Fav Gear: Neo Air Mattress

Remember 10 years ago when you could sleep anywhere? Rocks or tree roots under the tent? No problem. Nasty kitchen floor at your buddy’s off campus rat hole? No problem. Yeah, you’re not so young anymore. Comfort matters. So does weight.

When I first started backpacking I didn’t bother bringing a sleeping pad. I think it may have been because after the six pack there just wasn’t room. Over time I got a little smarter and tried different pads. Starting with whatever was cheapest and then upgrading a couple times.

Light weight sleeping awesomeness

A couple years ago I splurged with my REI dividend and bought a Therm- A- Rest Neo Air pad. I struggled with the price tag at first. Then I simply rationalized my want into a need by telling myself I don’t hesitate to spend that much on a hotel room. It turned out to be one of my best gear purchases ever.

So what makes it so awesome? Simple math. The pros greatly outweigh the cons…



  • Very light (19 oz)
  • Super compact (takes up about as much space as a Nalgene bottle)
  • The insulating thickness (2.5″) helps keep you warm
  • Way more comfy than sleeping on rocks


  • It does not self-inflate… pucker up baby
  • The material makes an annoying crinkling sound (I think the newer ones are better)
  • It ain’t cheap (about $140 now)
Bottom Line:
    • A luxury well worth indulging.


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