Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Max SV

Specs

regular large
R-Value 3.2
Weight 1 lb / 0.46 kg 1 lb 5 oz / 0.60 kg
Width 20 in / 51 cm 25 in / 63 cm
Length 72 in / 183 cm 77 in / 196 cm
Thickness 2.5 in / 6.3 cm
Packed dimensions 23 cm x 10 cm / 9 in x 4.0 in 28 cm x 11 cm / 11 in x 4.5 in

Reviews

It's comfortable, but you're going to have to learn…

Rating: rated 3 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $135 eBay

Summary

It's comfortable, but you're going to have to learn how to work the finicky speed valve or you'll be re-inflating in the middle of the night. I'll avoid the debate about inflatables vs. closed cell foam pads, and just say that this pad would be great if you don't mind the extra weight, increased setup time, and singular purpose. Otherwise, I prefer a CCF because it sets up faster, and I can throw it down on any irregular surface in seconds.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Deflate time

Cons

  • Finicky Speed Valve
  • Heavy
  • Inflate time
  • Noisy

I found this new on eBay at a price I couldn't resist. It was sold as new, but I suspect the seller tried it out at home, didn't like the speed valve, and put it on eBay as new. Otherwise, I'm still a closed cell foam ("CCF") sleeping pad loyalist for backpacking trips. That said, I've used it on an overnight shakedown on the AT as well as a few nights in my backyard, and for a week crashing on a friend's floor. 

There's plenty of pros and cons in the debate between inflatable pads and CCF pads. I'll skip that here and try to focus just on how this pad performed. 

The speed valve is not as easy to use as the videos would have you believe. It takes at least 20 blows to get it to the point where you use the traditional valve to "top it off." You also have to lay the pad out flat, and get down level with the speed valve. If you stand up and try it, it just doesn't work as well. And, you have to be perfect with sealing the speed valve or it is going to have a slow leak resulting in the need to re-inflate in the middle of the night.

The key is to make sure that the black plastic piece of the speed valve is tucked securely 100% inside the pad before you start the roll-top seal. Then, you roll it so that the gray side is out. Roll it seven times. I kept thinking I had a leak from a puncture or micro-hole, but I finally figured out it was just the speed valve. A search of the internet revealed I'm not the only one having issues with the speed valve.

Once inflated, this pad is very comfortable. It's more comfortable than my CCF pad. 

Deflating the pad is probably the best feature. Just undo the speed valve, and start rolling from the bottom. It's deflated in 20 seconds or less. Rolling it back up and getting it into the stuff sack is a little chore as you can't just stuff it in the sack. You have to have the gray side down, fold one long side 1/3 into the middle of the pad, then fold the other long side into the middle of the pad, then roll from the bottom, continuing to squeeze air from the pad. If the wind is blowing, it makes this chore even more difficult because the bad doesn't want to stay folded. 

This is the longer and wider pad, and I like that size better than a regular CCF pad. But, the extra 5 ounces just isn't worth it to me. 

The pad doesn't seem very durable either. But, I haven't punctured it. I did cowboy camp on it one night, and it held up on packed dirt with whatever little rocks, pebbles, and sticks, I couldn't sweep away with my feet. 

This pad is perfect if you want to have something for car camping. But, if you're car camping, why not go with something even more luxurious? I recently found myself having to crash on a friend's floor, and I was happy to have this pad in the trunk of my car. I only had to inflate it once for the week, and it is more comfortable than a CCF pad. 

When I'm backpacking, I use my sleeping pad as a sit pad for breaks, lunch, and around camp. You cannot use this inflatable like a CCF pad in that respect. That's a shortcoming for inflatables, and not a reason I only gave this pad 3 stars. The 3-star rating is because the speed valve is a pain in the ass except for deflating the pad.

Some people complain about the crinkling sound this pad makes when you move on it, and I noticed the sound, but it didn't bother me. The sound is coming from the interior baffle design. 

So, if you are willing to learn how to use the speed valve and you don't mind a longer inflate time and less flexibility in use compared to a CCF pad, then this is a good pad. But, its pros don't outweigh the pros for a CCF pad. 

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