Introduction

This Nemo Equipment Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad review presents the performance of a lightweight, quiet, stable, and comfortable sleeping pad targeted to the backpacking community. The Nemo Tensor sleeping pad line offers a variety of shapes (as well as insulated and non-insulated models) to address the needs of a wide range of sleepers.

Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad Review - configuration options.
Photo: Nemo Equipment. From left to right: short mummy, regular mummy, regular, regular wide, long wide

Features and Specifications

For this review, we will focus on the insulated style and the regular mummy size (the format I chose to test). Specifications for the other formats are available on the manufacturer’s website. Backpacking Light publisher Ryan Jordan owns and uses the insulated style regular wide size and features that pad in several videos on the Backpacking Light YouTube channel. Ryan’s comments are included in the Review Rating below, as well.

Features

  • compatible with the Nemo Vortex pump sack
  • low profile two-function valve with a one-way airflow diaphragm and rapid deflation option
  • interior baffles for body weight and movement stabilization
  • 20 denier polyurethane-coated polyester fabric
  • thermal (metalized) film insulation (low-noise)
  • lifetime warranty
  • included: sleeping pad, velcro strap, repair kit, pump sack, drawstring stuff sack
  • color
    • insulated: marigold
    • uninsulated: elite yellow

Specifications

  • available in five shapes and sizes:
    • mummy (short length): 48 x 20 in (122 x 51 cm)
    • mummy (regular length): 72 x 20 in (183 x 51 cm)
    • rectangular (regular width): 72 x 20 in (183 x 51 cm)
    • rectangular (wide width): 72 x 25 in (183 x 64 cm)
    • long wide (rectangle): 76 x 25 in (193 x 64 cm)
  • thickness: 3 in (8 cm)
  • packed size (regular mummy): 8 x 3 in (20 x 7.5 cm) diameter
  • available in insulated and uninsulated models
  • packed weight (regular mummy):
    • insulated: 17 oz (490 g)
    • uninsulated: 15 oz (425 g)
  • minimum weight (regular mummy):
    • insulated: 14 oz (410 g)
    • uninsulated: 12 oz (345 g)
  • temperature rating:
    • insulated: 10F to 20F (-12 to -7C)
    • uninsulated: 35F to 45F (2 to 7C)
Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad - size and style options.
Photo: Nemo Equipment

Context: How I Reviewed the Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

When looking at inflatable sleeping pads, I consider the following to be key performance features: comfort, insulation (warmth), weight, size and shape options, durability, warranty, and price point. Of these, comfort and durability are the most subjective features, and I will address them specifically in this review.

My definition of sleeping pad comfort covers three areas: warmth, quiet (noisiness), and cushioning.

  • First, I am a cold sleeper (If you are a warm sleeper, take my thoughts on insulation with a grain of salt).
  • Second, I highly value quiet when I’m sleeping. Crinkle sounds drive me nuts!
  • Third, I have a spinal injury history and am particular about cushioning. I am small-framed but bony, and when my hips and elbows bottom out through a pad, I notice! I have zero tolerance for lack of cushion in an air mattress. For good measure, I also had my friend Michael, who is 6’2″ (188 cm), test the mat for length and comfort.
Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad - testing on snow.
Photo: Michael giving the Nemo Equipment Tensor Ultralight a test run.

I have reasonable expectations of sleeping pad durability. Ultralight pads made from low denier material are delicate and need to be treated with care (e.g., see Andrew’s review of the Therm-a-Rest Uberlite and Ryan’s video commentary about it). No one wants to wake up on a flat pad. It happens but is avoided for the most part with appropriate precautions. My precautions include:

  • protecting the sleeping pad by storing it in a stuff sack
  • using some type of shelter floor (maybe even in addition to a footprint) or durable ground cloth
  • avoiding packing it next to pointy objects such as micro-spikes, and
  • only using the pad on a clean(ish) ground surface free of sharp debris (e.g., abrasive rocks and pointy forest litter).

I cannot verify how durable the mat is in other contexts: I didn’t test it using it as part of a chair kit, without a groundsheet, or without a stuff sack.

Description of Field Testing

For me, the 2019 backpacking season was full of new experiences, environments, and climates.

Specifically, I tested the Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad while canoeing in Canada’s Northwest Territories and backpacking in Alberta’s Rocky Mountain range. The cold, humid environment made for ideal testing conditions. As I continue to use the Nemo Tensor, I’m happy to answer further questions in the comments section of this article.

Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad Review - testing at minus 30 deg F.
Where I go, the Nemo Equipment Tensor Ultralight Sleeping Pad goes too, which includes testing its outer limits at -31 deg F (-35 deg C).

Performance Assessment of the Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad

My performance assessment of the Nemo Equipment Tensor Sleeping Pad addresses:

  • comfort
  • stability
  • quiet
  • insulation
  • durability
  • valve functionality
  • pump functionality

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