Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad Review
Oct 4, 2019 at 6:17 am #3612589Oct 4, 2019 at 5:55 pm #3612632Rex SandersBPL Member
I’ve used the long-wide Tensor Insulated on a handful of nights so far, and love it to the point that I’ve given away all my old pads. Agree with all of the points you made in your article.
The Vortex inflation sack works, but it’s single-use, which annoys me. I plan to purchase the 20 liter Sea to Summit Air Stream Pump Dry Sack as a replacement for that sack plus the turkey roasting bag I use for sleeping bag and clothes storage, which will save an ounce or so.
I hope Nemo redesigns the Vortex soon for better storage – that would make this product almost perfect IMO.
Thanks for the review.
— RexOct 4, 2019 at 11:31 pm #3612666Oct 5, 2019 at 2:16 am #3612685Rex SandersBPL Member
Never used a Neoair, the crinkling sound drove me nuts even in noisy REI stores.
My Nemo Tensor Insulated, rated 10F-20F by Nemo, seems equal or warmer than:
- Thermarest 40th anniversary (similar to Prolite Apex), R4.0.
- Nemo Astro Lite Insulated, rated 15F-25F by Nemo.
Maybe Emylene can chime in.
— RexOct 5, 2019 at 5:10 pm #3612725
*Oct 7, 2019 at 3:26 pm #3612951marvin bargBPL Member
@grampa_kiltLocale: British Columbia
Typo, I assume, under Initial Testing and First Impressions.
-4 F is not -40 C
Very well done review. GKOct 7, 2019 at 3:38 pm #3612957
Quite right @Marvin Barg. Should be -41F. Which in short is cold enough to make the least sensible of us to seek shelter indoors.Oct 7, 2019 at 6:43 pm #3612971John YatesBPL Member
I would be wary of any sleeping pad whose manufacturer doesn’t provide an R value.Oct 7, 2019 at 7:02 pm #3612974Alex HBPL Member
@abhittLocale: southern appalachians or desert SW
John, they will soon be forced to test the R value if they want to continue selling their pads through REI.Oct 8, 2019 at 2:17 pm #3613043Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
I would like to see a comparison of the Tensor with the S2S Ether insulated. By the numbers they are very similar. Both appear to be quieter and more comfortable then the Neoair Xlite.Oct 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm #3613048
Where the Sea to Summit Ether fell off the competition was it’s not a 4 season pad. It’s warm enough (R 3.8) for many adventurers but not for a northern 4 season adventurer who sleeps like an icicle. I wanted desperately to do a comparison but they are really far out of class in temperature range.Oct 8, 2019 at 4:28 pm #3613058
I was initially interested in the STS Ether Light XT, but it is both $40 more expensive than the Tensor and filled with synthetic insulation. It is that second item that kills it for me.Oct 8, 2019 at 7:18 pm #3613071Katherine .BPL Member
JCH – What are the downsides of synthetic insulation? [Context: my daughter has a standard width Tensor, but wants to go wider, and I was looking at the Insulated Ether, probably the woman’s model, for next summer. My son and I use NeoAirs, but she doesn’t like those.]Oct 8, 2019 at 8:36 pm #3613073
What are the downsides of synthetic insulation?
With repeating packing and unpacking the insulation will break down and become ineffective. Synthetic insulation does not have a very long lifespan when it is repeatedly compressed. The mylar film (space blanket) radiant technologies used in the XLite and Tensor do not suffer this degradation.
Take a look at this post…the post references a different pad, but the insulation method and the issue is the same.Oct 9, 2019 at 3:32 pm #3613173Casey BowdenBPL Member
@clbowdenLocale: Berkeley Hills
Like Rex above, I also now have some time on a regular-wide insulated Nemo Tensor and like it a lot. So much so that I brought it for “car” camping last weekend instead of a Thermarest Luxury Map!
Improvements/hacks I’ve made to it are as follows:
- Trash Compactor Bag Schnozzle – A bit of duct tape, irrigation pipe and a cork (not shown in the photos below) turned the trash compactor bag I already carry into a schnozzle that fills the pad with two bags of air.
- Pillow Toggles – When it’s cold and you are totally zipped up in your bag (or quilt) how do you keep your pillow in place? Seam Grip secures a bit of chord to the pad and plastic clips connect the chord to similar chord sewn into a pillow case (12.5″ x 16.5″ laid flat, 26 grams). Inside the pillow case is a Big Sky Dream Sleeper Inflatable Pillow (51 grams) and piece of foam (7/8″ x 9 3/4″ x 14″, 59 grams). The foam is the key part of this system.
Also, I agree with Emily that the valves are hard to seat.
Tensor with trash compactor bag schnozzle and clip-on pillow.
The hole in the pillow case for the inflatable pillow valve allows for easy adjustments during the night.
Foam and inflatable pillow within the pillow case.Oct 9, 2019 at 6:23 pm #3613195
I usually put some seam grip dots on the back of my pillow and let them dry. They give it extra ‘traction’
I’ve also slipped my pillow into a buff ‘pillow case’ which also seems to increase ‘traction.’
I’ve never tried anchoring a pillow but I’m pretty restless and kind of cuddle the pillow between my shoulder and head.Oct 9, 2019 at 7:37 pm #3613211J-LBPL Member
Using a mesh stuff sack for my pillow has made it more comfortable and greatly reduced any sliding around.Oct 9, 2019 at 9:04 pm #3613219Bill in RoswellBPL Member
@roadscrape88-2Locale: Roswell, GA, USA
Em, I totally get the needs of your trip. I just meant test the S2S Ether on its own. I’m impressed by the performance of the Vector. I may ditch the old XTherm for a Regular Wide that Nemo offers. Never understood why T-rest doesn’t offer a Regular Wide (of course I could hack down a large….).
Bill in Roswell GAOct 9, 2019 at 9:16 pm #3613223
Ha I see! That makes sense, I’ll see if we can get one of those in the chute for review! Doesn’t hurt to try!Oct 11, 2019 at 7:30 am #3613493Ryan JordanAdmin
@ryanLocale: Central Rockies
I’ve spent last night on bare ground with the Tensor at 10 deg F. I put a 1/8″ CCF pad underneath the torso part of it. No issues, slept warm. Tonight should be in the single digits. Gonna ditch the CCF pad.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what this pad can do in the winter on snow as our temps drop here.Oct 11, 2019 at 12:18 pm #3613512
Took the plunge and ordered an insulated LW Tensor…too many glowing reviews to ignore and while I have been quite happy with my XLite L, there are areas ripe for improvement, ones that the Tensor appears to address. The valve alone may be enough :)Oct 12, 2019 at 5:00 am #3613692Craig BBPL Member
Wow, I’m really surprised at all the positive reviews. I have one of the Insulated Long versions of the Nemo and did several instrumented tests in my back yard a couple of years ago. I slept in a single-walled shelter with an Alps Echo folding foam pad underneath the Nemo in a REI Flash Womens 30°F mummy bag. The temperature outside the tent got to 30°F, while inside it bottomed out at 37°F, and WOW was I cold. Then I tried the same setup again with a Big Agnes Lost Ranger 15°F mummy on a night that hit the same lows again, and I was STILL cold, but not as bad as with the REI bag. And yes, I had the bags fully zipped up around my head.
Then I got an Exped Synmat ul 9m, slept in the same setup with the REI 30° bag, outside temp of 29°F, inside temp of 36F, and was quite toasty.
Now, I sleep quite cold as well, but I find it hard to believe the Nemo has an R-value anywhere near 5 based on my experiences comparing it with the Exped with an R-value of 6. But hey, if it works for you, great!Oct 12, 2019 at 12:04 pm #3613717
“I have one of the Insulated Long versions of the Nemo and did several instrumented tests in my back yard a couple of years ago.”
The Tensor you had was the previous model. It was redesigned for 2019 with dual radiant layers and no synthetic insulation fill. There have been many people reporting similar experiences with the old model. It’s also certainly possible you would find the 2019 model still insufficient for your needs.Oct 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm #3613722
Thank goodness they did away with the synthetic insulation. I’ve never had a synthetic mat that worked well. I was always cold. I have down and I have ‘tin foil’ but no synthetic in my arsenal. I’m slowly replacing my synthetic quilts where I can too. They just don’t have the longevity of down.Oct 12, 2019 at 4:24 pm #3613746James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Reflective liners are good, but they also have limits. If the first one reflects 90% of radiant heat back to you, a second layer will only reflect 9% of the total. This is barely worth it compared to the extra weight. A standard Xlite only uses one reflective barrier and internal triangular baffling. The Tensor uses two reflective barriers and larger internal baffling. So, the reflected heat is likely better with the Tensor, but, convectional losses are higher. (Smaller internal baffling means greater heat retention, as a general rule.) I suspect that Ryan will see a marked difference between with and without his 1/8″ CCF pad at 10F.
Convectional losses in inflatable pads (no insulation) are higher than self inflating or CCF pads, anyway. As you sink into the inflatable bad, it tends to wrap up around your body a bit. So, convection becomes more important than reflectivity. Reflectivity only comprises about 10-15% of your bodily heat losses anyway. We tend to ignore that as obvious with most pads, but it can get quite annoying at 20F. Even the edge bleeding can cause a bit of heat loss through convection/conduction.
Anyway, I agree 100% that down will last far longer than synthetics. Even in the best case for synthetics and worst case for down, I expect at least a 10 times longer use out of down. Average use on both is closer to 15 to 20 times or more.
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