Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker
Source: received it as a personal gift
A minimalist approach to the inflatable mattress, making sleeping on the ground a lot more comfortable than I remember it. By no means the biggest, warmest, or most comfortable sleeping pad there is, I find this the best compromise that provides me with "just enough." For how small it packs down, heck, that's something I'm willing to live with.
- VERY packable small size.
- Adjustable firmness.
- Narrow 20" standard width.
- Noisy against tent floors.
- Labor-intensive to manually inflate.
- Expensive retail price.
I couldn't write this review without pointing out the obvious first flaw, and that's the barrier-to-entry retail price of this sleeping pad.
Luckily my birthday falls close enough to Christmas, and I was fortunate enough to receive a set of these as gifts. First bit of advice: ask Santa for this one, or a loved one the next time a holiday rolls around. Your checking account will thank me.
Holy crap, these pack down small.
4" x 9" packed, and weighing 19 ounces.
When I was opening gifts, it wasn't until I opened the box and read the package that I knew what I was getting. Deflated, folded into thirds, and rolled up, they take up less space than a Nalgene bottle. More than a soda can, but less than a Nalgene bottle.
Here's the pad in the included stuff sack (note I've also packed my battery-operated Camp-Tek Microburst Pump in with it):
Setup is simple, but labor-intensive. It takes — easily — a couple dozen FULL lungs full of air to get these pads inflated. After an exhausting day on the trail, I can't even imagine blowing these up with my own breath.
Untwist the valve counterclockwise to open it, blow like you're trying to put out the Great Chicago Fire, and tighten it back up clockwise when you've reached your desired firmness. I usually keep my mouth over the valve until I'm COMPLETELY done inflating it so I don't lose any firmness at all.
Luckily, battery-operate pumps are available. I bought a Microburst from Camp-Tek and it does the work for me in about five minutes or so. Nice, too, in that I can let the pads inflate while I set up the rest of camp.
I have a set of the regular-size pads, which measure 20" W x 72" L x 2.5" T (Inflated).
Luckily I'm an even six feet tall, and am a skinny guy, so this size works just fine for me.
For reference, here's the pad with a Marmot Trestles 15-Degree Sleeping Bag (Women's Regular, which fits a maximum height of 6' - 0") on top of it:
No, there's not a lot of room to roll around, and no, it's not the longest pad, but it fits into my tent and provides me just enough sleeping space without taking up unnecessary room in my tent.
Some folks prefer vertical baffles, opposed to the horizontal ones seen here. I'm not much of one to roll around in my sleep, and I've certainly never rolled off my sleeping pad entirely in the night, so this feature comes down to personal preference.
Before using these, I would sacrifice 4/5ths of my tent floor space (in a 4-person tent) by sleeping on cots. I got so irritated with losing all the valuable square footage that I resolved to find a more space-efficient way of sleeping, and sleeping comfortable.
These pads are the best possible compromise, taking up no more room than they have to, and still allowing me a comfortable night's rest without eating up the square footage or headroom in my tent.
Sure, I could have bought the longer version of the pad, but that would not only negate the packability and weight of the regular size, but run the risk of touching my tent walls and being a magnet for condensation.
Where insulating value and warmth are concerned, a 2.0 R value makes this no more than a 3-season pad. Being a spring-through-fall camper, this is more than enough for me.
Biggest complaint I wish they did something about, like others mentioned, is the noise.
These things swish against a tent floor more than an overzealous jogger in a windbreaker. I know you can bring an extra sheet to keep them from sliding around, or use your flannel bag liner. Already using the bag liner, well, in my bag, this doesn't exactly work for me. Something about the material on the bottom being non-textured seems to encourage it (100D poly, top is a 75D textured poly).
This isn't the perfect solution for my sleeping needs, but like I said, it is the best compromise.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $130
Lasted me about a week before it blew a hole somewhere I can't find... Not even submerged in the bath tub. No repair kit included. Tired of air mattresses leaking. I switched to Clark Jungle Hammock and haven't looked back. Product best for a recall. Would not recommend.
- Will cost you $100 or more for nothing
As I said in my summary, complete waste of money. Lasted about 6 nights. Can't find the leak and even if I did they did not include a repair kit. No gear stores out in the bush in Costa Rica either, so on the ground I was.
I did my research and read reviews stating the same, but thought they were just sour grapes... Yhey were right. Hope this helps save you some money.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: USD 105
Surprisingly light, compact and durable!
- small size when packed
- durable than the NeoAir
- very comfortable
- annoyingly noisy
- needs to blow air
Here is my sleep system:
EASE OF USE:
Blowing air into the pad is not that fun! However when you passed this predicament you would immediately noticed how comfortable it is. With 2.5in cushion and a rugged 100D polyester bottom, you are in dreamland in no time!
I would have easily rate it 5 stars if not for the noise it makes everytime you move. My wife complained that the noise it makes is so annoying that it wakes her up.
I have no issues with its lower R value compared to the NeoAir, since I mostly camp in Hong Kong. Winter here has its low at around 3-10°C. Surely far from the limitations of the Trekker.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120
Not much to say. Slippery, slides all over your tent, it's noisy, it's easy to inflate, however when you're tired it sucks to inflate it. The air nozzle is situated on top where you sleep. Not only is it a terrible design you bump into it when you sleep as it stands up. It is very light and packs very well.
I personally did not find it comfortable. I am now sleeping on a MEC Reactor 2.6. Nice pad and packs better than Therm-a-Rest (comparable).
Price Paid: $AU150
I'm 90 Kg and 185 cm and live in Australia.
I've spent about 20 nights on my NeoAir in Australia. Most of that time was in the Aus winter and outside nighttime temps of about 5'C in a WM -7'C bag and a Marmot Hydrogen -1'C bag, OR Alpine Bivy and under a tarp. I wear merino thermals in to bed and sometimes socks. I've been through severe winds, frost and extreme rain.
In those conditions I found the -1'C bag fine however I was cool underneath and I woke up several times from the disturbance. Knowing I had an extended expedition coming up, I purchased the WM -7'C bag and had very comfortable nights sleep for 10 days of 5'C (or lower) nights.
NeoAir is very comfortable and extra lightweight, low bulk for those that want that (me!!). I liked it so much I am purchasing another one as the large is just too long for my bivy bag. Large is ideal for a tent.
Price Paid: $139
Trying to save weight, I bought a Neo-Air about a year ago (it's the light version of this one). I've had two of them now and they both leaked. Since Thermarest won't repair them, REI (the best company ever) gave me a Trekker. After a few days of trying it out, I decided not to use it and thought I'd share my reasoning.
The second Neo-Air I had left me freezing one night last month in Shenandoah National Park. I've been backpacking for a long time and made a rookie mistake by not having supplemental ground protection as you should for any inflatable mattress. Think what you want but they're just for comfort. My belief is that if you have to carry additionally insulation anyway, why not save weight and stick with the Neo-Air instead of the additional weight of the Trekker.
The inflatable advocates will argue that they are reliable and all that. I agree to a point but here's the bottom line: All it takes is one leak on one winter night...that's it. Carry the lightest inflatable and supplement it with a thin closed cell. Thanks, Frank