The Thermarest NeoAir has had a lot of attention and awards since it came out, and for good reason. Simultaneously one of the lightest and most comfortable backpacking sleeping pads available, it’s been a huge hit.
This year, Thermarest came out with the NeoAir Trekker. But what’s the difference in the NeoAir vs. NeoAir Trekker? Our Thermarest Rep explains here:
Essentially, the NeoAir Trekker comes in at a lower price and has a more durable, less “crinkly” fabric, whereas the original NeoAir is lighter and has the metallic insulating liner to make it warmer.
What makes both of these pads so comfortable, besides the obvious 2.5 inches of soft cushioning, is the simple change to baffles that run from side to side, instead of head to foot, like so many other sleeping pads. This new design makes the pad feel wider and more even, not like sleeping on a pool toy.
But did you know, Nemo pads came up with the same idea at about the same time? Known for their inflatable tents, sleeping pads were a natural progression for this innovative company.
For campers and backpackers, the Nemo Astro sports 2.5 inches of air cushioning, a durable outer fabric, and a raised, pillow-like section at the head for extra comfort.
The Nemo Astro Insulated takes a more traditional approach to keeping you warm when compared to the NeoAir, using synthetic insulation inside the air chambers.
Don’t just take our word for it, the Nemo Astro Insulated was Backpacker Magazine’s Editors’ Choice this year:
“This is the only sleeping pad I’ll ever need—for my ounce-counting backpacking trips and my weight-be-damned, luxe car camps,” says one tester. That’s because the Astro combo is a pad system that allows you to strip it down or amp it up, depending on the trip. At its heart is a 2.5-inch, full-length mattress that’s insulated with open-cell foam and packs down to about eight by four inches. Alone, it’s as comfortable and warm (down to at least 15°F) as any pad we’ve tried, with a rugged, 75-denier polyester shell that fended off abrasion even on sandpapery slickrock.
The Astro takes some lung power—and three to four minutes—to inflate, but the handy push/pull valve let’s you easily cap it for a breather. (You can also opt for the foot-powered Disco Pad Pump, which weighs 2.2 ounces and costs $40.) For trailhead throw-downs, basecamps, and drive-up campgrounds, slide the Astro into its Pillowtop sleeve. Made of open-cell polyurethane foam, it adds a pound and a half, a few inches of girth when packed, and an entirely new level of comfort.
The combo is like a portable mattress, a full 3.25 inches thick. “It turned our lumpy, rock-strewn trailhead campsite in Capitol Reef into a featherbed,” says one tester. And the price? It looks high, but consider this: If you were to buy a lightweight backpacking pad and a decadent car-camping mattress, you could easily spend more and not sleep as well.
For the ultimate in base camping or car camping luxury, Nemo has a Pillowtop cover to throw on your Astro pad, adding an inch of cushy foam and a soft jersey-finish microfiber top to your pad for a combination that can’t be beat for comfort. You can even throw it on a NeoAir or similarly dimensioned pad (20″x 72″).
So if you’re looking to get a great night sleep in the backcountry, no matter how rough, rocky or cold the ground, check out one of these great new backpacking sleeping pads at Tahoe Mountain Sports.