The only item in my backpack that has not changed in the last N years is an Izhevsk rug. Measuring 180×50 cm and a thickness of 10 mm, it weighs about 380 grams and occupies an impressive volume of mine backpack. It does not offer much comfort of sleep, but it wonderfully plays the role of wind protection for the burner.
However, it could not cope with the summer wind of change.
In my hand is “the Irishman” Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite. Its dimensions in a ready-to-sleep form are 183×51 cm, and its thickness is more than 65 mm.
The transportation volume of the canary Irish is indecently small and is approximately equal to the volume of a litre bottle or 450-gram gas bottle.
Weight – 390 grams with packaging and repair kit. It would seem like a fairy tale …
Location and time.
The Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite has been travelling with me since June 2013. In total, I slept on it for 25 nights in the Carpathians, the Alps, on the rocky coast of Croatia and even in the back of a gas station near Krakow.
First impressions …
… were chaotic. On the one hand, the surprisingly small transport size and weight is a huge plus. But the suspicious plastic valve and the fragility of materials made us think about the correctness of investments with a total amount of more than $ 200.
The first night on NeoAir XLite was not at all remembered, as tiredness after a protracted night moving simply turned off consciousness. The only memory that hung in my memory was the question: “Well, how much more do you need to blow into it?”
Already on the second evening, I thought that I needed 12 deep exhalations to fill the mat to drum tension. It turned out even less than the manufacturer writes in the instructions. But to do this procedure after a long and tiring day is not always a desire.
Girls, in order to fill the female version of the mat, which is slightly smaller than the male (168 cm in length), need to make a little more than 20 exhalations. And the bed is ready. And as a bonus – slight dizziness from hyperventilation of the lungs 🙂
The manufacturer selected the female version not only by size. The R-value (resistance to heat loss) of the female version is higher and amounts to 3.9 units versus 3.2 male, in addition, a remarkable pattern of flowers is applied to the female rug so that the beds could not be mixed up.
At first, the comfort of sleep on a comfortable and soft mattress was levelled by the wild sounds that XLite made with any, even slight, body movement, for example, with a deep breath. This sound is like the rustling of a plastic bag from a supermarket that is being fumbled over your ear. Only one solution came to mind – to stop breathing so as not to disturb the demonic rug. So much for lifeless lightness =)
Over time, after 3-5 nights, from wet breathing, the carpet gained moisture and the rustling stopped. An uninterrupted, warm and comfortable dream, for which so much was paid, finally became a reality. Super comfortable! So in nature, I have not yet had enough sleep. Hooray, Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite!
And now, it would seem, happy end, evil power is defeated, harmony is restored. But it was not there. Having read the instructions, after all the trips, I laid out the mat to dry, after opening the valve. And what do you think? That’s right, the moisture inside the mattress has evaporated, and the rustle has returned. Apparently, on the next trip, the first few nights will again have to lead an anaerobic life.
But the rustle of Therm-a-Rest is a pitfall that is difficult to predict until the first night. But what about the obvious flaws?
It is logical to assume that such a low weight with such a large volume of the inflated mat can only be achieved using ultralight, and therefore thin fabrics. This, in turn, increases the likelihood of their rapid wear or puncture. And, as it seemed to me, the risk of rupture during overload also increases.
The last doubt was dispelled several times while using the mat as a triple seat during dinner and breakfast. I didn’t even think about how much weight was at that time on the mat. Now, when counting, I understand that there is no less than 150 kg — an excellent record for Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite.
The first nights, being afraid to pierce the rug, I put a tent bedroom under it (when spending the night on an open-air beach). And other owners of XLites’s, in order to avoid punctures, used all the same foams as a lining.
But logic insisted that there was no logic. Since NeoAir XLite is declared as an independent mat, it means that this is how it should be tested. And with this decision, the “hard” tests of the Irish began. The place intended for an overnight stay or rest was only hastily inspected for the presence of glass and sharp branches. The remaining possible bugs were not considered.
Surprisingly for me, after 20 nights of such an irresponsible attitude, the mat did not earn a single puncture, although the nights were in different places, in terms of latitudes and conditions.
The only time I was upset about XLite was when at the peak of the day I forgot it in a tent under the scorching sun. And the instructions about this are very strictly written: leave in the sun only half-open or with the valve open. As a result, the rug pouted to stone hardness but did not depressurize. Hooray!
Well, the last thing about sleep comfort. For me, the agreed version of the camp bed was almost flawless. But for travellers accustomed to sleeping on orthopedic mattresses at home, NeoAir may seem too soft and cause back pain. If you are used to sleeping on solid, then I will advise you to choose something from self-inflating rugs of smaller thickness.
If you want to lighten your pack as much as possible and are ready to stock up on earplugs, the Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite is your choice. It is unlikely to be able to find a more convenient option for this weight. In terms of strength, this rug is not inferior to other inflatables or self-inflating and does not require over-caring. In terms of money, Therm-a-rest NeoAir XLite is not the cheapest pleasure, but damn it, when a cup of morning tea in one hand outweighs a camping bed in the other … fantastic 🙂
Advantages: weight, transport volume, relative indestructibility.
Disadvantages: a loud rustling in the first days of the trip.
Features: absolutely not suitable for those who are used to sleeping on hard mattresses.