Home Tech Nemo’s New Tensor Sleeping Pads Offer Unparalleled Backcountry Comfort

Nemo’s New Tensor Sleeping Pads Offer Unparalleled Backcountry Comfort

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2 inflatable sleeping mats next to each other, a yellow one on the right and a black one on the right

Tensor from Nemo Equipment sleeping pad was my introduction to ultralight sleeping pads. I must admit that when I unpacked the Tensor five years ago (I went for the insulated version) and inflated it for the first time, I immediately thought of a hiking joke I’d seen on Reddit: inflatable sleeping pads are for people who want to sleep on the ground. sleep, just not right away.

How could this impossibly thin, light, seemingly fragile pillow not leave me on the floor after a few nights on the road? Five years later, that same sleeping pad has now been under me for over 40 nights, and it has still left me nothing but comfortable and well-rested. That’s not to say it can’t fail: many a path has left me on the ground over the decades, but the Nemo Tensor is still going strong.

Last fall, the company sent me test samples of its new Tensor line, which has been updated for 2024 and consists of three pads, each with different thicknesses and R-values ​​(how much insulation the pad provides, which I explain in my Guide to the Best Sleeping Pads) , tailored to specific needs in the hinterland.

Three small pillows

The three pads contain the Tensor path, which is the lightest but has the lowest R-value; the Tensor for the whole season, which has an R-value of 5.4; and the Extreme conditions tensorwith an R-value of no less than 8.5 and the highest warmth-to-weight ratio on the market.

All three come in four sizes: regular, regular mummy, regular wide and long wide. If you add it all up, you have a choice of 12 pads, from one range from one manufacturer. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire guide to sleeping pads so you can choose the best one for your needs.

Photo: Scott Gilbertson

Two of these pads, the Tensor Trail and Tensor All-Season, are updates. They see marginal temperature increases, but the structure remains as previous iterations. Nemo still uses a quilt-like design that keeps the baffles inflated and eliminates that bouncy feeling you get with vertical baffles. The insulation consists of multiple layers of bonded mylar.

The difference in R-value between the Trail and All-Season comes down to the number of layers of insulating metal film each pad has. The Trail uses one layer, the All-Season two layers, and the Extreme uses four layers of what Nemo calls Thermal Mirror insulation (a metallized film). It also uses a different baffle type (more on that below). Also new this year is the firmer fabric on the bottom of these pads. Nemo now uses 40 denier nylon on the bottom, compared to 30D nylon, making it more durable. Take that, funny guy from Reddit.

Nemo’s new pads are made of Bluesign approved nylon (Bluesign certification looks at both environmental impact and worker safety) and comes with the company’s Vortex pump bag, which works well to inflate your bag via the zero profile valve. I wish there was a standard for these valves so I could use the Nemo pump bag with other pads, but there isn’t. There’s also a stuff sack to store your pad in, with a handy repair kit in the closing flap. Nemo’s lifetime warranty covers all manufacturing defects, which is nice, but for a more immediate solution to that dreaded flat tire, just remember to keep the repair kit in the pack bag.

All season long

If you want an all-round sleeping pad that will keep you comfortable not only in the summer but also during the shoulder seasons, then the Whole season is the right way. The All-Season’s second layer of mylar film increases the R-value to 5.4 and adds only 2 ounces of weight. The pack size is almost the same. At just $30 more for a barely heavier pillow with almost double the R-value, I think this is the best sleeping pillow from Nemo’s current Tensor range for most people.

Three small bags containing rolled up inflatable mattresses

Photo: Scott Gilbertson

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