This mini-review is part of Part 2 of our survey of airmats. We have two Nemo mats here from the new Zor series: a Short one and a Regular one. They are traditional self-inflating foam core mats. As the mats are both rectangular and only differ in the length, we have condensed the data for the two into one section. The photo here shows the two mats stacked up – although their idea of ‘Short’ is a lot longer than some. At the time of writing, these mats had not yet made it to the main part of the Nemo web site.
Zor Short and Zor Regular
|Length||121 cm / 47.6 in||184 cm / 72.4 in|
|Width||50 cm / 19.7 in|
|Thickness||2.7 cm / 1.1 in|
|Weight||286 g / 10.1 oz||402 g / 14.2 oz|
|R-Value||1.5 – 3.0|
|Drag Force||28/15 N|
|Insulation||PU foam layer|
|Larger Side Tubes||No tubes at all|
We have given just one graph of R-value here because, as mentioned above, the two mats are identical in construction except for length. The R-value is quite sufficient for three-season use, which is what these mats are intended for. They are comparable to, say, the Therm-a-Rest Prolite mats in warmth but a bit lighter. When you normalise the R-values for the mass per unit length of the mat they are way down near the bottom (light) end of the spectrum.
Careful inspection of the top photo will show only part of how they keep the weight down. Obviously the foam has been cored vertically with lots of holes. Now this could lead to a lot of air circulation through the holes, except that the diameter of the holes is quite small, preventing too much circulation. In addition, the foam has been cored horizontally, as shown in this picture. Doing this is not an easy process, especially as the edge of the foam has been left intact. Having done my share of foam-coring, I can tell that this requires a complex coring machine.
This is where these mats excel. Nemo has deliberately used two very ‘sticky’ sorts of fabric on this series: you won’t find them scooting around in your tent anytime. It is interesting that the top surface is actually more sticky than the bottom surface against silnylon, not that it matters too much. You won’t accidentally slide off this mat – although trying to turn your whole sleeping bag over might be a bit more difficult. But with a quilt, they work great.
Comments by Will Rietveld
The Zor pads are only 19 mm (0.75 in) thick, thinner than a Prolite pad, but are remarkably comfortable for their thinness. Although they are cored in two directions, they are still firm and supportive. Since they are thin, I found the best comfort from inflating them as firm as possible by mouth. The Zor Regular gives you a full-length pad for just 14.7 ounces (417 g) (my measurement), and Short (a ¾-length pad) weighs just 10 ounces (283 g). To put that into perspective, the Backpacking Light TorsoLite pad also weighs 10 ounces, and it’s a lot smaller pad. Nemo accomplishes the weight reduction and comfort retention through the use of bi-directional coring and lighter fabrics. The fabric seems like a perfect balance of light weight and durability, and hopefully it will set a new standard for lightweight sleeping pads. Most sleeping pads seem to be overbuilt and overweight, so it’s really nice to see new pads that break that tradition. A comfortable inflatable sleeping pad is my principal luxury item in my ultralight gear kit, so I am delighted to see these lightweight comfortable pads coming out; they rival a closed-cell foam pad in weight and eclipse it (by far) in comfort.
Comments by Roger Caffin
I am going to quote a bit from the Nemo Blog about this mat, as they have some interesting comments about the fabric used.
“We developed an ultralight exterior material, Airlock Elite, that is a multilayer laminate fabric. Even though it is a very low denier, the lamination is engineered to hold strong welds and be completely airtight. Our NEMO shield pattern is also embossed on the front, [the samples reviewed did not have this pattern]. The emboss is nice because it adds tear strength, doesn’t use ink, and leaves a very nice surface texture, as opposed to the more plastic-y feeling of heat transfer graphics.”
Well, I’m not greatly impressed by their blow-up-pole tents, but I am impressed by these mats. The foam has been cored two ways, making it very light, but it manages to keep a very good ‘consistency’ despite that. The holes are small, so the mat feels ‘firm’ when correctly inflated. Even better is the fabric just mentioned: the underside is grippy, while the top surface is smooth and fairly quiet. The fabric itself is also very light, and quite airtight. The amount (and cost) of the engineering which has gone into this whole design must have been significant. It would be very fair to say that Nemo has raised the bar for the whole industry with the foam and fabric in these mats.
As for comfort, these mats are fairly similar to the Therm-a-Rest Prolite mats and the MontBell UL mats: no real surprises there. But they get there with a mass/length figure similar to that of the Neoairmats, while their R-value per thickness is up near the top end. Despite this, their costs are very reasonable. We should see more of these.
This is a mini-review in the 2011 Lightweight Airmats State of the Market Report. The articles in this series are as follows (mini-reviews can be found in Part 2), and a subscription to our site is needed to read them.
- Part 1 covers the basics, testing methods, and lists all the mats in the survey.
- Part 2 examines the actual mats, and the performance of each mat tested.
Disclosure: The manufacturers provided these products to the author and/or Backpacking Light at no charge, and they are owned by the author/BPL. The author/Backpacking Light has no obligation to review these products under the terms of this agreement.