On my second Bug Out trip “Winter Warning” I made a mistake. Being new to the survival world I had not done enough research before tackling below freezing temperatures. The mistake was not having a pad to sleep on. When choosing my bug out shelter, I decided to go with a hammock. Again, I did not do my proper research that even though I might not lose heat from conduction from the ground, I would still lose heat from convection from the wind under my hammock. I can still remember the endless night and the frightening chills that ran down my spine. Upon my return I sought out to find the pad that I continue to use today, and it is the ThermaRest Neoair Xtherm.
Knowing that I would be continuing to venture into the wild to further test myself and my gear in all 4 seasons I knew I was going to need a pad to match that. I chose a pad over an under quilt because in a survival situation you never know where you might sleep. Not every location is going to have trees the right distance to hang in. If I must go to ground the under quilt would not insulate me, but a pad can work in my hammock or on the ground. With a R rating of 5.7 the pad has successfully kept my skinny body protected on the ground and in my hammock to temperatures below 0°F. Not only did I stay warm, but I was comfortable as well because the inflatable pad reaches a thickness of 2.5inches which when laying on rocky ground those inches help. Given the high R rating and the thickness it would be reasonable to assume that this would be a heavy pad but at a pleasant 1lb 4oz and packed down to the size of a Nalgene bottle neither weight or pack size is an issue.
Is Thermarest Worth The Price?
Unfortunately, all these great features come at a price and a steep price at that. At 200 dollars this will be one of most expensive pads you purchase. You will have to decide if the price is worth the protection and comfort, but if you are not going out in freezing temperatures frequently then this might be a bit much. It is also an inflatable pad and anytime you blow something up there is a worry of punctures. There is a patch included with the pad so if that puncture does happen it could be fixed depending on the damage. Speaking of blowing it up. I would highly suggest you do not try to blow it up by mouth but use the inflation bag that comes with it instead because it does take a lot of air and time.
At the end of the day I greatly enjoy this pad. I have been using it for over 6 years on many trips and not once have I had a rip or puncture nor have I had a cold back. Is it expensive? Yes, but as a survivalist and a Bug Out Boy I never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at me and I would rather be prepared for the extremes than suffer another night like I did years ago.