Therm-a-Rest is an industry leader in sleeping pads and air mattresses and has been for years. The company manufactures many of its air mattresses in the United States, but it sources some of its materials globally. The NeoAir UberLite is a new air mattress to the Therm-a-Rest lineup — and it’s the lightest, too.
The NeoAir UberLite comes in three sizes, Small, Regular and Large. The options weigh in at 6 oz, 8.8 oz and 12 oz, respectively. With an R-Value of 2.0, the NeoAir UberLite offers some insulation from cold ground but not enough to keep most people happy when it’s truly cold in spring and fall. Basically, the NeoAir UberLite is aimed at summer backpackers.
Here are the basic UberLite specs:
15D Ripstop Nylon
15D Ripstop Nylon
15D Ripstop Nylon
NeoAir UberLite Review: Outstanding Comfort
On the surface, the NeoAir UberLite looks like many other Therm-a-Rest air mattresses — sort of unassuming. The baffles produce small ridges but is relatively flat. Some competing mattresses have comfy-looking dimples.
Is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite comfortable? Yes. The NeoAir UberLite is very comfortable. First, the thickness is a solid 2.5 inches, which easily absorbs small bumps underneath. Second, the interior of the NeoAir UberLite is far more complicated. Therm-a-Rest uses its Triangular Core Matrix, which is made up of two layers of triangular internal baffles. The construction helps reduce heat loss and cold transfer from within the mattress.
The benefit of the Triangular Core Matrix that I appreciate the most, however, is stability. I’m a relatively big guy, so it’s fairly easy to overload the edge of most air mattresses, but the NeoAir UberLite is very stable.
Is the NeoAir UberLite good for side sleepers? The short answer is yes, but side sleepers may want to sleep with a bit more air inside the NeoAir UberLite for best results. At my preferred level of internal air pressure, I can’t feel my hip hit the ground unless I force it. However, on one night the air pressure was a bit less than I usually use (but felt great on my back and stomach) and I could just barely feel my hip bottom out. I added a bit of air and problem solved.
Is the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Quiet?
The best new feature of the NeoAir UberLite is the fact that it’s quieter than most other lightweight Therm-a-Rest NeoAir mattresses. How so?
Therm-a-Rest often uses a heat-reflective ThermaCapture layer that helps reflect and trap radiant heat. Think of the ThermaCapture layer as if it were an emergency space blanket inside of your air mattress. This layer works well, but the side-effect is a crinkly sort of internal sound when you move around. Because the UberLite does not have this layer, the crinkly sound is gone.
If you’re a sensitive sleeper — or backpack with someone who is — the NeoAir UberLite is a big improvement. However, the lack of the ThermaCapture layer does reduce the insulating capability of the NeoAir UberLite.
For instance, the slightly heavier NeoAir XLite has the ThermaCapture layer. The XLite has a higher 3.2 R-value, which makes the XLite a bit better for spring and fall backpacking (full XLite review here).
One gear tester thought the surface fabric of the UberLite was a bit slippery underneath her sleeping bag. Consequently, she slipped off the pad occasionally. Because I tend to use quilt-style sleeping bags more often than not these days, I don’t experience this problem at all.
If you do tend to slip, you might consider one of Therm-a-Rest’s newer down sleeping bags and quilts. They usually come with SynergyLink Connectors, which are stretchy mesh straps that connect to small loops on either side of your bag. They wrap underneath your air mattress and keep your sleeping bag centered on the mattress. They work well.
I’ve tested both the traditional mummy-style Therm-a-Rest Parsec (full Parsec review here) and the new Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt (review coming soon). Both are excellent sleeping bags and they come with Therm-a-Rest SynergyLink connectors.
Durability vs Weight Savings
The supreme lightness of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite comes with a possible consequence: Durability. The exterior fabric of the UberLite is made from a 15-denier nylon. This is a very thin material, but it is surprisingly strong. As a comparison, the slightly heavier NeoAir XLite is made with a 30-denier nylon fabric. This doesn’t necessarily mean the XLite is twice as durable, but it will likely fend off real-world pokes and scraps a bit better.
As for myself and our other gear tester, the ultralight carry weight and comfort seemed worth the ultralight construction. I’m careful about where I pitch my tents, so I rarely worry about punctures. And, frankly, the UberLite isn’t really aimed at backpackers who don’t pay attention — it’s aimed more at thru-hikers and experienced backpackers who know what they’re buying into.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to toss your air mattress down on a bed of pine cones and sharp rocks, you should go with a heavier air mattress — or just get a closed-cell foam mattress like the Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite.
If you’re having a hard time deciding between weight, durability and insulation, this comparison table of three NeoAir ‘Regular’ size air mattresses helps reveal the differences:
Key takeaway: More durable fabrics and increased insulation lead to increased weight. Note the 70D bottom fabric in the XTherm for extra strength. (The women’s XLite is slightly shorter than the regular version.)
If you’ve wanted a Them-a-Rest “NeoAir” air mattress but you’ve been shy about the crinkly noise of the ThermaCapture layer, the NeoAir UberLite is for you. You will get Therm-a-Rest built-in-America quality, excellent comfort, and great stability.
If you’re a true three-season backpacker, particularly if you like sleeping with new quilt-style sleeping bags like me, you might want to error toward a mattress with a higher R-value for cold-weather backpacking. But again, for nearly all summer backpacking, the UberLite will work fantastically well.
Any cons? The only con is the possible trade off between weight and durability. If you’re reckless with your gear, get a mattress with thicker, heavier fabric. If you’re not, enjoy the weight savings!
All-in-all, the new UberLite is my favorite Therm-a-Rest air mattress, and the verdict comes down to this: The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite is a summer backpacking winner. Very highly recommended.