I’m always looking for the lightest gear I can find for motorcycle camping, and if it comes in a small package, so much the better. For a camp bed, nothing is as light or packs as small as an air mattress. And in the newly competitive arena of air beds, the NeoAir from Therm-a-Rest is the lightest and smallest. The one I tested inflates to 20 x 72 inches, takes up one liter of space, and weighs just 14 ounces.
It’s got a funny name and it’s an odd color, but this lime-green lounger is deadly serious about giving you a good night’s sleep under the stars. The Therm-a-Rest engineers completely re-thought air suspended slumber when they designed the NeoAir. The tubes go across instead of lengthwise, and use a triangulated inner structure to support your tired bones all night long. Even better, NeoAir controls the chill factor – a major weakness in most air mattresses – with a reflective barrier lining inside the nylon mattress. This keeps the warmth you generate from being lost to the ground; instead, it bounces right back. For comparison, Neo’s R rating of 2.5 is higher than Therm-a-Rest’s ProLite self-inflating mattress.
Small and light are important, but not worth a hoot if you don’t sleep well. I tested the NeoAir by camping out for 7 nights on a 10-day GS ride to eastern Oregon, sleeping comfortably each time I laid my ride-weary body down and hovered over the lumpy ground on NeoAir. Its nylon exterior is slightly tacky and kept my sleeping bag from sliding off when I turned over, and it was equally comfortable for sleeping on my back or side. I also found it easy to live with – inflating takes only 18 breaths and the mattress is simple to deflate and roll up the next morning.
The Therma-a-Rest NeoAir comes in four sizes: small (20”x47”), medium (20”x66”), regular (20”x72”) and larger(25”x77”). All are 2.5 inches thick and made in Seattle, USA. The NeoAir I tested lists for $149.95. Therm-a-Rest is a unit of Cascade Designs. Find them on the web at www.cascadedesigns.com.