NeoAir Uberlite in 2021?
Jun 6, 2021 at 8:32 pm #3717485
How many are using the Uberlite these days? After reading various reviews (including Skurka’s favorable review and negative anecdotal evidence online), I’m now wondering whether to take the plunge and use it on my PCT SOBO section hike this year.
My current pad (going on 4 seasons of use without any failures whatsoever) is the Exped Hyperlite Medium Wide, weighing 15 oz. It’s a super comfortable pad. But its 15 oz.
I recently got a NeoAir Xtherm for winter trips on the AT and I’ve been loving it for cold temps. The new winglock valve really retains the air. I was surprised that I didn’t have to reinflate it even with temps down to around 20 F or below.
I thought about going with a NeoAir XLite, which would save 3 oz off my current pad, but I recently bought one from REI and it weighs 13 oz. :( Not worth it for a 2 oz weight savings. The Uberlite is listed as being 8.8 oz. This would be more than 6 oz lighter than my current pad.
So…Uberlite or no?Jun 7, 2021 at 9:28 am #3717535Mike MBPL Member
depends on expected temps- if it’s freezing or above the Uberlite works, if below just doesn’t have enough r value.
you could supplement with a thin ccf pad, but that adds weightJun 7, 2021 at 9:50 am #3717537
I recently switched from the XLite to the XTherm for regular (summer, Pacific Northwest) backpacking. I’ve found that with the extra warmth of a NeoAir, I can get by with a lighter sleeping bag. In other words, in most conditions of the PCT, the weight of the NeoAir would be worth it. The only exception is the desert section in southern California. I could definitely see switching to a Uberlite for that piece.
The XTherm is also tougher. I don’t think that NeoAir’s are particularly prone to leaks, but going from very reliable to extremely reliable is a nice bonus for through-hiking.Jun 7, 2021 at 10:05 am #3717539
Peace of mind would be nice, and I can see the argument for an Xlite. Although my Exped Hyperlite has 20D fabric and hasn’t had any issues whatsoever in 3 years of use. Kinda wish they had gone with 20D instead of 15D on the Uberlite…15D is kinda pushing it. That said, I’m only 150 lbs and pretty careful with my gear.Jun 7, 2021 at 12:25 pm #3717556
Would the Uberlite be warm enough?
Really hard to say. So much depends on what you wear to bed, how warm you sleep, your shelter, the weather, and a lot of other factors. For me, personally, I’ve found that the pad makes a huge difference. With the earliest version of the NeoAir, I carried a thin closed cell foam, and just putting it on top, instead of the bottom made a huge difference. The newer (standard) version has a lot more warmth, while the Uberlite is a bit colder than that original version.
In my opinion, the XTherm is the best pad for colder climates (like the Pacific Northwest, High Sierra, etc.) — anytime the temperature routinely gets around 40 degrees (or colder) at night. Keep in mind, the ground is always cold — you are always going to lose heat to the ground (especially when you have a quilt). It may be warm enough with the quilt and the ambient temperature to not matter. But in general, I think it is the best balance of weight and warmth for the NeoAir line*. With a lighter/colder pad, you will have to compensate with a more down in your sleeping bag/quilt.
In your case, it might not matter. Your sleep system may be warm enough with a colder pad. But since you already own an XTherm, I figure you might as well use it. You might be able to save some weight and be comfortable with your other gear, but you also might be chilly on more than one occasion.
* I am just speculating on this point. It is possible that if you took the weight savings from a lighter pad and put them into more down, you would be warmer. I doubt it though.Jun 7, 2021 at 12:31 pm #3717557Paul SBPL Member
I live in the Seattle area, and my wife and I are out all year long in the mountains doing many overnights. I like to use the X-therm when I know I’ll be sleeping on snow. If I don’t expect snow, then, it’s the X-lite. Both my neoairs have the new-ish winglock valve and it works flawlessly so far.
The x-lite’s 4.2 R value is nice and I personally would never contemplate the uberlite as reliability is a big BIG factor. 20 denier fabrics for an air pad- seems risky. Plus, it’s r-value is too low, again, too risky..I want safety/comfort margin.
True that the X-lite isn’t a whole lot lighter that a same-sized X-therm, BUT, the X-lite does roll up smaller.Jun 7, 2021 at 1:19 pm #3717563Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes OftenJun 7, 2021 at 1:23 pm #3717567Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
I own the Uberlight and like it, and also think it’s warm enough for the PCT, but I’d be hesitant with the durability. The PCT is a long trail where many pads already don’t make it, and then the uberlight is quite a bit less durable. I’d stick with the X-Lite unless you don’t mind the cost of buying 2-3 uberlights throughout the trail and maybe a couple hard nights on a flat pad.Jun 7, 2021 at 2:01 pm #3717572Brad WBPL Member
Dan, do you use anything extra to protect your Uberlite? CCF pad, extra tyvek, etc?Jun 7, 2021 at 3:06 pm #3717578J RBPL Member
What are the temps out there on the PCT in July – Aug?
The high Sierra can get below freezing even in the middle of Summer. It wouldn’t be typical, but it wouldn’t be out of the question either.
EDIT: n/m, just saw you said you’re section hiking WA.Jun 7, 2021 at 4:26 pm #3717588Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
No I don’t protect my uberlight with anything other then the tent floor. That’s how I do it with a normal pad, and then with the uberlight if I had to add more I’d end up offsetting the weight savings. So far I’ve blown one baffle on the uberlight and had it replaced under warranty. No actual holes yet. I like it but can’t see it lasting the PCT since no pad had lasted that long for me.Jun 8, 2021 at 6:43 am #3717688
I’ve thought about that as well–carrying a thinlight pad would offset the weight savings to some degree. How long has the Uberlight gone for you without a puncture? To clarify, I wouldn’t be hiking the whole PCT, just WA, so about 1 month of use. I would imagine it might be a bit chilly in the Sierras, but I’m guessing temps in WA wouldn’t be too cold (maybe lows in the 40s at the coldest?).Jun 8, 2021 at 6:47 am #3717689Mike MBPL Member
if your confident that low 40’s is the lowest you’ll see, you’ll be fine with the Uberlite in regards to r value and keeping you warm
the durability of a month straight on the trail, not sure- a thinlight pad would definitely help and if you normally carry a sitpad then the thinlight can fill that roleJun 8, 2021 at 8:43 am #3717715dirtbagBPL Member
@dirtbaghikerJun 8, 2021 at 8:45 am #3717720Tom MBPL Member
I have been using a Uberlite 1/2″ pad for over a year now with good success. It was recently used in this years Bob Open where temps dropped well below freezing. I am really particular about placement and removing any debris from under it before I set up my shelter. There is no way I would use this directly on the ground but I wouldn’t do that with any blow up pad. The 2.3 Rvalue provides enough thermal break for me personally.Jun 8, 2021 at 11:59 am #3717777
You mean Bear Mountain on the AT in NY? That’s right around here. It’s been super hot lately in NYC, so I can imagine it was hot there. I would be using this on the PCT going SOBO, where lows will probably be in the low 50s at the warmest (and down to maybe 40 F). I’d also be wearing long sleeve tops and bottoms, but thanks for the feedback I’ll take.a look at your report.Jun 8, 2021 at 12:01 pm #3717779
I don’t use a sitpad, so I don’t normally carry a 1/8″ thinlight. Also, I don’t think it would be a good idea to use that pad as a sitpad and then use it with the Uberlite, since you’d be introducing pokies to the pad. If I bring a 1/8″ thinlight, it would be cut down to torso size (around 1 oz). I could see it helping with slippage. Maybe?
As far as temps, I don’t think the PCT goes above 7000 feet in WA, so I’m guessing 40s would be the lowest temps I’d experience this summer, but I’ve no actual idea since this will be my first PCT trip.Jun 8, 2021 at 12:17 pm #3717781dirtbagBPL Member
@YoYo.. yes NY Bear Mountain, Harriman.
In that case, you should be fine. Though in my opinion, the xlite and XTherm are way more comfortable then the Uberlite. Too me, the Uberlite feels like a blow up toy or pool float. It is acceptable.. but if you must compare the 3 of them.. it is definitely the bottom of 3 for comfort.Jun 8, 2021 at 1:30 pm #3717796jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I use a thinlite below any pad precisely to protect against prickles that might blow the pad. I think a pad is essential, for comfort at least. The thinlite adds a skootch of warmth as well.
I’m also very careful to check the ground before laying down my tent, but…you know how that goes. One mistake and I’m potentially padless. I do bring a repair kit of course.Jun 8, 2021 at 2:03 pm #3717801
I was camped at about 5,000 feet in early July in the Cascades. As expected, there was spotty snow around, but enough bare ground to make camp. Weather was supposed to be improving, but wasn’t great yet. Nothing particularly cold, but not warm, either. I had a sleeping bag, a new NeoAir (first generation) and a single wall tarp tent. Since the NeoAir was fairly new, I decided to use a 1/8 inch thinlight with it and put it underneath the pad (to better protect it). Even with all of my clothes on, I was chilly. At some point in the middle of the night, I put the thinlight on top of the NeoAir, which helped. Just that small amount of extra pad warmth was enough.
Of course if I had a warmer sleeping bag, I might not have noticed. But then a warmer sleeping bag would weigh more. What is clear — and this makes a lot of sense — is that a lot of heat is lost to the ground. A patch of ground, in the shade, is bound to be cold. Heat transfer between the ground is bound to be significant. There are a lot of factors that play into overall heat loss (or overall comfort). So much so that I don’t think you can say that an Uberlite is OK for a given temperature — it all depends on what else you have. I know for me, personally, with the gear I had, it would not have been enough, since the Uberlite is not as warm as the original NeoAir. But if you have a system (other than the pad) that is warmer and/or you can better handle the cold, then you will be OK.
Interestingly enough, after that trip I bought a bigger sleeping bag. I would pick the bag based on the trip. Years later, I bought the new version of NeoAir, which is significantly warmer. Now I use the smaller bag exclusively (I don’t do much autumn/winter camping). I developed a very slow leak in my NeoAir, so I decided to just get the XTherm, and discard the Thinlight. It may be that the XTherm is overkill, but the Uberlite seems like the other extreme. For me to be comfortable it would mean moving to a warmer sleeping bag on occasion, which would weigh more than the combination I use.Jun 8, 2021 at 3:00 pm #3717815jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Ross, if you tell this story to non-backpackers, you’re going to have to work in a bear and a rattlesnake.Jun 9, 2021 at 8:32 am #3717889James RBPL Member
I live in the Seattle area and backpack into the Pasayten wilderness (North Section of PCT) from time to time. The last two trips in July had night time temps well below 40 degrees. Two years ago in late July or early August the temp dropped to at least to the low 30’s and had snow accumulation (IIRC, probably upper 20’s..I do carry a small digital Garmin thermometer so I’m not guessing, but I am working from faded memory of exact temp). This is at normal camping elevations not on top of some peak. The snow event was near “Spanish Camp”
IMO, based on my experience, anticipating lowest temps of “low 40’s” is simply misguided for that country in July / August.
A normal cold snap would easily bring overnight temps down to or below freezing. Heck, my trip last summer had good, warm weather and the final night had temps in the upper 30’s at somewhat lower elevation (which could be why it was cold – I was hiking out and in a valley).
I am also biased because my view is that an adequately warm pad is the lightest way to add warmth to a sleeping system. Personally, I’d rather have the pad be a bit too warm than too cold, but that’s just me. Maybe I sleep cold. Others could be happier with “less pad”. That is why my comments focused on my temperature experience – I suggest you consider how much pad you need for one or more night with temps in the 30’s and potentially down to freezing.
I too like the smaller bulk of the Xlite / Uberlite and wish I could make a lighter pad work, so I get the objective. The only reason I don’t use an Xlite is because I have too many other pads and the weight of the Xlite is too close to my Xtherm. If I had an Xlite, I’d probably use it in the Pasayten in the summer due to lower bulk vs Xtherm. I would only experiment with an Uberlite in the Pasayten under a narrow set of circumstances.Jun 9, 2021 at 9:36 am #3717898obx hikerBPL Member
Take the X-therm! It’s a month, a precious month out of your life. A fantastic stretch of trail. Completely on the other side of the country so you can’t just easily do a re-set. From my limited (but not nill) experience James info seems accurate. Is the risk worth the reward?Jun 9, 2021 at 9:51 am #3717901Alex VBPL Member
@valleyjoLocale: North Cascades
Something else to consider:
The women’s Xlite has a boosted R-value (5.4) and is the same weight as mens regular (12oz). It’s a bit shorter (66 in). Depending on your height it might work well. I’m 5′ 7″ so it works great for me. I find that in the Cascades, the womens xlite +30 degree FF bag works well for three seasons.Jun 10, 2021 at 6:40 am #3717999
Thanks for your input. I based my predicted temps on average historical data
I don’t doubt that temps could dip that low, but I would guess that is out of the norm? My only experience hiking in WA was the Wonderland Trail (in 2019). I think temps were generally in the high 40s to low 50s at night (in early August). Perhaps the Cascades are colder, I’m guessing they might be.
In any case, for me it’s really between the Uberlite, Xlite, or my tried and true Xped Hyperlite medium wide (15 oz). It’s comfier than the Xtherm and I don’t need the extra warmth for WA in July/Aug.
I returned the Xlite because the one I got from REI was 13 oz–that’s only 2 oz lighter than my current pad. This was disappointing, since it is spec’ed at 12 oz.
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