When it comes to backpacking, I’m fine making concessions on a lot of things in order to save some weight. The one area I won’t skimp on is sleeping comfort. After years of sleeping on a half-inch accordion pad, I’ve been on a quest to find the “perfect” sleeping pad. Others have come close but I haven’t found the sleeping pad for me yet. Reading the specs on the Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad, I thought I might have found the one. It sounds very promising: insulated, thick, supportive, yet lighter in weight. I couldn’t wait to get some nights on it to see.
Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad Features:
- Weight: Regular Wide: 1 lb. 3 oz., Long Wide: 1 lb. 5 oz.
- Dimensions: Regular Wide: 72 x 25 x 3 inches, Long Wide: 76 x 25 x 3 inches
- Pad Thickness (in.): 3 inches
- Packed Size: 3.5 x 9.5 inches
- R-Value: 3.5
- Insulation Type: Synthetic
- Repair Kit Included
- Price: $175-$180
Lightweight, quiet sleeping pad
My sleeping profile is a nightmare for backpacking: I’m a side sleeper who wiggles, sprawls, and I sleep cold. Finding the right pad has been a struggle.
Sleeping on my side means that my shoulders and hips carry most of my weight and will push through thinner pads creating cold spots and essentially sleeping on the ground. The Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad brings a stout 3 inches of inflated comfort. At 3 inches it finds a good balance of keeping me off the ground while keeping weight and packed size down. The Spaceframe baffles provide more support while you sleep and reduce the “bouncy” effect of other inflatable pads.
The standout feature for me on the Tensor Ultralight is the fabric. My experience with most inflatable sleeping pads, especially the ultralight pads, is the material is so loud when it moves! I’ve heard some that sound like you are smashing a chip bag anytime you shift or roll. There’s no way I could sleep on that. Nemo has all but eliminated the noise issue on the Tensor. They use “suspending film construction” (whatever that means, it’s like magic) to reduce noise. Its amazing, there’s almost no sound compared to other pads. I can roll, wiggle, move to my hearts content and I’m not woken up by the sound (and more importantly my tent mates aren’t woken up either).
Inflating is a breeze with the Vortex pump sack. Gone are the days of huffing and puffing through a straw to inflate your pad. The Vortex snaps into place with a thick rubber ring on to the valve. Open the wide end of the bag, lightly blow into the sack to puff it up, fold the end over itself and squeeze. No lung strain, no getting sweaty. The pad is quick and easy to inflate. The connection is solid. It stayed connected even when really cranking down and pushing hard. Pro tip: careful when you disconnect the Vortex so you don’t inadvertently pull the plug and deflate the pad.
The valve is easy to use, easy to inflate, and deflate. Nemo include a small rubber string that you pull to micro adjust the stiffness of the pad. It’s much easier to get it just right without letting too much air out. When it’s time to deflate, the large opening quickly lets the air escape. The value is low profile so you won’t notice it and it’s snug so you won’t accidentally open it at night.
The Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad weights in at just over a pound: 1 lb 3 oz for the regular wide, 1 lb 5 oz for the long wide. It’s definitely not the lightest pad on the market, however, you know you’re adding weight by buying an insulated pad. Packed size is about the size of Nalgene, both sizes pack down to 3.5 inches by 9.5 inches. Due to the way I sleep I went for the long wide. Inflated, it measures 76 inches by 25 inches. I have yet to roll off the pad to the sides and I haven’t wiggled my head or feet off. If you choose to go long, measure the floor of your tent to make sure it’ll fit. In one of my tents it barely fits length-wise.
In addition to synthetic insulation, Nemo laminated some metalized film, called Thermal Mirror, into the construction of the pad to provide additional warmth retention. The theory is that the metalized film reflects your body heat back toward you and the cold from the ground back toward the ground. Translation, the Tensor will definitely keep you warm enough for 3 season use, and maybe into four seasons. Nemo claims that these two features combined should provide you enough warmth down to 10-20 degrees F. For wintertime for me, I’d still pair it with a foam pad for extra insulation.
- Quiet – it doesn’t crinkle like a chip bag
- Easy to inflate with the Vortex Pump Sack
- Insulated to keep you warmer at night
- Long wide version hits the spot for my sleeping patterns
- Nice little repair kit included
- You will trade some weight for warmth
- If you lose or puncture the pump sack, inflating it will be a pain
Bottom Line: Nemo Tensor Ultralight Insulated Pad
Nemo effectively combines warmth, weight, packability, and a quiet sleep together into a solid pad with the Tensor Ultralight Insulted Sleeping Pad. It changed the quality of my sleep for the better, maybe it will yours too?
Buy now: Available at REI.com
Can confirm. Have the wide version of this pad and love it. For its packability, going wide didn’t feel like much weight penalty and takes it from comfortable to a dream, no arms falling off at night. Warm, light, compact and cozy!
Will say, the soft touch material is slightly slick so it shimmies down my tent overnight if on a slope. Added some dots of seal to bottom to give it just a bit of grip. Will see how that does. Otherwise love everything about it!
It is impossible for “…the metalized film [to] reflect…the cold from the ground back toward the ground.” Heat moves by conductance, convection (air/fluit flow), and radiation (what the metalized film will reflect). Cold is the absence of heat and, therefore, can not be reflected. Heat will move from high gradient to low — i.e. from your body to the ground — leaving you feeling cold.
It’s warm, comfortable, easy to use. I like the pad which is added to the bag. Lightweight and easy to carry.
Like the mirror I put under my bed to reflect the darkness.