Published on June 10th, 2016 | by Greg0
The Quick & The Sleepy: NEOAir XLite Max SV
When you’re out in the middle of nowhere camping, the last thing you want is to waste a bunch of time inflating an air mattress, or to have to worry about carrying a ton of weight in the form of a thick pad. Air mattresses can be lighter and more space efficient, but tend to have a trade-off in the form of convenience. If you have been watching Shark Tank though, you may remember a nifty new type of valve the solves this issue thanks to the Bernoulli principle. And now, the first models using what is called entrainment technology have been released to widespread acclaim.
This summer, we’ll be sleeping on the new Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Max SV. It looks like a traditional inflatable mattress- and indeed, the other two in the Neo Air XLite family seem fairly similar at a glance, with a small twist-close traditional valve for blowing into, and three-season insulated comfort thanks to a heat-reflective lining. The Max here changes the shape from a rounded to a more easy-to-use rectangular form, and the SV in the name stands for SpeedValve, which we’ll talk about shortly.
The advanced materials mean this little guy can cram tight into about the same space as a big water bottle, and it doesn’t add much weight to your pack either. The SpeedValve does add some weight to the mattress, but allows you to inflate the camping pad in about half the time of a typical model. You’ll still need to finish the job using the traditional valve, which is a little annoying, but the first time you use the cool valve, you’ll be… well, blown away. It’s a large opening, that you blow into from a short distance (no contact, so it’s cleaner) and the surrounding air is pulled in along with your breath.
So, what are the downsides? Well, for starters, there’s the noise- a plasticky, candy-bar wrapper sound that you’ll notice when you move around. Granted, most pads can be squeaky, which this one avoids, but the alternative can be hard to get adjusted to as well. We also did see some air loss overnight, though not enough to make be a problen. The NeoAir XLite is surprisingly comfortable though, cushy and warm on cooler nights, a pleasant contrast to some others we’ve seen which can be ice cold. Available in a regular size (a bit narrow at 20 inches by 72 inches) or a longer version (25 inches by 77 inches), look for The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Max SV in stores or from some exclusive online retailers for around $200-$230 depending on options.