Therm-a-Rest recently released the UberLite™ sleeping mat, the lightest and most packable sleeping mat we’ve ever come across! The size of a can of beer when packed up, this mat expands to the same size as a regular tapered mat when deployed and is just as thick as the other mats in the NeoAir® line! How did they do it? Well, they utilized cutting edge tech and really, really thin fabrics. But how did it perform in testing? Read on and find out!
Comparison to Other Therm-a-Rest Mats:
There are a number of companies producing excellent quality sleeping pads nowadays, not to mention the additional brands creating crappy ones! Therm-a-Rest has been synonymous with a comfortable night’s sleep for decades. About 5 years ago, the NeoAir® line of mattresses was introduced. After doing away with the self-inflation-providing foam from the ProLite series, multiple reflective baffles provided the insulation. After initial complaints of crinkly materials, Therm-a-Rest perfected their summer and winter mats with the XLite® (R-value 3.2, 340g in regular) and XTherm® (R-value 5.7, 570g in regular) mats, respectively. Personally, I’ve used these mats extensively and have been very impressed with their warmth and durability. Using air-filled reflective baffles allowed Therm-a-Rest to shed weight versus their competitors (previously mostly Exped’s down-filled mats), while remaining competitive in their insulation values.
Size rolled up: 15 x 9 cm
Size inflated: 51 x 183 x 6.4 cm
Fabric: 15D Ripstop Nylon
The evolution of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir® mats has reached another pinnacle with the UberLite™ (R-value 2.0, 250g in regular). To put those weights into perspective, that’s lighter than a size Small Z-lite foamy! With the stuff sack, my sample actually weighed in at 240g. Like all other NeoAir® sleeping pads, the UberLite™ uses Therm-a-Rest’s proprietary Triangular Core Matrix, a baffling technique using thin, 15 denier fabrics to create 6.4cm of loft and insulation. They’ve skipped out on using the Thermacapture™ coating on the UberLite™, presumably to conserve weight. This results in the (rather summery) R-value of 2.0 (for comparison, the Z Lite™ provides an R-value of 2.6).
Unpacking the UberLite™ mattress, two things instantly stood out: the thinness of the face fabric (15D ripstop nylon) and how it would never fit into the stuff sack again. Both worries were unfounded, since in regular use the lightweight face fabric stood up well. Learning from their past mistakes, Therm-a-Rest has provided a generous stuff sack that fits the pad, even after rolling it up rather imperfectly. True weight-weenies can ditch the stuff sack and replace it with a thin hair elastic. The overall packed size has been greatly reduced (Therm-a-Rest likens the size to a soda can, which is accurate).
The UberLite™ is identical to the XLite® and XTherm® in terms of shape and blown up size, tapering at the head and feet to reduce weight and space. The top fabric was rather slippery (unlike the non-slip coated XTherm®), but much quieter than the original XLite® fabric (similar to the 2018 XLite® fabrics). Partially, the lack of the Thermacapture™ coating added to the quietness of the UberLite™. The newish glue-dot repair kit was also appreciated. While I haven’t had to use it on the UberLite™, I’ve field-repaired several NeoAir® mats (once during an open bivvy in a raging snow storm) using the glue-dots. They are effective and quick, something the previous HeatBond patch kits were not (they were effective, not quick).
Like most ultralight equipment, the UberLite™ feels like it has a rather specific market. At $230 CAD retail, it’s hardly an entry-level mat. The 2.0 R-value makes it a mild weather only sleeping pad, unless used with a foamy underneath. On the upside, when used only with a tent, the face fabric durability shouldn’t be an issue. During testing, I slept several nights on a plastic ground sheet and had no punctures or issues. As always, it’s best to clear your campsite of any rocks or sticks that might puncture your tent or sleeping pad alike. As a side sleeper, the UberLite™ felt identical to the other mattresses from the NeoAir® line: comfortable and very adjustable through the air pressure in the pad.
Some scenarios that the UberLite™ stood out in included multi-day alpine climbing trips where we’d leave a basecamp and spend several days on the wall. The combination of the UberLite™ and a small Z Lite™ provided comfort in basecamp while we could bring the small and light UberLite™ on the wall (for use on snow/in a tent), or the Z Lite™ if we were anticipating a rocky/sitting bivvy. The redundancy with the use of a foamy was appreciated. Other instances would be multi-week through-hikes and multi-sport overnight packs, such as pack rafting and bike rafting or packing.
Pros: Exceptionally light, perfect for overnight multi-sport adventures and long trips. Perfect for summer trips (or shoulder season trips with a foamy underneath).
Cons: Lightweight fabrics offer less durability over time. Low weight comes at lower insulation value.
Overall: Groundbreaking product for ultralight comfortable sleeping.
Black Sheep Adventure Sports was supplied with a sample for testing but of course this did not influence our review in any way.
Maarten van Haeren
Maarten was born and raised in The Netherlands, allowing him to explore Europe through backpacking and bike touring. Since moving to the Bow Valley in 2013, Maarten has been working through the ACMG program towards his IFMGA Mountain Guide certification. He is currently certified as an Apprentice Alpine Guide and enjoys guiding ice climbing throughout Alberta and British Columbia.
Maarten now lives in the Bow Valley with his wife Lin and their cat Am. He has pursued ice and mixed climbing throughout North America, usually going for long walks to seek out new climbs. His travels have taken him beyond Alberta and British Columbia, to Quebec, Alaska, Morocco and Iceland.
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