Gear Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season Mattress

The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season mattress just might be the best backpacking sleeping pad out there right now. Introduced in June 2011, it redefines cutting edge outdoor mattress technology, comfort and warmth. The NeoAir All Season builds on advancements made for the existing NeoAir mattress, but is truly made for four-season use. After two very comfortable nights in the Catskills, this mattress will be my go-to choice going forward. I'll continue to test it as part of a post series dedicated to reviewing Therm-a-Rest's innovative sleep systems introduced last week.

Triangular Core Matrix technology and all the reflective barriers
that keep you warm! (Image courtesy of Cascade Designs.)
So, what makes the NeoAir All Season Unique? Aside from the fact that the regular size weighs just over one pound and packs down to the size of a Nalgene bottle, there are two innovative ideas that earned the NeoAir All Season mattress acclaim before it was available in stores. The first is the use of Reflective Barriers inside the mattress that help radiate heat back toward the body instead of into the ground. You'll retain more of the heat you produce and stay warmer.

The second innovation is patent pending Triangular Core Matrix technology. The internal construction creates hundreds of individual cells that restrict air movement and make the mattress incredibly stable. The horizontal air chambers and cells help the mattress maintain shape no matter where your weight is. Even when I sat up on the pad with all of my weight in one place, I didn't touch the ground. My hips and shoulders stayed off the ground while laying down as well.

Additionally, setup is easy and the mattress is incredibly comfortable. When I received the NeoAir All Season as part of my Therm-a-Rest Sleep System from Cascade Designs, it came with a unique looking stuff sack and patch kit. Most common among complaints I'd read about the original NeoAir mattress was the fact that neither a patch kit or stuff sack were included. It sounds like Cascade Designs listened and included both with the NeoAir All Season.

The "air pump" stuff sack and mattress.
The stuff sack has an attached "air pump" to help with inflation, as the NeoAir All Season is not self-inflating. The "air pump" attaches to the mattress valve and air captured in the stuff sack can be pushed into the mattress. I found its use time consuming and didn't have any issue just blowing up the mattress using my own hot air. Twenty breaths got the mattress completely inflated in a minute or two. Without foam insulation inside the pad, there's no need to worry about getting moisture inside the pad and compromising warmth. The use of air inside the chambers can make it seem like the mattress is leaking as air pressure changes, though I haven't experienced that feeling yet.

I definitely slept like a baby on the NeoAir All Season in the Catskills last weekend, but would change a few things about the mattress. First, it's a bit narrow. As a side sleeper, I found my feet and arms hung over the edge a bit, and I could use another two inches of width. The large size mattress is 25" wide, as opposed to the 20" regular size, but I don't need a 77" long mattress. I'd love to see a 72"x24" option available. (But that might also require a wider tent!) Second, I'd love the option of choosing a regular stuff sack instead of the air pump sack. Generally, the NeoAir All Season is incredible and I doubt I'll be sleeping on anything else! I'm looking forward to testing it in colder conditions in the High Sierra this week and on upcoming winter camping trips.

Huge thanks to Cascade Designs for sending me a complimentary sleep system to test! As always, all opinions expressed here are my own. Do you have a sleeping pad you absolutely love? Any comments about the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season? Let us know! And visit the rest of the posts in the series (Part 1 and Part 3) for a review of the entire Therm-a-Rest Sleep System.


    Sarah said…
    I have the original NeoAir and love it as well but I have a similar complaint that it's too narrow.  I have definitely experienced it deflating due to differences in air temperature so what I do now is set up my tent and inflate it as soon as I get to my camp.  By the time I go to bed it will have adjusted to the air temperatures so I can inflate it more if necessary.  Overall, it's one of the best sleeping pads I've used and any complaints are minor enough that I'd still buy another one.