Having used various Therm-a-Rest mattresses with the typical screw-down valve for almost 20 years, the new SpeedValve system looks a bit odd and feels quite strange to use at first. But after a couple months of weekly use the SpeedValve has proven to be faster and easier to inflate, significantly quicker to deflate and it is so good that it now feels awkward to use the screw-down valve.
Therm-a-Rest has a website that does a much better job than I ever could of explaining how the SpeedValve works but in layman terms, you basically blow into a one-way sleeve that inflates the mattress much faster than by any other method I’ve ever tried. Several breaths pump it up to sufficient pressure for most sleepers, though those who like a firm mattress may need to use the screw-down valve to add a couple more breaths.
Deflation and packing are simpler and faster than any other system, as the SpeedValve flips inside-out and instantly loses all air pressure and volume. Rolling up the mattress doesn’t require the typical, methodical, elimination of air pockets: just start rolling and all the air escapes faster than you can roll the mat. Awesome.
Downsides? The SpeedValve is a bit bulkier than the screw-down valves, and the mattress still requires a regular valve for additional inflation or to gently adjust mattress pressure for comfort. It also weighs a bit more than regular mattresses, but the latest NeoAir versions are so light anyway that I don’t mind at all: my regular-size (20×72″) mattreses weigh in at 434-grams for the NeoAir MAX SV, and 656-grams for the Trekker SV.
On the plus-side, the slight bump that results from the SpeedValve sleeve works great as a mini-pillow!
As far as warmth, we’ve used both down to -2C or so and stayed warm through the night. Adding a closed-cell foam mattress drops comfort down to -7C, maybe even below, but I haven’t used it in colder temps. Very impressed, particularly with the performance of the ultra-light MAX.
Though the Trekker hasn’t shown any issues and holds air without fail, the MAX has an intermittent leak. I’ve tried submerging the mattress twice and can’t find any bubbling spots, however the mat will deflate to almost nothing overnight, though not every night — I can’t figure out the inconsistency.
Initially the SpeedValve system seems a bit impractical, but after a few uses, we can’t imagine having a mattress with any other system: it’s faster to inflate, easier to use and quicker to deflate and pack than any other mattress inflation/deflation system I’ve ever used.
Very, very highly recommended.