Therm-a-Rest pretty much dominates the sleeping pad category, and for good reason. It's not that there aren't a number of other good pads out there, it's just that the NeoAir series of air pads is so freaking good there's not a lot of motivation to look elsewhere. The new NeoAir UberLite does nothing to change that situation, to Therm-a-Rest's credit.
The UberLite is billed as the lightest air pad out there. We didn't do an exhaustive comparison, but we have used and own a lot of air pads from a lot of different companies, including most of the NeoAir line, and at 8.8 ounces for a 20×72 inch size regular the UberLite sets a new standard. For all the 2.5 inch thick regular size pads in the NeoAir line, here is the comparison chart we know you all so desperately desire:
- UberLite: 8.8oz, R2.3, packed size 6×3.6in, 15D nylon
- XLite: 12oz, R4.2, packed size 9×4.1in, 30D rip HT nylon
- Women's XLite (66in length): 12oz, R5.3, packed size 9×4.1in, 30D rip HT nylon
- XTherm: 15oz, R6.9, packed size 9x4in, 70D nylon
You can see the UberLite uses a lighter nylon which shaves off a few ounces and packs up significantly smaller than the XLite, at the cost of a bit of R value. This will make the XLite the new favorite for through-hikers and gram-counters everywhere, no doubt, but how does it sleep? Like the other NeoAir pads, it sleeps just fine. The UberLite is, if anything, a bit quieter (less crinkle noise) than the XLite. The lighter fabric means you'll want to be extra careful with your new investment, but it's pretty durable all the same.
Like all the NeoAir pads the UberLite comes with an effective repair kit, stuff sack and the excellent pump sack, which has an open end to scoop air and a rubber tube that goes around the valve: just scoop and press to save your breath, with the added benefit that you won't introduce moisture into the pad, which can degrade the insulation value and cause general skankiness.
The WingLock valve is a two-stage setup, where the main collar opens and closes the valve while the "winged" valve activates and deactivates the one-way function. No more pressing your tongue against the valve to prevent air from escaping while taking another breath. The valves are oversize which makes them easy to manipulate with gloves on or for those who might not have full use of their hands, a nice touch. Unfortunately it also makes the valve somewhat incompatible with our old Camp-Tek Microburst inflator. Maybe the NeoAir inflator (same exact product last time we checked) works? You tell us.
The UberLite rocks, and with its smaller packed size it's our new go-to air pad. For colder climates – hey, we're based in Alaska after all – we usually double up with a Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite SOL anyway for extra insulation as well as redundancy. Check it out for yourself with a test lie-down at REI, the UberLite is hard to beat.