Andy and I were out on the trail when the NeoAir was finally released. I remember seeing it at the Outdoor Retailer show that year, and was really excited for it to come out. To put it into perspective, I started the trail with a 3/4 length pad that was just over an inch of padding, and it weighed 13 ounces. When I finally got this, it was 2.5 inches of padding, full length, and only 14 ounces! I must say, once I got the full length pad, I realized what I was missing. It really was much much more comfortable to have my feet level with my body, and have my heels resting on something soft. Not to mention when it was cold out, if the bottom of my legs were just on the tent floor, the temperature of the ground would chill me. One thing many are worried about when it comes to air-only sleeping pads, is heat transfer. With your body on a balloon, and that balloon on the cold ground, your temperature lowers fairly quickly. However, with this, there is a divider inside the pad which allows the warm air form your body and the cold air from the ground to stay separate, keeping you nice and toasty. It packs down to the size of a Nalgene, and was almost perfect. I really did love it, however, I eventually returned it (got to love backcountry.com 's return policy).
Here were my issues. After a long 25 mile hike, you plop down in the shelter or campground and relax for a minute. Then, before you get too lazy to pitch the tent and just want to curl up in a corner and sleep, you get to unpacking. The tents up, packs outta the way, and now you start with your pad. You huff and you puff and you keep on going. By the time its fully inflated, you're incredibly light headed. Not going to lie though, sometimes it was nice to be light headed and have the pain in our feet go away for a few minutes! That, I could have lived with. What I could not live with, however, is it deflating on me.
At first, I thought my pad may have had some micro-leaks, so I sent it back for a replacement. Still, I would wake up some mornings with my bum on the ground. I'm assuming it had to do with temperature and pressure change which would change the pressure in the pad and make it seem as if it were losing air. That paired with the fact that the ribs on Andy's popped so it looked like a large tumour on one end, was the reason for me sending it back and replacing it with a more comfortable, reliable, albeit heavier, pad.
All in all, its a great concept. The material was more durable than I would have thought (some new spaceage material and glue) and it was extremely comfortable -- when it was working properly. Unfortunately, since it didn't always stay inflated, and Andy had the issue with his, I'm going to have to rate this a 2.5 out of 5. It's a bummer, but thats what happens when my bum hits the ground!