Last Updated: May 24, 2021

Nemo Tensor Review – Ultralight and Comfy

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Nemo Tensor Sleeping Pad

One of the lightest and quietest backpacking sleeping pads around. The Nemo Tensor has taken the fight to companies like Thermarest, and perhaps left them for dead. View Latest Deal

I have been using and old, thin and heavy Thermarest sleeping pad for… decades. But, recently I decided it was time to upgrade. So, I did tonnes of research on the best backpacking sleeping pads around and settled on the Nemo Tensor ultralight sleeping pad.

And boy am I glad that I found this baby!

It is insanely light, super thick and comfy when inflated (around 3 inches) and best of all, nowhere near as noisy as its more popular competitor the Thermarest Neoair.

Of course, nothing is perfect, not even the Nemo Tensor, so I will get into both the amazing and not so good parts in the review below. 

However, let me just say that if you are in the market for a new backpacking sleeping pad, this certainly is one of your best options!

Pros

  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to inflate
  • Quiet compared to many others
  • Thick and comfortable
  • Lots of size options

Cons

  • Thin materials could puncture
  • Not the warmest on the market

Product Rating

89Overall Rating
Comfort & Quietness
9/10
Weight & Packability
9.5/10
Warmth
9/10
Materials & Durability
8/10
Value for Money
9/10

Product Information

  • WEIGHT: 15 oz.
  • R-VALUE: Insularted - 3.5, Non-insulated - 1.6
  • Pump included
  • 5 sizes: Short & Regular Mummy, Regular, Regular Wide, Long Wide

Comfort & Quietness

One of the most important parts of any sleeping pad is the comfort. And at around 3 inches (7cm) thick, the Tensor certainly does not disappoint. It can be quickly and easily inflated to your perfect hardness as well, and the simple value system allows for some easy fine-tuning once it’s blown up.

The top material is comfy to sleep on. Ok, it’s not your mattress at home with high thread count cotton sheets, but for a sleeping pad it’s certainly top-notch.

And, unlike some other sleeping pads, it won’t rustle like a bag of potato chips when you move. Something your sleeping partners will thank you for.

My only gripe with my choice of size with this pad was that I went with regular. I am a side sleeper, so it’s not a huge issue, but if you can handle the extra weight, go with wide. You will thank me later!

Weight & Packability

This is another area where the Nemo Tensor Insulated sleeping pad excels. Because Nemo’s choice of materials made this pad so thin, it packs down into an impressive little bundle.

Sure, you have to work to get all the air out, like with any pad, but once you roll it up, you will be amazed how small it’s packed size is. And, I loved how nemo gives you a bag that is bigger than the pad. So, if you have a lazy morning camping, you don’t have to get all the air out. Not like my old Thermarest that barely fit in it’s bag even after 10 minutes getting all the air out and re-rolling it multiple times!

nemo tensor weight

Weight: Full weight & pad only weight

And the overall weight is also very impressive. It comes in at around 460g (16.25 oz) for the pad alone, and 530g (18.7 oz) for everything. Mine is a rectangular regular size, so if you have mummy it will be lighter, if you have large it will be heavier. You can find all the specs on the Nemo website.

Warmth

The Nemo Tensor is designed to be ultralight yet still warm. However, you are making some compromises on weight vs warmth.

The Tensor insulated pad comes in two types – non-insulated (R 1.6) and insulated (R 3.5). I would always recommend the insulated, which although a little heavier (around 50 g/2 oz), will get you through most nights warm and comfy.

The only downside of a pad that only an R value of 3.5 (I say only, but it’s rated down to 30F / 0C) is that you will struggle in really cold conditions – like snow camping. Not many of you will do this, but if you do backcountry skiing or snowshoeing or similar, than you will either want to go with a warmer pad, or carry a lightweight foam pad to go underneath.

I used to do this with my old Thermarest and it gives you great flexibility, instead of always having to carry a heavier winter pad all year round.

Materials & Durability

To give you an idea of how thin and light the Nemo Tensor really is, you can see its wafer thinness above (it’s so thin, it’s almost transparent)! It uses 20D PU polyester ripstop on the outside, and also has two suspended metal sheets inside to help with warmth.

The wafer thin materials leads to another minor issue and that is material strength/durability. This pad is certainly going to last you a lifetime, if you look after it well.

However, if you don’t want to have to worry about where you sleep (no sharp rocks) and whether you can sit on it outside your tent (on rocks or sharp twigs) then maybe this is not the pad for you.

That being said, most of you will only sleep inside a tent on flat ground (not sharp rocks :>) so it is rarely going to be a problem.

Speed & Ease of Inflation

Nemo have designed this sleeping pad very well. The speed and ease of inflation is impressive.

Of course, they are not the only ones using a pump sack, but after using it a few times, I could easily inflate the sleeping pad in around 3-4 full sacks!

How does it work?

nemo tensor vortex pump sack

If you have never seen a pump sack before, let me quickly explain.

You can see the Votex pump sack above, complete with instructions. But here is the lowdown:

  1. Unroll the pump sack and attach to the sleeping pad value (see arrows above)
  2. Open the black mouth of the sack and blow into it 1-2 times.
  3. Close and roll the mouth down pushing all the air into the sleeping pad.
  4. Repeat until full

It takes a few goes to get the hang of it, and although you still need to blow (long blows into the sack) it sure beats the 40+ high pressure blows you need in some sleeping pads.

You can see Nemo’s video about it below

What's In The Box

The Nemo Tensor comes with everything you need, right out of the box – literally!

There is the sleeping pad, of course, but also a handy velcro strap to keep it rolled up (great for when you don’t want the sack – save weight!).

There is the Nemo Vortex Pump Sack  (shown folded in fluro yellow above) too, which easily rolls up with the pad, not increasing the packed size almost at all.

It also comes with a roomy nylon stuff sack, to help keep it protected. Although honestly, if you want to leave that at home, you can easily save weight as everything else neatly rolls up and is cinched with the strap.

Verdict

The Nemo Tensor is an absolute gem if you ask me. I love my new sleeping pad.

Of course, I am coming from a world of old-school Thermarests, but even after comparing the weight, warmth and comfort of all the other sleeping pads on the market, I came to this decision and would not go back.

If you want a new ultralight backpacking sleeping pad that will last you years to come and give you comfy, quiet nights worth of sleep in the back county, the Nemo Tensor is definitely worth the money!