Over Thanksgiving break, I fled west to Grand Junction, located right on the Colorado/Utah border, for some car camping, climbing, good times, and a MSR Whisperlite-style Thanksgiving feast. Even after our five-hour drive out to the desert, we were unable to escape the cold and found that we only had a few hours of daylight left to climb. I kept warm and snug despite of the frigid temperatures due to the NeoAir Trekker ThermaRest.
Disclaimer: this is not my ThermaRest. To be honest, I was always against these kinds of big bulky sleeping pads. I’ve had a ThermaRest Prolite half pad, and as a very short person with a preference for ultralites, I’ve only been happy and comfortable with my fun, shortie pad. They are lightweight, packable and even if the weather is cold, you can layer them on top of a full-length foam pad, which is not only a cheaper way to ensure a comfy, warm night’s sleep winter camping, but also acts as a kind of insurance policy in freezing temperatures in case the blow-up ThermaRest has a leak. After spending just three nights on the NeoAir, my mind might not have been completely changed, but I do understand the appeal.
The ThermaRest NeoAir sleeping pad is a very comfortable option for people for people who are willing to shell out the big bucks for a big pad. My friend let me borrow the NeoAir sleeping pad for my Thanksgiving excursion along with a little battery-powered air pump to blow it up. My friend said that one of the cons of the NeoAir was how winded she would get blowing up this full-length, several-inch-thick pad. Although this little pump was nice, it took surprisingly long to blow up the pad. I found that it worked best to attach the pump to the valve and then leave it to blow up as I did other things around camp. The air pump generally wouldn’t blow it up all the way, and I’m an impatient person, so you usually would have to give the pad a few extra puffs to completely inflate it.
Although I definitely got several great nights of sleep, I’m not so sure my tentmates did. We jammed four people in a decidedly three-person tent and had to overlap our sleeping pads to increase warmth and fit them all in. Because the NeoAir is so thick, we could not overlap our pads, and whoever was the unfortunate soul between my enormous sleeping pad and the door was stuck in an unfortunate trench of sleepless nights and claustrophobia.
However, one morning I woke up early and left the tent, and my friend Dan hijacked the massive sleeping pad. He reported achieving decidedly better sleep. Therefore, through this scientifically tried and true process, the NeoAir is proven to be a very, very comfortable sleeping pad. Like most things padded in the backcounty, though, it tends tend to be a little heavy and bulky. I would definitely recommend this pad for winter camping, car camping, or hiking trips where weight is not a big consideration.