We had a chance to try out the latest 3-season XLite model equipped with SpeedValve technology. Therm-a-Rest also offers a range of other mattresses that vary in size and durability, but the XLite is the most versatile pad that combines lightweight, packability and warmth.
The SpeedValve technology in the entire line allows the user to inflate the mattress 2-3 times faster than traditional valves. It does take a bit of getting used to. With your mouth 4-6 inches away from the opening, you’re advised to blow as if you are blowing out a birthday cake.
The valve works using something called the Bernoulli Principle which exploits high and low pressure differential to draw in air that maximizes each breath. When you blow into the valve, your breath sends fast-moving low-pressure air through the neck of the mattress causing the static high-pressure air outside the mattress to rush in to equalize the pressure.
At first we did not succeed as there is definitely a certain technique. We found it worked best to take long constant breaths, allowing the flap within the neck to sort of flutter. Directions say to keep your mouth a few inches from the opening but it doesn’t hurt to have your whole face in there as long as you leave enough room on the sides for air to get through.
At the end the valve will puff it so you almost can’t blow into anymore. We found you could either stick your face straight into and blow through the bulging valve or finish it off with a few breaths through the traditional valve to make it completely full. Then just roll up the valve and buckle the snaps.
Once its inflated this is one of the most comfortable camping mattresses you’ll find on the market. And at an even pound for the regular size, you can’t beat it’s light weight. We do have some questions about the durability of the material, though, as it’s extremely light, almost like the material of a space blanket. We have not used the pad extensively so its true durability can’t be verified, although the company does offer a patch kit so that’s something to consider.
To create warmth and stability the mattress uses Triangular Core Matrix construction and reflective ThermaCapture Barrier technology which helps to reflect your body temperature and retain warmth. When it comes to deflating, just open the valve and it’s back to its carrying size in no time, much quicker than the old way.
Whenever we’re heading into the woods, the Therm-a-Rest XLite is our mattress of choice.