air mattress reviews

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite air mattress.

Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite
$220, 9 oz. (regular, 20×72 inches, in its stuff sack)
Sizes: small (20×47 ins., $140), regular (20×72 ins.), large (25×77 ins., $210)
backcountry.com

As I was loading my backpack at the start of a six-day, 74-mile backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon, I smiled as I held the stuffed Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite air mattress in my hand; call me a gear geek, but unusually small ultralight backpacking gear just has that effect on me. One of my hiking mates glanced over and said, “Is that your air mattress?!” Yea, it’s that tiny. And if you’re serious about reducing your pack weight—as any backpacker should be—you should be taking a serious look at the NeoAir Uberlite. Here’s why.

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Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Gear Review: Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Mattress
$180, 20×72 inches rectangular, 13 oz. (including its stuff sack)
Sizes: 20×66, 20×72, 25×72, and 25×78 inches rectangular and 20×72 mummy
moosejaw.com

As air mattresses have continued getting lighter, more compact, and more comfortable, one would think a limit has been reached on how small they can get before sacrificing real comfort. But Big Agnes has raised that bar again—or lowered it, if you will—with the AXL Air. For four nights backpacking the Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop off the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in May, and several spring nights camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve, I slept like a baby on this plush air mattress, while it all but disappeared inside my pack on the trail. I’ve tested and own many air mats, and I don’t think there’s another I’d now carry instead for three-season backpacking. Here’s why.

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Gear Review: Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL Air Mattress

Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL air mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL
$120, 1 lb.
One size
klymit.com

Air mattresses for backpacking vary significantly in a few ways: comfort, price, weight, and packed bulk—and you often pay more for better comfort or low weight and bulk. But the Klymit Insulated V Ultralite SL bends that rule. So I took this relatively affordable air mat on a three-night, 39-mile backpacking trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Range in mid-September, and camping in Idaho’s City of Rocks in spring, to see whether sleeping on it proves as sweet as its price.

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Gear Review: REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress

REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress.

Insulated Air Mattress
REI Flash Insulated Air Mattress
$100, 15 oz. (regular, 72x20x2 inches)
Sizes: regular, regular wide, long, long wide
rei.com

Spending significantly less money on gear usually means getting significantly less performance, but that’s not the case with REI’s newly updated for 2017 Flash Insulated Air Mattress, I decided after sleeping on it for several nights, on a 40-mile May backpacking trip in Utah’s Dark Canyon Wilderness and camping at Idaho’s City of Rocks National Reserve in June. While it doesn’t rank number one for any usual measure of air mats (like most comfortable or lightest), it just may deliver the best value, dollar for dollar, of any air mat designed for backpacking.

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Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm

Review: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Air Mattress

Insulated Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm
$230, 15 oz. (regular)
Sizes: regular (20x72x2.5 ins., tapered), large (25x77x2.5 ins., tapered), Max (25×77.2.5 ins., rectangular)
backcountry.com

When sleeping outdoors at any time of year, you have two simple objectives: comfort and warmth. We tend to associate the former with our choice of air mattress or pad and the latter with our choice of sleeping bag. But the air mat is actually the key to both goals, because dollar for dollar, your money achieves more warmth from an air mat or pad that adequately insulates your body from the cold ground (which can rapidly drain heat from you) than from your bag. In the NeoAir XTherm—which I tested on numerous trips, including several nights sleeping on snow—you get an all-season air mat with more insulation, pound for pound, than any competitor.

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