designs stand 100 % behind their products. Any issues, and they will replace it for free. I thouroughly recommend this mat if you are a gram-counter.
    Andrew Klinzmann

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