Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream Mattress
I have two Thermarest Dreamtime XL's. They're fantastic! Perfect for camping where you don't have to carry your gear very far. They're not for backpacking trips since they are way to bulky and heavy for that application. But, for regular camping trips you can't get any better. They're definitely worth the price.
Although, this past year when I went to buy another one I found out that Thermarest had changed their design and name for it and now call it a NeoAir Dreamtime. The exterior and foam insert look the same (except for the color of the surface which used to be dark blue) ... and the actual air mattress is a different one with a different design. To me, the jury is still out on the new design because I haven't purchased one yet. But, I will be buying one soon and then I'll know if they've improved upon an already fantastic design ... or screwed it up. Time will tell. Also, I'm glad to see that they have carry bags to put them in now. That's a welcome addition. While pricey... you can't beat the quality and comfort and durability of a Thermarest. I own several different Thermarests for backpacking, etc. and the Dreamtime is the most comfortable of all of them. It's money well spent.
October 16, 2014
My wife and I purchased two NeoAir dreams in time for the summer camping season for our family. Previously, we slept on box-store big blow up mattresses, but we have had two of these quickly develop leaks, and I thought it was beyond environmentally irresponsible to create such a waste (We will likely rerpurposed the second into a paint throw).
The big performance improvement I wanted in our next mattress was warmth and comfort. We tent camp in North America--Wisconsin, Indiana, and Michigan--and sometimes in late may we have had the temps dip to 30 degrees (F) or so, and the large, blobby box-store mattresses quickly cool their air mass, so that even with a thick sleeping bag BELOW us, I would feel cold at night and rarely sleep deeply.
So, the R value of the Dream Time attracted me.
Second, I wanted to never feel the ground again, and at 45 years old, can you blame me?
Positives: I was surprised at just how soothingly warm the Dream can be. Because of the combination of the upper open-cell cushion above and the separate air chambers below, (and the truly plush soft top) creating a rather thick pad, you are cradled into a rather cuddly sleeping experience. For the normal North Woods summer temps (say, down to 50) and conditions, I really only needed a fair, unzipped sleeping bag on top to sleep deeply. One particularly damp and chilly night, I was still a bit cold, but zipping up my sleeping bag remedied that for the next night.
So, for North Woods summer camping, expect more than adequate warmth. Every night since I purchased and used the Dream I have awoken with my muscles limber, relaxed, and zero stiffness. Great!
There are a few negatives: The Dream is not in any way self-inflating. The stuff sack doubles as a simple to use, but time consuming way to fill the dream (though I found I needed to add a few human puffs at the end to get the Dream firm enough for me). I would say we have added about an extra 15 - 20 minutes to our set up, and that is something to consider when you are camping with four younger children--probably headed right for the poison ivy. Similarly, folding the Dreams properly at the end takes a bit of time, too. So, in retrospect, I might have looked at Thermarest's self-inflating models.
Finally, you really need to store these rather substantial pads outside of the stuff sack to keep the open-cell cushioning from compressing, and so you will need to dedicate some home space. I would like to give 4.5 stars--the knock being set up and storage.
Overall, though: Along with the cots we use, this mattress honestly makes me look FORWARD to bed time, so it's done the job well for a car-camping family!
You can see a longer review on my blog, if you like. Just find my "campnstuff" blog.
August 29, 2014
More comfortable than my bed at home!!
I got the NeoAir Dream for a 21 day raft trip down the Colorado River and I have to say this thing was incredibly comfortable! I have slept on almost every type of pad made, from closed cell foam to ultra light inflatable 3/4 length to the luxury series Thermarest and the NeoAir crushes them all for comfort. The drawbacks are, of course, first the size and weight, you are not taking this thing on a backpacking trip as even rolled up it's bigger and heavier than most sleeping bags.
Second, it takes a lot of breath to inflate this baby. I first ordered the narrow model, which is fine for my wife (5'6" 125 lbs), but after trying it in the backyard before the trip, I decided I would be happier with the wider one. I'm 5'10" and 170 lb and I wanted to have pure luxury for my raft trip, it takes probably 30-40 good full breaths to get this fully inflated. I got so I would put in about 10 full breaths, wait a few minutes and repeat until full. Do NOT count on the Thermarest stuff sack inflater bag, it's more trouble than it's worth. I have read good things about the small battery operated Thermarest pump which could be the way to go, but I have not tried it.
The third drawback is that this pad is EXPENSIVE! Spending a couple of hundred dollars for a sleeping pad is not something I would normally do. If at all possible look for sales or coupons prior to buying one.
Is the hassle and the money worth it? For car camping or something like my river trip, I would say "yes, absolutely"! After you sleep on this for a few nights it's hard to go back to a "normal" pad.
It's also nice that the cover is removable and so pretty easy to wash. After almost a month of straight use in the Grand Canyon the cover was permitted with fine sand/dust/funk one trip through the washing machine and it was as good as new.
August 19, 2014
Worth EVERY Penny!!!
I bought 2 of these for my wife and I. We just spent a week in Yellowstone NP and I have to say these made all the difference. We used them in conjunction with an ARB Simpson III rooftop tent. There is a foam mattress in the tent already, but by itself it is very uncomfortable. Last year we used a queen size air mattress and there was too much motion and it was essentially an ice cold cloud of air. These therm-a-rest mattresses were perfect. They can be joined together, which eliminates the widening gap between them in the middle of the night. As a stand alone mattress it was amazingly comfortable as well. They roll up neatly to about the size of a standard sleeping bag, so for backpacking they are not the way to go, but for car camping/base camp applications they are second to none. The stuff sack acts as an inflation bellows, however, if you are planning to spend the money on this, go the extra mile and get the electric pump from therm-a-rest. It is about the size of a D Battery and runs on 2 AAA's. Also, spend the extra money and get the extra large mattress.
June 13, 2013