This is our top pick for female wild campers, fast packers and bike explorers who value a small pack size and a light weight on their adventures. It’s also one of the warmest mat we’ve ever tested, ideal for winter conditions and expeditions. Worth the spend if you’re a regular backpacker.
- Warm year-round
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Women’s Camping Mat: first impressions
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir women’s camping mat uses the company’s Triangular Core matrix inside, which Therm-a-Rest claim has the best warmth-to-weight ratio of any inflatable backpacking mattress (but did that impress us enough to place it in our best women’s sleeping pads buying guide?).
Prepped for bedtime, it’s a hefty 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) thick, stable, durable, and deliciously warm for a pad that’s so compact. Therm-a-Rest’s WingLock valve makes it three times faster to inflate this pad than Therm-a-Rest pads with other valves (the WingLock valve has a larger opening, and it’s one-way).
As Therm-a-Rest put it, the female-specific NeoAir XLite design is simply a warmer and less lengthy version of their very popular NeoAir mat, and is made for ‘shorter, colder sleepers’ (ie, most women).
It comes with a pump sack, stuff sack and repair kit – the latter an invaluable inclusion, because if you do get a puncture and don’t/can’t repair it, you’ll be sleeping on the ground. But you’ll need to provide your own camping pillows.
RRP: $180 (US) / £170 (UK)
Weight: 340g / 12oz
Dimensions: 168 x 51cm / 66 x 20in
Thickness: 6.4cm / 2.5in
Pack size: 23 x 10cm / 9 x 4.1in
Compatibility: Take this go-anywhere mat with you from valley to mountain to sleep well in any season
Colors: Lemon Curry
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Women’s Camping Mat in the field
This is a significant investment, but other than the price tag, there’s not much we don’t like about this mat (except, perhaps, the lack of noise-damping insulation, which makes it a bit crinkly).
It’s highly portable for a start, weighing just 340g and packing down to the size of a water bottle (and fitting easily into a backpack’s bottle pocket, or a small pannier bag).
This pad packs Therm-a-Rest’s most advanced technology into an extremely compact package that’s ready for camping in all but the most extreme cold conditions.
The ultralight pad is internally reflective, so it radiates heat back to your body while minimizing heat loss to the air and ground without bulky insulation that would also add weight to this pad. The impressive thickness absorbs uneven ground, and pokey roots and rocks.
But because there’s no noise-damping insulation, the reflective internal structure is crinkly if you flip and flop during the night. The warmth and ultrapackability made up for any night-time noise, however. So did the easy-to-use pump sack that let us inflate this pad in under a minute.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.
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