Disclosure: Man Makes Fire is reader-supported. When you buy gear using retail links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission that helps pay for our work. Learn more.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir TopoLuxe Sleeping Pad is a lightweight, insulated air mattress with four inches of cushion. So far so good — but is the NeoAir Topo Luxe light enough to take backpacking? Is it cushy enough for car camping?
To get us a closer look, Therm-a-Rest sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After testing the NeoAir Topo Luxe while camping, which included a sub-freezing weekend in late September, this is what we learned during the review process:
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe is both a sleeping pad and an air mattress. Sleeping pads tend to be small, thin and may or may not contain air for cushion. Air mattresses tend to be wider, thicker and use a lot of air for cushion. Therm-a-Rest offers the NeoAir Topo Luxe in four size options, the smallest of which makes it suitable for backpacking while the largest makes it great for car camping.
Essentially, the NeoAir Topo Luxe is a tweener air pad — versatile for both camping and shorter backpacking trips.
The most important feature of the NeoAir Topo Luxe is its thickness. At 4-inches thick, the Topo Luxe is Therm-a-Rest’s thickest backpacking-capable ‘NeoAir’ sleeping pad. The biggest benefit, however, is how that 4-inches is constructed: Therm-a-Rest uses its unique Triangular Core Matrix internal baffle system to create the foundation that provides edge-to-edge stability. In addition, the Triangular Core Matrix is designed to keep cold air next to the ground and warm air next to you. It’s legit.
You might be wondering how you’re going to inflate the NeoAir Topo Luxe? It takes a lot of air volume to blow up thick air mattresses and it’s no fun to do it with your lungs.
While you can inflate the Topo Luxe by blowing air into it, Therm-a-Rest includes a large, lightweight ‘stuff sack’ air pump. How does it work? Basically it’s a stuff sack that has a receptacle that attaches to the inlet valve on the mattress. If you open the sack to let some air into the sack . . . then roll the open edge of the sack closed, you create a balloon-like sack full of air. By compressing the sack, you force the air into the mattress. Easy peasy.
And then you repeat. It usually takes me about 15 repetitions and 3-4 minutes. It’s not hard, and it’s way better than using your lungs — especially when you’re backpacking or camping at high elevation in the mountains.
Therm-a-Rest has made high-quality valves for decades, but we must admit, our favorite valve design so far is Therm-a-Rest’s TwinLock Valve. You basically get two valves, one that’s dedicated to let air in and one that’s dedicated to let air out. Therm-a-Rest says the inlet valve is about 3x more efficient while the outlet valve is 5x faster than previous two-way valves.
In valve open.
I particularly appreciate the outlet valve’s twist open design because it lets me lie on the mattress and fine-tune the pressure. You can let out just a trickle of air until you get just the right cushy feeling you’re looking for.
There are a few different ways to talk about comfort when it comes to camping and backpacking air pads and mattresses. The first is the level of cushion and how it feels, followed by the temperature rating, then by the materials and noise.
To start, 4-inches of air is very comfortable. That amount of cushion sucks up rocks and roots that might be underneath your pad. Better yet, you’re not going to bottom out with the NeoAir Topo Luxe. This means that if you’re a side sleeper, your hip isn’t going to touch the ground. Like ever. It’s a lot of cushion.
One potential drawback to thick air sleeping pads is stability, but compared to competitive sleeping pads of similar height, the NeoAir Topo Luxe is very stable. Remember the internal Triangular Core Matrix construction? It does a great job of balancing the air inside the pad and keeping you stable even at the edges of the mattress. A feeling of stability means you’ll likely sleep better on the NeoAir Topo Luxe than you might on cheaper, easier-to-manufacture designs.
I’m a relatively big guy, about 6’3″ and 220 lbs. I tested the Large, which is 25″ x 77″ and found it to deliver a great mix of portability yet stability and comfort.
Experienced backpackers and campers know that warmth while sleeping is affected by more than just your sleeping bag. Insulation from the ground, particularly in cool weather, is also very important.
Consequently, uninsulated air mattresses are mostly only comfortable during the summer months. The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe, however, is insulated and it delivers a respectable 3.7 R-Value. This means you should be able to sleep on the NeoAir Topo Luxe comfortably over three seasons — spring, summer and fall.
In one test, I spent two nights on the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe during late September when the nighttime temperatures dropped below freezing. I slept in the Therm-A-Rest Parsec down sleeping bag (full Parsec review here), which is rated to 20°F, while wearing merino wool base layers — and I was plenty comfortable all night long. It was cold enough that, had I been sleeping on an uninsulated sleeping air pad, I’m pretty sure I would have had some rough nights. In fact, my buddy was sleeping on an uninsulated air pad and he was chilly (of course, he was using a different sleeping bag and everyone is different, so it is an inexact comparison even if it’s connected to sleeping pad insulation).
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe uses a 50D polyester knit exterior fabric. It’s not particularly slick and it feels surprisingly good on bare skin. At 50D, the fabric is reasonably stout and thick — but you could still puncture the pad with a stray thorn. Therm-a-Rest includes a patch kit, by the way, in case this happens.
For a comparison, the truly ultralight NeoAir XLite has a 30D rip HT nylon face fabric that is quite a bit thinner and slicker. It’s also noisier.
For noise, the Topo Luxe is fairly quiet compared to most ultralight air mattresses . . . but it’s a bit louder than heavier car camping mattresses. I don’t believe the noise will bother most people on this mattress, but if you’re particularly sensitive to noise, I’d direct you to closed-cell foam pads or air pads with foam and soft fabric exteriors like the Klymit Klymaloft Sleeping Pad noted in the competitive alternatives section below.
NeoAir Topo Luxe Size Options
Therm-a-Rest manufacturers the Topo Luxe in four different size options. The smallest option is light enough for weekend backpacking trips but the XL pushes the bounds for both size and weight. The benefit here is that you can choose the right size for you body type and camping needs.
Either way, the NeoAir Topo Luxe packs down into a fairly small package. If space is a concern for car camping, travel and storage, you’ll get a great balance of cushion and insulation for the packed size. Here are your options, weight followed by inflated size:
Regular— 1 lbs 7 oz, 20″ x 72″ Regular Wide— 1 lbs 11 oz, 25″ x 72″ Large — 1 lbs 13 oz, 25″ x 77″ X-Large— 2 lbs 2 oz, 30″ x 77″
If you camp more than backpack, the Topo Luxe is a great sleeping air pad. If you want to backpack more than camp, we recommend the NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad over the Topo Luxe because it has a much lighter carry weight in your backpack.
Topo Luxe Competitive Alternatives
There are many great air mattress sleeping pad options available these days. If you’re considering the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe, these similar competitive options might also fit your sleeping needs:
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo — The NeoAir Topo is similar to the Topo Luxe, but the Topo version is only 3 inches thick vs the Topo Luxe’s 4 inches. For most people, 3 inches is still plenty cushy. Inside, the Topo baffle system isn’t as stable as what’s in the Topo Luxe, but at 3 inches of height, stability isn’t as critical. Weight and size options are similar, but the R-Value rating drops down to 2.3. The Topo is still considered a 3-season sleeping pad, but won’t protect you in the spring and fall quite as well as the Topo Luxe. We do like the improved price point however, and for many people it might be the best overall buy.
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX — In head-to-head testing, the rectangular Big Agnes Q-Core SLX sleeps nearly the same as the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe. While the Topo Luxe gives you a nearly flat surface area, the Q-Core SLX has a quilt top-style baffle system that’s 3.5″ thick. For edge support, the Q-Core SLX uses thicker 4.25″ side rails. For wild sleepers, the small ridges can help keep them on the pad during the night. The biggest benefit is the lighter weight and lower price point. The drawbacks are minor differences, like a slightly lower R-Value of 3.2 and a possible sleeping preference for a flatter surface.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite — The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is nearly twice as light as the Topo Luxe and it has a better R-Value of 4.2. It uses the same Triangular Core Matrix baffle system as in the Topo Luxe, so it’s very stable and sleeps comfortably. The two most important decision drawbacks are its lesser thickness (2.5″) and its thinner fabric (30D). However, these differences make it lighter, which makes the XLite our favorite choice for more serious backpacking trips. (See our full XLite review here.)
Klymit Klymaloft Sleeping Pad — The Klymit Klymaloft is luxurious but a bit heavy for backpacking, so it’s best for car campers. The 23″ x 72″ version has 2.5″ of thickness and weighs 2 lbs 4.5 oz — so you could take it on a short backpacking trip. However, it’s packed size is also bulkier than the NeoAir Topo Luxe. The biggest Klymit Klymaloft benefit, however, is its hybrid design that includes a plush foam topper with a stretch polyester fabric that’s soft and quiet.
Exped MegaMat 10 Sleeping Pad — The Exped MegaMat 10 might actually be, as Exped claims, “The world’s most comfortable basecamp mat.” You get 3.9″ of thickness that’s filled with self-inflating open-cell foam. The polyester surface fabric is edge-to-edge flat and textured to help keep you from sliding off the pad. Your sleep on the MegaMat 10 might be fantastic, but the comfort comes with a drawback: Poor packability. The version that most closely matches the Topo Luxe inflated size weighs more than twice as much and packs ‘down’ to a roll that’s 31″ x 9.8″. Choose the MegaMat 10 for car camping and basecamps only.
All-in-all, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe is a super-comfortable rectangular air mattress that delivers maximum cushion at a reasonable weight. We think it’s fantastic for car campers who want a cushy sleeping pad that still packs up small. For backpacking, it’s a bit heavy, but car campers who occasionally hike into more remote campsites might find the extra weight well worth the plush comfort. Very highly recommended.